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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

The Book of Revelations

When I did the great bulk of my Bible-reading, it was during my childhood years -- before, at around the time that I turned 16, I suddenly stopped attending church, for reasons that had nothing to do with what I had found in the Bible and instead had everything to do with what others professed to practice based on what they had found in the Bible, though their conduct had turned out be total hogwash. And because in all the years since then the so-called Christians have as a whole gotten to be even more lacking in all the virtues that count, there has been no reason for me to reverse my "backslide" ever since. Meanwhile, in that same fateful year of 1946, I turned my home studies from finding out what is in the Bible to finding out instead as many of the numerous whys and wherefores of the game of chess as I could digest -- for all its difficulty a much more comfortable endeavor all around.

As a child I didn't read the Bible so often because of its moral teachings. Instead I read it for exactly the same reasons that I read "Gulliver's Travels," "Robinson Crusoe," and an eight-volume series on the American Civil War, among many other works -- because the stories in it, especially the ones clustered in the first ten books or so of the Old Testament, made for good reading. The rest of the Old Testament, and all the New Testament, on the other hand were tough going, and that ordeal was climaxed by the very last book in the Bible, the Revelations.

An article just published in the WSJ starts out by saying that that is the strangest book in the Bible, and that's exactly what I thought, and I was never able to see why it even belonged in the Bible. This article says that these (can I say it?) ravings of St. John constituted just one of numerous books of revelations that went around the Christian community in the early days, and this was the one that was chosen. The article says a little about two other candidates, but I would rather have seen something about one that supposedly is close to Buddhist meditation.

Occasionally I have made return treks to Revelations, just to see if anything has changed there meanwhile, but it remains just as uninteresting, unreadable, and even unintelligible as ever. This article tells us that after all the dark, grim stuff, the reward in reading it comes in the hope that it offers us after we have slogged through all the dark, grim, insane stuff. But that strikes me as being a pitiful reward indeed, especially when you consider the very lopsided ratio of that book's darknesses to its lights.

It is an unwritten but I believe a valid rule of good writing that you stay as far away as you can from relating a character's dreams and even more his nightmares, whether they came to him in the night or during the day. The hearing about them tends to get tiresome quickly.

Whoever finally put together the Bible from all those texts floating around during the time of Constantine the Great violated this principle big time.

And maybe also they should have arranged the Bible so as to first make it much more hospitable to the reading of children, the best time to net the biggest catches of the adherents, though that may not endure, as my experience shows.

In short the Bible needs many more interesting stories and much fewer moral teachings for lightly educated preachers to ring endless changes on and to try to dupe us into believing that they know, better than anyone else, what are the best ways to go.


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