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On the subject of Christianity...

I mentioned in my last post that I'm thinking of writing a paper/report/essay/article/book/new bible/etc on the subject of why I no longer feel comfortable with Christianity.

Now, I am in no way a feminista, you'll never find me preaching to the masses about women being on the short end of things. But the sexism in the Bible, the church, Christianity as a whole, bothers me, and is one of the reasons I fell away from the teachings as a teenager.

I've recently found an ebook that is quite interesting. It's a bestiary from the 12th century, translated from the Latin and given a thorough section of footnotes by none other than T. H. White. The book (The Book of Beasts) is full of the common misconceptions of the day. Almost no animal breeds through proper copulation, the smell of a male and she becomes pregnant, a certain type of fish swims in front of a whale and she becomes pregnant. Any sort of mixed breeding (horse and donkey, mixing of species of snakes) is called 'unnatural' or a 'bastard copulation'. Plenty of quaint oddities which make for an interesting read.

In true fashion of the time period there are heavy religious overtones. Literary concerns were dealt with almost entirely in the confines of the church as the average person could neither read nor write. As such I'm not surprised to come across passages dealing with Christian teachings, or making examples of animals who are seen detestable as holding the qualities of people who are un-Christian.

In a prime example of this is the hyena, or Yena as it is called in the translation. The hyena is said to frequent graveyards and feast on bodies dug from graves. There's also an interesting line referring to the sexual appearance of the hyena: "Its nature is that at one moment it is masculine and at another moment feminine, and hence it is a dirty brute." This is easy to understand for the age, as female hyenas have a 'sudo-penis'. Normally both sexes appear to have a penis, and during copulation the female's penis is pulled into her body in a sort of inside-out fashion and becomes what I would refer to as her cervical cavity (though I'm certain my science on that is uninformed). And here comes the spiritual lesson from The Book of Beasts: "The Children of Israel, who served the living God at first, are compared to this brute. Afterwards, given up to riches and luxuries, they paid respect to dead idols; whence the Prophet compared the Synagogue to a dirty animal, saying: 'My inheritance is made for me like the cave of the Yena'. Yes, those of you who serve wantonness and avarice are compared to this monster."

Throughout The Book of Beasts passages of this nature are not uncommon. Comparisons of 'evil' animals to people of an 'evil' nature and the devil, and virtuous animals to upstanding members of the Church and their Lord happen quite frequently.

In curiosity I skimmed near the end of the document, looking for passages on dragons, to see what was believed in the time period. I couldn't help but read over the sections on various snakes as well, looking for the supposed correlations between snakes and the devil. But what I found is a bit outstanding, even for what I was expecting.

"The VIPER (vipera) is called this because it brings forth in violence (vi)." A description of the belief that the baby vipers burst from their mother's belly, killing her. It is also believed that when vipers mate, the male sticks his head inside the females mouth and spits semen. "Then she, angered by his lust, bites off his head when he tries to take it out again."  ... "According to St Ambrose, the viper is the most villainous kind of beast, and particularly because it is the cunningest of all species when it feels the lust of coition. It decides to have a bastard union with the sea eel (Murena) and makes ready for this unnatural copulation. Having gone down to the seashore and made its presence known with a wolf-whistle, it calls the Murena out of the waters for a conjugal embrace. The invited eel does not fail him, but offers the desired uses of her coupling to the venomous reptile."

Now we come to the Christian interpretation.

"Now what can anybody make of a sermon like this, unless it is to show up the habits of married couples, and, if you do not get the point, it shall now be explained to you.
Your husband, I admit, may be uncouth, undependable, disorderly, slippery and tipsy--but what is worse than the ill which the murena-mistress does not shun in him, once he has called her? She does not fail him. She embraces the slipperiness of the serpent with careful zeal. She puts up with your troubles and offers the comfort of womanly good cheer. But you, O Woman, like the lady-snake who bites off his head, are not able to support your own man.
Adam was deceived by Eve, not Eve by Adam. Consequently it is only good sense that the man, who was first got into trouble by the woman, should now take the leadership, for fear that he should once again be ruined by feminine whims.
But he is rough and savage, you will say: in short, he has ceased to please.
Well, is a man always to be choosing new wives? Even a horse loves truly and an ox seeks one single mate. And if one ox is changed in a yoke of oxen, the other one cannot drag the yoke but feels uncomfortable. Yet you women put away your husbands and think that you ought to be changing frequently. And if he happens to be away for one day, you give him a rival on mere suspicion, as if his inconstancy were proved. You do an injury to modesty.
A mere viper searches for his absent one, he calls his absent one, he cries out to her with a flattering note. And when he senses his partner approaching, he bashfully sicks up his poison, in reverence to the lady and in nuptial gratitude. You women, on the contrary, reject the coming union from afar, with insults. The viper even looks toward the sea, looks forward to the coming of his lady-friend. You women impede with contumely the approaches of your men."

TLDR version: Ladies, if your man goes out and visits a prostitute, it's your own damn fault for being such a bitch to him all the time. He doesn't want to be bad, but you're just so cold and mean to him that he lusts for merely the flattering smile and kind words of the ladies of the night.

'Oh, the church isn't anything like that anymore, that was written so long ago!' Guess what. That Bible you read from every week was written longer ago than this. By 1300+ years. It is the same book the man who wrote the above passage learned from. A woman is to support her man in all his endeavors, a woman cannot teach a man, a woman must cover her head if leading other women in prayer otherwise she's disrespecting God, the first woman in the world lead us all into sin and death our only salvation: the son of God, the list goes on.

How any woman can be a member of the church is beyond my understanding. You learn weekly how you are a second class human, merely a step above a slave, how you can never hope to aspire to anything but the perfect compliment to your man. You are basically expected to be a pretty handbag made of skin for your man to carry around. If you are a virtuous woman who works hard and minds her children, his faults will be overlooked. If you are the subject of the gossip club after service is over and your children are rowdy during sermon, your husband is looked upon with pity for having such a heavy burden to deal with.

There are many, many scriptures that detail these points but I have neither the desire nor will to sift through a Bible or blocks of verses online at this time. I only lost sixteen years of my life to these teachings, I count myself lucky. I'm not eager to give more away.

If anyone feels the above passage unfair, the author does continue on with a word to the men, which settles the waters somewhat, until you realize he's not changing his tone by much.

"But there is a catch in this for you too, my dear Man. You do not sick up your poisons when you excite the marriage girdle. In its season you ferment the fearful poison of the conjugal embrace, nor do you blush at the nuptials, nor feel respect for marriage.
Lay aside, O Man, the pride of your heart and the harshness of your conduct when that diligent wife does hasten to you. Drive away the sulks when that solicitous wife does excite your affection. You are not her lord, but her husband, nor have you chosen a female slave, but a wife. God wants you to be the director of the weaker sex, but not by brute force. Return sympathy for her misfortunes, kindness for her love. Sometimes, where the viper is able to get rid of his poison, you are not able to get rid of the hard-heartedness of your mind. Well, if you have a natural coldness, you ought to temper it out of respect for the institution of marriage; you ought to lay aside the savagery of your brain out of respect to the union. Thus you may be able to get her to accept you after all!
Man! do not seek a corrupt union. Do not lie in wait for a different connection. Adultery is unpleasant, it is an injury to Nature. God first made two people, Adam
and Eve, and they were to be man and wife. She was made from the rib of Adam and both were ordained to be in one body and to live in one spirit. So why separate the body, why divide the mind? It is adultery to Nature.
You see, this story of the Murena and the Viper shows that th ey do not copulate for the sake of procreation, but from a delight in the lusty fondlings of desire.
Notice, O Man, how the human male tries to make up to a strange concubine. He wants to adopt the same concupiscence as an eel has, and to that reptile he may well be compared! He hurries to that she-eel of his and pours himself into her bosom, not by the straight road of truth but by the slippery paths of love. He hurries to her, only to get back his own poison like a viper-for, by the very act of union with her, he takes back his own wickedness, just as the viper, so they say, afterwards sups the poison up again, which it had first vomited out."

If anyone would like to read the work in its entirety there is a torrent for it here. This work does not pass into public domain until 2014, though I'm certain you would be hard pressed to find a copy on store shelves, so my conscience is clear.