God is an asshole.
I couldn’t think of a better way to start this story than just coming out and saying it, so there it is. He’s just a total dickish douchebag, as far as I can tell. I’m not sure if he’s a drunken frat boy or a whining toddler, but either one works, because they’re both complete assholes.
Let me back this up a bit. Sunday I found myself in church with my parents, mostly to please my mother, who, you know, had her own mom die on her last month. I’m trying to be a nice guy, you know? So anyway, I’m in church, and they do the readings: Old Testament, New Testament, Gospel (because Gospel readings get their own separate classification, even though they’re part of the New Testament, and whatever, I’m gonna shut up now). And then the sermon began. Now, I assumed that since the gospel reading was the death of John the Baptist- which is hilarious and sexist and ripe for shenanigans- that’s what the sermon would be about. Nope. Instead it was the Old Testament reading, a small excerpt from Amos, one of the… lesser books of the Bible.
Basically he went all in depth into the background of the antagonist of the story. And the more he got into it, the more I realized how wrongheaded the lesson was, unless God is just an asshole. Now, I’m not one for just assuming everything a priest tells me is accurate (I’m way into peer-reviewed studies), but a quick check at Wikipedia says his facts are straight enough, which is awesome, because you guys would not believe the level of bullshit going on in this tale. Here goes.
The place: The Kingdom of Israel. The time: Circa 750 B.C.E.
The King of Israel at the time was a super sweet dude named Jeroboam II. He was hella good at all things kingly. Seriously, he was hella good at warring; he was hella good at making treaties; he was hella good at making business decisions; and it’s just assumed that he was hella good at boning ladies, because, you know, he’s already King Awesome. Basically, he’s Iron Man.
Pictured: Jeroboam II
And when you’re king is friggin’ Iron Man, you just know your Kingdom is gonna be awesome too. Everyone was making tons of money, and blowing it all on huge parties. It was a pretty great time for the country. And just like always, whenever everyone in the country is having a good time, some jerk always tries to ruin it. That jerk? Depending on who you ask, it was either a crazed hobo named Amos, or it was God (and Amos was just his current lackey). While Amos himself pretty much admits to being a crazed hobo, for the sake of the story, we’ll assume he’s innocent.
God’s all pissed off (like always), and for really, really petty reasons (this is also fairly common). You see, two hundred years earlier, the very first King of Israel- who also just happened to be name Jeroboam, it was a pretty popular name 3,000 years ago- had moved the temple. Now why God didn’t bother to complain back in the day isn’t addressed, but sure as shit is God angry about that now.
So God’s upset about a real estate transaction from two hundred years ago, and man, will this Amos dude not stop complaining about it. God wants his way (which you’d think would be pretty easy to get, since he’s an omnipotent jackass), and he’s going to keep sending hobo after hobo to complain until he gets it. Have you ever had a hobo just rant at you for no reason? It’s unpleasant. And unpleasantness ruins parties, Jeroboam II knows this.
Luckily, though, King Iron Man has thrown lots of parties and knows the best way to deal with obnoxious hobos. “Does he have Amos executed on sight?” you’re probably asking. Hell no, of course not! Jeroboam is a sweet dude, he’s not gonna kill a guy just for being crazy. “So did he have him tossed in jail then?” Again, no way dude, Jeroboam is master of being chill. No, he politely asks Amos to leave.
Amos is all “Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of his land!”, and all Jeroboam II does is have his friend (and religious expert with a sweet name) Amaziah ask him to “please go somewhere else, you’re upsetting everyone.” And then Amos basically says “Go fuck yourself, because God says so.” The End.
No, really. That’s how the story ends. The rest of the book is just Amos talk about more spiritual nonsense, there is no further conflict resolution. And that is just shitty writing, everybody.
Now, I realize that I’m supposed to side with Amos, just because. But that’s bullshit. Using “Because God says so” as your excuse isn’t just clichéd and unthinking, it is totally amoral. Throughout the Bible, God makes some breathtakingly awful decisions and actions. But this act of epic pettiness, I was just amazed by the stupidity of it. This isn’t a “Golden Calf Moment”. Everyone in Israel is still worshiping Yahweh. His entire beef is about the literal building itself, and again, THE TEMPLE HAD BEEN MOVED 200 YEARS EARLIER. Jeroboam II had exactly nothing to do with that decision. But God just wanted his way. Because.
Now guys, I just find that sad. Shouldn’t God have better things to be doing than worrying about the light fixtures and shit? Or, if the building was so goddamn important, shouldn’t he have said something earlier? Jeroboam II probably heard this drunken, sweaty hobo talking about God’s architectural demands, rolled his eyes, and went “Sure, buddy, whatever. Could you stop breathing on me please?” Which is what any other rational human being would do in that situation.
I’m just saying, God, if you’re going to act like an asshole, I think we should treat you like one too. Because the god of this story needs to grow the hell up, okay? Cuz this shit is just stupid.