Misaimed Fandom: Myth And Religion
ďIt wasnít about what Christ was saying, but about the people who followed Him Ė the ones who for the next 2,000 years would torture and kill each other because they couldnít agree on what He was saying about peace and love."
Examples of Misaimed Fandom
for characters in mythological and religious stories.
- Many mythologies and religions preach for universal brother- and sisterhood and that people should be kind and forgiving to each other. Yet humans have killed, tortured, fought, bickered, doublecrossed, betrayed, stolen, vandalized, raped, lied to, hurt and slaughtered each other throughout the centuries in name of their god(s) or ideology.
- Most religions try to give exceptions as to exactly who you need to love and forgive, but the point certainly stands that plenty of the tortured and killed apparently didn't quite qualify.
- A lot of people who claim that their religious text is a book of wisdom have in truth not read it at all, or only parts of it. Various people quote lines that aren't in the books or were taken out of context. Most of the time people shoehorn and twist everything so that it favors what they themselves believe.
- Sometimes you wonder if the original teachings are still in line with what the religions have become? Many people are called good or morally decent, simply because they call themselves Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus or whatever. But some of them just visit their religious building once a week, attend the service, pray from time to time and do absolutely nothing else of any value for the needy. Take those religious zealots who spent more time and energy dismissing others for not being of the same faith or not being as religious as them. How can they still assume that they are making this world a better place for others if they misuse their faith just as an excuse to bully or dismiss others? Or any person at all who just seem confident that they will have a great afterlife just because they merely profess a belief in something higher.
- Another strange phenomenon are people who lead a debaucherous life, yet still claim to believe in God. Take any rockstar, pop singer, rapper, A-list media star, businessman, royal, politician, religious leader,... who leads a life of decadent luxury, smoking, drinking, taking drugs, driving in unnecessary large limousines, living in unnecessary spacious mansions/palaces, acting like a self important divo or diva, spending a fortune on stuff that they could give away to the less fortunate, using their fame as easy access to loose women, ... all far removed from the things their church teaches about modesty, sincerity, sharing with others and leading a simple, healthy life without being lead into temptation. How hypocritical can they be?
- In many health food stores, one can find "Ezekiel 4:9" bread, which, as prescribed in the verse cited, is made from wheat, barley, lentils, beans, millet, and spelt. The problem is that the bread is being made as penance; the next few verses tell them to cook it over human feces.
- Though when Ezekiel is unwilling to use that as fuel even to make a point, God allows him to use cow dung instead. And the point they're gleaning from it, while not the main thrust of the passage, is that if you can live off of nothing but about 12 ounces of it a day (a little more than 340g) of it a day for 390 days, it must be reasonably nutritious. (Though yeah, they probably diverge from the original recipe in that don't bake it over any kind of dung these days. And that's not even getting into cinnamon raisin...)
- In general, Christians who treat every word in the Bible as though it is on equal ground. This is not even going into the issues of whether we should interpret it literally or allegorically; we could be here all day with that. But even with a literal interpretation, there are some books which are intended to be read as histories, not as rules to follow. And even as far as rules go, some of them were laws only meant to be followed by Jews (e.g. the ones in Leviticus); indeed, the first dang Church Council, attended by Paul and the Apostles themselves and recorded in Acts, specifically said that Gentile Christians (i.e. those who are not ethnically Jewish) are not bound by Jewish law. (Eventually, this came to be understood to mean that all Christians are not bound by Jewish law, but the black letter of the Council's judgment at the time was limited to what was required of Gentiles and did not address whether Christianity abrogated Jewish law for Jewish Christians.)
- That said, Matthew 5:17-20 reads like a fairly resounding endorsement of the law which is backed up by John 5:46. Despite the fact that these words were likely intended for (and spoken to) a Jewish audience, they have resulted in OT morality seeping through to modern society.
- This overlooks the fact that those verses cover events that happened before Jesus' death, when (according to most prevailing Christian theories) the Mosaic Law was still in effect for Jews. Jesus' death, according to subsequent Christian theory, removed the necessity of Jewish Law even for ethnic Jews.
- In fact, what people, believers & otherwise, need to consider is that The Bible is actually an anthology and not one book. It's a compilation of various different books with varying interpretations & validity. Therefore, it is possible & even viable to reject parts of the Bible (for good or ill).
- One verse which is often misinterpreted due to cultural changes is Matthew 5:39 "turning the other cheek". People overlook that the verse specifies the right cheek. In society at that time to strike someone with the back of one's fist was considered a insult and as most people are right handed a backhand to the face lands on the right cheek. With this in mind it reads as "Don't feed the trolls" and not "let people walk all over you".
- There's also the fact that if you turn the other cheek, they'll have to slap you with the palm of their hand, hurting them more than you
- A lot of people claim that "turn the other cheek" has some nonobvious meaning due to the social conventions of the time. But they tend to neglect the other instructions that come immediately after: "And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." So whatever Jesus may have been saying about cheeks specifically, the larger point still stands.
- Even those verses, however, have meanings specific to the era and culture in which they were written. Roman imperial policy allowed for people to sue someone for their personal possessions (including the clothes off their backs) if they were unable to repay their debts, so long as the person was allowed to keep their cloak; similarly, a Roman soldier was allowed to force a civilian to carry his gear for a mile, but no more (hence the phrase "go the extra mile"). Jesus was instructing his followers to gladly go beyond what was required of them by law, regardless of how unjust it might be. Whether you look at it as a way of loving your enemies or exposing a corrupt system, it's still asking for a great deal of personal sacrifice and humility on the part of the person being mistreated.
- A lot of weddings like to use the blessing from Deuteronomy 28:2-14, where the Lord promises a lot of juicy blessings for for his people who obey his commands, including blessings for their city and country, their offspring, their produce of the ground, their herds and flocks, their tools and houses, their jobs and relatives, when they come in and go out, etc, if they obey his commandments. What newlyweds who pick that passage forget is the passage RIGHT AFTER, 15-64, where the Lord promises that if they donít obey him, they will be host to a whole horde of punishments, including curses on everything he listed above, as well as defeat in war, conquest, death and rape of your family, exile, etc. Not much fun to read at a wedding, hence why itís important to read in context.
- Feminists really seem to love viewing Athena as some sort of role model. The reasoning's justified (Athena was the Goddess of Wisdom and War, after all), but it completely disregards the fact that Athena was quite the opposite of a feminist; due to never having a real maternal figure in her life, Athena grew up siding more with men than women.
- Case in point: She sides with Orestes against the Erinyes for killing his mother, Clytemnestra (who had killed his father) and concedes a belief that, in a marriage, the man is more important than the woman, citing the fact that she was born from Zeus without a mother.
- A more famous case involves one of her own priestesses, who was raped by Poseidon in her temple. Athena showed less concern for her priestess being brutalized and more concern with the fact that sex of any kind occurred in her temple (and involving Poseidon—with whom Athena had an intense rivalry—no less). For this, Athena gave the priestess a swift and brutal punishment in the form of a terrifying transformation. The name of that unfortunate priestess? Medusa.
- While not characters per se, the suicide bombers and similar in Real Life are the result of Misaimed Fandom of their own religious texts.
- Depictions of Judas as a despicable villain, cowardly betrayer and an agent of Satan are pretty mainstream. Judas was meant to betray Jesus, so he can die for humanity's sins. Also remember that Satan actually wanted to prevent Jesus from dying, so why would he send a guy to sell him out to people who want him dead?
- At least one of the gospels has Judas possessed by Satan when he betrays Jesus. When Satan leaves him, he desperately Must Make Amends, and is so wracked with guilt he hangs himself. Yet, his name is shorthand for evil and a lot of people think he's one of the Bible's greatest villains.
- We have Word of Dante to blame for that one, of course. The Church (for quite some time, Christianity really was Catholic) demonized Judas for various reasons, a portrayal cemented in our culture by...well...Dante, whose Inferno has Judas be one of the three great historical traitors (with Caesar's traitors Brutus and Cassius) deemed bad enough to be chewed upon by Satan for all eternity.
- Judas wasn't entirely innocent, though, as he makes the deal with the Pharisees before Satan enters him at the last supper. John also records that Judas was greedy and would often help himself to the contents of the disciples' moneybag, and at one point called out Christ for wasting perfume that could have been "sold to the poor" when he really only intended to get more money for himself.
- And Jesus' own condemnation of Judas, saying "betrayal must come, but woe to the one through whom it comes!" While it's acknowledged as a necessary evil, Judas is definitely a villain in the Bible. Pointing out ways in which he maybe wasn't so bad is Misaimed Fandom in itself.
- There are other gospels than the ones the Council of Nicene chose to put in the Bible, with just as much (or little) claim to being accurate accounts. A few of them have Judas acting under direct orders from Jesus at the time.
- Rastafari is a highly conservative religion, both for better and for worse. Followers maintain strict dietary restrictions, swear off alcohol and most other mind-altering substances, cut themselves off from the corrupt world around them to varying degrees, treat women as second-class citizens, and despise gay people, especially gay men. They also smoke ganja, grow dreadlocks, and are associated with reggae music. Guess which of these aspects are embraced by middle-class Americans.
- The more sincere forms of this probably see Rastafari as an Afro-Centric version of New-Age Retro Hippie with Judeo-Christian "dressing". They might embrace a far more liberal take on it but accept some of the general philosophy (fighting the corrupt establishment, simpler living, spiritual oneness, liberation of black people, etc.) even if they don't take the more bigoted elements or "Emperor Hailie Salassie is Christ" literally or seriously.
- The vast majority of Christian theories about the apocalypse are a result of reading large numbers of passages in unintuitive ways that were largely not meant to go together. A large cornerstone is Revelation, a book that could just as easily be read as a veiled criticism of Roman policies at the time than any kind of warning about the world's demise. But this confusion pales before one of the resulting theories, which is that an Antichrist will come forth proposing peace, but truly desiring war, who will begin all of the troubles. While it is true that people can deceive others in their bid for power, this often results in followers of these theories who will absolutely refuse to follow any leader who argues in favor of policies that promote peace. Which, as you know, was a concept Jesus often supported himself.
- Oddly enough, Revelation does not contain the word "Antichrist". The word only comes up in the Gospel of John, and in one case it's plural. The antichrist is either some particular guy who denies the divinity of Jesus, or it's a generic term for any person who denies the divinity of Jesus (i.e. it's a synonym for "non-Christian"). Meanwhile, Revelation features Satan, The Beasts, The Dragon, and The Whore of Babylon, but none of these are actually named "antichrist". And they generally come across as physically (not just morally) monstrous, which sorta messes with the popular idea that "The Antichrist" will show up as a charismatic human-shaped leader, and that such an event is plainly predicted in Revelation.
- The story of Adam and Eve has been misused for centuries to provide an aesop that women are seductresses who lure men to their downfall. Since Eve was the first one to bite the apple it also has the implied message that women are weak, stupid, evil, and so on, and should therefore be punished for all eternity by being reduced to second class citizens or kept out of high profile religious professions. Even to this day you'll find people who use this story as a reason why women cannot be ordained as priests or popes. Some of them are even women!
- As far as religious figures go, Jesus has the worst case of Misaimed Fandom ever. Here's a poor son of a Jewish carpenter who, for the most part, was practically a Proto-Hippie. A man who spoke on behalf of the poor & marginalized, respected women as human beings & equals, eschewed material wealth & earthly power, chewed out the "Fat Cats" & stuffy religious authorities of the day...a man who taught kindness, altruism, generosity, unconditional love, forgiveness & peace....If anything, practically a "Liberal Peacenik Hippie Socialist" or whatever..........Yet institutions professing to follow him have used his brand of a kinder, gentler, humanitarian Reformed Judaism to commit horrific acts of violence & bigotry! Yeshua Bar Yosef (a.k.a 'Jesus') would look at the Crusades, pogroms, Witch Hunts, hate crimes, totalitarianism, imperialism, bigotry, sexism & lust for power committed through the ages with utter horror!
- On Jesus and Economics (Given that none of the authors of the New Testament Gospels and Epistles are alive to explain their writings, obverse Rule of Cautious Editing Judgment): Many of the Christian Left have accused those of the Christian Right of having a misaimed fandom in using religion to rail against various social issues (e.g. abortion and same-sex marriage) while overlooking efforts to confront poverty and other socioeconomic problems. On the other hand Rightists have also accused Leftists of also observing a misaimed fandom in pursuing Social Justice in that Jesus, while calling people to be charitable and humble, did not call for call for forcibly seizing people's private property (and thus in doing so conflicting with prohibition on theft) autocratically to impose this on people and that such actions would be Not So Different from the Roman Empire's despotism that Jesus was opposed to. The Book of Acts is frequently interpreted by both sides as supporting their respective arguments.
- On Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation: Many Protestant Christians hail Martin Luther as a hero for cutting ties from the Roman Catholic Church. However, Luther sought to reform (hence why it was initially called a reformation in the first place) the Catholic Church, not to create any sort of other religious denomination(s). Near the end of his life, he even aired his own disappointment about a new Religious assembly (Lutheranism) and "complained that he did not want to give his name to a community that should take its name only from Christ".note
- The Proverbs passage about the Wife of Noble Character is sometimes used by various sects in the modern age to demonstrate that women should Stay in the Kitchen and tend to their families and to work deemed appropriately feminine (the example given is textile work), and stay out of trouble, while their husbands should work in the public sphere. However, it was actually written not so much to tell women what they should be doing, but to encourage men to appreciate the work done by the women in their lives, instead of taking their wives and the work they did for granted. (Indeed, the woman in the poem is strong and capable, and she runs her own business. And her husband boasts about her to his friends and colleagues.)