RoundTable_12-1992
Perspective

The Ten Commandments

I. OTHER GODS AND IMAGES

The Ten Commandments, and many other biblical texts, used to be for me pious, nondescript, and rather gratuitous statements. That was youth. With maturity and age, they began to reveal (the right word) an immeasurable depth of wisdom, whose exploration occupied the life of a Pascal and a Chesterton. Our contemporary "culture" (various paganisms, abortion/euthanasia, inclusive language, overall politicization) has demoted these texts to the level of bored cliches or outright mystifications. Hence the need to focus on them again.

Among the commandments, perhaps the first has fared the worst. The ones about stealing, adultery, or respect for parents have retained a kind of corrupted referential value; they are at least "issues," subject to discussion on TV panels and in newspaper editorials. Indeed, according to the counter-commandments, stealing (looting) is economically justified; adultery is still a valid notion in reverse, since about 50 percent of all couples do not divorce; and filial sentiments are at least indirectly a topic of debate when children's rights, incest, and adoption by homosexuals come up for legislation.

But things like "do not defy me by making other gods your own," "do not carve false images," and "love me and keep my commandments" to moderns sound incomprehensible and look like fossils from a sunken phallic period,...

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