We hear a lot lately about “Biblical proportions,” referring to the news, the weather, and other goings-on. So I got to thinking what it would be like to read about our times written up in the style of the Old Testament, maybe as one of the long-lost Dead Sea Scrolls. (My friend Joy says I indulge in “Torah fan fiction.”) Some of us are accustomed to reading and scrutinizing the old stories more than the new. Therefore, I provide this opportunity to analyze today’s news through another lens, and possibly draw conclusions, and pattern our lives accordingly. I shall footnote my own commentary… and welcome yours.
1. And the world had grown rife with Authoritarian Men who craved power and wanted always to be considered proper and correct, regardless the evils they wrought. 2. They pandered to the wishes of the People, promising the moon and stars and space forces and proclaiming themselves virtuous even as they hid the truth and lied. 3. And the People bolstered the power of the Authoritarian Men, and were so stiff-necked that their phylacteries fell over their eyes, as 4. they turned their backs on laws which would have protected them, 5. referring especially to conserving the earth, tending to the sick, caring for all of life, tithing, doing other mitzvot.
6. Though wise scholars informed the People of the predicted fate of the planet were they to pursue polluting, dumping, clear-cutting, fracking, poisoning without restraint, 7. the People heeded not. 8. And the planet grew wild with invasive toxins, including but not limited to fungi, insects, mold, giant poison ivy, and other entities that kill old-growth trees, ocean life, people, and life-sustaining bees, among others.1
9. The People knew not what evil was being wrought, as they had set their eyes on idols and hoped for riches and salvation and tax breaks for the wealthy.2 10. But the riches and salvation were fool’s gold, and came at the cost of life itself. פ
11. And it happened that the forests were dying and the animals were suffering and a great plague took hold, transferring to humans and spreading over the world. 12. And a great plaque was visited on the world, and half of the People were unemployed. 13. The great plague was stealthy, often showing no symptoms in some while visiting pain and death on others. 14. The great plague took a different toll on the elderly, those of darker skin, those in poor health, and perhaps those with certain blood types, infecting the blood and causing clots while suffocating its victims. 15. And many of the unaffected People believed it not, feeling that the plague was just a cold which could be staved off by antihistamines, until they themselves were infected. 16. And the Authoritarian Men used this plague to their advantage, demeaning those suffering the most, deeming them disposable.
17. And the Authoritarian Men everywhere saw the trembling earth not as a threat, for 18. Authoritarian Men cannot view or acknowledge threats lest they lose their authority, and besides they started and became responsible for these horrors as means only to enrich themselves and their colleagues.3 19. The Authoritarian Men let the plague spread, ignoring deaths and suffering while seeking only to retain their own power and to appear to be in control. פ
20. Meanwhile, corruption increased, yet the People continued blindly. 21. For the People were divided, some wishing further to restrict healthcare even during a plague and unemployment, and some wishing to control women, and some wishing to preserve the State of Israel for the End Times,4 and some wishing People of only one skin tone to hold sway, 22. and some holding other unsavory opinions, taking example from the Authoritarian Men and declaring themselves correct. 23. Some of the People hated and hurt others not like them at increasing rates, 24. yet as those rates increased the amount of authoritarian power distributed to the few also increased, 25. until the hating and hurting became a part of the authoritarianism, rather than something which should be stopped by a government under civil law or by dint of guilt under any faith extant.5 פ
26. So now, as the Authoritarian Men go about their business gaining wealth and power, the People are at war with themselves. 27. The People are fighting over whether to keep their neighbors safe from disease. 28. The People are fighting over whether or not people are helpless in their unemployment during a pandemic. 29. The People are fighting over whether they universally have oppressed and continue to hold back people whose skin is dark, and whether they should stop.
30. We the People are fighting over whether women are intelligent enough to work with doctors and decide on their own health care. 31. We the People are fighting over whether to continue tossing people in jail, unless they commit white-collar crimes in which case we set them free. 32. We are fighting over whether we can trade with our neighboring countries. 33. We are fighting over whether we can let in immigrants who might take more of our freedom and liberty than we can spare. 34. We are fighting over whether to have a functioning Postal Service. 35. We are fighting over whether news media should bring us news or should cater to our polarized tastes.
36. We are fighting over whether Authoritarian Men should be allowed to proclaim lies again and again so the People will believe them and give more power to the Authoritarian Men, and whether wealthy entities should be allowed to finance the media for that speech.6 37. We the People are fighting, and it ends not. פ
1In line 7, the author waxed legalistic, but called it dead-on. If trees and bees die, life cannot continue for more than a few years.
2The People apparently found it difficult to understand that a percentage tax break of a dollar a month for the lower middle class yields a tax break of $3 million for the upper class.
3It doesn’t matter what part of the political spectrum, an authoritarian is an authoritarian. They are usually bolstered by oligarchs who don’t care about the politics at all.
4About those End Times and the coming of a messiah and bringing together the people from the four corners and all that… We all are now unified as one nation through social media, by which many of us meet and hold religious services. Place has become irrelevant. Maybe this was all we were supposed to accomplish, a virtual unification from the four corners, and we are not even noticing it. One large temple, worldwide, and here we are, all looking forward to getting back to our little shuls again, separate from our Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and other family members. Maybe the End Times are near.
5So why are the People doing this? Because everyone wants some tiny part of the universe to be exactly as s/he thinks it should be. And to get that piece of the perceived pie, they are willing to pledge allegiance to liars and shysters who want only more for themselves and are willing to promise obsolete jobs, guns, and a few walls to get it.
6The People drool over promises of that which they believe will make them feel good, regardless the merits. For the promises made rarely see fruition and the cost of those promises may well be their lives and their very souls. Our lives and our very souls.
Apply your own exegesis, hermeneutics, drash. And let’s discuss.
The facts of the story remain the same. Interpretations may vary.