One of the reasons why it is so difficult to convince people that the Bible is essentially a psychotic writing is that most people naturally feel an aversion to thinking psychotically, at least to a pronounced degree. I think most people prefer that their psychosis come to them in a more diluted form (which they will prefer to call “sanity”). As long as they don’t try to read the Bible too carefully, or think about it too hard, they won’t be forced to confront the sheer magnitude of psychotic thinking that is actually contained in the Bible. So, needless to say, they make the choice not to read it too carefully, or think about it too hard.
But if you’re a Christian, then I say you have a responsibility to read the Bible passages that I provide, along with my attempts to interpret those passages—no matter how mentally disoriented you start to feel and how confusing it gets and how hard it is to follow my arguments—because all that I am trying to do is follow the thinking of the authors of the Bible—which, as I mentioned, is psychotic thinking. And even if you’re not a Christian, but you like to think of yourself as a “tolerant” person who “respects all religions,” and who is unwilling to “unsettle anyone’s faith even though you don’t personally happen to share it”—then I think you likewise have a responsibility to read this kind of material. In fact, even if you’re not currently inclined to be tolerant of Christianity and other esoteric (i.e., “traditional”) religions, I think you still have a responsibility to read this kind of material—that is, assuming you believe that there is a significant possibility that the interpretive approach I am offering is a plausible one, and assuming you believe in the objective importance of that interpretive approach should you come to find it plausible; and also assuming you are in a (reasonably) good position in your life to do the necessary work.
Why do I say you have that responsibility? Because—if you’re a Christian—this isn’t MY book. It’s YOUR book. YOU’RE the ones who wanted your authoritative religious writings to be written in ancient foreign languages that you can’t even read yourself. Now, my personal view is that that was a really, really dumb idea. But, having decided that that’s the way you wanted to do things, you don’t have the option of simply not joining me in my attempts to try to make sense of the original Greek text of YOUR New Testament, so that you can instead go read something like the “New Living Translation” because you find it relatively easy to understand and you like what it says—regardless of the fact that what it says is not what the original Greek text actually says. You’re not allowed to do that for the very same reason that I’m not allowed to describe Huckleberry Finn or a Spiderman comic book as my favorite translation of the New Testament just because I might happen to like what it says.
You’re also not allowed to just have your ministers “sum it up” for you and decide that that’s good enough. If you want that “summary” to serve as your authoritative religious “text,” and if the content of that summary also turns out to be non-psychotic—something like, “Our religion really only teaches that you should love God and love your neighbor”—fine. But you will then need to admit that that particular “text” was written not by God but by fallible human beings who ought to be held responsible—both for its content, and also for the lack of content that results from its “summary” form. You will have to stop pretending that you “believe the Bible” when it’s really something else that you believe—even as you continue to tell other people that they should “believe the Bible” (even while knowing that some of them might make the silly mistake of actually taking you seriously).
It was never my own preference to go through the Bible trying to figure out what it meant. I personally wish it would immediately disappear. I have done the work I have done partly because other people refuse to stop talking about the Bible, and because Christians and even many non-Christians expect me to be knowledgeable about it as a “cultured” and “educated” person, because it’s supposedly one of the main pillars of “Western civilization.” And I have also done the work because, practically speaking, for many persons like myself living in the United States, Christians have worked very hard and have been very successful at making the notion of “joining a religious community” wholly dependent on a person’s willingness to base his life on psychotic writings (namely, those of the Bible), so that if a person wishes to join a religious community—by which I mean, a community of people holding certain ideals in common and taking responsibility for each other’s welfare—he will be forced to be initiated into a group psychosis (albeit usually a mild one—“mild” only because the members of Christian church communities usually don’t take the Bible as seriously as they claim to).
And I resent that. It angers me that a sick arrangement like that is considered normal. I think the whole arrangement needs to be brought to an end as quickly as possible. And my attempts at Bible interpretation are—as strange as it might at first sound—intended to help accomplish that.
In my attempts at Bible interpretation, my goal is not to denigrate the Bible, any more than it would be my goal to “denigrate” what a psychotic person was telling me if I were a psychiatrist. My goal is simply to figure out what the Bible means, in the same way that I would try to figure out what the psychotic person was trying to tell me. But part of determining what the Bible means involves acknowledging the fact that it is a writing that is essentially psychotic in nature, since I believe that otherwise it is impossible to make much sense of it. If Christians feel “insulted” because I’m telling them that their authoritative religious writings are basically psychotic, then what that indicates to me is that they have difficulty dealing with reality—which is a weakness that they ought to be working very hard to overcome. In my judgment, what I am saying is simply a fact. It is not meant as an insult to them. I believe one should be respectful of individual psychotic persons; but I do not believe that I have a moral obligation to be respectful or tolerant of psychosis. And Christians need to be made aware that by promoting the idea that psychotic writings should serve as the central foundational writings around which people build their lives, they are helping to promote psychosis in the world—which is a bad thing, and not a good thing.
Please note, by the way, that I don’t hate “God” or “God’s law,” however one chooses to define those terms. And, if you are a Christian, I don’t necessarily reject your moral teachings. What I reject are your attempts to force me to become more psychotic than I would otherwise be as the precondition for being allowed to join a community of people who share certain ideals (whatever they may be) and take responsibility for each other’s welfare. Once you’re able to come up with authoritative religious writings that present your moral, religious, and philosophical beliefs clearly, unambiguously, and non-psychotically, I will certainly be happy to consider adopting them for myself. But until you’re able to do that—stop trying to change the subject.
If you want your authoritative religious writings to be written in ancient foreign languages by psychotic persons, then the way I see it, that means you have an obligation to join me in trying to understand those ancient foreign languages, and also in trying to learn to think as full-blown psychotic persons would—as “unfun” as that may be.
And if you’re not willing to join me in that effort, then you should, at the very least: a) Stop promoting Christianity and the Bible as good things; and b) Stop telling people that they have an obligation to be “respectful” of Christianity and of the Bible—because, whether you are a Christian or a non-Christian, you’ve actually never even bothered to understand what exactly it is that you are insisting that people be “respectful” of.