The Pokey Finger of God

meditations on religion and culture

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The Bible is the Bomb

April 25th, 2006 · No Comments · culture, history

The is a very convincing and attractive collection of memes, carefully cultivated and elaborated upon by generations of geniuses for hundreds of years. Repeatedly found, reworked, and forgotten jewels of ancient tales were themselves collected, reworked and forgotten. And then the genius of Hellenic rhetoric was applied during its final reworking to produce a codex of truly remarkable human depth and inherent power.

This, the most potent psychological tool ever developed, had been used to unify the Roman Empire where armies and emperors had failed. When at last the Pope became the final word on the interpretation of the Bible and heresy was eventually swept away (or something), gradually, the Bible was set aside in a place of honor and loathing, and generally forgotten. Fewer copies were made each year, even fewer were read. The early Christian emphasis on appeal to holy writings was generally forgotten.

And then something entirely unexpected happened. Like Prometheus stealing fire from the Gods, a great treasure was lifted from the Church. It was a loss a weapon of such great power that the Church was immediately diminished and the future unity of the faith impossible. The Book that was once Universal and yet nowhere found was suddenly a standard product, the original Lorum Ipsum, in market stalls all across Europe.

The Church had never expected the Bible to be mass produced. It was intended as a manual for the initiated, not as family reading material. People learned to read just to read the Bible. All of a sudden, every country yokel and urban burgher had their own copy, and something amazing happened. Everyone became the master of their own spiritual fate and the Church became a little more irrelevant.

A mass-produced book in a literate society provides many opportunities for people to choose to interpret such a book for themselves. Something like the Bible, with its expansive history of revision for political gains, is going to provide a very convincing surface read that is inclusive and seemingly meaningful to anyone reading it in their native tongue. Much like the Pythonesque “Funniest Joke in the World”, the Bible draws on so many common experiences and pushes so many buttons that few people are able to read it without it working its way in and anchoring deep into their psyche (although not necessarily lethal). The words and the characters within are specifically calculated to evoke particular emotional states that allow the “payload” of archetypal behavior control to be loaded into the brain.

Whether you choose to join any particular association because of having read the Bible is secondary to the fact that once you’ve read a certain percentage of its total text, you will become “infected” by at least a few of its many memes. Unfortunately for the victim, having been infected, they will continue to remain susceptible to all manner of nonsense for some months thereafter.