Thursday, June 17, 2010

JTL Series: Revisiting Matthew, Chapter 13

Part 8 of my "Jesus the Letdown" series.
  • Verses 1 - 15: Jesus begins to spew deliberately inexplicable parables. When his disciples ask him why he would waste his time and the crowds' time in this way, he invents capitalism in its ugliest manifestation: "Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him."
  • Verse 17: "...many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it..." Doesn't Christianity teach that no one is righteous? Isn't that why Jesus had to come to us in the first place? Also, how does this fit in with "Ask and it will be given to you"? Sounds like what these prophets and righteous men asked for was not given to them.
  • Verses 18 - 23: Jesus shows his exclusionary tendencies by explaining his parable to his disciples, in secret, deliberately hiding the meaning from the crowds of desperate people following him. Whatever happened to the compassion he was having for the crowds just a few verses back, when he saw that they were like sheep without a shepherd? What kind of shepherd is this who deliberately obfuscates his guidance?
  • Verses 24 - 30: A parable about weeds growing in a field of wheat. Jesus obviously didn't know much about farming. He talks about the weeds having been introduced by "an enemy". Since when do weeds need any help from humans? Since when does anyone expect to grow crops without weeds coming up? Not to mention that it was Jesus' dad himself who introduced weeds into the world in the first place, according to Genesis 3:17-19. So in a sense, it was indeed an enemy who caused the weeds to appear.
  • Verses 31 - 32: Jesus makes an utter fool of himself trying to make a pronouncement about mustard seeds. If he was a carpenter, why didn't he ever use any carpentry-related parables? He would have been a lot more credible. He talks about the mustard seed being "the smallest of all your seeds". He's apparently talking about brassica nigra, commonly known as black mustard. The seeds are indeed small, about a millimeter across. But Jesus really puts his foot in it by continuing the parable. He says, " is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches." Bollocks. B. nigra does not become a tree. It is weedy and spindly, a lot like a thistle, and grows to a maximum of eight or nine feet. There is a tree called the mustard tree, salvadora persica. He couldn't have been talking about that species, as its seeds are clearly larger than those of B. nigra. Christians will want to say that the technical aspects of the parable are irrelevant, that we're supposed to focus on the intent of the parable. I say that the Supreme Being would have been able to present a parable that didn't have such glaring factual errors in it.
  • Verses 41 - 42: All who do evil will be thrown into the fiery furnace. What counts as evil? Trashing the environment? Advising people in AIDS-infested Africa that condoms make the problem worse? Regularly supplying the propagators of such nonsense with piles of money? Murdering abortion clinic doctors? Owning slaves? Seems like an awful lot of Christians will be in hell with us heretics.
  • Verse 57: Jesus gets a little touchy about his cool reception back home and whines, "Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor." Poor baby. Would we respect anyone who gets all sullen like this just because people were offended by him? Seems like the Supreme Being could have formulated his message in such a way as to make it more palatable, especially if he loved everyone as much as he claims. Seems like he wasn't working very hard to save anyone. He might as well offer rotting food to a starving person and then complain when the offer is rejected.

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