Thursday, March 3, 2005


I’ve been following the current hoopla over the Ten Commandments with the same fascination you’d give an impending train wreck. You really have to love one lawyers’ claim that posting them isn’t really a religious exercise.  Justice Ginsberg appeared to feel constrained to ask him if he’d read the first four recently. You know the ones about no other gods, no graven images, keeping the Sabbath, that sort of thing.

I think what we have here has very little to do with faith and a lot to do with what I’ll call Civic Religion. I’m reminded of the old Roman Empire. The government didn’t really care who you worshipped as long as you showed up at the local temple to make the required offerings to the emperor.  It had very little to do with actual faith and a whole lot to do with conformity. Personally I don’t mind putting up a monument to the decalog. But, let’s also put up monument to the other great faiths. If you are going to put up a monument to one-you should open it to everyone else. I figure I’ll turn blue from holding my breath long before that happens.

I keep thinking, if this is so important to you there is nothing stopping you from keeping a card in your wallet and bringing it out and reading it regularly. If putting it on a piece of granite is important then have one made and put it in your yard. I wonder how well that would go over with some of the stricter neighborhood associations  a la the X-Files episode “Arcadia.”

And just imagine what it would be like if we actually followed the commandments. I keep picturing Moses about thirty seconds after he’s done the big run through. There’s  a long silence and then everyone starts talking at once. And every sentence begins with “What exactly do you mean by……..” Fill in the commandment of your choice.

And of course while we're all getting our knickers in a twist over this, little unimportant items like the deficit, the resumption of attacks in Iraq, that sort of thing get bumped from the front pages. Smoke screens anyone?

1 comment:

lisaram1955 said...

How would we react if the first thing the new Iraqi government wanted to do was erect marble monuments with passages from the Koran in every civic building?  I can see the Bush administration, the military, the CIA, and any other American agency you can name doing everything in their power to prevent that.  But, oh...I forgot.  A CHRISTIAN government is okay, since Christianity is the one true faith.  MUSLIM government is unacceptable.  Lisa  :-]