The mundane vs. the divine
(Note: This is the conclusion of a two-part column.)
By Barry Smith
Here’s what’s happening: Based on last year’s run-in with some nice people who insisted that the Bible was the ONLY place where one can look for divine guidance, I decided to test my theory that cosmic guidance is available in ALL versions of the printed word, not just in the Bible.
So, for the past year I have been scribbling down little bits of text from various signs, warning labels, instructions of all kinds – anything I encountered that seemed potentially inspirational, though was clearly not intended to be.
Last week I posed some BIG QUESTIONS (“How can I be good?” “Why is there suffering?”) then pitted the Bible (King James Version) against these other not-so-divine works. The Bible’s answers have thus far paled in comparison to those offered by a sign over a tire store toilet and a warning label affixed to a 6-foot ladder.
Let’s continue the fair and balanced competition – and may the best text win.
BIG QUESTION: How should I treat my wife?
BIBLE: Leviticus 15: 19, 29 – “And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days. And on the eighth day she shall take unto her two turtles, or two young pigeons, and bring them unto the priest.”
TOSHIBA INTERNAL DISK DRIVE WARNING LABEL: “Caution! Do not disassemble or modify. Do not push on the top cover. Handle only by sides of base. Avoid giving shock. Do not cover breathing hole. Rattle noise is normal.”
ANALYSIS: Well, I can only speak for my own marriage, of course, but I just can’t see that locking my wife away for seven days each month during her “issue” is going to go over very well, any more than demanding that she walk around with turtles and pigeons after the coast is clear. Seems like a domestic abuse charge waiting to happen.
However, it sounds like the folks at Toshiba are marriage counselors first, and designers of fine electronics second. Every one of those koans-masquerading-as-warnings are recipes for a happy marriage. Especially the part about the rattling noise.
WINNER: Toshiba. Their motto says it all: “Committed to people. Committed to the future.”
BIG QUESTION: Is anyone watching over me?
BIBLE: Psalm 23: 1-2, 4 – “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
SIGN IN LAS VEGAS PARKING GARAGE: “Park forward. Set your brakes. Lock your car.”
ANALYSIS: I appreciate the Bible’s sentiment, but being made to lie down in green pastures is not a good idea, not with tick season upon us. Also, it seems like if someone was looking out for you, they’d guide you AROUND the valley of the shadow of death, not right through the middle of it. And when I think “comfort,” the first two words that come to mind are neither “rod” nor “staff.”
WINNER: Gotta go with the garage sign. Even if someone is looking out for me, I’ll spend the extra two seconds and lock my doors, lest someone with a rod come along and use it to pry out my stereo.
BIG QUESTION: What’s a good cure for insomnia?
FINGERPRINT INK PAD AT BANK: “For best results make sure fingers are clean. Keep pad closed when not in use.”
BIBLE: Ruth 4:18-22 “Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron, And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab, And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon, And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.”
WINNER: No need for analysis, the Bible takes this one hands down.
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For those of you who follow my monthly missives, and occasionally read between the lines, you may have noticed a trend toward a bit of cognitive dissonance and some internal conflict on my part.