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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

The Walls Came A Tumblin' Down

So lately, we've been talking a little about the Bible and the End Times and how confusing that all is and in the middle of all of that, we got this question:

Speaking of the Bible, I have been reading it (but also the footnotes and Catholic interpretations!) and I am sort of flummoxed by one book: Joshua. In it, Joshua and Co. go into the future promised land, kill everyone (young and old, man and woman) and take the place for their own, all because God told them to. I've tried to find a Catholic answer for how this is okay, but no one seems to answer the question. Some apologists have said "God gives life and can take it away", which is fine by me, only God isn't doing the taking. God is telling people to invade another land and commit genocide on the inhabitants! It's not even a war of defense. How are we to understand this book? Did God really tell the Israelites to do this to the letter? Did Joshua misinterpret Him? How could God command his people to do something evil? Am I missing something? Please help!

I can't.  I don't understand it either.  How's that for frankness?

It seems to me that if something is bad, slavery for example, it's always bad.  And if something's good, like monogamy, it's always good.  And if something is important to God, like sacrificing doves and lambs, it should always be important.

At least we can get our brains around the idea that God's Son sacrificed Himself so we don't have to stock the garage with pigeons to atone for our sins. There's one down, anyhow.  But no one bothers to ask why God ever wanted all those dead animals in the first place.

But slaughtering a whole village, babies included? When would that ever be okay? God doesn't care about kittens?  Because they got washed away in the Great Flood, too.  So did those cute baby monkeys.

So I can't help you, except to say that, I just leave God to God.  If you take a look at His creation, you'll be pleased to note that He really knows what He's doing.  For example, He thought to make us waterproof.  What if, every time you got wet, you had to wait to drip dry, or "lay flat to dry" like your good wool sweater.  I would not have thought of that if I were making a person, or a frog.

We were just talking yesterday about the Last Judgment and how that will be what is thought of as a "general judgment" in which whole populations are judged all at once.  No one seems to be concerned that innocents will be lumped in with that judgment.  I don't see how one is different from the other, really.

Apparently, God went with a general judgment and asked Joshua to carry it out.  (I do think that if Joshua had misinterpreted what God said, Joshua would have heard about it from God.)

Maybe the slaves and the extra wives were a good idea because they all converted to believe in one God.

It's a Sacred Mystery, as far as I'm concerned. And you know what that means.


Anonymous said...

God told Joshua to commit genocide of the Canaanites because they were evil.

Donna. W said...

I love your honesty. It's very refreshing.

abishag said...

Anonymous -

How can little children be "evil"? No matter how "evil" the Bad Guys are, I am of the opinion that commiting Genocide automatically gives you +1 in the Evil department.

I agree with Sister Mary Martha here. Part of accepting the Sacred Mystery is that I don't have to love or even agree with that. I am also reminded that those writing the messages down and even those people responsible for compiling the books that we now see as the Bible were Human. Humans are imperfect. Even with the best intentions, we do dumb things. Maybe having such an awful story in the Bible is a way to encourage us to talk to our highly educated clergy, or to meditate and pray - all ways to get us closer to God.

Anonymous said...

Isn't Canaan the home of Molock (spelling?)?

Anonymous said...

When God allows the death of the innocent (for example, the 1st born of all the Egyptians - that must have involved more than just the son of Yul Brenner) He also has a way to reward them. This life is passing - it's the NEXT life that really matters. Our 70-90 or so years here is just a flash in the pan, and compared to eternity, a pretty short flash at that! Don't worry, God is infinitely just - it's one of His attributes. He has the long game in mind, so routing the Canaanites was part of the overall plan of establishing a chosen people, eventually resulting in the birth of the Messiah. It probably didn't seem very just or fair to them at the time, but they were looking at it (as are we) from this side of eternity. It's not much different than God allowing a child to be born blind, deaf, or mentally challenged. Their life here on earth is one of suffering, but Oh, what glory in the next life!

Anonymous said...


Your stories have an amazing ability to clear the fog around confusing ideas. I am hoping that you could shed some light on the nature of the Holy Ghost.

The more I read, the more confused I get! The closest idea I can get is that he is the spirit of wisdom and truth that the Father and Son send-that he descends into our souls and confirms Christs teaching inwardly ( mostly from John)

Am I even in the ballpark? I have such a nebulous idea of him that I feel like I am just mouthing the words when I say his name in prayer...

dre said...

A wonderful elderly priest friend says that the Holy Spirit is the love between the Father and the Son, which is also extended to us. What a wonderful thing! This Holy Spirit offers us so many gifts...of course, there are the ones we all memorized at Confirmation (but they keep changing the words, so older folks learned different names for the gifts than younger ones). Wisdom, knowledge, understanding, right judgement, courage, fear of the Lord, and reverence...but there are more, IMO...the charismatic gifts. And through all these gifts we exhibit all the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. (These are listed in Galatians). The Holy Spirit is our connection with God and with Jesus!

Sunkara said...


I am not a cradle Catholic, and am trying to grasp the nature of the Trinity.

Your description of the Holy Spirit makes him sound like a list of wonderful qualities, a connection...but in what way do you see him as distinct but cosubstantial person? Seeing the three persons is where I get lost...

Anonymous said...

The truth is, we don't really understand God eather. Remember how big God is. We just accept Him, confusion and all.