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The Bible as Weapon: My Response to Christian Bullying

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I found myself on the receiving end of yet another email from a loved one, with a cherry-picked Bible verse designed to bully the reader.

This time I responded.

Here is the email I received, with the personal message, "I thought you might like this":

A Little Bible study
 
Left & Right...
 
Origin of Left & Right...
 
I have often wondered why it is that Conservatives are called the "right" and Liberals are called the "left".
 
By chance I stumbled upon this verse in the Bible:
 
"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)
 
Thus sayeth the Lord. Amen.
 
Can't get any simpler than that.
 
*********
 
Now A Spelling Lesson
 
The last four letters in American..........I Can
The last four letters in Republican........I Can
The last four letters in Democrats.........Rats
 
End of lesson. Test to follow in November, 2014
 
Remember, November is to be set aside as rodent removal month.


I always try to respond with composure, although the little spelling lesson tempted me to make a comment about having a battle of wits with an unarmed person. However, I managed to refrain.
 
Here is my response:


You thought I'd like this? Not at all, I don't like petty, mean-spirited forwards which are designed to make other people feel bad.  I don't believe that bullying others is part of God's way. It can be very good to have one's own, strong beliefs, but it's not appropriate to expect or try to force others to have the same beliefs, not in a free country.

Personally, I don't think this country can move forward until Republicans and Democrats figure out how to get along. Our Constitutional architects did not design our government to be a game that only one side wins. It was cleverly designed to try to force the different sides to work together for the common good of the people. And pieces of that worked fairly well until we gave undue rights to corporations.

Anyone who plays the game with quotations like this one, might want to remember from biology class that the heart is situated slightly to the left. And one can only assume that is what God intended.

And it is also important to remember that the brain is what controls the actions of the body. And as I am sure you remember from school, it is the left hemisphere of the brain that controls the right side of the body (and vice versa.) So one could just as easily say that the left brain is always right!

It's important to remember that many statements in the Bible were based on cultural idiosyncrasies at the time, which no longer make sense in the context of modern life.  Back in biblical days, right-handedness was considered to be "correct," whereas left-handedness was considered to be "wrong," most likely because few people were left-handed.

Thankfully, schools no longer force left-handed children to become right-handed!  But ancient associations with right and left often go back to these erroneous concepts that left-handed people are somehow bad and wrong, and this is related to our phrase, "left-handed compliment."

Also, due to primitive hygiene at the time, in many places it was customary to eat with the right hand and perform personal hygiene with the left. This is true for Hindus, Muslims and probably a number of other cultures - and it makes perfect sense in a world with no running water, toilet paper or antibacterial hand gel! So this probably saved many lives, but of course it is a custom that would not make much sense to follow today. Therefore these things must always be considered within their original context.

Also, in the ancient world, the right hand implies or symbolizes strength, and this makes sense, because most people are right-handed, and therefore their right hands are stronger.

Upon thoughtful inspection, what the author (usually thought to be Solomon) seems to be saying in your Bible verse, is that the wise person's heart inclines them to do the right (handed) or strong, thing. And the fool's heart inclines them to do the foolish, left (handed) or weak, thing.

What seems so sad to me is that many of the people who forward emails like this don't bother to think these things through. Many seem to just jump for the most mean-spirited definition designed to mock and deride anyone who thinks differently, and then smugly forward the email.  I doubt that they even realize that thoughtful people on the receiving end of these emails can easily figure out what is going on.  

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http://www.merylannbutler.com

Meryl Ann Butler is an artist, author, educator and OpedNews Managing Editor who has been actively engaged in utilizing the arts as stepping-stones toward joy-filled wellbeing for over 25 years. She studied art with Harold Ransom Stevenson in Sea Cliff NY for seven years before opening her own art school. Stevenson had (more...)
 
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Ugh.Whoever said a little knowledge is a dangerous... by Scott Baker on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 2:57:59 AM
Thanks, Scott, for all that fascinating info! ... by Meryl Ann Butler on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 8:15:42 AM
Right and left do make a whole, chop off the left ... by Burl Hall on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 6:19:56 AM
Yes, like Lillith did!  ;-)I love what you sa... by Meryl Ann Butler on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 8:18:03 AM
Thse people do not read the Bible.  Instead t... by Mark Sashine on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 7:34:31 AM
Anyone who even brings up the Bible, esp. the Old ... by Lester Shepherd on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 7:45:17 AM
It all depends- I would argue that USING the Bible... by Mark Sashine on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 8:05:35 AM
Mark, I think those "friends" were not really your... by Meryl Ann Butler on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 8:21:40 AM
I have it at home and whenever I hear or read ... by Mark Sashine on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 9:03:10 AM
I had come to some conclusions on my own without h... by Michael Dewey on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 9:57:14 AM
This was suppose to be to Lester Sherperd... by Michael Dewey on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 9:58:51 AM
Don't forget the bible is not just a christian boo... by Bill Johnson on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 8:41:47 AM
That's myopicThere was a decision once ( I think i... by Mark Sashine on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 9:17:23 AM
Mark we will just have to agree to disagree. ... by Bill Johnson on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 12:02:01 PM
I can only state what is so... About the different... by Mark Sashine on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 2:15:10 PM
Mark you can not blaspheme something not believed ... by Bill Johnson on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 3:02:05 PM
04:031:001 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,0... by Bill Johnson on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 3:03:25 PM
I am an atheist and I don't believe in any Gods. B... by Mark Sashine on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 3:18:41 PM
Mark the Canaanites were not coming after the isra... by Bill Johnson on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 3:41:48 PM
I read Age of Reason and Common sense. Thomas Pain... by Mark Sashine on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 4:20:45 PM
Strictly speaking, the Old Testament and the Hebre... by Amy Fried, Ph.D. on Thursday, Sep 26, 2013 at 11:19:11 AM
Religion plays an important role in wars in the Mi... by Richard Pietrasz on Thursday, Sep 26, 2013 at 11:31:54 AM
"The best revenge is to be unlike him who performe... by Meryl Ann Butler on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 10:24:13 AM
Thanks for the tip on the book, Mark! And I am sor... by Meryl Ann Butler on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 10:21:53 AM
It is very tough. I just had spoken with one and h... by Mark Sashine on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 3:32:23 PM
Gee, and all this time I had thought that "right" ... by Eric Arthur Blair on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 11:10:01 AM
Very well said. I agree with you about what true C... by E. J. N. on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 11:44:53 AM
Don't forget highly esteemed Daniel as he was told... by Michael Dewey on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 12:27:28 PM
Meryl Ann Butler, are you always so reactionary? I... by David McElroy on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 3:08:41 PM
Well, if the e- mail Mary  had received would... by Mark Sashine on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 3:22:16 PM
Thanks Mark, that's just how I see it.... by Meryl Ann Butler on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 3:31:37 PM
Well, Mark Sashine, I think you look too hard to s... by David McElroy on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 3:36:30 PM
 I do not see any intelligent or thoughtful d... by Meryl Ann Butler on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 3:32:52 PM
I see no criticisms or differing points of view ar... by David McElroy on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 3:40:31 PM
If opinions are like rectums... we are then all as... by Mark Sashine on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 3:54:15 PM
I would love to share this essay my youngest son w... by Tsara Shelton on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 5:32:30 PM
But I know people feel strongly about believing in... by Tsara Shelton on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 5:35:01 PM
Stunning essay, a big pat on the back for Declyn! ... by Meryl Ann Butler on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 7:40:40 PM
I couldn't agree more.     Having once b... by Cyril North on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 5:57:57 PM
Thanks for your insights, Cyril!  In this cur... by Meryl Ann Butler on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 7:42:41 PM
I often think of them as Krazy Killer Kristians, s... by Richard Pietrasz on Thursday, Sep 26, 2013 at 11:50:54 AM
Yep,  many so-called christians  today a... by Meryl Ann Butler on Thursday, Sep 26, 2013 at 12:18:42 PM
Brevity is your friend.... by Harry Sommerer on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 6:23:00 PM
Go Meryl Ann!  Your retort is eloquent, sensi... by Lise Stoessel on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 7:14:06 PM
Thanks Lise! I don't know whether my reply had any... by Meryl Ann Butler on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 7:47:32 PM
Right vs Left = "Goats" vs "Sheep" and Hawks vs Do... by E. J. N. on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 7:15:45 PM
Thanks for sharing that tidbit of information. It ... by Meryl Ann Butler on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 7:49:32 PM
The genome or DNA controls the actions of every o... by Mahalingam Santhri N on Thursday, Sep 26, 2013 at 12:55:30 AM
I'm not a Christian, nor an expert on the historic... by Amy Fried, Ph.D. on Thursday, Sep 26, 2013 at 11:26:40 AM
We must distinguish between the Jesus Americana&nb... by Mark Sashine on Thursday, Sep 26, 2013 at 12:51:32 PM
In the political arena, Repubs and Dems get along ... by Richard Pietrasz on Thursday, Sep 26, 2013 at 11:56:26 AM