Ferris Buehler stated, “Life moves pretty fast; if you don’t stop and look around every once in a while, you might miss it.” Ferris is right, even if he is a fictional character. Life is too fast, and we need to slow down and absorb our surroundings. We are trained and conditioned to instant pleasure, satisfaction and gratification, and all to seldom do we take the time to enjoy life’s simple pleasures, let alone dig into the more important parts of existence. Fast food, fast cars, fast love…we want what we want and we want it right now. This gives me concern for “fast faith.” If this is how we want our faith, we must be prepared for what we get.
Hence, back to “The Bible, part 2″, History Channel’s mini-series. It was about what I expected. As I wrote last week, I greatly anticipated this series as I am a fan of visualizing the stories and seeing them come to life. I’m still disturbed. Each story we’ve witnessed thus far portrays the character’s as somewhat troubled, yet they come up light when reviewing their faults and shortcomings. Even more so, beginning with the portrayal of Abraham, we discover they are blessed because of their faithfulness. In other words, this series would have us believe that the more faithful we are, the more God will bless us. Sounds good, but it is oh. So. Wrong. Indeed, when we read through the fantastic and sometimes confusing biblical narrative, we’ll discover this perspective to be quite the opposite. Bass-ackwards, in fact.
Some difficulties from last evenings chapter in the saga–there were too many troubling puzzle pieces, but I’ll offer these; A full half-hour on Samson? Seriously?! Sure, we need to gain some perspective on the period of the Judges, but a full quarter of last night’s installment? Then we move to the tale of David, which is of course so very rich and colorful, yet I’m irked at some blatant omissions. The Robin-Hood-type display with David on the run from a loathsome King Saul was wonderful, yet we continually find David with Uriah at his right hand. Where did they get this? Not even close. The only reason the show’s makers must have written this in is to heighten the well-known story of David’s adultery with Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. Which of course, is horrible. Yet, David’s myriad other sins are conveniently omitted.
Here’s a list:
Number One) We gain insight into David’s marriage to Saul’s daughter, Michal. What we don’t see is David locking her in the palace, to ensure she never has a child, who would then have a claim to Saul’s lineage.
Number Two) Saul’s next son, Ishbaal, (or Ishbosheth), claims his father’s throne for the northern tribes. He is assassinated by David’s men. David then executes the assassins, hangs their bodies outside Hebron and cuts off their hands and feet. The message to the northern tribes is this, “Look what I did to the those who killed the king’s son. I brought justice!” The result is that the northern tribes take David as king. He’s shrewd, yes, but let us not diminish or white-wash his brutality.
Number Three) The taking of Jerusalem is a marvelous story, one in which we again find a very brutal, vain and bloodthirsty David. They do indeed enter the city through the watershaft, (sewer), but not before the city’s inhabitants taunt him, screaming they could defeat David even if their army consisted on the blind and lame. It’s a scene reminiscent of the French taunting King Arthur in Monty Python, “Holy Grail”. At David’s command, his forces slaughter the blind and lame as a message to his detractors, “Don’t mess with me”. When Solomon builds the Temple it is law that the blind and lame are not allowed in the Temple, a long-standing reminder of David’s hubris and cruelty. No mention of this at all in History’s showing.
Number Four) Saul’s son Jonathan has a lame son named Mephibosheth, whom David takes in to his own home. Now, this sounds altruistic at first blush. Be not fooled. The young man has a claim to Saul’s throne, and is therefore a threat to David. Our new king can now once again make certain that Saul’s line will die into legend.
There is much more to come, but we’ll see what next week’s installment brings.
All this brings me to my thoughts about “fast faith”. There is cause to wonder how many of “The Bible’s” millions of viewers will take this as the story of the Bible. After all, it takes months, years maybe, to read the biblical narrative in its entirety. Why not get the whole thing in ten hours or so of very entertaining television? Not to mention the very sanitized picture of these biblical characters, and their faith that appears supersized and greater than normal. This places us in the position of figuring that we either can’t measure up to the folks in the Bible, or we’ll only gain God’s favor by what we do. This gives me the same feeling I get about a half an hour after eating fast food. Ick.
Oh, I’ll keep watching. I love the cinematography, the images, the stories and the wonder of our spiritual ancestors. Just don’t wrap it in styrofoam and put it in a paper bag.