The Ninth Commandment: The Dog That Got His Teeth Before His Eyes

   Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness Against Thy Neighbor-Exodus 20:16

   "I say, without characters, fame lives long. Thus, like the formal vice, iniquity, I moralize two meanings in one word." Richard III, Act III, Scene I

   "After the game, the King and the pawn go into the same box." -Italian Proverb

   We are all intended for the same end and so waste our efforts when we strive for power and position here below. Life is meaningful insomuch as we discover and inculcate character. We will be what we will be for a great some time and so should spend our sweat in the field of personal and social improvements.

   The rabbinic schools taught this; the only unpardonable sin against one of the Ten Commandments is  sin against the Third. Man may not speak falsely in God's name. They taught this because of their overall belief that the "seal of God (God's signature) is truth (The Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 55a). The rabbis, wisely, I think, taught men should not exult God with praises that defied their own experience of God.

   Why? I think it must be that life is a long search for character, for meaning, of which death is only the penultimate experience and failure may help more than soul-damning success. One praises God for that which one does not see yet to his own peril, for in so doing he "spins" God, refusing the evidence of his eyes and so athwart God's purpose.

   I remember, in baptist life, when our schisms first began to become fissures. We would see some atrocity committed, some brother torn down, some institution defiled. We would moan. Someone would admonish us that God was not in our moaning, excusing the atrocity, and order us back to the work we never left. Eager for approval and fearful of conflict we set about plowing again like good oxen brooding in our traces but set to the fields.

   Then, someone among the "leadership" would see something else he wanted and the process repeated. Atrocity, moan, admonish and again to the plow. We learned new seasons, not Advent and Resurrection, but Catastrophe and Cataclysm. We became Utilitarians; worldly power became our Everest and all around us went cold and hard.

   Since there are so few prominent positions among us, "we" and "they" could not hold enough without holding all. The dog that got his teeth before his eyes went ravening blindly among the lambs. Blood flowed.

    The lambs that were left, left. Soon they were not lambs any longer.

   If you want to see the liar, do not look out in the field. Look close to the purse.

   If the man who points you to the field stays near the purse, he is more in love with the purse than the work.

   In Sodom it is said the thieves would dig at night into a house they marked during the day. They would often make gifts of some precious oil or ointment to a homeowner. They knew the homeowner would put the precious oil with his other valuables. Upon digging into the house, the thief stopped and smelled, following his nose to the place where the valuables were kept.

   The Liar/Thief gives only to take. He is the dog that got his teeth before his eyes.

Tomorrow: Thou Art the Man






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