Saturday, October 20, 2007

Taking a Piss?

"Drink water from your own cistern, flowing from your own well." (Proverbs 5:15)

"But the Rabshakeh said, "Has my master sent me to speak these words to your master and to you, and not to the people sitting on the wall, who are doomed with you to eat their own dung and drink their own urine?" (Isaiah 36:12; see also 2 Kings 18:27)
When BuzzFeed alerted me this morning to the new urine therapy "trend" (teenagers, bless 'em, they'll do anything to get rid of acne), I knew that there had to be some Bible bending afoot.

Sure enough, the first (and most compressive) site, SkepDic, welcomed me with the above Bible quotes. Robert Todd Carroll approaches the issue with the best kind of holistic medicine: a dose of scientific and historical analysis (though I do not know how many of us needed any evidence to ignore this trend). Still, it had me thinking about how bizarre trends find footing in the Bible.

Take, for instance, that first quote from Proverbs. As SkepDic points out, it is probably a message of remaining faithful to your spouse, but you have to admit, it works in favor of urine therapy activists. And there are many passages with mention of excrements, such as when God advises the Israelites to eat bread made of excrement when mingling with the Gentiles (Ezekiel 4:10-17) and commands that feces should be spread over disobedient Israelite's food (Malachi 2:1-3).

Then there is the strange-sounding exaltations of Isaiah 16:11 that in the King James Version reads: "Wherefore my bowels shall sound like an harp for Moab, and mine inward parts for Kirharesh;" but in the New International Version sounds far more innocuous: "My heart laments for Moab like a harp, my inmost being for Kir Hareseth." So if I were to whip up a religious sect in my laboratory today, using only the King James Version as a guide, I could produce Flatulence for Jehovah, perhaps in the style of the Whirling Dervishes.

Yes, bodily functions are funny; and yes, suggesting a religious off-shoot that utilizes them for worship is offensive, but what is important is understanding the diversity among and within bibles. For that reason, the Bible has become more of a Rorschach test than anything else and its proving that there are some interesting personalities looking into it.

The image above is from Dan Savage's column in the The Stranger, Seattle's only newspaper.

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