Sunday, January 14, 2007

But Does This Mean We Can Imagine "Doing It" All We Want?

I am finally putting this poll to sleep. It's been up for almost two months, and response has been tepid -- though not as tepid as the Garfield poll, which has been absolutely soporific.

Though when you come to think of it, how does one process a question regarding your "favorite of the Ten Commandments"? I think that most of the people who want them posted in public places don't have a favorite in the sense of really urgently needing a written rule under their noses to remind them how to resist temptation moment by moment. You know, otherwise they might just forget? They don't take the commandments that personally. That is, they don't feel that *they* need to be reminded to do or not do, as prescribed by the Big Ten.

Indeed, the Ten Commandents are not that efficient a map to the path through the minefield for anyone because, of course, most of the commandments are not self-explanatory.

Honor mom and dad -- or, more likely, dad and mom? Does that mean give up the spare bedroom or simply pay a monthly visit to the nursing home, the one the state provides for those who have given all their money to their kids. Certainly, it doesn't mean doing what parents say if they are, let us say, godless Unitarians. (Which is not the *worst* case. Think Kerry voters.)

Do not steal? Pretty clear, but what about credit card interest rates?

Do not make a graven image? Layers of puzzlement here, particularly in the digital age.

Do not murder? Define define define.

Do not covet? I suppose this one made an important point in a hunter-gatherer society, where if your neighbor has One -- a really nice One; anyone would want One that nice -- you can either steal it or kill something large and fearsome and start carving, two extremes each with a downside. But coveting today in an age of mass production? If we didn't covet, then we wouldn't go out and buy one that's identical or a little better, and if we don't buy one that's identical or a little better, we wouldn't be motivated to work hard and make money, and if we weren't motivated to work hard and make money, how would we know who the elect are, since worldly prosperity is such a useful clue to whom god favors and whom not.

The commandent should read: Covet or die.

Some of the commandments are pretty straightforward: not stealing; not committing adultery -- not much wiggle room there. But why would the prohibition against adultery turn out to be the "favorite" commandment in my little poll ...? Perhaps, it's because the word itself has such a lovely antique quality, suggesting a time when a certain kind of transgression (so sweet a transgression in and of itself) carried with it the weight of exposure, shame and even death. Sweet: "Let us dare damnation together, my dear," thus a serious sin (may I say a *ballsy* sin) and fun besides.

(But let us not skate over the death, i.e., kill-the-woman, issue, which exists still in certain cultures even today, goddamn them. I'm not a cultural relativist.)

I don't think my blog readers would go bed hopping if they failed to keep that particular "do not" in mind every waking moment. Probably, they just like thinking about sex, and this was the handiest excuse among the commandments at that particular split second in the day.

And obviously and of course, it's so small a sample it means less than nothing. It's not only irrelevant, it's misleading. Maybe one person voted eight times against adultery, out of personal desire or paranoia. Anyway, farewell to this little poll. Personally, I voted for no graven images because when I was a kid it made me think of gravy and of people with serious expressions, like the huge statues on Easter Island. It was a spur to the imagination.

It doesn't take much to make a kid happy, and that includes the Ten Commandments.

You shall worship no god but Jehovah 0%0
You shall not make a graven image 18%3
You shall not take the name of Jehovah in vain 0%0
You shall not break the sabbath 6%1
You shall not dishonor your parents 18%3
You shall not murder 0%0
You shall not commit adultery 47%8
You shall not steal 6%1
You shall not commit perjury 0%0
You shall not covet 6%1
17 votes total
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