The words above are “b’tzelem Eloheem”, a biblical phrase that means “in the image of God.” Man and woman were created b’tzelem Eloheem, in the image of God. To those who believe in an all-powerful, all-merciful creator who watches over the world (God), the connection between the divine creator and His creations is more than a metaphor. Sentience, the ability to feel the many miracles (and pains) of this world, is an attribute of God. Empathy is an attribute of God. Jealousy and rage are also attributes of God. That’s righteous jealousy and rage, mind you. We are, every one of us, created in God’s likeness, animated by a divine spark breathed directly from God’s soul. Accordingly, we may never behave ruthlessly toward fellow creatures created in God’s image.
In my view we’re on our own down here, God, in whatever form we may imagine, has long ago been driven mad by the wickedness and brutal folly of those He created in His image, but that is another story.
One should not look for consistency in religious views. Humans are not known for the consistency of their beliefs, any of their beliefs, religious or otherwise. If you truly believe God has created every human in God’s own image, it would call for different behavior, difficult behavior, Christ-like behavior. You could never, for example, condone the torture of anybody. The ripping of babies from their mothers’ arms at a border? God simply would not tolerate this, Jesus would have his proverbial mildness tested. Concentration camps? No way. Poverty going back many generations in the wealthiest country the world has ever known? God would send a plague against that Pharaoh.
There are righteous followers of every religion, gentle men and women of peace, generosity, humility. These humbly religious people are one of the great hopes of humanity. There are also followers of virtually every religion who are complete, even murderous, assholes and hypocrites. To be sure, they may pray to God for guidance in how to live with the atrocities they wink at, sometimes carry out with their own hands, but these folks have no hesitation to spit in the face of the God who urges them to treat the least of His creatures the same as the most powerful, when it suits their righteous purposes.
This is not intended as a critique of religion, though there’s one image I can’t seem to shake lately. My parents toward the end of their lives, tutored elementary school kids in reading. My mother worked with one little girl, a tiny beauty, who, although very sweet, was, according to my mother, the dumbest girl she ever met. The kid simply could not grasp the first thing about reading. My parents met the girl’s parents and struck up a friendship with them. This couple were Born Again Evangelical Christians. They had turned their backs on their parents, who self-righteously refused to accept Jesus as deeply as they had. My parents became surrogates for the grandparents their kids would never know.
My mother, a woman of strong opinions, got into a dispute with them one day about the supremely simple Christian counter-myth certain believers argue: Intelligent Design. Under this theory, used to refute another theory, Darwin’s theory of evolution (merely a theory, say the Born Again, no better than our “theory”), God created everything perfect the first time, there was never any need for improvement of any creation of the Supreme Creator. For whatever reasons, my mother found this theory fantastically imbecilic, impossible to swallow. A good natured argument raged between my mother and the mother of the beautiful little girl. The husband stuck his head out of the kitchen door to chime in on his wife’s side. He was eating a banana, half of it was in his mouth, the other half in his hand. “You’ll never convince me that I evolved from a monkey!” said the father. Everyone in the room laughed, because in that moment, he resembled nothing more than a monkey. Even he laughed.
When my father was dying the couple showed up with a few other people from their church. They formed a prayer circle around my dying father and called for him to accept the Lord Jesus Christ into his heart that he might be saved from the flames of eternal damnation that await the righteous of all nations who do not accept Jesus. Had I been there, I’d have gone Jesus at the Money Changers on them, overturned their tables, dashed them out of the dying man’s sight. I was not there. They prayed over my father and left. Then my father died. And these righteous Born Again lovers of Jesus never contacted my mother, his grieving widow, after her husband died. I think about this every time Evangelicals wink at some sinful thing their politicians do, when I think of how many of their leaders uncritically support our cruel, unChristian president. “Who among us, if famous and powerful, has never grabbed a woman by the pussy in a moment of lust?”
I am thinking about this because I looked up the name of that Israeli peace group B’Tzelem, The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, and was reminded of that biblical phrase. B’Tzelem’s position is that, since Jews and Palestinians of every political orientation are all created b’tzelem Eloheem, Jews must not treat others brutally in the Jewish State. There are many current examples of the the Jewish State behaving brutally, often under the name of Ha’ Shem, God, the Supreme Ruler and Ultimate Real Estate Mogul. God gave this land to me! Who am I going to believe, God or some so-called “refugee”?
I was referred to an article that describes the Palestinian Refugee Issue as something of a massive fraud. The article was not published in the Jerusalem Post, as I was told, but here. The piece was supposed to convince me, I imagine, that since Palestinians and the surrounding Arab states are manipulating and misstating the scope of the Palestinian refugee problem, and creating this gigantic political wedge to hammer into the heart of Israel, that I should not be so quick to condemn the use of live ammunition against those who hate Israel. I haven’t checked the facts asserted in the article, but for the sake of discussion, I’ll accept everything as true. What does any of that have to do with using live ammunition against a massive demonstration? This article also appeared on the website, and I think it is more to the point and provides a bit of nuance.
Of course, as any Christian preacher will tell you, the Devil is fond of quoting scripture, and good at it. Infernally good, yo. That motherfucker can quote the hell out of biblical wisdom. Word.