Ah, yes, November. Month of harvest, fall, Thanksgiving, and that special hell known as NaNoWriMo.
And yeah, I know, I swore I never would, but I’m doing it again.
Look, it’s no big. I’m going to use it to finish Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 4: Numbers. And I know some folks will complain because it’s supposed to be a novel and it’s supposed to be fiction, but hey – the Bible is fiction. And I’m of the opinion that NaNo is no use unless you can use it to further your writing goals. In my case, my goal is to get this damned book done, because I’d like to spend less than 66 years completing the Really Terrible Bible Stories series.
Dana Hunter is a science blogger at Scientific American and a blogger at The Orbit network. On her Rosetta Stones blog she is known for her writing about Mount St. Helens, her travel blogs about her geological adventures, women in science, and other gneiss schist. At her blog En Tequila es Verdad she writes about atheism, religious extremism, the implicationas and effects of religion on women, and many topics relating to social justice.
Dana joins us this Sunday to discuss her recently published book, Really Terrible Bible Stories – Volume 3: Leviticus….
Join us this Sunday as we discuss God’s instructions for BBQs, holy laundry, nutritional dictates, slavery and other instances of horrifying divine micromanagement.
It’s going to be awesome. And you don’t even have to get up early on a Sunday morning to do it! Instructions for getting the podcast or listening online are here.
Talk to you soon!
Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 3: Leviticus is now available worldwide at Amazon:
At long last, my darlings, and with an assist from our own Benny Vimes, Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 3: Leviticus is now available for your reading pleasure!
What’s in a biblical book of laws that’s worth your time, you ask? Why, murder! Mayhem! Human sacrifice! Scapegoats! In this volume, you’ll find out what God hates more than gays. You’ll learn how to handle leprous houses, leaking wangs, and menstruating women. You’ll master fucking the God-approved way. And you’ll discover the real value of human beings (including infants)!
Most of us are aware by now that the LORD’s not too fond of women. He’s fine with them being used as sex slaves, or sold to their rapists, or stoned to death for getting pregnant out of wedlock. But this is the chapter where we’re going to see just how much of a misogynistic asshole he actually is.
See, we know from our Biblical readings so far that a woman’s only worth is in her ability to squirt out babies (or convince her husband to fuck her handmaid pregnant if she herself is sterile). There’s pretty much no other value assigned to womenfolk. And we know that ritual purity is a Big Fucking Deal.
All the priests of the LORD have now been consecrated, and God’s business (of burning up sacrificial animals on an industrial scale) can now begin. Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu are pretty keen, and so they get right to work. Problem is, they’re new on the job, and maybe they dozed off a bit while Moses was relaying God’s interminable instructions, because they fuck up and put the wrong incense in the censer. Oops! (Lev. 10:1)
It’s the kind of mistake any new employees could make. And it’s not like there was any training program or anything, just a really long, boring lecture with a lot of persnickety detail (and the occasional death threat). God should know how fallible human memory is – he’s the one who supposedly designed it, after all. If the servants of a kinder, more sensible deity with good anger management skills had screwed up, there would’ve been a deep cosmic sigh, and then a gentle booming voice saying, “Nope. No. Guys. You put the second best incense in. No, I know, it smells really nice, and honestly, A+ for effort, but you were supposed to use only the best. You know, my exclusive blend? Let’s put that stuff out and try again. And, y’know, maybe you should store them in different parts of the tabernacle so this doesn’t happen again, okay? Great.” And the unholy smoke would have cleared, and the holy fire burned, and everything would have gone perfectly smoothly after that.
But we’re talking about the LORD here, so you know he completely loses his shit.
He doesn’t give Aaron’s sons a chance to realize their mistake. He doesn’t give them a chance to correct it. He smells that “strange fire,” and he flies into an instant rage, and he burns those two boys to death right then and there. (Lev. 10:2)
Moses, the snide little shit, tells Aaron, who just watched God burn two of his sons to a crisp, “Oh, hey, that’s what the LORD meant when he said ‘I’ll be sanctified by the folks who come near me, and I’ll be glorified by all the people.’” Yep. Cuz it sure is glorious to strike two poor noobs dead for bungling the incense one time. (Lev. 10:3)
And Aaron, the poor bereaved bastard, can’t say a word.
Moses has a couple of Aaron’s cousins carry the charred remains of his sons out of the camp. They haul them out by their miraculously unburnt tunics, like a couple of sacks of potatoes. Then he has the gall to tell Aaron and his two surviving sons that they’re not allowed to grieve. (Lev. 10:4-6)
Seriously. Imagine watching your children or your brothers die an agonizing, gruesome death, and then being told you are not to mourn them under any circumstances, because if you do, then your god’s going to kill you and then fuck up everybody else. Imagine being ordered to stay in the tabernacle – the exact place your loved ones were just brutally murdered, where you can still smell the smoke and see the char from God burning them alive – because if you step foot outside it, your loving God will strike you stone dead. I mean, there’s being a sadist, and then there’s being an unforgivable, appalling, torturing, sadistic asshole. I think we can all see which is the LORD. (Lev. 10:6-7)
The LORD has plenty of coarse, pure salt to rub in their wounds. He won’t even let them get drunk to help cope with the trauma. And if their grief gets to be too much, and having to bow down and worship and serve the murderer of their kinfolkbecomes a weight too heavy to be borne, and they sneak a sip of the ol’ 100 proof before entering the tabernacle? Well, then, God will kill them dead, too. So they’re ordered to stay stone sober, and teach this homicidal tyrant’s rules to everybody, forever. (Lev. 10:8-11)
Moses takes over lecturing for the LORD, telling them how they can and can’t eat the various offerings and sacrifices they’re to make, and then he goes looking for the goat of the sin offering. Only, it’s already been burnt. He loses his shit, and yells at Aaron’s surviving sons: “I can’t believe you fucked this up! You were supposed to eat it in here! That was for you to atone for everybody with! You didn’t even bring the blood in here! I mean, seriously, you fools, you should have eaten it in the holy place like I told you to.” (Lev. 10:12-18)
And poor Aaron blames himself. “If I’d done it right, and eaten the sin offering today, would the LORD have been happy with it?” And Moses, the snide little shit, is really pleased with himself for gaslighting Aaron into taking the blame for God’s murderous temper tantrum. (Lev. 10:19-20)
So you see, children, it’s very important to do everything exactly the way God wants you to, even if it’s the first time you’ve tried doing it. Because if you fuck up even the smallest detail, God is either gonna smite you personally, or he’ll burn your own flesh and blood to death right before your eyes – and then forbid you to mourn them.
That’s his idea of glory.
Are you really sure this abominable deity deserves our devotion?
Also, right now, they’re exclusively available through Amazon. Are there many people still using Nook? Would you want them available on that platform? Any others I should be looking in to? I want to know all the best ways to provide you with the most terrible stories!
God’s Exhaustive Instructions for Sacrificial Barbecues
God has a disturbing fixation on burning animals.
I mean, if you took all the animal sacrifice stuff out of Leviticus, you’d have just a couple chapters left. Most of it’s hyper-focused on killing animals for God, especially in these opening chapters. One rather begins to get the impression that he created humans and tempted them into sinning just so he’d have everyone bringing him barbecue all the time. That’s so very… uplifting?
The first thirteen verses of Leviticus 1 deal with the proper sacrificing of bulls, sheep, and goats. There’s lots of splashing blood about. The LORD does love him his bloodbaths. But it’s mostly stuff we heard one thousand times in Exodus, when God went on and on about it. We’ll just skim past that bit. (Lev. 1:1-13)
Things get really graphic when God gets to the birds.
Whereas bulls and sheep and goats get the knife, birds are to be slaughtered with your bare hands. You don’t just wring their necks, either: you’re supposed to twist their little heads right off. Imagine how much livelier church would be if your pastor decided to start obeying more of Leviticus than just a few random verses about gays and witches, threw off his poly/cotton blend shirt, and grabbed a few pigeons off the front lawn. I’ll bet the children would find it ever so morally uplifting to watch Pastor Bob tearing the heads off live birds on a Sunday morning. (Lev. 1:14)
Then, following the strict instructions God has laid down, he’s supposed to wring all their blood out against the altar. We haven’t got altars in many modern churches, but I’m sure the pulpit will do. (Lev. 1:15)
So there’s Pastor Bob, holding a freshly-killed headless birdie with its blood dripping down the pulpit. As per the LORD’s instructions, he next tears out its crop and feathers, and throws those against the east side of the pulpit. Once he’s done that, he grips both of its wings and, with a mighty tug, rips the bird wide open (being careful not to tear it completely apart – no need to get barbaric!). Then he sets the whole thing on fire, and the LORD is pleased. (Lev. 1:16-17)
That’ll certainly bring new energy into the church service.
Now, God is pretty much a meat man, but he’ll also accept really premium flour. But if you bake the LORD a cake out of it, just remember that he hates leaven. If you feel you must include leaven and honey, leave those on the side. Don’t forget, now. He won’t merely send his improperly-prepared meal back to the kitchen: he’ll smite you for botching his order. (Lev. 2:1-12)
Don’t forget the salt. God isn’t in to those low-sodium diets. He wants salt on everything. (Lev. 2:13)
After all this talk of flour, God’s ready to go back to animals again. He’d just like to make it perfectly clear he wants sacrifices with no blemishes whatsoever. If God were at the grocery store, he’d be that obnoxious dude who handles every single vegetable in the produce department, trying to find the perfect ones. He’d be that bloke at the butcher’s block who insists on having the butcher hand-cut about two dozen steaks before finally, reluctantly, accepting one. (Lev. 3:1)
For most sacrifices, only males will do, but for the peace offering, you can sacrifice a female if that’s what you’ve got on hand. Just so long as she hasn’t got any icky blemishes. No matter what you’re sacrificing, just remember to splash its blood liberally around the altar. And make sure you don’t keep any of its fat or blood for yourself. All the fat belongs to God. Every single bit. You’re not supposed to eat any fat or blood, ever. So sorry if you’re a fan of blood puddings. God doesn’t think you should have them. (Lev. 3:6-17)
If you sin, the only way to make up for it is by killing an animal and splashing its blood round the altar. God can’t forgive you unless you kill and burn an innocent critter for your fuck-ups. (Lev. 4:1-35)
There you go, then. Four chapters of killing animals and hating on leaven
in a nutshell. Now, don’t you feel ever so much more holy?
The people get sick and tired of waiting for Moses to come back down that bloody mountain. He’d left them over a month ago without even a guesstimate as to when he’d return. God’s been so busy waxing enthusiastic over his preferences in furniture, curtains, clothes, barbecue, and petty reasons to murder people that he’s completely neglected them. They’ve been left homeless in the wilderness with no one to lead them to safety. They’re at their wit’s end, fearful and alone. So they ask Aaron to make them some more helpful gods who actually give a shit about them. (Ex. 32:1)
Bear in mind: these are people who’ve been enslaved for generations. They just experienced this bully of a god swanning in with a dude wanted for murder, and proceeding to terrorize the shit out of the countryside, along with pretty much everything in it. This god even hardened their captor’s heart every time he was about to release them, all so it had an excuse to commit more terrorist acts. They were forced to flee into the desert with inadequate food and water, and when they cried out in their suffering, this god who claims to care about them killed a bunch of them for asking to have their basic survival needs met. Now they’ve been abandoned in the desert, surrounded by hostile tribes, for five weeks. Of course they’re going to start looking elsewhere for comfort and protection.
Having gotten the furniture out of the way, God starts in on curtains. He wants ten of ’em, done up in the finest linen with the most costly blue, purple, and scarlet dyes – remember, kids, those colors were hella expensive to achieve back then. He wants each curtain to have cherubim embroidered on it. And he doesn’t want a few simple drapes, no. He’s asking for enormous, heavy panels that are 28 cubits (about 42 feet) long and 4 cubits (about 6 feet) wide. Then the curtains must be joined in two sets of 5, and 50 blue loops put on the edge of each outer curtain; God’s really particular about that. Then you’ve gotta have 50 solid-gold clasps to put through the loops. (Ex. 26:1-6)
If you want to get an idea of how fun this stuff was to shlep around the desert, go to a fabric store, find the biggest bolt of upholstery fabric you can, and carry it around the store for eight hours. Then, as you lay dying, ponder the fact that you had the benefit of air conditioning, and the Sinai did not.
And that’s not all! God also wants 11 goat-hair curtains, 30×4 cubits (45×6 feet), with 100 loops and 50 brass clasps, for an outer covering for this tabernacle of his. And then, God wants another covering of fine red rams’ skins, and yet another cover of finest leather, which the King James people apparently thought came from badgers. In addition, of course, this tabernacle tent required a frame, so God asks for one made of shittim wood, with silver sockets. I’m shocked he finally remembered he asked for offerings of silver as well as gold: I thought he’d never use it. But of course, God wants the frames, bars, and rings to be overlaid with and made from solid gold. (Ex. 26:7-30)
Not satisfied with the curtains he’s already got, God requests another set. His garish color preferences once again assert themselves, as he wants this inner “vail” to be blue, purple, and scarlet linen – with cherubim, of course. And, obviously, he wants its frame to be made from gold-covered shittim, with solid gold fasteners and silver sockets. And he wants a screen made from the same colors, five gold-slathered shittim pillars, and of course solid gold hooks, but this time, he’ll accept brass sockets. Everything – furniture and hangings – should be arranged just so, including specific cardinal directions for each bit of furniture. God apparently likes a bit of the old feng shui for his desert digs. (Ex. 26:31-37)
Having minutely detailed the tabernacle and its furniture, God goes on to specify what kind of barbecue grill he wants built. It must be square, made of shittim, with horns, and everything covered with brass. He tells Moses he wants all sorts of fancy barbecue tools, including ash pans and meat forks, which are all crucial to ensuring properly burnt offerings and a tidy clean-up afterward. He wants a brass net, and of course the whole thing has to be portable, so the nomads will have to schlep this 7.5′ x 7.5′ x 4.5′ hunk of wood and metal around on poles. Happily, God decrees it can be hollow. That must’ve been a relief. (Ex. 27:1-8)
God’s curtain obsession returns in full force. He asks for the whole area to be enveloped in curtains 7.5 feet tall and 150 feet long, 75 feet wide, with a 22.5 x 7.5 foot high entrance, and a 30 foot screen. The curtains he wants done in fine linen, but plain: it’s the screen he wants embroidered in his three favorite colors. No wonder the Israelites were in the desert so long: do you have any idea how much time it takes to hand-embroider that much fabric? And carrying it had to be an unbelievable pain in the arse: just the outer cloth walls and screen come to 525 feet of fabric! Not to mention all the brass pillars with their silver bands and hooks. God also wants all the pegs for hanging utensils to be brass. That’s pretty brassy. (Ex. 27:9-19)
God then advises that everyone should tithe pure beaten olive oil to keep the enormous lamp burning. He wants the lamp placed just outside the vail, and tended from evening to morning by Aaron and his sons, forever. (Ex. 27:20-21)
It’s about at this point that one wonders why Moses didn’t discreetly clear his throat somewhere in all that soul-crushing detail and say, “I’d just like to remind the LORD that we, not you, are going to be carrying all this shi- stuff, around a desert. And, not only does it weigh a ton, it’s going to take at least half the day to strike, and another half to erect.”
But then, he probably didn’t want to see the LORD’s eye twinkle sadistically as he answered, “Exactly. Mwah-ha-ha!”
The LORD will be discussing proper priestly attire and issuing death threats next. I’m shocked he went such a long stretch without!