May 3, 2008 1 Comment
I’m a big fan of highbrow Cliff Notes. For example, Kant’s famous metaphysical treatise is called
Critique of Pure Reason; I eventually had to read it for an upper-level course on Kant, but in 101, we read his much shorter Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics, which was, our intro professor explained to us, Kant’s own summary presentation of his longer work.
In both cases, the author wrote his own summary. I couldn’t hope for an equivalent with the Bible — which I’ve started several times but never made it out of Genesis — so instead I’m reading and enjoying David Plotz’s “Blogging the Bible,” from Slate.com.
As they come up, I’m also keeping track of famous saying I didn’t realize were biblical in origin, some of which have been reworded in their popular form, such as, “Can the Cushite change his skin or the leopard his spots?” (Jeremiah 13:23). I guess the Bible isn’t very politically correct.
Here’s Plotz’s introductory comment to Jeremiah chapters 14–16:
Anyone who’s ever been in a bad relationship knows the Doctrine of Pre-Emptive Cruelty: Before you go through the torture of dumping a boyfriend, you act meaner than you feel toward him. (This usually goes on at an unconscious level.) Boyfriend understandably bristles and retaliates. This makes the actual leave-taking much easier. You get to lighten your own guilt by blaming the dumpee for being such a jerk.
This appears to be God’s strategy.
My father used to lament the lack of biblical literacy in my so-called education. For most of my life, I haven’t shared his regret. But that concept alone — the doctrine of preemptive cruelty (which yes, I suppose might be more Plotz’s than God’s) — would have been well worth knowing in my formative years. My teens and 20′s would have looked very different if I’d known it.