Thursday, November 3, 2011

Twelve Passages from the Book of Jeremiah

O.K., this is that rarest of things, a joint post with my other blog, the world's longest book report: Michael Reads the Bible.  Joint posts are very rare not only because MRtB is chronically enmired, but because whenever you bring up the Bible you run the risk of offending everybody in the crowd who does not immediately dismiss you as a nut.

Since those who have dismissed me as a nut (there is some justice to this, I think) are already gone, I will apologize here for any offense I may be about to give.  I will add, though, that I have thought long and hard about this and have not been able to come up with why the following would be offensive, unless the offended party also had issues with the bulk of both the mainline and conservative Christian establishment.


Inspirational Christian images are very, very common.  You have almost certainly seen them all your life, with or without noticing.  They consist of a short biblical verse printed over a photograph that may be thematically linked to the quotation, or may just be a sunset, a rainbow, or some similar attractive scene.

In addition to their substantial brick-and-mortar presence, these images are also widely displayed, offered, and sold (!) here online.  I run into them constantly when I am working on MRtB, and over time I have come to find them a little troubling.  So I thought I would make a little game.

What follows are:
Six typical inspirational religious images based on quotes from the first half of Jeremiah, found randomly on the internet.

Six additional images, also based on quotes from the first half of Jeremiah, that I assembled myself.
And the three questions, if you are playing the game, are: "Can you tell the difference? How? and What, if any, are the implications?"














Elizabeth said...

I think yours are 2, 3, 6, 7, 10, and 12. One was an image/text mismatch (rainbows + destruction), the rest were bits I don't think would normally be quoted.

Elaine said...

Well, most of these prove the origin of the term 'jeremaid...' cough, cough.

The 'friends' one made me laugh. You are SUCH a rascal.

Voron X said...

My list was exactly like Elizabeth's. I also had number 8, because it seemed negative, but cut it when I realized I had 7 listed for you.

The thing is, the other 5 "positive" ones are mostly taken out of context. I had this long funny post where I made up imaginary follow-up verses for those five about wretchedness, corruption, destruction, and death, but it got eaten by the computer when I tried to post it. Turns out I didn't need to be creative. For fun, I actually checked out the REAL follow-up verses. I will post some of them in a follow-up comment.

Voron X said...

1. "Tell them this: 'These gods, who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.'"

4. "The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?
But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve."
Like a partridge that hatches eggs it did not lay is the man who gains riches by unjust means. When his life is half gone, they will desert him, and in the end he will prove to be a fool.

5. ..."The days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will punish all who are circumcised only in the flesh--the Egyptians, Edomites, Ammonites, Moabites, the people who live in the desert in remote places, and yes, even the people of Judah. And like all these pagan nations, the people of Israel also have uncircumcised hearts."

9. They are all senseless and foolish; they are taught by worthless wooden idols.

And this is the best, because it's so unexpected:

11. Cursed be the day I was born! May the day my mother bore me not be blessed!
Cursed be the man who brought my father the news, who made him very glad, saying, "A child is born to you--a son!"
May that man be like the towns the LORD overthrew without pity. May he hear wailing in the morning, a battle cry at noon.
For he did not kill me in the womb, with my mother as my grave, her womb enlarged forever.
Why did I ever come out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow and to end my days in shame?
Cheerful, no?

mrs.5000 said...

I continue to find these fascinating, but this time around I'm also oddly disturbed by the person gazing at the sun with a telescope.

Voron X said...

Can somebody come up with an appropriate image for Psalms 137:9?

"Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rocks!"

Ben said...

I am guessing that yours are 2, 3, 7, 8 10, and 12 for much the same reasons as Elizabeth gave.

Does have a religious section? If so, you should contribute!

Eric said...

This is great stuff. Number 7 is by far my favorite. Maybe I'll make it into a full-size poster and put it up at my office.

Voron X. Thanks for doing that research. Jeremiah likes to keep it real, eh?

UnwiseOwl said...

Ok, I now have a new favourite Michael5000 post.

I hope you don't mind, but I am going to steal this idea wholesale for blog content. If I ever, you know, actually blog.

pfly said...

Going on font choice alone, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12.

DrSchnell said...

Yours are 2,3,6,7,10,17. #6 is the best, because it's really a metacommentary on the very idea of quoting scripture verbatim as the worduvgod.
I think Voron X's #11 followup would make a great mother's/father's day card!

Michael5000 said...

Without checking, I figure that y'all probably guessed right.

Elaine: I probably am a rascal, but I didn't feel like it when I made these. I felt like I was discovering that an entirely benign impulse and practice has, through enormous repetition, created a generally accepted conception of what the Bible is, and what is inside of it, that is frighteningly spurious. It kind of freaked me out, actually.

Mr. X, I felt your research on the following phrases was especially cromulent. I think I will conduct more experiments along these lines.

Elizabeth: I challenge your notion that #3 constitutes a text/image mismatch. I would argue that the conventions of the genre allow a rainbow, sunrise/sunset, seascape, or mountain scenery as a background for ANY Biblical passage.

Mr. Owl: My content is your content. I would be especially interested to see/hear your take on this, actually.