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Wisdom, biblical and otherwise

Barry Smith

Just over a year ago some kind and well-meaning people knocked on my door to tell me the good news about Jesus.

As I chatted with them – or, more specifically, as they chatted AT me – I realized that they were basically the human equivalent of e-mail SPAM: unsolicited, invasive, occasionally amusing and generally serving little purpose other than to clog up my personal bandwidth. The only difference between them and the e-mail version is that they never once offered me an opportunity to increase my penis length, but you could tell that they were thinking about it.

At one point in the “conversation” the woman asked me what I thought of the Bible as a tool for guidance. I answered, only slightly flippantly, that guidance is available everywhere you turn, so really the Bible is no different than the Yellow Pages.

They haven’t returned since, but I swear that was not my intention. I truly believe that if one has a question, The Universe will answer it in some fashion – in an overheard quote, a dream, an unexpected phone call, a random newspaper headline, a Bible verse, the phone book …

Inspired by last year’s interaction, I started collecting bits of wisdom from various sources – warning labels, instructions and signs of all kinds. Anything that struck me as cosmically guiding or inspirational, though not actually intended to be such.

Now, with a collection of this random wisdom in one hand, an Internet search site of the King James Bible in the other, and some BIG QUESTIONS in mind, I’m going to put my theory to the test. I trust you are all ready to rumble.

Q: How can I be a good person?

Bible: Mathew 7:12 – “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”

Sign Over Toilet at Big-O Tire Center Restroom: “As a courtesy to the other customers, please return the toilet seat to the down position. Thanks.”

Analysis: Ah, yes, the Bible, at least the New Testament, takes the old “Do unto others …” stance. Well, what if what you want done unto you is to be given a good paddling by someone dressed as a deep-sea diver? Well, that’s fine for you, but not for everyone.

Also, what is with that wording? “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that …?” Huh? Get to the point!

The Big-O toilet sign is concise and universal – everyone can get behind a thoughtfully lowered toilet seat. Also, it ends with “thanks.” You don’t see much of that in the Bible. Is a little courtesy too much to ask for?

Like this: “Thou shalt not kill. Thanks.”

Winner: Big-O Tires. They also have great prices on all-season radials, and you can’t really say that about the Bible, can you?

Q: Why is there suffering in the world?

Bible: 1 Peter 2:19 – “For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.”

Warning Label on a 6-foot Folding Ladder – “Failure to read and follow instructions may result in serious injury or death.”

Analysis: I really am making a sincere effort here – my Web/Bible search wouldn’t give me any answers as to why suffering exists, only that it is somehow “thankworthy.” What the hell kind of a word is “thankworthy?” Who talks like that?

The ladder warning, on the other hand, is pretty clear. Our lives are rich with “instructions,” or intuition, and failure to heed them could mean a nasty cosmic “fall.” How wise! Sheesh … if only the Bible would just come out and say things like that.

Winner: The Ladder Warning Label. Remember, on the Ladder of Life, the top rung is NOT A STEP!

In my next column, I’ll continue to pit the Bible against the scribblings in my notebook as I pose some more BIG QUESTIONS: Is there life after death? How do we know God exists? Is that brimstone I smell?

To be continued …

Barry Smith’s column runs in The Aspen Times on Mondays. His e-mail address is barry@Irrelativity.com, and his very own Web page is at http://www.Irrelativity.com


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