STRETCHING THE TRUTH FOR THE TERRORIST ALMIGHTY
BY DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS
May the Terrorist Almighty forgive the Devil’s Advocate, for the Devil loves the Terrorist Almighty most of all. The Manifesto of the Devil’s Advocate presented Beloved David as a liar, thief and mass murderer. David’s god is identified as the Almighty Abusive Father of Terrorism, a terrible model emulated to this very day by those Judeo-Christians who project their vices upon him; vices that are, with all due respect to our respective races and creeds, those of the entire human race. However, notwithstanding the protests of protestant conservatives, and despite the liberal’s occasional backsliding on the conservative slime into the loathsome muck, the creative process is a progressive evolution; hence history is constantly being rewritten to bring history up to speed/
According to certain Talmudic revisionists, King David allegedly said, “This nation (Israel) is distinguished by three characteristics: They are merciful, bashful, and benevolent.” (Yevamot 79a). As for David’s god, the phrase ‘merciful and gracious God’ does appear nine times in the Bible, therefore there is some justification for loving revisionism when it comes to the Terrorist Almighty and those who fear him or else doom, and even then doom. As we have seen from the Psalms attributed to David, crushed people are closest to his god, and his god helps him crush enemies for good measure:
“It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect… I pursued my enemies and crushed them… I beat them as fine as the dust of the earth; I pounded them and trampled them like mud in the streets…” (2 Samuel 22:33-43). Yet his god is merciful to Jews: “Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let us fall into the hands of men.” (2 Samuel 24-14). Indeed!
Fellow Jews must not be hated in any event: “Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt. Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but have your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:17-18)
From such glimmers of mercy in the Old Text, history advances to universal love. Hillel the Great (b. 70 B.C.E.), founder of the lenient school which accommodates the strict law to current progress, reportedly said, “Whatever is hateful to thee, do not unto thy fellow man; this is the whole law; the rest is commentary.”
Yes, human history advances. If it were not an advance, history would be irrelevant, of no more significance to us than the virtually infinite number of grains of sand in the desert is to a camel in want of water. Then the sacred scriptures, made sacred because man is endowed with progressive reason, would serve us better as cooking fuel than as enlightening reading material. And on the last day of the regression to the original golden age, man would no longer be man whose essence is ‘ma’, or he who “measures out” thought or conceives conceptions after his mother issues him forth; he would instead be an innocent beast again, a brute beyond the moral or thoughtful distinction of good and evil. Thank God then for the Devil in Paradise, or vice versa, for without the dialectic of the sacred Adversaries, we might be brutal chimpanzees, or better yet, pacifically inclined bonobos, for whom sexual intercourse is a mere handshake, so to speak.
In any case we should take history in the context of its times and circumstances. Crude times have crude gods. The Devil’s Advocate took evil out of context, ignoring the good he secretly loves. Wherever evil is found, there some good is also located, wherefore there would be no good god without the Devil. Furthermore, present and future good is the progress from prior evils which were goods at the time. But now the Devil would persuade us that the archaic god is the Devil himself by illuminating the creator-god’s destructive aspect. But we should keep in mind that the Devil or Satan loves his god above all; he refuses to love man, hence he is the one and only truly faithful monotheist. The Devil does not slander the true god, he denounces the faults human beings project onto their false idol. Indeed, his hidden love for god is hate-based love: he must have something to hate in order to love something else; he hates man to love god; he hates others and their kind in order to love himself and his kind; he loves himself to hate himself; in his self-consciousness he is a self-negating nihilist who has faith in Nothing.
We may trace the Devil’s diabolical development in the psychological genesis of the individual human being: he falls from the womb with an oceanic feeling of omnipotence but is soon confronted with the resistance against which he righteously rages when he does not have his way; but when his hate gets him nowhere or worse in the face of overwhelming forces, his fear teaches him to love the world in order to save himself from the struggle defining him. In other words, human life is a willing relation between a would-be omnipotent subject and its natural object, the world that includes other omnipotent subjects with whom compromises must be made in order to survive. In plain language, the rule is simple: love people and their god or get your ass kicked – the Devil is god’s Golden Ass.
In his personal capacity the almighty Jewish lord is not only violent and abusive: he is loving, forgiving, merciful, charitable; and his people aspired to his virtues and thought they deserved the abuse as punishment. The awesome Hebrew god certainly had a violent self-loving disposition, but that violence was tempered by other-love; love at first for “his” tribe, then his nation, and then for all who obey a few commandments whether they are obeyed in his name or not. Judaism, in contradistinction to other world religions, believes that a non-Jew who obeys the seven commandments given to Noah shall attain heaven whether or not he believes in the Torah. That “righteous Gentile” (1) believes in one god, not necessarily Jewish, (2) establishes courts of law, (3) does not steal, (4) does not commit adultery, (5) does not worship idols, (6) does not curse god, (7) does not eat certain parts of animals. Therefore the Jew has no ‘altruistic’ need to proselytize in order to ‘save’ Gentiles. The Devil’s Advocate made much of the Jewish god’s hateful personal characteristics. This advocate is really a Persian or Christian advocate, since Jews recognize that their god is fully responsible for both good and evil. In any case, Satan’s complaint really appertains to man’s faults, for the fallen angel loves his god. Be that as it may, Judaism’s god is ineffable and cannot really be defined by language or properly denoted to by means of any particular form or name. The most that can be said is “I AM.” The “He” is an anthropomorphic figure of speech cited by way of example for personal convenience, But no person can be YHWH; even posing that position would be a slanderous and blasphemous imposition, Jesus being a case in point. Neither could Jesus be the Messiah, for Jesus did not fulfill the prophecy of universal peace and universal recognition of one god, hence he was a “false” prophet.
Now we can employ the ambiguity and hypocrisy of the ancient texts for good or ill, or we can simply discard them as hopelessly contradictory. The Jews have taken some ancient provisions literally, as immutable traditions; for instance, the prohibition against eating “unclean” pork is observed even though modern science declares pork to be safe for consumption if properly prepared. But the doctrine of immutability does not apply to moral perceptions. Morality evolves or improves over time. The prophets protested many of the old injunctions; for example, Ezekiel (18:4) annulled the barbaric biblical doctrine (Exod. 20:5) prescribing punishment of children for the sins of their fathers – it appears the remnants of the Canaanites and other Palestinian descendents of Noah have been excepted from the annulment. Children in ancient Jewish schools were encouraged by corporeal punishment to ask questions, to participate in critical discussion of the Torah, and to give answers accordingly. Down through the centuries the rabbis and scholars kept up the debate over the right practice of morality; Jews are “of this world”, hence good works are the way to love one’s neighbors and to beautify and glorify god. To condemn the Jews because of the barbaric incidents recorded in their ancient history would be to condemn the entire human race along with a culture considered by many objective observers to be morally and intellectually superior to any Western culture; it is a culture that should be more famed for its love than infamous for its hate; it is an Eastern culture that may have done more to inspire Western civilization than the ancient Greeks. If only Jews could love others more than they love their own brothers, perhaps the Messiah would return pacific instead of militant, and Earth would be the temple of universal peace.
Yet love alone is not the panacea we want but is rather like Pandora’s Box – Pandora the All-Giver let loose from her amphora all ills upon the world but the one deemed to be the best ill of all because it made the rest tolerable and induced humankind to expect more than its foolish lot may obtain; that is, Hope. To be-lieve is to be-love: In fact the ancients found love to be the cause of many ills including madness, and therefore set reason against it as a restraint. But reason was all too often a dog tied behind love’s cart. When reason did take the lead from time to time, it received a rather bad name for killing love, and its detractors plead ignorance as a religious virtue. On the other hand, dogmatic skeptics suspended judgment and claimed that the ignorance of ultimate matters obtained by the reasoning power is a secular instead of a religious virtue. Love moves us to want All or Nothing, liberty or death, which is to say the same thing.
What is love? Love, for example, is your life, which by all means would endure forever if it could. Love is not fond of any impediment to the satisfaction of desire. On the whole love wants absolute freedom, but in individuals it craves particulars, that the individual may persist as a particular individual. Thus it is said that he who loves all loves nothing in the incomprehensible identity of Being and Nothing, Creation and Destruction. He who loves everybody loves nobody. Reason may restrain the affections and divert attention from particulars towards the abstract universal; the ultimate diversion to the unknown may be called the love of god universal, an operation some thinkers have identified with an instinctive counter-will or death instinct unconsciously tending to the dissolution of the willing, suffering, divided in-divid-ual. Hence those who love god the most may seem to hate the world and to love death so much that they are moved to devote their lives preparing for death instead of loving the particulars of life. In fact, the loving holy man may be viewed from the antipathetic perspective as the most arrogant and hateful man of all men.
In any case it seems that love and hate are Siamese twins, and that gods or demons who preach one to the exclusion of the other are fools or fanatics. Jews for example have certainly evolved, but not to blind, unconditional love. Love without law is perverse and immoral. The moral majority hates evils and loves goods, whatever they might be. Ecclesiastes 3:8 informs us that there is a time for everything including war and hate. The Talmud (Taanit 76) allows us to denounce arrogant people as evil and to hate them. Psalm 139:21-22 sets this tone to set the universal above its inimical particulars: “Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord, and abhor those who rise up against you? I have nothing but hatred for them. I count them as my enemies.” The Talmud (Pasachim 113b) allows us to hate sinners. Furthermore, the Talmud (Yoma 22b) specifies that any Torah scholar who does not take revenge is not a real Torah scholar. After all, to defame the Torah is blasphemy. As for the Leviticus injunction against revenge, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge,” the Talmudic scholars point out that the injunction appertains only to Jews, because the vengeance of Jew against Jew would be an assault upon one’s own body, which is absurd. However, Numbers 25:19 clearly states, “The avenger of blood shall put the murderer to death; when he meets him, he shall put him to death.” But the courts took over capital punishment, and the death penalty was rarely handed down. Death, by the way, was prescribed for violation of any of the Commandments; but kids, for example, were rarely dragged to the gate and stoned to death for disobeying their parents. Moreover, the biblical “an eye for an eye” was seldom enforced in the courts; damages were paid in the form of money or goods instead of an eye.
Returning to our enemies, whom we should not hate by rejoicing at their fall, the Mishnah explains that we should not hate them at the exact moment of their fall, but we can hate them before the fall and we can be happy they fell after they have fallen. Nonetheless, it is all right to rejoice at the moment when non-Jewish enemies fall. We note that most of the Judeo-Christian world, not to mention a goodly portion of Islam, exulted at the thud of Saddam Hussein’s body made at the end of the rope. On the subject of hating sinners, we learn Jewish sinners are only hated in order to get them to repent.
We might ignore the nitpicking casuistry which excuses deeds we originally thought were prohibited, and sum up by simply saying it is quite alright to hate evil people. But no, we need casuistic stretching to refine the differences between right and wrong and to bridge the gap between good and evil. We would introduce principles suiting our present purposes while seemingly remaining faithful to the old principles. For example, after careful consideration of the texts, we might argue that missionaries should be hated because converting a Jew is one way to murder him; therefore, it stands to reason that missionaries are murderers. We are commanded to stone murderers to death, but that is carrying the metaphor too far. Neither do we take the commandments literally and stone to death all those who do not observe the Sabbath, who steal, blaspheme, commit perjury, covet wives and other property, have some god before the almighty god, worship idols, commit adultery, dishonors parents, and who actually murders someone. In fact, if only we would give ourselves greater latitude and use our freedom to stretch the old narrow truths far enough, even to the breaking point in some cases, the world might be a much better place to live in. Thus sayeth the Devil’s Advocate.