The Mutt’s Nuts

Where religion is about as attractive as a two week holiday in Afghanistan

Tunnel vision

with 4 comments

I’ve recently finished reading the first couple of chapters of Bart Ehrman’s new book, God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question — Why We Suffer, and I wanted to relate something that it caused me to think about. But first, watch the following short video and make sure you count the number of passes that the team in white makes:

Reading the second chapter of Ehrman’s book made me see how unaware I was of what the Old Testament really said about God outside of my attention. In the same way, when I first watched this video I didn’t see the moonwalking bear, though I correctly counted the number of passes that the team in white made. Because my attention was focused elsewhere, I missed an important part of the overall picture. It truly is easy to miss something that you’re not looking for.

The Old Testament prophets, who Ehrman quotes in order to show how they viewed suffering and how it related to God, were familiar to me as a Mormon, but somehow I had missed the implication of what was really being said. The moonwalking bear was there, but I couldn’t see it. Because of my subsequent loss of faith and accompanying scepticism and with the benefit of hindsight I can now say that it was the paradigm through which I viewed God that blinded me to the unpleasant aspects of his character. It’s quite amazing how obvious his monstrous side is.

As I read through the second chapter I was continually shocked at God’s brutality and even more so with myself that I once believed in this monster. It wasn’t anything that Ehrman said, as the prophets he quoted spoke loudly and clearly enough. Suffice it to say, as I read through the chapter, I experienced a fair few WTF! moments and often berated myself for falling for such an immensely tall yarn.

Let me share some examples of what I consider to be God’s disgusting behaviour. On a people who he considers to be his favourites and who he claims to love greatly, he sends famine, drought, blight, pestilence and destruction (see Amos 4:6-12) in order to force them to return to him and his ways. Graphically, Hosea explains that God will become like a fierce animal that will tear disobedient Israel to pieces:

Yet I have been the Lord your God
ever since the land of Egypt;
you know no God but me,
and besides me there is no saviour.
It was I who fed you in the wilderness,
in the land of drought.
When I fed them, they were satisfied;
they were satisfied, and their heart was proud;
therefore they forgot me.
So I will become like a lion to them,
like a leopard I will lurk beside the way.
I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs,
and will tear open the covering of their heart;
there I will devour them like a lion,
as a wild animal would mangle them.

I will destroy you, O Israel;
who can help you? (Hosea 13:4-9)

And there’s a yet more disturbing image of God:

Samaria shall bear her guilt,
because she has rebelled against her God;
they shall fall by the sword,
their little ones shall be dashed in pieces,
and their pregnant women ripped open. (Hosea 13:16)

Shocking and repugnant, don’t you think? We find in Jeremiah 3 that God is likened to a husband whose wife (Israel) has committed adultery. But I find it very difficult to imagine any loving husband who would threaten his wife in the way that God has threatened Israel in the above verses, even taking into account the wife’s infidelity. I think that God must be a pretty shitty husband and certainly couldn’t ever be considered a good role model for husbands to aspire to. How anyone could justify the acts above is completely beyond me. It’s emotional terrorism at it’s worst.

There’s a lot more that I could say about this, especially as it’s something that I feel very strongly about. But I’m writing this blog entry to simply express my surprise and horror that I hadn’t noticed this side of God as a faithful Mormon, at least not for what it truly is – tyrannical, forceful, controlling and merciless. It’s astonishing that you can miss that which is in plain sight when you’re concentrating on something else.

Curmudgeonly Yours


Written by Curmudgeonly

March 16, 2008 at 8:51 pm

4 Responses

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  1. So many people wonder why bad things happen to good people; If God is benevolent, than this shouldn’t happen, unless it’s for a higher purpose. Rabbi Jamie Korngold, author of God in the Wilderness, talks about this in her new book.

    Jeff Finkelstein

    March 17, 2008 at 12:08 am

  2. And what is the “higher purpose” of genocide and the mutilation of little children? I would like to know what you think it is.

    Curmudgeonly Yours

    March 17, 2008 at 11:52 am

  3. I have often wondered why Christians claim the slogan “Peace” and often use the dove to portray it, when there isn’t any promotion of peace in the Bible. That God is a brutal God. That God no more wants peace than a cat wants to be a vegetarian.

    CV Rick

    March 17, 2008 at 11:37 pm

  4. I agree Rick. Even Jesus himself says he doesn’t come to bring peace, but a sword.


    March 18, 2008 at 6:19 pm

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