There’s an article on the BBC suggesting that the Italian Mafia have their own Ten Commandments. What I found particularly amusing was that the BBC decided to show these commandments alongside the 10 commandments from the bible (technically, from the Anglican/protestant faiths, I wonder what Catholics, Jews, Greek Orthodox and Lutherans make of it).
What a stupid comparison, and they can’t even get the commandments right. Nevertheless, it gives me an opportunity to offer some thoughts on those first two commandments – given that so many christians seem to believe that morality is derived from this twaddle. Here’s what Deutoronomy says are the first two commandments (Presented as a un-ordered list to be as un-controversial as possible; anglicans and protestants please remember that this is a preface, and two commandments. Catholics, please note that this is all just one commandment):
- (5:6) I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
Interestingly, the first part of the first commandment (along with most of Exodus) would appear to be utter rubbish. The first commandment states that the Lord their God brought them out of Egypt in an event that was never recorded, and that they wandered around the desert for 40 years leaving no evidence of this ever happening. Surely the Lord their God would remember to get this right? Nevertheless:
- (5:7)Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth.
- (5:8)Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.
Why is it that this whole list of commandments and additional commentary is so often reduced to the apparently less obnoxious “Don’t make idols”. There’s some interesting alleged autobiographical detail here: if (as so many christians claim) god is a loving god, then he is self-confessedly a jealous lover, of the kind that not only beats their girlfriend up if they think they’ve looked at another man, but beats that man up, goes and beats his kids up, and if he or the girfriend don’t currently have kids, stalks them until they do and them beats them up. You know; really nice guy (/sarcasm).
This can also be read as: “Not only shalt thou not bow down to pictures of animals, thou shalt not damn well make them in the first place, because, basically, I’m a bastard.” So no only is this god – apparent arbitrator of all things moral – not a nice guy, he has absolutely no appreciation for art. Probably doesn’t visit the Sistine Chapel very often.
On second thoughts, perhaps comparing the biblical commandments to the mafia is entirely appropriate…