November 15, 2002

Seven sinless people in the whole history of the world

In patriarchal religions, no matter what you do you can't be in full compliance with The Rules. That is very bad for one's mental health and self-esteem. Yes, this is a sore subject for me, and one of the grudges I hold against such doctrines, under the pernicious pervading power of which I grew up and still live to a large extent, though striving eagerly for liberation.

I heard many years ago from my Rav Eli Carlebach, of blessed memory, that it says in the Talmud that in the whole history of the world there have been only SEVEN (7) people who never in their whole lives committed any sin. (The story was later picked up by the Roman Catholic Church, though of course their seven sinless people are not the same as in the Jewish list.) So if one wanted to live a life free of sin one would be doomed from the start: if only seven people in history succeeded one would have a MUCH greater chance of winning the lottery, being struck by lightning or going through some other highly unlikely event. So it seems to me that according to those doctrines God WANTS me to sin, i.e., to fail to hit the mark. Why make a set of rules that only seven people, of all the millions that ever existed, could observe it its entirety, without any deviation? Yes, I know: I sin, God forgives me, we're all friends. But what about my self-esteem? I'm a miserable sinner who can't do anything right. That we are ALL sinners is one of the basic tenets in both Judaism and Christianity. We are constantly in need of forgiveness, absolution, pardon, amnesty, indulgence, clemency, exoneration, conveniently arranged, of course, by the religious establishments. Am I the only one who thinks this is sick?

Would an allegedly loving, all-compassionate Deity create such an impracticable, virtually impossible-to-follow set of rules? Or else the supposed "crown" of His creation � i.e., we � is a complete failure.

I wonder whether perhaps He is actually some minor spirit, allowed by His elders and betters to play with this remote splattering of mud � i.e., our solar system area of the Milky Way � as His fiefdom so as to keep him off the streets and out of worse mischief, sort of like Napoleon being named Emperor of Elba. That could account for His Meanness and His Bad Temper.

It wouldn�t take much to impress us human beings with a few Divinity-like trappings; a few relatively elementary tricks and our jaws would drop in awe.

Another thing I could never understand is why a sinner who repents is supposed to have preference over someone who has not sinned (not that there are so many of those). Isn�t that an encouragement to sin for someone who wants to please her/his God?

I know: it's all a mystery, unfathomable for us "mere" mortals. Well, if you can swallow it and are happy with it that's great. But throughout history followers of patriarchal religions have pushed and pushed their modes of behavior (I refuse to call it "thought") to the point that everyone is suffering under them. In spite of the first amendment to the US Constitution ("Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.") we have laws regarding who can get married that reflect Jud�o-Christian doctrine as well as many other laws also upholding Jud�o-Christian ideas. Including a sneaky pronouncement which, under the guise of extending health insurance benefits, is a horribly dangerous blow to women's reproductive freedom of choice: read about it in Raye's blog. As Raye writes very aptly: "this isn't a slippery slope any longer. It's a headlong dive off the cliff."

To any Jud�o-Christian who might feel what I write attacks her/his religion I say: Do you see now why many of us non-Jud�o-Christians resent your religion(s)? Indeed, the free exercise of religion should not be impeded, but that doesn�t include trying to control the behavior of others. Don�t have an abortion and don�t marry a person of the same sex if your religion forbids it, but do not try to curtail my freedom to do so if I want to, since MY religion does allow it.

You personally may not have burned any members of my religion at the stake, but prominent members of your religion(s) have, IN THE NAME OF YOUR RELIGION(S) and supposedly in compliance with their commandments. But we'll leave that, as a reason to resent your religion(s), for another blog entry.

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