Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bible Study: Did You Even Read This Thing? Part III

Page 168 - "Try This: Refuge"
Basically, this blurb is talking about how God/the Israelites set up cities of refuge where people who had accidentally killed someone could run to and not be killed by the dead person's avenging family members. This is, admittedly, a nice idea, especially by Biblical standards. Not killing innocent people? I approve! In this article, they talk about how nice and brilliant this idea was, and include some silly little anecdotes about permed hair. Aw, it's so fun and happy and -

Guys. Article placement. On the opposite page is Numbers 31. In this story, God commands the Israelites to kill all of the Midianites. All of them. Every last one.
So the Israelites kill all the men, but leave the women and children.
And you know what God says?
"Why didn't you kill all of them? I told you to kill all of them. Kill all the women and the boy children. You can keep the virgin girls, though."
And then you know what happens to the virgin girls?
Well, it doesn't say. There's a discussion of how they're divided up with the rest of the plunder of gold and silver and livestock, and then they are never mentioned again.
Never. Mentioned. Again. Because who cares about the virgin girls? They're just women. They're just plunder.

Ah, yes, Yahweh. Good job with your cities of refuge. So you saved a few innocent lives. But meanwhile, you just slaughtered an entire tribe, including Balaam, a man who blessed your people a few chapters earlier, instead of cursing them as he was being paid to do. You just committed genocide.
Yes, you absolutely won the morality award with that one. What a loving god.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

People I Know/The General's Ditty: Part II

I wrote a piano part to this a while back but never got around to recording it. All of my songs seem to have a heavy use of broken chords in the left hand. It's not exactly fancy or full of complicated musical techniques...but it might be pretty, and I'm not completely sure I care if the thing is a musical masterpiece or what.

I also added a verse. I don't know if I'll keep it. I like it. It fits a little more with the theme of Benjamin, which is a bit about living in stories to avoid the real world. Both "Benjamin" and "People I Know" are songs I come back to to fit an emotional state. They're songs about feelings, as opposed to songs about things.
Then and again, songs really are meant to express an emotion rather than tell a story. I mean, they don't preclude telling a story, but I'd assert that music is really the best way we have to convey pure emotion. So, I suppose the thing about "Benjamin" and "People I Know" is not that they're songs about the way it feels in your head, but that they're songs about the way it feels to be in my head.
Other songs, like "Paper Trees" are meant to convey an emotion, but it's not one that's around nearly as much.
"Maybe" (which I'll have to show you sometime) is just fun to play. And "Delusions of Grandeur" really has more of a message, that of triumph in the face of existential despair, and celebrating humanity even though it's ultimately inconsequential. (Still working on the piano part  for that one. I have little practice with the blues.)
"People I Know" is a bit about longing and being trapped out of place, and finding resignation. But it's a feeling, not a moral.

I'm not sure where I was going with that discussion. Just that if you ever want to know what it's like inside my head on good days, listen to "Benjamin", and if you want to know what it feels like on the days when I'm celebrating melancholy, listen to "People I Know".

Anyway, enough talking. Here you go, pretty music!

The new verse reads:

And I know that someday
When I'm feeling okay
I'll say that I'm sorry
For hiding in stories
And running away
'Cause I missed you
And I wished that I'd kissed you
When I could still stay

Friday, February 1, 2013

Bible Study: Did You Even Read This Thing? Part II

Priceless poem placement.
On the right page is some sixteen-year-old's terrible poetry:

Page 151 - "Silence"
"How is it 
You're always with me; 
Yet sometimes,
I can't feel a thing?
 Never condemning. 
Never forsaking. 
You're too powerful for words; 
So gentle all the same."

And on the left hand side of the page is this gem of a story:

Numbers 16 - Basically, how the story goes:
The Levites have a rebellion. They say that Moses is acting way too chummy with God, and also they've been wandering around in the wilderness for like ever. They also want the priesthood (For some reason. The priests seem to have a high mortality rate. God kills a lot of them).
Moses tells them to light some incense, and then we'll see who's really holy. Or something.
Korah refuses. (I don't think this ends well for Korah). (Valid assessment, past self). 
Moses tells God not to accept their offerings, and tells Korah and his men to bring their incense burners the next day, and stand before God.
The next day, everyone's there, incense and all. Also, Yahweh makes an appearance, and tells Moses to get out of the way so he can smite these darn people. As usual, Moses has to persuade him not to kill everyone, just the ones that were making a fuss. Yahweh grudgingly agrees, so Moses tells everyone to get away from Korah and company, and not to touch their stuff.
Moses says, “Well, if I'm not the Chosen One, and I'm not speaking for God, then nothing will happen to Korah and his friends. But if I am, then the ground will swallow them up.”
Shockingly, the ground proceeds to open, and Korah and friends are no more. And then Yahweh burns the two hundred and fifty men that were burning the incense, and tells Aaron and friends to use the bronze to coat the Tabernacle or something.
Next day, everyone goes to talk to Moses and Aaron, being all, “You just killed a crapload of people!” And, as usual, Yahweh says, “Moses, get out of the way so I can kill everyone!” And as usual, Moses and Aaron grovel. However, Yahweh ignores them and sends a plague down on everyone. Moses tells Aaron, “Quick! Go get the incense burner and purify everyone so Yahweh won't kill them all!” So Aaron runs and starts purifying people, but the plague has already started and 14,700 people had died, not including the ones that died in the Korah affair.

Guys, guys, guys - copy editing. MAN. How did they think it was a good idea to place poetry proclaiming the goodness of God across from a page where the self-same God burns people alive for questioning Moses? Did they think it would cancel it out? It doesn't work that way! Maybe the most likely explanation for the poetry placement is that they literally could not find a page where God didn't brutally murder people. 
Come to think of it, that's probably it.

I'm thinking that the sixteen-year-old poet Anna did not actually read Numbers. I'm not feeling the whole "gentle" line...