Thursday, February 25, 2010

My dog Izzy

Here's a true story:

When I was a little kid -- about 5 years old -- I really wanted a dog. Every day, I'd ask my dad to get me a dog. But he wouldn't get me one. It wasn't like we didn't have room for a dog, or couldn't afford one; we had plenty of room and money. And I was a responsible little dude. I'd have taken good care of a dog. But my dad wouldn't get me one. And he never told me why. He just ignored me whenever I asked.

This went on for years. But one day, when I was 10, my dad brought home a dog for me. Just out of the blue. "Here's a dog for you, kuri," he said.

Wow! "Gosh, thanks, Dad!" I was so happy and grateful. I had the best dad in the whole world.

I named my new dog Izzy. And he was the best dog in the whole world. He was smart, and brave, loyal and obedient. We went everywhere and did everything together. I loved him more then anything.

After I'd had Izzy for about two years, my dad called me into his den for a little talk. Izzy was with me, of course. "Son," he said, "I want you to shoot Izzy."

"Wh-what?"

"I want you to shoot Izzy."

"But Dad -- "

"Take him into the woods and shoot him. Here's a gun."

"But Dad, I can't shoot Izzy!"

"Don't you love me? If you love me, you'll do whatever I ask."

"You're right, Dad. I'll take Izzy into the woods and shoot him."

"That's my boy!"

I took Izzy into the woods. I hugged him one last time. He licked the tears from my cheeks, but that only made them come faster. I put the pistol against his head. Izzy looked up at me with the same absolute trust he always had. "Good-bye, Izzy," I said as I cocked the gun.

"kuri, wait!" It was my dad. He ran up to us. "You don't have to shoot Izzy! I was just testing you to see if you'd do whatever I asked. You passed the test! Now I'm really going to love you!"

I was so happy and grateful. "Gosh, Dad, I love you so much for not making me shoot Izzy. You're the best dad in the whole world!"

OK, that's not really a true story, of course. It never happened. I never had a dog named Izzy, and my dad wasn't a manipulative psychopath.

But maybe the story seemed a little familiar somehow? I hope so, because it was an attempt to retell the story of "the Binding of Isaac," when God told Abraham to sacrifice his son but then said "...NOT!" at the last minute.

I wanted to retell the story to make my perspective on it clear. Religious people -- some religious people, I should say, some true believers -- are somehow able to read the story of the Binding of Isaac and see it as expressing God's love. This description of a painting by Chagall, which I found here, is fairly typical.

The bound and naked Isaac is a symbol of extreme vulnerability and suggests acute sensitivity to the word of God. God answers in kind, rushing his angel in sudden descent to arrest the movement of Abraham’s knife. Thus, although bathed in an atmosphere of frightening proportions, the pictorial narrative speaks of two worlds reconciled by tender love.

"Tender love." Yes, that's a story about "tender love." The "tender love" that a manipulative psychopath of a god has for an idiot who'll do anything to gain his god's sick love.

Anyone can see that in my little dog story. The best anyone could say of the boy in that story is that he's pitiable, a deeply confused and damaged co-dependent. And no one would defend that father. He's indefensible. He's twisted; evil and frightening.

So why is it, I wonder, that some people don't see the same things when there's an almost identical story in the Bible, with Abraham as the pitiable child and God as the manipulative psychopathic father? Why do they see it as a story of faith rather than one of horrific manipulation? Why do they give God a pass for behavior that would (or at least should) land a human being in a prison or a mental hospital?

4 comments:

  1. I remember learning about this in primary, and I was really confused. If Abraham told God, "sorry I love my son too much so I cant kill him," would god have been said, "k I hate you now" ?

    I was so confused. I especially thought it was mean of God to just say, "haha jk." at the last second.

    Also, from Isaac's perspective, did he know? Cuz I would have been really mad and been like, DAD. YOU'RE FUCKING CRAZY.

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  2. If you follow the Wikipedia link, there are a lot of different explanations that people have given over the centuries. But they generally involve either changing the plain meaning of the text, or completely not looking at its implications, because in the actual story, God is a nutter.

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  3. This is the best way of showing the twistedness of this sort of biblical stories, I think. As you say, people have a way of putting different thinking hat on when there's 'god' in the picture, even when 'god' is behaving like a serial killing maniac. :P Thanks for writing this! :)

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  4. Thanks. I always feel that this story is a little overblown, but that's probably simply a function of just how crazy God is in the Binding of Isaac story.

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