My brother told me a story not too long ago. It’s funny as all get out. I want to share it with you and then I have a serious point to make. But first levity…
My brother is a pastor. He is often traveling to homes of parishioners to minister, pray with, bring food etc. During one of these travels he and a small group arrived at the home of an elderly woman. She invited them in and offered them a seat. She then excused herself to tend to something in the other room. The group had been very busy all day and was famished. The helped themselves to the bowl of peanuts on the coffee table. The woman returned. One of the ministers admitted sheepishly; “Sorry Mother. We were so hungry we ate all of your peanuts.” The woman waved her hand dismissively. “Oh, don’t worry about that baby. I done sucked all of the chocolate off of those already.”
As everyone tried not to hurl, my brother hollered with laughter. Boy was he glad he didn’t eat any of those peanuts!
Which brings me to my point. What are you feeding yourself? How many people have touched it before you? What did they do to it? These are the questions that remind me to bless the food at restaurants. It’s also why say an extra long prayer at a buffet.
These questions can also be applied to belief systems. Religious beliefs as well as secular. For the record, I identify as a Christian… With reservations.
So that is where I’ll focus. Around 1800 BC Moses went up on Mount Sinai to get away from the Hebrews. They were getting on his nerves something serious. He’d been listening to them cry and complain since Egypt. So he grabbed two of his homies and they went up to the mountain where it was quiet. Maybe God would tell him something to do so he wouldn’t have to kill those people. And God did not disappoint. He kept Moses on the mountain for forty days. (I’d like to think that 35of those days were like a spa trip for Moses. He deserved it. And on the last 5 days he gave Moses instructions. God even wrote them down on stone tablets. So Moses wouldn’t forget or lose them. Those instructions were the Ten Commandments. And the start of Judaism.
Now I don’t know exactly how the people felt about these instructions or exactly what they did with them. They lost the tablets. And the Ark, which contained them. Whatever they did it wasn’t good, because 1800 years later Jesus had to be born to clean house.
Jesus (at least in my mind) was like Shaft in sandals. He’s a bad mutha- Shut yo mouth! He didn’t care what anyone said, he got stuff done.
He looked at the Jews and told them they were doing things all wrong. They had strayed so far from what his Daddy had written on those rock all of those years ago. People were changing things to benefit their own selfish agendas. Just straight up lying on his Daddy and Jesus was having none of it. So J.C. started changing things. Everywhere he went he was bucking the system. The Jews didn’t take too kindly too him busting up their pimp game, so they decided kill him. But it was too late. Jesus had decided to give up his life long before. He made his mark and would never be forgotten. Mission accomplished. He made some revisions to the Jewish faith. Those who liked Jesus’ ideas called themselves Christians and decided they were going to live their lives being like him.
That was over 2000 years ago. Judaism lasted only 1800 years before it was too dirty and corrupt to continue on as it was. Christianity is even older now. Come to think of it, Islam started at about 600 AD. And since many of the Jews rejected Jesus’ revisions Judaism is about 4000 years old.
If mankind is true to form, then all of these religions are in need of an overhaul. Too much time has passed. Too many people have touched the sacred scriptures. And considering the fact that the members of these faiths tend to be the hardest people to get along with on the planet, it’s a safe bet that those holy books probably look very little like they were intended to. That is why I am a Christian with reservations. I know in my gut that there was some non-God authorized revisions to my bible and by extension, the Christian faith.
I read my bible with a critical eye. I follow politics with a critical eye. I observe tradition with a critical eye. I know the peanuts in there have been around a long time. Long enough for them to be M&M’s that someone sucked all of the chocolate off. Long enough for someone to have knocked them on the floor swept up and put back in the bowl. Long enough that even if the were never covered in chocolate; like bar nuts any number of unsanitized hands could have been there first. I don’t eat nuts at the bar. I don’t eat in “Grade Pending” restaurants. I look around in a restaurant for obvious signs of filth before I eat. My body is my temple. I have to watch what I put in it. My mind and my soul are the residents in that temple and I have to watch what I feed them too. I always ask questions before I eat anything. It would be foolish not to. And regardless of the answer I’m given, if something doesn’t look or smell right. If the little voice in the back of my mind clears it’s throat in caution. I’m not eating it. I want to know that my peanuts are not reincarnated M&M’s.