Once upon a time, the People of Earth were in a bit of a mess. Lots of lust and covetousness, lots of lying and cheating…
I say once upon a time, but really, this particular time was once of many times both before and after the event of which I speak, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
On this particular occasion, so the story goes, one old bloke thought enough is enough (as you do),took himself up a mountain to think about it, and came back with two stone tablets on which were written a list of rules that would keep the People on the straight and narrow.
Needless to say, there was a lot of toing and froing about this (who really wants to give up their lust and covetousness, let alone their golden calves) during which the tablets got broken and had to be rewritten, but in the end the old bloke convinced them that the rules were the Word of God and the people agreed to obey them. (There’s nothing like the threat of being struck down to make you straighten up and fly right.)
But unfortunately, the People of Earth have short memories in the context of the millennia, their baser natures are deplorably resilient, and perhaps worst of all, they have a fanatical attachment to being Right. So once the old bloke was no longer around to interpret and neither was the Messiah who followed some time later, the People of Earth got stuck into what some declared was a myth and some swore blind was the Absolute Truth and embarked on a battle that continues to this day.
As a fence-sitter in this particular battle, what I find most disturbing about it is the rabidly intolerant factionalism among those who purport to be on the same side: the Absolute Truth supporters. Each faction insists (quite stridently, in some cases) that they and they alone are the proponents of the Absolute Truth, that they and they alone are the true interpreters of The Word, and no other faction will be saved come the Apocalypse.
Which logically speaking (if I might use logic on such a delicate matter) is questionable at the very least given that The Word was transcribed more than two thousand years ago, by men relying on their memories of events that had come to pass a long time before that. Furthermore, it has been interpreted and reinterpreted from interpretations so many times – linguistically, philosophically and theologically – that any claims to one definitive truth that negates all others has a definite hotline-to-god ring about it that I find just a tiny bit arrogant.
Because what I am sure of (here on my fence) is that the People of Earth are still in a mess, that believers and non-believers are equally messy, and that telling people they’re damned is not helpful.