God Is Disappointed In You
I grew up on the countryside, in a small catholic village in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Thank
God parents, I never had to go to church. At school however we used to have to pray before starting classes. I also remember when I was in pre-school, the village’s priest would come once a week for catechism and show us slides – real slideshows – telling stories of the Bible. At the time I was still learning French – I was speaking Swiss German at home – so these slides of some random dude in sandals multiplying fish and bread and healing sick people were making no sense whatsoever.
Fast-forward 20 years. I’m somewhat curious about this book that had such a crazy impact on people over two millenia. So one day, being bored in the army – a pleonasm – I grab a Bible and start reading. Few minutes later I give up again. It’s impossible to understand because it’s so weirdly written.
Fast-forward 10 more years. Mark Russell brings out a book named God Is Disappointed In You that sums up, in today’s language, all of the Bible 66 books! After reading it, I’m not sure I can tell why the Bible had such an impact on people and History. All I can say is that there are some seriously fucked-up stories in there.
Russell describes very well what I think about most religious people, who only know bits of the Bible:
The rest of the Bible remains a sort of religious hot dog, something they eat on faith without having the first clue of what’s actually in it.
Those ancient times mentioned in the Bible were pretty brutal:
When the Jews arrived at the Promised Land, they were a little irked to find the place overrun with pagans. The Promised Land was populated by many different tribes, each with their own unique culture and way of life. There were the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Girgashites… for our purposes, let’s call them “Indians.” Whenever the Jews won a battle against the Indians, God ordered them to celebrate by killing all the men, women and children. He also ordered them to kill their cattle and their sheep and throw all their belongings into a bonfire, as if the Indians never existed.
Incest was not frowned upon:
Lot’s wife made the mistake of turning to look back upon her burning hometown, for which God turned her into a pillar of salt, her punishment for the crime of nostalgia. Lot’s daughters felt it was a shame that, because their mother was salt, Lot would never have a son to carry on his family name. So they got their father drunk and had sex with him until he impregnated them both
Where does the name “Israel” come from?
God changed Jacob’s name to “Israel,” which means “one who wrestles with God.” As far as I know, Israel is still the only nation named after a wrestler.
Funky rules given by God himself:
if a couple commits good old-fashioned adultery, they’re both to be killed. But if a guy complicates matters by sleeping with his wife’s mother, then all three of them have to be burned to death, including the wife, who might not have even known what was going on
Most of the things in the Bible don’t make sense, but some things make even less sense than others:
Rather than attack Jericho’s walls in a frontal assault, God ordered Joshua to take advantage of his people’s natural hiking ability, marching them in circles around the city once a day for six days in a row. On the seventh day, they had to march around the city seven times. After completing all their laps around Jericho, the priests blew their trumpets, and all the soldiers screamed as hard as they could, which caused the city’s walls to collapse.
An interesting bit of genealogy:
King David, King Solomon and Jesus Christ would all someday be the descendants of Rahab, the helpful hooker.
Like Rahab before her, Ruth would go on to become the maternal ancestor of the most famous family line in history. King David, King Solomon and Jesus Christ would be the descendants of a prostitute and a homeless woman.
Some of Russell’s comparisons just crack me up…
Meanwhile, the Sanhedrin would ask Jesus a question, and no matter what he said, they’d spit on him or kick him in the face. It was like he was stuck in a Japanese game show.
I actually got a bit tired of Russell’s writing towards the end of the book. It seemed as if he was running out of inspiration. Or maybe everything that comes after the New Testament in the Bible is inherently more boring. But the last part about the Book of Revelation was pretty interesting. For example this:
Then the dragon will send a second beast. This beast has the horns of a lamb and goes by the number 666. (For those of you who didn’t go to Hebrew school, that is the alphanumeric equivalent of the Emperor Nero’s name.) This beast is a false prophet.
I also learned that Moab, besides being a city in Utah (USA), was a region in what today is Jordan. This solves the mystery of the name behind my Schwinn Moab A1 mountain bike. But I like my mate Groot’s explanation better: Mother Of All Bikes.
So all in all, a fun book, even if you find all religions absurd, like I do.