imagining otherwise

So, I seem to have gotten away with re-writing the 10 commandments.  The faithful at Tighnabruaich were a bit alarmed, but Dunoon didn’t bat an eye.

The question on the floor was how can we help the text be heard by a generation that can’t bear with Thou Shalt Not long enough to find any good in law.

The tentative answer was that we play with it, and invert speech.  So, I ended up with this:

10 Offerings (an inversion of Exodus 20.1-17)

Then we said to God:

  1. You are our God, who brought us into freedom:
    we shall have no other gods before you.
  2. We shall not make idols, or try to contain you
    in the things of this world;
    we shall not worship the work of our own hands,
    for if we turn from you we will be miserable.
    We know that we and our children
    will be miserable without you.
  3. We shall not abuse your name,
    or use it to gain our own ends.
  4. We shall remember the Sabbath, the day of rest.
    We shall remember that our worth comes from you,
    and not the things we do.
    We shall honour that worth in others,
    and let strangers and all your creatures
    be blessed by your Sabbath.
  5. We shall give honour to those who nurture us,
    to all who give us life;
    so that we learn to live long and live well.
  6. We shall respect life, and help it flourish.
  7. We shall honour the commitments of love,
    and walk carefully with one another.
  8. We shall share our wealth freely,
    so that no one is left desperate.
  9. We shall speak what is true, and what is kind and good.
  10. We shall rejoice in our neighbours’ wealth and good fortune. We shall rejoice when they love and are loved.

I realised after the fact that I began with ‘nots’, but by the end was looking for affirmations only.  I’ve left the descrepancy in hope that maybe you will have a go at editing.

10 thoughts on “imagining otherwise

  1. Absolutely wonderful. Emphasising the good, rather than prohibiting the undesirable.

    When an action is prohibited, it leaves a gap which could be filled be filled by another undesirable action.

    Encouraging a good action helps provide us with a fulfilling life.

  2. Oh yes, this is wonderful.

    How’s this for number 1?
    We will always remember than in you we live and move and have our being and we will worship you above all else

    Hmm, maybe that covers no. 2 as well.

    And number 3? We will honour your name in gratitude for your revelation.

    I like what you have in number three about not using God’s name for our own ends, but I’m not sure how to turn that into a positive. I think the ‘shalls’ rather than ‘shalt not’ do emphasize the nature of a covenant.

  3. Yes, Elizabeth, I like those suggestions.

    Somehow, I’d like to figure out how to keep it close enough to the text (and the meaning of the text) that it is self-evidently the same, and in my draft, that worked better in the first ones.

    But perhaps the more poetic telling you’re offering is needed too (does it become more of a creed then?)

  4. I’m loving the positiveness of this – makes you think of living to the commandments in a completely different way I think. I wonder if this language was used more in everyday life what effect it would have on people – if we could eliminate the words “not” and “no” and other such words…

  5. Having just had my wallet knocked as I went through Glasgow airport I am currently rather in favour of ‘You shall not steal.’

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