Posts Tagged Bible

Texas Representative Louie Gohmert Claims Moshing Violates God’s Law

gohmert_rect-460x307

Louie Gohmert has taken on a lot of brutal adversaries in his time on Capitol Hill.  His bravery in the face of so-called “terror babies” and “radical Islamists who are trained to act Hispanic” have made him a pillar of the American Right.  Now, he’s turning his energies to fight against a problem that he believes is “the greatest threat to the health and safety of America’s youth”.   That problem, according to Gohmert, is the mosh pit.

In a press conference on Monday, Gohmert spoke in depth about “the recent phenomena referred to as ‘pitting’ by young people”.  Gohmert claimed that thousands of young people are injured or killed everyday in this “circle of ungodliness”.

He went on to discuss stories he had heard of mosh pits breaking out not just at heavy metal concerts, but also in daycare centers and hospital emergency rooms. He told the story of an unnamed 87-year-old woman who was crushed to death when a mosh pit broke at a Perkins restaurant on Seniors Pay What They Weigh Night last month in White Bear Lake, Minnesota.  “What happens to the innocent when they are caught in a mosh?  Who speaks for them!”  Gohmert thundered to reporters.

caught in a mosh

In a Fox News interview yesterday, Gohmert took his anti-moshing rhetoric a step further.  “If you know your Bible, you would know that the Book of Numbers 16:30 clearly states ‘they that go down quickly into the pit; shall understand that they have provoked the Lord.’  Men and women who enter mosh pits are sinful and are, in fact, provoking God’s wrath.  Pitting violates God’s law.”

Gohmert concluded the interview by claiming that, while most people think that heavy metal fans created the mosh pit, it is actually based on Sufi dervish dancing.  “People may not realize this, but wild, dangerous Sufi dancing is part of the Muslim tradition.  The same tradition that has declared war on the West and its Christian values.  While metal fans think they are simply pitting to noisy, violent music, they are, in fact, praising a God worshipped by people who want to destroy us.”

While Gohmert believes that passing anti-pit laws is not the solution to this national crisis, he does see a viable alternative.  “If you want to stop pits from breaking out, the quickest, most effective solution is the widespread distribution of M4 assault rifles to all red-blooded, patriotic Americans.  If every good, God-loving man, woman and child carried one at all times, we would be safe from these heavy metal hooligans.”

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Dissecting CARCASS’ “Heartwork” – Fifth Incision…Embodiment

This is the fifth in a series of articles analyzing the lyrics from the 1993 Carcass album “Heartwork”.

Embodiment

I bow down your precious icon, deity of self-suppression

This effigy of flesh, corporeal christi, nailed

In submission to this false idol, seeking deliverance

From this spiritual hierarchy, downward spiraling, a corrupt throne

Of repression and guilt

Our will be done

Thy kingdom burn

On my knees, before this tormented flesh, in irreverence

In communion with this parasitic host of virtuous divinity

This imperious creed bears testament to the failures of our morality

Righteous durance is our cross we bear in stations

In stations of the lost

Our will be done

Thy kingdom burn – thy kingdom burn

Our will be done

From your knees arise

By your own hand, your god you scribe

The earth shall inherit the meek

Your god is dead

Bound down, in God we’re trussed, foul stature

Icons embodied in flesh, we nail

In servitude to deities fashioned in our self image

Shadows of eternal strife cast by those who serve

Serve a crown of pawns

If up until this point you weren’t sure how the band Carcass feels about religion, Embodiment states it completely and in no uncertain terms. The song is an outright renunciation of organized religion, Christianity in particular.  The lyrics bubble with hatred and scorn for the self-annihilating principles that they believe mark the Christian outlook.  I don’t share the disdain that the band feels for Christianity, but the force of the language used in their argument is highly compelling.

The song’s central argument is that Christianity is an advanced form of slavery.  They make the case by dismissing the existence of any fathomable God and assuming that the goals of religion are to allow those who are in power to continue an unfettered hegemony over the practice of free will.  Where some people see peace and comfort, Carcass perceives control and subjugation.  Certainly, some of their argument is legitimate.  There are plenty of historical examples of the misuse of religion to advance the selfish ends of a tyrannical elite.  However, the song fails to address much of the comfort and solace that it has brought people for over 2000 years.  Further, it would be facile minded to simply assume that the self-abnegation at the core of Christian thought is completely a bad thing.  The giving up of one’s desires to benefit the community is on many occasions, inside or outside of a religious context, beneficial towards the human race as a whole.

In spite of the problems the argument presents, the language with which the case is made is striking.  The core belief in the song is contained in the beautifully efficient and devastating pun “In God we’re trussed”.  By taking an expression found on American money and perverting its message, Carcass is able to make several critical points.  First, the use of a religious phrase in an economic context effectively links the agenda of today’s Christianity with the pursuit of financial gain.  Then, they take the phrase and change trust (an act of faith) into trussed (to be tightly bound or in this case completely controlled).   Essentially, they argue here that while you may choose to subvert your needs for the Church it will not extend you the same courtesy and, worse, it will take your belief and use it to hoodwink you into giving up your possessions and your liberty.  In their eyes, it is the greatest hustle in human history.

What is truly lost for believers is contained in the heart-wrenching expression “the earth shall inherit the meek.”  The original phrase “the meek shall inherit the earth” is an appeal to the Job-like masses that give so tirelessly but ask for little in return.  They suffer in silence, but at the end of the day, they will be rewarded…or so the story goes.  The good and humble people will come to control the earth and the wicked will be cast from it.  The subversion of this expression contains allows for a very troubling message to be presented.  If you suffer in silence and do the right thing your reward will be the grave.  Death awaits us all and those who are pious and righteous are rewarded with the same eternal darkness that await those who pillage the world blind.  There are no rewards in this life or any other for those who follow the words contained in the Bible.  The meek will be buried right alongside those who engage in a Dionysian life of personal excess and unabated greed.  The ground cannot tell the two apart.

If this argument is legitimate, it presents us with chilling questions about how we should live our lives that goes beyond religion.  If there are truly no consequences for our actions, why not do whatever we want?  Those with the most material, at the end of the day, are those who have benefitted most from a purely material world.  If all that is promised to us for a good life is an eventual death, what is the motivation in living a justly?

I believe that the truth or untruth of God’s existence need not bear on whether someone acts morally.  If every word of the Bible is true and God’s existence is exactly as portrayed in Christianity, we should act with as much kindness, patience and love to those around us as we are capable.  If every word of the Bible is false and Christianity is an unholy scam perpetrated by on the masses by ruthless power mongers, we should act with as much kindness, patience and love to those around us as we are capable.  The reward of living a just life is simply getting to live a just life.  That’s all.  The earth may inherit the meek, but at least the meek can lessen the suffering of those around them.  Nothing else is promised and nothing else is certain.  TS Eliot eloquently summarizes this principle in his poem “Choruses From The Rock”…..

All men are ready to invest their money

But most expect dividends

I say to you: Make perfect your will.

I say: take no thought of the harvest,

But only of proper sowing

It is our station to care for one another to the best of our abilities regardless what the truth of the universe is.  To love without condition is the greatest gift we could bestow on our world no matter what the terms of our existence are.  Any philosophy that brings us closer to that ability, be it religious or atheistic, is worthy of our respect and consideration.

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How Could Hell Be Any Worse?

From a distance, it really looks like Cleveland

Lately, I have found myself more and more interested in the Christian idea of hell. Maybe it’s the awful chill of winter.  Maybe I’ve been listening to a bit too much black metal.  I’m not quite clear what has put me on this mental course, but I have spent a good amount of time thinking about what it would actually be like to be in hell.  I don’t even really believe that hell exists.  I am not completely against the idea, but I accept that I have no way of possibly proving its existence or non-existence to myself, so I just figure I’ll find out after I die.  That is not the part that really interests me.  What I want to know is what, assuming that hell is real, would torment a human for eternity.

In the Book of Matthew, we are warned to “be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”  To be honest, I find this quote a bit odd.  This implies that we take our body with us to hell.  If this is true, one must wonder what that thing in the casket back there on earth is.  Is that a wax replica of us at the funeral while the real body goes to hell?  Is your body snatched out of the coffin and sent to hell the minute you enter the ground?  (But then, what happens if they dig you up?) Does God duplicate our body and send that one to hell while the real one is on earth?  Is the body I am currently in an illusion and my real body somewhere in the ethers waiting for judgment?  In that case, can I blame the illusion body for the sins committed on earth?  After all, the earth body did the things I am getting sent to hell for.  As the eloquent, renowned philosopher Silkk The Shocker once said, “It ain’t my fault!!!”

If it is just your soul in hell, that opens up another can of worms.  I can specifically tell you that the conditions of hell would be awful on my body, but I can’t predict what extreme heat would do to my soul.  No part of the Bible mentions the soul having nerves, so why should we expect that it would feel pain in the way the body does?  If it is physical, it is capable of feeling physical pain, but I have not often heard the soul described as a physical thing.  It is usually thought to be a spiritual entity independent of the flesh.  Most descriptions of the soul are of the ghost in the machine variety, where the soul is a non-physical being that steers our body around then hops out when the body is no longer sentient.

In order to move forward with this line of questioning, I’ll pick the most likely scenario, which is that the soul just recreates your body once you get to hell.  There is no reference to this happening in the Bible, but this explanation gets my body in hell, which for the purposes of this argument, is where I want it.  Then, we run into another problem.  Revelation says that you shall be tormented “forever and ever”.  If hell is supposed to be eternal, how can the body and soul be destroyed?  I mean, once you are destroyed isn’t that it for you?  If the torment of hell is supposed to be eternal, how can it be that you are destroyed?  Revelation refers to hell as “a second death”, but what happens after the second time you die.  Do you continue to go to new hell after new hell?  Do you die and wake up again?

Let’s assume that my body and soul are now in hell which is described in the book of Revelation as being “the lake of fire and brimstone”.  I think that would be really terrible…for a while.  The thought of an extended amount of time in extreme heat is an awful thought.  20, 30 years would be gruesomely terrible.  100, 200 years would be worse.  But, after some point, wouldn’t I just get used to it?  I mean, the thought of eternal fire is terrible, but eternity is a long time.  My immediate reaction would be a period of unbridled misery.  But, after a while, wouldn’t I forget what normal earth temperature felt like and become hardened to the torrid warmth? After a period of time, wouldn’t I get used to the pain?  I don’t think this would happen right away, but we are talking about eternity here! Even if time is different between hell and earth, there has to be some point where a person accepts their surroundings, no matter how miserable.

To understand this phenomenon, imagine a thought experiment where from the age of 15 to the age of 100 a person named Bob was awakened by a right hook to the face thrown by Mike Tyson.  Day after day, Bob is waylaid by a vicious shot the skull from the former champ.  The first 10 or 20 years of this would be awful, but after some period of time wouldn’t Bob simply adjust and accept the beating as the way things are supposed to be.  Bob would be able to brace himself and would build up a tolerance to this sort of abuse.  Any brief survey of history would lead one to believe that humans have the miraculous ability to adjust to nearly any set of awful circumstances.

Another problem with hell as it’s currently constituted is that going to hell actually removes one of the most dreadful aspects of being alive…. death.  In hell, one doesn’t really seem to have a rational reason to fear death.  The terror that humans feel from never knowing for certain what the afterlife is has been removed.  Dying in hell would be a relief to many who are stuck there.  Endless, painless silence would seem to be a good deal better than eternal torture.

There are some basic structural problems with the idea of hell that I cannot quite reconcile.  I’d like to believe that whole thing is just an idea created by humans to scare people into doing good, but maybe that is not true.  However, if it is real, you have to question its effectiveness. I really have to wonder if it is the most efficient possible use of a sinner’s afterlife.

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