The Ten Commandments: An Interlude between Commandments Four and Five-Continued

     We are an incarnadined people desperately in search of someone to keep us in line.

    The sheer size of the life overwhelms us. We live longer and more alone than immediate previous generations.

    Since we live longer, dementia and disability hold sway o'er us. The cost to maintain some bearable existence creates whole industries, while, 'list, it taxes others.

   Since we live lonelier lives, our literary muse tends to tragedy. I fear the return of the anti-hero of the 1960's, that man in the "Spaghetti Westerns." You remember, the star of the show,  he rides alone, takes what he wants whenever he wants however he may. He carries a six-shooter but he is one of Sartre's characters from the Life Theater of the Absurd.

   For the anti-hero everything means nothing and nothing is the goal.

   Life is not ridiculous, according to the Commandment giver. Life matters. Our conduct concerns the Law Giver.

   The Commandments are all about how we live out cooperation with our fellows. The religious articles (the first four of the Commandments) lay the groundwork for the second part of the story. They might as well say, "Feel yourself a part of something greater than yourself. Extend yourself beyond the minimum requirement. Select a disciplinary ritual. Practice the discipline of the ritual."

   All who wait on the Lord (accept the transcendent) soar on eagle's wings (transcend). They can run (endure) without expiring, they can walk and not fall down (triumph). Their strength is perpetual.

   You may recognize Isaiah 40:31 in the previous paragraph. This verse is often called a promise. It is not a promise. It is a report.

   The Commandment-Giver defines our shape. God gives us boundaries to focus our power, to provide depth and to show the end goal. We misuse the Commandments when we try to make them part religious, part ethical. In fact, each is religious, each is ethical, all oriented to God, all turned to man. Our religion makes us altruistic. Religious people give more money to charity, volunteer more hours, vest themselves in the love of their fellow man. No culture could actually survive without its religious vocares.

   Without the religious man could do just what he need do to get by for the moment. Religion forbids a self-serving life.




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