The Bible was really the original Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, at least for a big chunk of Western history.
In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams invented a sort of a tourist’s guide book that could be used while visiting various sections of outer space. No matter what bizarre planet or dystopian nebula a traveler might be visiting, she could simply consult the Guide to Galaxy to determine what in the hell was going on.
Now imagine, if you will, a world in which the inhabitants were so thoroughly stupid and ill-informed that they thought that the planets they saw in the night sky must be living creatures because, after all, they moved around instead of standing still. Inhabitants who believed that their own planet was, in fact, flat as a board, and that you might fall off of the edge of it if you sailed your ship too far in any given direction. People who believed that if a man had a wet dream it was because his, “vital fluids,” were being drained by a succubus. People who believed that witches had secret teats that they used to nurse black cats.
To use the scientific nomenclature, people who were just as dumb as a bag of rocks.
For such people, life would seem very puzzling and, indeed, very frightening. They were constantly surrounded by threats and mysteries. Where does lightning come from? Do demons live in trees? Why do we sneeze? What’s a clitoris and where do you find one? Well . . . never mind that last one . . . that’s still going on.
Fortunately, when confronted by this bizarre, evil, scary world, they had a book they could turn to for guidance on nearly any subject. And not just any book. This book was written by . . . God. And, since God actually MADE the bizarre, evil, scary world, he’d be the one who’d have the answers about what in the hell was going on, wouldn’t he? All of that secret God-knowledge was contained in The Christian Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Dark Ages, also known as the Bible.
Unfortunately, there were very few copies of the Bible in existence, they were enormous, and those few copies were mainly kept locked away in castles and monasteries. To make matters worse, even if the common folks were somehow able to get hold of a copy of the Bible, they didn’t know how to read it because . . . you know . . . ddumb as a bag of rocks. All that they could do was to sit there and hold the Bible and try to guess what it might actually say, which didn’t work out too well.
And so they invented a special class of people who actually COULD read and actually HAD copies of the Bible and they called them, “priests,” and sometimes, “monks.” We see one such person in the Tarot card, The Hierophant.
The arrangement that the common people had with the priests was really quite simple. When they – the common folks – were confronted with a problem or a conundrum in life, they would go to the priest and give him money, or some eggs, or perhaps a goat. Maybe an eggplant. In return, the priest would bring out an enormous copy of the Bible, flip it open, read a bit, and then tell the common folks what God had to say about how to solve their problems.
We can imagine that this exchange might have gone something like this:
“Yes, hello Father Flanagan. Top of the morning to you. We’re here because our well has dried up and if there’s no water we don’t know how the village will come down with giardia this summer. We can’t decide if we should dig a little deeper or maybe just start a new well, so if you could look in your giant book and tell us what the God person says, we’d appreciate it. By the way, here’s an eggplant.”
The priest, for his part, would mutter a few incantations, heave open the big, fat book to a random section, and trace a few lines of the Holy Scripture with his finger.
“Ah, here it is, my children. The Lord saith, “Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind,.” Leviticus 19:14.
“Oh. Um . . . begging your pardon, your holiness, but what does that mean?”
“It means, don’t trip blind people.”
“Ah . . . yes . . . and that’s very good advice, Father. I personally try to avoid tripping blind people as much as possible. Anyone here who trips blind people?”
The common people glance around at each other, shaking their heads.
“Nope, none of us trip blind people. Well, there was Fred, but that was years ago. Still, your honorableness, that doesn’t hardly tell us whether to dig a new well. Could we maybe give it another try? Here’s another eggplant.”
“Oh, very well. Let’s see . . . um . . . “You must not lie carnally with any animal, thus defiling yourself with it; a woman must not stand before an animal to mate with it.” Leviticus 18:23
“Uh, what does THAT mean?”
“It means don’t have sex with your sheep.”
“Eeeeeewww! Gross! Jesus. I’ll have a hard time getting THAT out of my head. Anyone here sheep fuckers? No? Even Fred? No? Sigh . . . now, about that well, your priestliness.”
And so on and so on, until the priest had all of the people’s eggplants and the people had, verily, nothing but a dry well to spit in.
The problem, of course, was that The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Dark Ages, aka The Bible, wasn’t really designed for the Dark Ages, it was designed for the Stone Ages. While knowledge such as how to kill a giant with a slingshot or how to plug up the Nile River with frogs might have been interesting, it hardly solved the more complex problems of the Dark Ages. People of the Dark Ages were facing more technologically intricate matters, like how to fight dragons or what charcoal worked best when burning heretics at the stake.
The Bible simply didn’t have the answers, no matter how many eggplants they threw at it.
Now, in the very same sense, it’s entirely possible that the Bible doesn’t contain the answers to the questions we’re facing today.
How do we fight a worldwide pandemic? And the Bible says . . . nothing about that subject.
How do we stop this horrific gun violence? Nothing.
Should abortion be legal? Nothing.
Why is Donald Trump orange? Nothing.
Is Marjorie Taylor Green an alien life form? Nothing.
Why have we been cursed with the Kardashians? Nothing
It may very well be that the Bible isn’t just a very, very, very old book that lost a lot in the translation. It may be that the Bible is totally irrelevant to most of what we call daily life. That may be why the number of people who self-identify as christians has fallen from 90% in the 1950s to a mere 64% today.
It’s difficult to deal with fundamentalist christians. They’re still waving The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Dark Ages in the air and screaming that the earth is flat and we might fall off of the edges. Nonetheless, it may be time to look for a different paradigm and different answers.
At least we’ll get to keep our eggplants.
If you enjoyed this post, please remember that my book, JUST THE TAROT, is available on Amazon for much less than the cost of a Bible and doesn’t contain one single word about sheep.