Three-year-old Miguel pressed tight against the back of the couch, frozen with terror, while the robber bludgeoned Miguel’s aged grandfather to death using the only heavy article in the room: a large heirloom crucifix that had been in the family for decades. Miguel’s parents returned home soon after the robbery murder, found the sobbing child, and began the process of healing with him. Young children are resilient. Family and friends were relieved at Miguel’s recovery.
A decade later a proud Miguel bid his parents farewell and set out to the resident mission school. He had worked hard for the privilege of attending and looked forward eagerly to further education. He was willing to work.
The school administration thought it natural to require all their students to have a crucifix displayed prominently in the classrooms and dormitory rooms. The custom emphasized the religious commitment of the institution.
Three weeks later, Miguel suffered his breakdown. For the next decade he struggled to wipe out the memory of the fatal crucifix.
The newlyweds happily occupied their first apartment. The unpacking of their possessions included the bride’s crucifix, her cherished family heirloom. She eagerly affixed it to the wall where she could look upon it from her bed as she had done all her life. She was not prepared to encounter disaster.
The proud groom was deeply committed to a religious tradition that counted a crucifix as idolatry. He could not tolerate the display of that object in any house he was going to own.
The marriage officially expired three children later. Each party bitterly remained faithful to a childhood fixation.
My first attempt at allegory provided rich material for several discussions. Today’s allegory also sets a fertile stage with economy of words. It is cathartic because I am Miguel. The details of the metaphor are mixed, as dreams usually are, with objects representing feelings. Unconscious relationships have been hidden for decades. Facing them is a relief. Long meditation has given me many perspectives on every aspect of the story.
In my life the grandfather was an interracial teen romance. The trauma was my return from the university to my birth home, opposite to Miguel’s sequence going from home to school. Variations aside, the dream or allegory taught my conscious mind that the murderous crucifix is unmistakably “Bible as weapon.” All the racism I know traces back to the Bible. Using “crucifix” as the metaphor stands for the fact that in my upbringing being anti-racist, therefore anti-Bible, was being anti-Christ. You and I do not want to believe that, but I had to live through the bludgeoning of intelligence.
The true divorce account is essential to the allegory. Breaking free from the Bible is not an isolated act of the self. Real-life religious adherence to forms does not remain private. It affects other people, as it did in the ill-fated couple. We live in a world where crucifix-lovers and idolatry-haters are wedded into a single society. Survival requires forbearance. Children require parents.
Notwithstanding the burden the “good book” has placed on Western Civilization, I realize I am not going to wean people off their Bibles. Instead of being a spoiler, I am a gentle mediator who gives students a higher understanding of what they have. We make something good of it. Recent material here has taught that we create our own worlds and our own heavens (article 52). The lesson applies equally to our religious beliefs. We need to make something good of them.
Being anti-anything is not Positive Mental Attitude, a major requirement of this blog and course. Life is being for, not against. Let us remember that bullies are healed only by the outpouring of our love. If you cannot love the perpetrator, my teaching will not solve your problem. That is what my parents and I mutually worked out before they died, and I am here to help you in the same way.
In July 2015 I used Ernstraud Magazine to criticize the Old Testament. Article 22 “Rising above altruism” recognized a distinction between “us” and “them” in the text and acknowledged gentler passages. The discussion has not ended. Years of analysis have illuminated three general areas where I have difficulty with scriptures:
Depravity of fallen man—the myth that makes organized
(Convince people they are sick to sell them the medicine; this dogma underlies self-limiting beliefs in general.)
Cleansing by slaughter—removal of “others” (unbelievers)
whether by genocide or natural calamity
(The Bible is the genocide manual; in Book of Mormon, nature wipes out unbelievers.)
Racism—variations on the theory that certain identifiable
chosen (elect) people are separate and superior
(Bible separates the chosen; Book of Mormon explicitly identifies dark skin as God’s curse.)
The books juxtapose positive glories of salvation to depressing pleas for mercy and victory over enemies. The negative aspect contaminates my reading; I find no solace. That does not justify depressing my readers. I suggest three rules:
1. Be reverent toward what other people value, at least as a respect to them.
2. Be vigilant against negative mindset cloaked as humility or another virtue; subtle attack on self-worth is dangerous.
3. Find positive replacement; choose constructive action instead of debilitating dogma.