Two Thoughts about the Ten Commandments

We humans are busy creatures. We organize, disorganize, sort, scatter, categorize, construct and then deconstruct, make lists, lecture, teach and then forget what we learned, share, and hoard. As I said, we’re busy. And autumn is an especially busy time for gardeners and gardens. Recently, as I was busy cleaning up the garden after one of our many seasonal wind storms (more this year than I remember occurring in past years), an amusing thought came to mind. I suspect that this thought came to me because of a book I had finished reading a few days before. The book, Christians against Christianity, by Dr. Obery Hendricks Jr., details the damage that contemporary right-wing Evangelicals are doing to the Christian religion. Not being Christian, or in fact religious, I don’t have a dog in this fight as the saying goes. But my family and I (and many other people in this country) have been deeply, and frequently, harmed by Christians over recent years so the topic is somewhat pertinent. Anyway, the book spoke to me on many levels, but most applicable is how thoroughly the teachings of the man Jesus of Nazareth have been prostituted and debased by some people who espouse right-wing, Evangelical political ideas. In fact, Dr. Hendricks’ book introduced me to Jesus’ teachings in a way I had not encountered before. These teachings have beauty, compassion, intelligence, and bravery – and are completely different from what I have encountered in past interactions with most Christians I know.

But, anyway, as I mentioned, two thoughts came to my mind that afternoon in the garden. I had been working from a to-do list written in my waterproof notebook and was close to checking off the last two or three chores. I was feeling accomplished and pleased with myself. And then someone from my past came to mind, and the admonishment this person had given me about my “excessive” love of the natural world. “I’m always being scolded”, I remembered thinking at the time. But then, I started to laugh because the thoughts that came to mind were about the Ten Commandments. Not about how and why Jesus cited them and incorporated them into his teachings (as a devote Jew), but about what the commandments say about humankind. As I see them, the Ten Commandments can be boiled down to this: humans like to make lists, and we like to tell others how to act.

I finished my chores in a good mood and in good time. When I came inside to warm up, I decided to make another list – this one for the following day – and told myself to make a cup of coffee, have a sit-down, and open Dr. Hendricks book one more time.

I wish you good humor, a manageable to-do list, and a warm beverage.


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