I was recently reading William Faulkner and Ralph Waldo Emerson, and realized that people still read their words not just because of how they said things with words, but the very ideas those words conveyed. Those ideas were "truths" that anyone who reads them can appreciate, even if on different levels and in different ways.
I was also reading The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius and the writings of Seneca, and was moved by the precision and clarity of truth which they seemed to effortlessly convey in their prose. This is the same with Shakespeare and countless others, from poets to philosophers and from scientists to shamans.
Yet no one reads their words and thinks such "truths" must be properly understood, lest humanity fall into chaos, even though they are so unambiguous in their writings and the Bible is so opaque.
Do we argue of the Canterbury Tales or Aesop's Fables, or over the "true" meaning of the Epic of Gilgamesh or the importance of the Code of Hammurabi?
But let that "book" be ancient and as rife with contradiction as it is filled with rape and murder, gods and demons, and we will be willing to kill and to die for it by the millions; and all to defend morality and secure our place in heaven.
It is not that we are "flawed" that prevents everyone from seeing the "truth" of the Bible, or even being able to agree about what those "truths" actually are and are not, but that we are foolish enough to believe we are "flawed" in the first place, and that we are all in desperate need to be cured; that we will die, but someone will answer our prayers that we can live forever.
The Bible was too important a book, God must have reasoned, for it to be burdened by the need for clarity and an economy of language.
Maybe it's time for a Newer Testament, only this time without any human sacrifice.
The first commandment should be, "No one should die 'defending' the ideas in this book."
And the only sin is telling people what they must believe, and how they must live.
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