This is a bit different from what I normally post here, and if it offends, I apologize. However, I think it needs to be considered.
Watching just the first two episodes of “The Family” on Netflix, two Biblical references struck with me with a kind of “Ah ha!” feeling. It was an epiphany or a mini-revelation if you will. I Realized that this kind of thinking may be why Trump supporters so easily dismiss outrageous, vile, hateful, racist and anti-American behavior. They think that they can use biblical stories as precedent and justify it as “God’s will” as long as it gets them what they want.
But let me state that “The Family” is based on a book of the same name by Jeff Sharlet. It is supposedly his own personal experience, about in fact could be no more than a new conspiracy theory. Judge for yourself. The show on Netflix is here: http://bit.ly/2ToNqMa
The first Biblical reference that concerned me was Psalms 137, verse 9, which in the King James Version of the Bible, reads: “Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.”
This refers, according to the commentators (Matthew Henry et al) basically to the wish of captive Jews in Babylon as something they prophesied or wished to happen to their captors — in this particular case, the children of their captors. To many of the commentators, this is justified as an expression of “God’s will.” Or God’s “righteous revenge” if you will.
No matter how I look at this, it seems intolerant, arrogant and hateful — hardly things I would like to associate with a loving God.
The other refers to David and Bathsheba (see 2 Samuel in the Old Testament). Just to make it short, Jewish king David (the same David who killed the giant Goliath) lusted after another man’s wife (Bathsheba), with whom he subsequently commits adultery (resulting in pregnancy). He then orders Bathsheba’s husband into battle specifically so he will be killed (he is). Later, he takes Bathsheba as his wife (apparently the favorite of his many wives, and the mother of famously wise Solomon). Despite his great sin and the blood on his hands, David repented and gained back favor from the Lord. He was said, in fact, to be an ancestor of Jesus.
In any event, although David is revered in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, his story to me is dripping with violence, intolerance, racism and callousness. And yet he repented, so all is forgiven.
Actually, the idea of being unconditionally forgiven if you are contrite (and in the case of Christianity, accepting Christ as your savior) is, of course, very tolerant and appealing. However, some simply take it too far. In my younger years, I heard preachers say effectively that you could live a life of evil as long as you repented after each vile act. Some even gave the impression that sincerity — specifically, a lack thereof — was not important as long as you went through the motions. Repentance became an empty ritual, which nonetheless unfailingly dismissed a multitude of vile deeds. It was like a murderer confessing his regret and remorse and being told, “Go and sin no more” — over and over and over again.
This has long bothered me, and doubtless is in part why I am not a believer anymore. It says, in effect, that you can do anything you want — any evil or illegal or immoral thing — and all you have to say those magic words and all will be well. It justifies anything!
Although the emphasis with the Family seems to be on Jesus (they promote “Jesus,” a book of just Jesus’s saying and a concept called “Jesus plus nothing), the teachings seem to emphasize some of the more violent and questionable sections of the Old Testament.
All you biblical scholars out there are welcome to correct me if you feel that I am wrong, but this appears to say that violence, murder, even genocide, is perfectly OK if done under the aegis of “God’s will.” Anyone can say some act or proposed act is “God’s will” and if he (or she) can get enough people to follow, any manner of evil can ensue.
This goes a long way in explaining — to me at least — how Trump got elected and how his supporters (in Congress and elsewhere) can glibly dismiss his foul deeds and shortcomings, as well as their own. They can claim it is “God’s will,” using biblical precedent. And in the end, if things go badly for them, they can just say, “I repent.”
Of course, thoughtful and sincere Christians, with whom I have no argument, can argue that this is not the message to take away here. But it is a matter of interpretation, which is exactly my point. It is, I fear, what is going on in Washington and elsewhere these days. (For the record, I don’t think it actually factors into Trump’s 5th grade thinking — I don’t think he gives a flying rip one way or another as long as he gets what he wants.)
Every American, and especially those who claim to be Christian, Jewish or Islamic, who does not speak out about this, is complicit in the result, in my opinion.