I blame Abraham for a lot of things.
Perhaps the least contentious, in terms of not being arrested for hate crime, being blown up by suicide bombers or annoying friends and relatives, is the fact that he fucked up my relationship with my father for a few more years than was necessary. It would have happened anyway I guess in that stupid testosterone fuelled male competitiveness crap around puberty. But the supposedly reassuring tale that God has our interests at heart and that he had chosen to make a covenant with us by getting Abraham to sacrifice his ‘only begotten’ son was a bit of a downer for me.
I was my father’s only begotten son and I was worried about history repeating itself. Isaac was always portrayed in those picture books beloved of Christian Sunday Schools as looking calm and relaxed, like he knew the fix was in, but I wasn’t convinced. The whole voice of God, the deus ex machina bit at the fifty ninth minute of the eleventh hour didn’t help. I mean there weren’t a lot of thorn thickets around our terraced house and there were definitely no rams getting caught in them to do the whole super sub routine on the altar.
Don’t get me wrong, my father hadn’t until this point, I was about six or seven when the portent of this tale struck home, done a lot to suggest he was listening to voices in his head advocating filicide as a strong career move. But you never knew.
Actually the more I read the Torah/Pentateuch/Old Testament, the less certain I became about the whole reliability of God’s contract and Abraham’s version of events.
The whole ‘only begotten son’ bit was a crock for a start. Abraham (Abram at the time as he had not yet been renamed by God) already had a son. Ishmael hadn’t chosen to be born and certainly got the shitty end of the stick. Sarai/Sarah persuaded Hagar to have Abram’s child as she couldn’t and then she kicked the pair of them out when she had her own child. Nice lady.
Actually Abraham and Sarah are a right pair. Abusing the home help, planning on murdering their son for a chance at the top job in the tribe and helping destroy two cities because they (possibly) didn’t persecute homosexuals enough.
You have to wonder if Abram might not have been disguising a rapacious desire to succeed at all costs under the veil of doing God’s will. It’s as if a really good PR firm had got hold of the life story of some of today’s tech giant/social media creators and done a snow job on them. ‘Sure he destroyed millions of high street jobs and drove down wages and avoided all the existing labour and tax laws…but he was doing it for a higher purpose!’ Watch out for new Messiahs/Patriarchs coming to a digital app near you!
My Dad didn’t exhibit any kindling collecting tendencies but I confess his understandable crossness at some of the things I did at times, triggered a distinct wariness. I wish I had explained my reserve to him at the time.
As it was we grew more distant than we needed and puberty made things worse. It took me some years (decades?) to move back to a respect, and yes a love, that I had had when Daddy was the best thing in the world, before bloody Abram stuck his oar in. We did get there but I wish it hadn’t have been so protracted and skewed by a mythical character and his self aggrandising PR story.
Three great religions and the justification for millions dead.
Beware men building pyres and listening to voices no-one else can hear.
Or hi-tec business empires.