Friday, November 20, 2009

Psalm 109:8

Or Bible as Bludgeon--How to Cheapen a Faith and use Scripture to Attack Political Rivals

A couple of days ago, I got a little blurb in my Facebook feed from a friend. A woman I’ve never met, but have known for years online. An intelligent, kind, compassionate friend I’ve always had the utmost respect for, even though our political and religious ideologies (if you can call mine that—I don’t HAVE a religion) are a million miles apart.

As always, I was happy to see her on my wall—until I read what she had to say.

You’ve probably already seen it. Hopefully, like me, you’ve seen it for what it is. Stupid, sneaky hate.

That’s right. My friend smacked me with the hate-mongering “A Prayer for Obama: Psalm 109.8” rubbish, which is cropping up on t-shirts, truckers hats, bumper stickers, and other classy modes of communication. For those not in the know, Psalm 109.8 reads thusly:

Let his days be few; and let another take his office

Okay. That’s not nice, but it’s not particularly bad, right? It’s just the cheesy politicizing of one’s faith in order to take a jab at a politician. Cheap and dull, but not bad . . . or is it?

As folks are so often complaining about things being taken “out of context,” let’s take a good look at that particular Biblical verse in context. Let’s take a look at it with its neighboring verses intact:

When he shall be judged, let him be condemned: and let his prayer become sin.

Let his days be few; and let another take his office.

Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.


Now, I’m willing to give some of these Psalm-shouters the benefit of the doubt—maybe they’re just stupid and have latched onto this catchphrase without being aware that it is pulled directly from a chapter dedicated to wishing torture, death, and damnation on an adversary. Maybe they don’t actually understand what it is they’re wearing/waving/typing. Fair enough. But what about those others? The ones like my Bible-studying, church-going, scripture-comprehending friend? Can we let them slide by on the ignorance defense, too?

I don’t think so. I think that, when they type/wave/shout this, they know exactly what they’re saying. And I think they’re amused by their own inherently dishonest cleverness. Why? Because, if called to the carpet on their bad behavior, they can argue, “Nooo, I just meant that one itty, bitty verse, completely divorced of its real meaning or context!” If that’s really the case, then they’ve just cheapened their faith by picking and choosing, using their holy doctrine as a cheesy little quote-generating stick with which to poke a politician. If it’s not the case, then they’ve just vomited up a deathwish for our President via King James.

Regardless of their real intent (and who can really know what that is?), the sad fact is that they’re adding to the piss in the pool. You know, Karma—if we all scatter rose petals, then we all get to swim in sweet water. But all it takes is one Psalm-spouting, Obama-hating, scripture-swinging git peeing in the pool to foul it all up for everyone.

If you’re reading this and YOU’RE one of these Psalmers, ask yourself why you would do something this dirty with what is supposed to be the inspired word of your God. Why would you use your supposed faith as a political tool or a cheap whoopee cushion? And then ask how you would respond, were someone to cut up your holy scriptures in search of pithy quotes to use against YOU. Ask yourself these questions and be honest with yourself when finding the answers. And then remember that forgiveness rarely comes without sincere remorse.

Oh, and my friend? I’m ready to forgive you.

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