Christians, stop taking things literally - unless you want to outlaw Sir David Attenborough and execute Gandalf
Archant Norfolk 2015
Jerusalem seems such an innocent and idyllic place and concept when it is sung about by WIs across our green and pleasant land.
There, controversy is when someone fails to warm the pot before making a cuppa.
But the reality is that Jerusalem - the location, the idea and the name - is corrosive. It is used as a pretext for conflict, hatred, intolerance and division.
It was, therefore, entirely in keeping with his character that President Trump should announce that the US now recognises the city as the capital of Israel.
I’d love to credit him with a piece of clever diplomacy here, but the reasons are more mundane and depressing - he wants to keep his core supporters happy.
That’s because many of those who are muddle-headed enough to support Mr Trump are also what one might call Christian fundamentalists.
The recognition of Jerusalem is music to the ears of people who live in the bubble of biblical ‘truth’. They probably see it as a portent of the Second Coming.
That’s not to say I want to dismiss Christianity in full: I am aiming my anger at those who take too many things literally (when it suits them).
I mean those who believe homosexuality is an “abomination”, but “love your neighbour as you love yourself” can be overlooked if you want to be nasty to those who disagree with you.
I also doubt that if a thief nicked their coat, they’d give him another coat, too.
That’s what Jesus taught, but in the US, a coat thief is more likely to get some bullets to the chest as a gift.
The dunderheaded art of literalism gets up my nose. It turns loveable people with a quiet faith into dangerous idiots.
There are arguments in favour of recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. But there are far more persuasive arguments in favour of leaving well alone - like world peace.
If the globe is a beach ball, Jerusalem is the pin that could make it explode. So why take the risk?
I know, it’s because Donald Trump is a man who loves controversy and to appear like the big man on the big stage.
He clearly doesn’t realise that those who feel the need to appear big are really just small. That’s a bit of psychology that is very difficult for a narcissist to understand.
When I say that there are persuasive arguments for recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the Bible also provides persuasive arguments for the following:
1 - Changing the Guinness Book of Records to recognise Methuselah, 969, as the world’s oldest person ever, unseating Jeanne Calment from France, who lived to 122.
2 - Banning all women from positions of authority in schools because Paul in an epistle to Timothy says: “Permit no woman to teach or have authority over men; she is to keep silent.” It’ll mean the closure of every primary school, but hey-ho.
3 - Introducing the death penalty for children who swear at their parents. This one is alluring, but not if it’s applied retrospectively.
4 - Cutting off the hand of anyone who steals. Have you ever pinched a mini shampoo or a towel from a hotel, or did you do a rite-of-passage bit of shoplifting at Woolies? Wave goodbye to your hand, while you still can.
5 - Stoning to death all psychics and wizards. Derek Acorah is annoying, but really?! Also, I’m not convinced Gandalf and Merlin deserve execution.
6 - Banning the eating of fat. How would that go down with Mr Trump’s supporters in the lardy US of A?
7 - Outlawing tattoos.
8 - Bringing in the death penalty for anyone working on the Sabbath.
9 - Banning Sir David Attenborough. Sorry, he may be our own natural wonder, but all this talk of evolution is an abomination. He shall be naturally deselected.
Any or all of these could be taken literally and made law. Thankfully, they are not.
That’s because we largely have the sense to recognise that, when it comes to religion, it is better to be a bit woolly.
For that reason, we should keep Jerusalem as a grey area - black and white is too damned dangerous.