As I was putting together my next column, a Facebook friend urged me to get off my six-month rant against You-Know-Who. But what else—who else—to write about?
Though assumed by some of my readers to be a godless crank who never cracked open a religious text in my life, I actually grew up an evangelical Southern Baptist who spent hours a day in prayer and Bible study. Facing the difficult choice of my next topic, let’s reach back to a practice from my teen years: flip open a Bible to a random verse for direction. You may consider that silly, sacrilegious, or both, but I relied on it multiple times back in the day.
As someone who believed every word in the Bible was literally true, I accepted the admonition from the Old Testament book of Proverbs that “the lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” In other words, even the roll of the dice is in God’s hands. To me, flipping open the Bible and reading a random verse thus was not so crazy after all. Today I’ll give it up to 15 separate verses to give me an idea for a topic. (I’ll leave out citations to books/chapters/verses to improve flow, but doubting Thomases can check my work at biblegateway.com, using the New International Version setting.)
Here’s the first one: “Your rulers are rebels, partners with thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts.” Hmmm…let’s try the next: “People who have wealth but lack understanding are like the beasts that perish.” A third: “If a ruler listens to lies, all his officials become wicked.” A fourth: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” On to the fifth: “A tyrannical ruler practices extortion, but one who hates ill-gotten gain will enjoy a long reign.” No discernable pattern so far.
Let’s try some more: “The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools.” Seventh: “the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.” Still at a loss; here’s the eighth: “A false witness will not go unpunished, and whoever pours out lies will perish.” The ninth? This interesting one: “Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies.” The tenth—“See, I will make you small among the nations; you will be utterly despised.”
Curses—foiled again. We’ll give it one more round. Eleventh: “Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes.” Twelfth: “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?” Thirteenth: “His mouth is full of lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue.” Ay mi dios! Running out of chances here…
Fourteenth: “When the wall collapses, will people not ask you, ‘Where is the whitewash you covered it with?’” One final chance…fifteenth…“Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from the hills of Gilead.” That’s a peculiar one. And very disappointing.
Fifteen random Bible verses and not a single one that has anything to do with the problems of the modern world. I suppose I’ll turn on cable news and look for a muse there instead. The columns won’t write themselves.
David Schleicher is an attorney who blogs at http://www.TheContranym.com