I was lying dormant around the patio at Flipnotics the other day, listening to Stingray decant her anguished soul of bilious stories about the racist old bat she works with, when suddenly there hove into view this strolling Jesus dude. He wore a Jesus outfit and, somewhat hilariously, bore his Jesus propaganda not like a chalice, but like a drum majorette’s baton.
It would’ve been even more burlesque and delightful if he’d been schlepping a giant rough-hewn wooden cross down Barton Springs Boulevard instead of flitting along with that flimsy little professionally printed placard. These traveling Jesus freaks today, I swear. No sense of authenticity, of theater, of poetry. Lazier’n spinster aunts, most of’em. But I suppose I should be grateful this guy wasn’t wearing a tie, ringing my doorbell, and trying to extort protection money.
The passage in the Christian self-help book to which the slogan-schlepping Jesus-dude’s sign alluded, if you can’t make it out from the picture, is Luke, chapter 6, verses 27 through 35 (see below). You’re reading this atheist blog, which means you’re probably no Bible scholar, so I’ll enlarge: it’s the bit where the mystic Jesus character pretty much stuffs the whole of Jesusian philosophy into an executive nutshell. You know, “love your enemy,” the part that Christian monarchs and popes and other godbag despots who claim divine rights appear never to have read. Probably because they prefer not to acknowledge that their holy superhero would subvert the venerable eye-for-an-eye scenario upon which the entire social order was, and still is, predicated. “It’s nice to be nice to the nice,” the little fellow seems to be saying, “but it’s fucking awesome to be nice to schmucks.”
Too bad the Bible never had a decent editor, someone more interested in the natural economy of truth than in patriarchy. The whole unsavory Christian culture-of-domination situation might have been avoided entirely if Luke chapter 6 verses 27 through 35 was all the godly types had to go on. Instead of all that crap about penis placement and unclean whores and don’t eat shrimp.
Anyway, I present herewith two versions of the passage in question. The first is from the lyric KJV. The second is from something called New American Standard Bible. P.U.! I imagine the New American Standard Bible was published so that New Americans — a patriotic euphemism for “morons”?– could sound out a higher percentage of the words, as well as be spared the terror and the taint of any accidental proximity to literature. As BibleGateway.com puts it, the “Old English” has been sanitized of, among other things, its apparently obfuscatory “thee’s and thou’s.”
Note that, although both versions presume that the default human and the default god are male, the New American Standard edition actually changes the word “children” to “sons,” presumably for the patriotic purpose of excluding women from the rewarding (though highly unpopular) pursuit of enemy-loving.
But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.
Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.
And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.
And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.
Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back.
Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.
If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.
If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount.
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.
I’m sorry, but I can’t get behind this ill-advised substitution of the word “hit” for “smite.” And I don’t see how the delusional fanatics can, either; don’t they require giddy romance to complete the fantasy? Once you toddlerize the poetry out of it, a bible’s just fanfic.