“Thou Shalt Not Question”

For a long time I have infrequently thought about the semantics and direct absolutism of the Christian bible.

I don’t know a lot of scripture — I was raised Roman Catholic — but I at one time had known “the hits” of the Bible very well. In the 3 cycles of the Lectionary, A, B, C.

So Paul in all his haughty cruelty is there (“wives, be submissive to your husbands”), some old testament that included descriptions of a “flaming brassiere”, as one Lector mispronounced it (it was actually about a flaming brazier) and I saw nearly everyone in the congregation trying like hell not to laugh.

I told you I remembered a boatload of “the hits”, and so I just had to sit there on my hands, lips pursed, and watch the train wreck about to unfold over the next couple of minutes: the word ‘brazier’ appears three or four times in that piece.

And then as I watched the Republicans swearing they know what everyones’ beliefs should be, hearing hate from a living caricature of a black preacher in what was supposed to be a benediction (which has no place in politics anyway).

And I found myself going back to the one thing I had been pondering for awhile now: supposedly we they are all created in God’s image.

One of Frank Herbert’s genius quotes — and he’s perhaps the most quotable author excepting for Shakespeare — goes something like this: “The first Commandment of any religion is implicitly ‘Thou Shalt Not Question’”.

And the more I see of public displays of what biblically are supposed to be privately done, the one question I would like to ask is a question that has no specific prohibition listed in the Ten Commandments from Moses.

And it would seem that there is a bit of encouragement to ignore the illicit eleventh. It says (somewhere…Genesis?) that “man [sic] was created in god’s image.

While often God the Father is drawn as Santa, but garbed in good-for-all-seasons couture. Or Dumbledore.

But God the Son — Praise Jesus — was 200% of an individual (all-man and all-god, definitely not half and half!) that alone would make him atypical. But even granting the “holy paradox of His Diptychy-ness”, there are serious implications of the statement “made in his own image”, and anyone who attempts to bang out the thought-space around that implication would immediately be seized upon as heretical or insulting.

These days I think it’s worse to insult a christian than appear as a heretic.

I digress.

So Jesus was a man. A human male. Born to a virgin — which could only reasonably happen to a divine even because there’s the intact hymen to consider.

So Jesus was circumcised. And in those days (and still in practice today, I believe, among the Jewish orthodoxy), part of the bris involves the Moyl (the rabbi performing the circumcision), after snipping off the foreskin proceeds to drink some kind of wine (sacred?), but keep the wine in his mouth. He then puts the infant’s penis into his own mouth to bathe it in the wine.

Good Christ.

I’m not belaboring anything here, and though I’m disgusted by a practice which is no longer used (mostly), I’m not poking fun at any of it. I’m just letting my ever-questing mind spend some cycles on the implication of all of the above.

So yeah, you’re damned right I have questions/thoughts:

  1. Was the newly-detached foreskin preserved as a Holy Relic to be venerated by all?
  2. Did anyone give Jesus the birds and the bees (or in his case the bees and the Almighty) talk?
  3. Did he masturbate a lot, at least during puberty?
  4. Since Christian extremists believe that homosexuality is just about sex, since Jesus didn’t have sex (they all presume) could Jesus have possibly been gay? Or probably bi/poly, since god loves all mankind.
  5. Why is the canonical Jesus painting depicting an Anglo/Aryan man with excellent bone structure?
  6. Was Jesus’ penis significantly, differently-sized than the average Jew of that era?
  7. Everybody Poops.

Again, I am not (so far as I know) maligning christians OR christianity. If I have a single concrete reason for this entry, it’s that the crux of the Judeo-Christian corpus lands on this one line. If we were not created in his own image, how could the bureaucracies and power bases have ever formed? How could they have taken The Homeric Hymns of Hermes and refit its timeline to what is now primarily considered Jesus’ timeline?

Thus, this specific language being so important, I think it deserves scholarly attention.

If I have offended, specifically WHY? I’m not dissing Jesus, and I intentionally side-stepped any questions about his divinity. I’m giving you that one, for the purposes of this piece.

Intrepidity

At the risk of sounding morbid, tonight, 12-July-1995, twenty-one years ago to the day, there he was and was not: The He that he was was gone from a body that only knew how to keep itself going, to hell with the vacancy.

A terrible in-between where he was no longer responsive and would never ever be again. If you think this was going through my head when I was there dispatching the only duty I still had — hitting the button on the home-pump every fifteen minutes to send another bolus of morphine into his body, each time hoping wondering if this would be the one — THE ONE — that would finally settle his body and end that which had ended a couple of days before.

It has occurred to me for a moment to try to hack the home-pump, which was locked in and locked down to a certain dosage and a certain interval, ostensibly to prevent patient abuse. It was only a moment because the only things I had left to hold on to were medical protocol — and more to the point, medical ethics.

This was my last responsibility to dispatch for him. And I would do it by the book, I told myself. Irony had other plans, of course. Just before midnight (almost three hours from right this moment twenty-one years ago), I hit the button, delivering the morphine bolus.

I looked at the digital clock and it never occurred to me that Tuesday had given way to Wednesday, and that this date would be the date, The Date, and it would be permanent. And in a culture like there is in Northern California, people shy away from permanence. Lessons learned and all that.

I put my head on the mattress (all the pillows were under and around his body, his rangy limbs giving some macabre caricature of an abandoned puppet: I was never a puppeteer) and moments (to me) later, I opened my eyes to a clock that read 12:55am, the LEDs practically buzzing in the now-absolutely-silent room.

It happened and he was dead and there were things I had to do.

The only time I even flirt with Absolutes is when they are also labelled: Temporary. Intrepidity is what was required of me and I knew each and every thing that I needed to do, y’know, Before.

I kissed the cold, cold forehead of my forever man. His warmth was imagined, of course. Or maybe I had enough for both of us.

Then it was time to dispatch the last two things I would have to do: wake Allen’s sister, who had been here at home for a couple of days and leave her some time alone next to him. And call the Coroner.

Everything was off inside me. Not off-kilter, just OFF. Running on adrenaline, hind-brain and muscle-memory, I went through all the meds that were in the house so that the coroner could destroy all the opioids and other Schedule-3’s. It was strongly suggested by my always-wise mother that I not be in the room when the Coroner’s office carried his body out: that was something I didn’t need to see, she said. And I knew it was the right thing, too. And that might have been the first thing I did primarily for myself in well over two months. That decision more than anything was my final goodbye to him.

After it was just Patty and me, Patty called their mother in Colorado. It was not a long phone call. Vivian was a woman who knew economy in words as well as life, generous as she was anyway.

And after, I suggested that Patty get some sleep. I went to the bedroom and there was the shape of him, in dents and bumps on the pillows and exhaustion alone forced me to strip the bed because I didn’t have anything left in me.

I did, however, sleep for four hours on the living room sofa. That’s 4x the number of hours I’d slept in a row in at least a week.

So what happens when all that intrepidity has no cause to remain? Terror and trepidation.