Thus Spoke Vagina

“Silence is worse; all truths that are kept silent become poisonous.”

Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Greetings. I am Vagina, the Eternal Recurrence of the Feminine. I have a few things to say to all of you. Some of them are secret. Some of them are obvious. All art important. Thus Spoke Vagina. 

Thus Spoke VaginaFrom the dawn of time, the vagina has been both worshipped and maligned by men of this world. Vaginas are worshipped as the entrance to desire. They have also been maligned as being the mysterious exit of all things bloody and living.

This duality seems to confuse and conflict the male mind.

The Bible reflects this confusion. Leviticus 15:

19 “‘When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening.

20 “‘Anything she lies on during her period will be unclean, and anything she sits on will be unclean. 21 Anyone who touches her bed will be unclean; they must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening. 22 Anyone who touches anything she sits on will be unclean; they must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening. 23 Whether it is the bed or anything she was sitting on, when anyone touches it, they will be unclean till evening.

24 “‘If a man has sexual relations with her and her monthly flow touches him, he will be unclean for seven days; any bed he lies on will be unclean.”

The Holy natural

But we know better now. The wholly natural (or holy natural) function of the female body is the eternal feminine that gives life to all. Yet the vagina and its menstrual functions once were (and perhaps still are, by the ignorant) regarded as an illness of body and spirit. Religion reviled the vagina for its parallel function as dispenser of life potential that was not needed. Those two functions of life creation and dispenser are equal, not disparate.And isn’t is somehow ironic that this cycle is called menstruation?

A woman who conceives two children in her lifetime makes use of two eggs out of an estimated 400 that emerge from one million follicles in the ovaries present at birth. All other eggs are shed through the vagina.

That means if you believe in God, it stands to reason that God is fine with the mathematics of the vagina. Having two children equates to a .005 reproduction rate of children versus eggs produced in a lifetime. Even a woman that has ten children has a reproductive rate of 0.025. The world record for the most children produced in a lifetime is 69 by Valentina Vassilyeva. Even that represents a .17% reproductive rate against a typical lifetime yield of eggs.

All the rest of the eggs are vanquished to the eternal feminine. They depart from the body in an offering of blood through the vagina on a monthly cycle.

Numbers game

It all makes perfect sense because all of life––and human evolution––is a numbers game. If a woman were intended to conceive with every egg she develops in her body, she would spend 3,600 months pregnant. That’s equivalent to 300 years. Despite what the Bible contends about the long lives of human beings at one point in history, there are no medically credible records of human beings having lived much past 100 years. The rest is oral history and undependable.

So it is impossible to expect every egg to become a human being, because women can’t possibly live long enough to make that happen. That means the notion that mining eggs for stem cells or any other scientific purpose is completely legitimate. All other exaggerations of purpose and biotic potential are lies. That includes zygotes and embryos whose storage is a product of fertility studies or second-guessing the reproductive numbers game. That’s not playing God. It is harvesting some of nature’s mysteries to solve some of life’s most vexing challenges of disease, disability and human adaptation.

It all comes down to numbers in the end. And given the fact that women become reproductively inactive sometime after the age of 50, it means that in the last 30 years of a woman’s life, her vagina is no longer intended to be used for procreation. That’s how life works. It would not do well for women to give birth at 70 years of age and then die when their children are only 10 years old. It makes no biological or spiritual sense.

Reproductive games

So the vagina goes into a reproductive retirement, as it were. No longer do women have to menstruate once the vagina has served its reproductive purpose and shed all 400 eggs, or turned them into a few children. That certainly does not mean a woman needs to cease using her vagina to have sex. God and the Bible say nothing about that requirement. In fact, the end of the reproductive years seems instead to imply, “Have at it baby. You’ve earned it.”

Birth control

So who’s to say that birth control is not an acceptable practice during the reproductive years? Well, plenty of people have something to say about that.

Religious traditions have tried to play tricks with the birth control process for centuries. The Catholic faith has long advocated a birth control approach called the Rhythm Method. It tells people who want to have sex without producing children to avoid “high-risk” periods when female ovulation cycles most readily produce pregnancies.

But that’s playing games with God if you think about it. The intent to avoid having children through the rhythm cycle is no different from putting on a condom or taking a birth control pill. The intent and the outcome is the same. Pun intended.

What does it really mean to “multiply?”

The Genesis passage call to “be fruitful and multiply” has also long been used to suggest that the vagina has just one function in this world. But the phrase could just as likely suggest that the urgent call to “be fruitful” and multiply in fact applies to producing believers in God.

That interpretation places no holds on the number of people the vagina is supposed to produce. Instead the phrase “be fruitful and multiply” places the burden on nurturing and caring for all those born into this world, thereby multiplying the Kingdom of God. Voila! No more pressure on the vagina.

Sperm counts for nothing

But speaking of multiplication. Consider the fact that when men ejaculate, they typically emit 250,000,000 sperm. If a typical couple has sex twice a week, that’s half a billion sperm a week, and a billion per month. That’s 12 billion per year, and 480 billion in 40 years of sexual activity. Pretty much, that suggests that almost all sperm counts for nothing. We should not try to pretend that is not true. Onanism based on the idea that it is a sin for a man to “spill his seed” was in fact about defying intent rather than lack of intent.

But of course, when a man ejaculates into a woman’s vagina, a great many pleasurable sensations occur. And if a man respects a woman and her sexual needs, there can be equal pleasure for the woman, whose clitoris, vagina and uterus can all combine to produce orgasm. It is no coincidence that both men and women are known to emit the words “Oh God” during moments of sexual pleasure. The vagina is something of a holy place in that sense, for it provides one of the foundations for heterosexual union. So it turns out all that sperm and the vagina do have legitimate parallel purposes in this world.

As it turns out, the Bible recognizes the importance of sexual union. As noted in the Song of Songs, this metaphorical passages suggests metaphysical potential:

Song of Songs:

Listen! My beloved!
    Look! Here he comes,
leaping across the mountains,
    bounding over the hills.

Those mountains and hills are metaphorical, you see, depicting moments of desire and pursuit. The mounds of the breast and mons venus call out, driving desire in the man, whose fitness for procreation is represented by his bounding health.

Sex for pleasure is quite acceptable in the eyes of God, and certainly indicated by the mathematics of nature. With 400 eggs essentially shed through the vagina over a lifetime, and millions of sperm “wasted” during each sexual union that does not result in a fertilized egg, there is no real call to worry about a bit of wasted sperm or an egg.

As for the foundational claim that sex is supposed to be confined to bonds of marriage, that is all well and good. We see models of fidelity in so-called “lower creatures” such as cranes and geese, apes and even reptiles, to some degree. The Bible attempts to depict the ultimate fidelity as monogamy, yet even on this topic it disses marriage through Paul, who write that celibacy is yet superior to having sex at all. And if we followed that logic literally, there would be no human beings left on earth at all.

So clearly there is some hyperbole at work here. This is what Paul actually wrote: “Now concerning virgins, I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. I think that, in view of the impending crisis, it is well for you to remain as you are. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But if you marry, you do not sin, and if a virgin marries, she does not sin. Yet those who marry will experience distress in this life, and I would spare you that.

I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, and those who mourn as thought they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, and those who deal with the world as thought they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away. . . .

If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his fiancée, if his passions are strong, and so it has to be, let him marry as he wishes; it is no sin. Let them marry. But if someone stands firm in his resolve, being under no necessity but having his own desire under control, and has determined in his own mind to keep her as his fiancée, he will do well. So then, he who marries his fiancée does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better.

A wife is bound as long as her husband lives. But if the husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, only in the Lord. But in my judgment she is more blessed if she remains as she is.”

As can be discerned from Paul’s urgency here, there is a felt “crisis” approaching. That is, he anticipates the end of the world as we know it. He feels the return of Christ is imminent. Well, that was 2000 years ago, give or take a few. It’s a bit hard to argue that amount of time amounts to nothing.

So what was Paul intimating when he said “those who marry will experience distress in life?” He’s admitting that marriage is not all that it is cracked up to be. He’s also telling virgins not to give it up before the world ends, and he who marries his fiancée does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better.

Quite clearly the struggle for clarity on marriage and its merits had problems even for Paul, whose advice also stands in direct conflict to the Genesis passage to “be fruitful and multiply” as a call for sexual commitment to reproduction. What we find instead is that Paul advocates the more metaphorical interpretation of that passage to be desirable. That is, we should be fruitful in multiplying the Kingdom of God.

And you can have plenty of sex and still do that. Marriage as an institution of child-rearing is fine and functional, perhaps vitally necessary. So let’s accept that gay marriage is just as functional a capacity to do that? You don’t need to screw and produce a kid yourself to be a good parent. Adoptive parents are patent proof of that.

The narrow definition that says only there’s a direct line relationship between penises and vaginas and parenting is frankly full of it. Parenting, just like the kingdom of God, is all about love, not sex.

Vaginas and penises frankly deserve much more freedom than that. Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose, after all.

What’s good for the goose

For starters, it’s good for the penis and the male reproductive system to ejaculate. Physicians have been known to recommend frequent ejaculation to relieve pressure on the prostate gland and other health benefits, possibly even preventing prostate cancer. It doesn’t do any good to have sperm laying around too long.

Likewise for the vagina, where blood flow to the region and stimulation of sex can be generally good for female health. A vagina like any organ of the human body does require some other types of attention to be healthy. Just remember, “The pH of semen is basic, whereas the pH of the vagina is acidic.” Check out the link to see recommendations about that little piece of yin and yang.

So let’s turn around and give the Bible a touch of credit on some fronts. The advice about sexual health in the link above in some ways follows this line from Leviticus: “When a man has sexual relations with a woman and there is an emission of semen, both of them must bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening.”

There’s a strange lesson in that passage, and it is one that is often ignored. Sexuality is about equality. Men bear equal responsibility in the sexual process, and women have a right to hold them to that.

Next to godliness

Cleanliness is definitely a good thing with a vagina or a penis. The complexity of a vagina sometimes makes this a more difficult thing, and that’s yet another reasons why women are so amazing. They do so much “behind the scenes” work taking care of their vaginas that most men never need consider. Women also do so generally without complaint despite myriad social demands placed upon them by their partners or society. They just quietly walk with their purses to the bathroom and take care of business. Most men are none the wiser.

But here comes the awkward part. There are still entire populations of men who only want to think about vaginas when they think it’s time for sex. When these men are in fact forced to think about vaginas as anything other than sexual receptacles, the patriarchal elements of society tend to fight back and tell women to shut up. Some of these awkwardly ignorant men become politicians and seek to impose their close-minded view on women’s health and reproductive rights through legislation that defunds women’s healthcare.

Anti-vagina agendas

This anti-vagina (actually anti-woman) agenda emerges in highly conflicted ways. Male cretins such as Rush Limbaugh brand women “sluts” for speaking out on behalf of reproductive rights.Shaming women for wanting to take control of their own vaginas has a long history, but has recently become a flashpoint in neoconservative politics, with politicians moralizing and proposing laws that require intrusive procedures to gain access to reproductive services, banning birth control access and actually blaming women for being raped.

Symbolic failures

female-symbolThe yin and yang of sexual politics is full of such contrasts. The symbol for male and female are different, for sure, yet not all people are confined to those categories of sexual identification.There are people with organs of both sexes, and people who seek help in acquiring a clearer sexual identity because society in some cases demands it of them. The discomfort in some sectors with the sexual transformation of Caitlyn Jenner is one such high profile case of coming to grips with sexual identity and orientation.

But there’s more. There are men who desire men and women who desire women. It’s simply not all wine and roses out there. Some of the roses want to be with other roses.

Male-SymbolAnd yet, the Bible complains a bit about that. The book of Leviticus is quite direct.“‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.”

But you know, there’s one little problem with this statement if we take it literally. A man simply does not have a vagina. It is simply impossible for a man to have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman. There’s no vagina there!

Sex acts

So the old ownership rules really never did apply. And homosexual relations, well, there’s just not that much there either. Anal sex is just that. It’s anal sex. No harm if done with adequate respect and intelligence. Same with oral sex.

It seems to be sex without the goal of reproduction that some people protest. There’s always a little fear mixed in with these objections. People that do not understand the desires of others often find those desires objectionable. It’s really not much different in rooting for NFL football teams. A Green Bay Packers fan finds the idea of rooting for the Chicago Bears unconscionable and weird, and vice versa. The same holds true for supposedly ardent heterosexuals opposing those who accept and root for the LGBT community.


I’ve always wondered how a pro football team would do if they were named the Virginia Vaginas? After all, there are jiggling, twerking cheerleaders on the sidelines of most football fields. Can there be any denying what millions of men are thinking when they see those girls shaking what they got in front of the camera? That’s right: men want those vaginas. Those boobs. That butt.

And to some degree, women seem able to cope with that leering aspect of male behavior. Male testosterone covers the American landscape like one giant cum ocean. Indeed most pornography films these days end with men coming all over the face of their female companions. Could there be any clearer example of male dominance and ownership of women than that?

Porn, politics and the rape of America

It’s no coincidence that the language and philosophy of pornography so closely resemble that of politicians passing vagina-oriented legislation. The idea that women should have control over their sexual behavior is anathema to male politicians with the half-formed “logic” of ancient scriptural claims behind them. These men behave as if treating women like anything other than a sperm receptacle is a notion foreign to them.

The New York Times reports that 1 in 5 women report having been sexually assaulted. To be clear: “The researchers defined rape as completed forced penetration, forced penetration facilitated by drugs or alcohol, or attempted forced penetration.”

It is clear the female vagina is a clear target for male sexual aggression, violence and domestic violence. Yet there are male politicians that insist any pregnancy resulting from rape should be carried to term. They have also claimed that rape rarely results in pregnancy, and that a pregnancy resulting from rape should never allowed to be terminated in abortion.

Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-Mo.) further demonstrated the confused state of conservative male politicans toward issues of the vagina by asserting that women rarely become pregnant from “legitimate rape.”

A society led by politicians so conflicted by ignorance and confusion over what constitutes equality and basic human rights cannot think clearly about an issue as important as women’s reproductive rights. If vaginas truly could talk, they surely would speak out against all those with penises seeking to control, cajole and subjugate vaginas through scripture, politics and outright force.






Revisiting biblical dietary laws and other anachronisms of scripture

Dr. GottFor years I’ve kept a simple news clipping published in the Daily Herald, a traditional newspaper in Arlington Heights, Illinois, where I worked for 7 years.

The clipping featured a short column by Dr. Peter Gott, a physician whose column on health was syndicated all across the country.

A reader had written Dr. Gott with the following question: “Based on the dietary laws in the Bible, my wife believes that it is unhealthy to eat pork and shellfish. This is causing quite a disagreement. Can you tell us whether pork is less healthful than any other meat and whether shellfish is less healthful than any other seafood.”

Dr. Gott replied most simply, telling his reader:

“In interpreting biblical laws, it is important to put them into perspective. You have to remember that they were the products of a nonscientific age, long before infectious agents were even dreamed about. 

The Bible prohibited pork because pigs had a tendency to be infected with trichinosis, parasitic roundworms that could make people who ate undercooked pork susceptive to severe infections. Modern pork is largely free of such risks, therefore, its consumption is safe. Eating raw pork is a rarity, even though the meat is free of trichinosis. 

The same is true for shellfish, which centuries ago was a common cause of food poisoning. Today, however, commercial oyster and clam beds are regulated carefully by appropriate public health authorities, so these shellfish do not ordinarily carry anywhere near the risks posed by their ancient brethren.”

What an interesting choice of words to close his advice. “Ancient brethren.” It says a lot about the attitudes that lead people to take ancient aspects of the bible literally. Then they seek out people with similar attitudes and call them “brethren.”

Ancient laws

The Bible not only documents ancient dietary laws, but also lists warnings against contact with women who menstruate and homosexuals too.

We now understand the full biology of the female body. Back when the Bible was written, that was certainly not the case. Women were also discriminated against in civil and equal rights, treated as property and even murdered for infidelity. The patriarchal society from which the Bible emanated feared women’s bodies in ways that we no longer need in modern times. However there are still many men who do fear women. Some of those men hold positions of great power and still try to control what women can do in society, even to the point of legislating their personal and reproductive rights. But women aren’t buying it. 

Being gay is not a demonic issue

The same goes for homosexuality, which along with mental illness was viewed as a sign of an accursed condition like demon possession or a permanent state of sin. We now understand the brain chemistry of mental illness. Educated people no longer speak of mental illness in terms of demon-possession.

Education matters

Educated people also understand that homosexuality is not a “choice” but a rather common biological orientation estimated by many to constitute as much as 20% of the American population. Some experts place the figure lower, at 10% or so, while some like to believe that the homosexual population is relative miniscule, as low as 1-2%.

That would not reflect the seemingly panicked reaction many conservatives espouse on the prospects of gay marriage being legalized in many states across America. Fears over the so-called gay “agenda” also indicate that securing equal civil rights for gay people is considered anti-American and certainly anti-biblical.

Discriminating minds

But that old clipping by Dr. Peter Gott seems to counter the fears and anachronistic beliefs by which some people still choose to use as grounds for discrimination against all sorts of formerly mysterious aspects of human culture that are now better understood through science and medicine.

Getting past the fears and acknowledging the fact that the bible is no longer absolutely right about many topics is hard for people who equally fear the intellectual requirement to think about their faith and culture rather than live by terms that are black and white.

But as we learned from cultural wars over slavery, racism and women’s rights, society does not collapse when fearful attitudes are forsaken and replaced by practices and policies that are more enlightened, tolerant and civil.

In fact those are principles that Jesus would have liked just fine. He lived by them most certainly, and expects us to do the same.

From Django Unchained to Men In Black, a critical take on American Exceptionalism

Django. Making escape from slavery look good.

Django. Making escape from slavery look good.

The Academy Award-winning movie Django Unchained, written and directed by the always violent mind of Quentin Tarentino, has a simple plot line. Slave gets rescued by a bounty hunter who needs him to identify some bad guys. Slave learns ways of bounty-hunting and takes it to a naturally new level. Slave earns possible freedom for himself and the love of his life if he helps pull off a ruse with a sickeningly manipulative and violent Southern plantation owner. Things go awry and people get shot. Things blow up. And Django, well, we wouldn’t want to spoil the ending. 

"The difference between you and me? I make this look good."

“The difference between you and me? I make this look good.”

The plotline of Django Unchained closely resembles another movie in which a black character emerges as an eminently good student. That movie would be Men In Black, with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. One of the key similarities is that the Jamie Foxx character in Django and the Will Smith character in MIB take their roles seriously with a compelling flair. I paraphrase, but the Smith character states, upon putting on the MIB suit, “The difference between you and me? I make this look good.”

The parallels are interesting because one movie is about the very earthly fact of slavery as a scourge upon the American conscience, while the MIB series is all about the fact that aliens live on earth without 99.99% of the population knowing. Even Dennis Rodman, Elvis and Sylvestor Stallone are implicated as aliens in the plot. 

It is interesting to realize that one movie, set in the past, points out that American history is not so exceptional as it is sordid. While the other movie, set in the present, lampoons the notion that our government and our culture are somehow superior by nature. 

In other words (and other worlds) American Exeptionalism is a literal and figurative bunch of hooey. 

In fact what you realize upon comparing these two movies is that America is exceptional despite its supposed superior foundations and conservatively interpreted Constitution. The only thing that has made America great over the years is a deep willingness in its most liberal citizens to an ultimate sense of justice. Liberalism, not exceptionalism, has been the true expression of America’s finest values. 

Django Unchained and Men In Black both illustrate that America’s black citizens have had to be exceptional models of patience and ingenuity with an almost magic flair for perseverance and creativity. The object of Django’s affections and the entire goal of the venture is to rescue his enslaved wife, a German-speaking woman named Brunhilde, which happens to link with the German legend of overcoming seemingly insurpassable odds in the name of love.

What better characterization of black culture can there be, except that it somehow must be defined by a legend from a primarily white culture. It is the ugly fact that both movies pair an initially clueless black character with an obvious savvy white character to educate an unleash the powers of the black man. And ultimately, the black woman. 

That’s the problem with the attitude toward equality of black people. It still needs nurturing somehow? Not at all, in truth. Nor does the equality of gays in America need a mentor. Or women. Or Mexican people. Immigrants of any kind. Yet that is our national narrative in some respect. The melting pot somehow harkens back to a white chef. 

And that is the sad underlying fact of so-called American Exceptionalism. That whites are the true core and fiber of American success. It held that blacks could fight in World War II and still come home to a highly segregated society where equality did not exist. And it still held that the 1960s were the ruination of a society with all the liberation of social and sexual mores. It holds that a certain religion has driven the God-given, blessed existence of America. 

American Exceptionalism then held forth that 9/11 was the greatest affront, an event that gave us permission to do whatever we wanted in the world, even to torture terror suspects in so-called “black sites” around the world. Do you start to see it all circle back into a cesspool of “exceptionalism” that is exceptional only in its arrogance and supposition that Americans can do no wrong. Not even when we enslave. Torture. Discriminate. Oppress. Even legislate these same evil practices into law. And in today’s culture! Years removed, we should be, from the need to use our government for religious and social prejudices. Yet some persist, denying basic civil rights and running political parties that make very public attempts to suppress the vote of minorities so that they can remain in power. And then complain about why people are not attracted to their “party.” Some party it is that cares only for its own right to rule without granting even basic human rights, denying health care coverage to millions under the so-called free market laws that also discriminate by conveying unfair economic advantage to those already in power. 

And what of the supposed unnecessary or gratuitous violence depicted in Django Unchained, and to a certain extent, even in Men In Black. Well, when you consider that our gun laws have led to a culture where more Americans have been killed––or killed themselves––through gun violence than all the soldiers that have died in our combined wars over the years, there is nothing gratuitous about the violence in Django Unchained at all. At least the movies showed those who got shot writhing in pain and cursing desperately. That’s the reality we seldom see in the movies. Gun violence maims and kills, and that is celebrated in video games that splatter brains and even the 5:00 news, where it leads when it bleeds. 

It’s about time we figured out that the glossed up image of America as a free society is still an illusion. There are people living in chains to this day. 

You can hear the fear in the voices of those who want to keep it that way. The increasingly shrill call by Rush Limbaugh to suppress women’s rights, and the barely disguised racism he shows toward President Barack Obama, to whom Limbaugh refers as “The Magic Negro.” 

That is exactly how dismissively the character played by Leonardo di Caprio speaks of black people in the movie Django Unchained. He speaks of the fact that only 1 in 10,000 “niggers” is exceptional, worthy of his respect in any way. The rest he sees fit to serve to the murderous dogs who tear apart a runaway slave in retribution for costing the di Caprio character his “investment” of $500. 

If that’s still the value of human life in the eyes of some who portend to lead America, then we’ve got enormous problems of exceptionalism that cannot be wished away by claims of patriotism or supposed righteousness. That kind of exceptionalism is the most disgusting form of hubris imaginable. 

It has taken years and decades and centuries of liberal salvation to bring America somewhat out of its own pit of racial selfishness and greed. Still we suppress minorities, and still we crash the economy through lack of jurisprudence so that the wealthy can gain more for their appetites. 

We’ve still got to make up our minds whether the nation is a plantation or reasonable place to live for the so-called “aliens” among us. The arc between Django Unchained and Men In Black has a lot to teach us if we care to learn the allegorical lesson. 

Falling short of that enlightenment would only be exceptionally stupid. 



The fatal flaws of originalism and fundamentalism as literalistic truth

Originalism is a flawed ideology that is wearing down the wit and wisdom of the Founding Fathers. The same is true of biblical literalism and fundamentalism, which are anachronistic methods of interpreting scriptural truth.

Originalism is a flawed ideology that is wearing down the wit and wisdom of the Founding Fathers. The same is true of biblical literalism and fundamentalism, which are anachronistic methods of interpreting scriptural truth.

By Christopher Cudworth

The human instinct to distill ideas down to their simplest level is an admirable endeavor. Ernest Hemingway used words with economy. His prose still overflowed with meaning.

The authors of the Holy Bible also showed talent for saying what needed to be said. For that same reason the Bible can be difficult to deconstruct. Picking apart the supposed Word of God is no small deed.

In government, the United States Constitution enjoys a status that is similarly sacroscant. Legal scholars hesitate to embellish on the laws written by the Founding Fathers, who frankly beat the crap out of each other over every word.

But we too soon forget about that. Instead there seems to be a tendency for people of a certain legal bent who appear to believe the Constitution is on par with holy writ. Yet they also claim to be able to discern what the original authors truly meant through an interesting legal theory called originalism.

Originalism as an ideology

Originalism is just what it sounds like. Originalists believe the Constitution is to be taken literally, just as it was written, rather than interpreted or amended, as Americans have occasionally seen fit to do.

Originalism therefore operates in much the same intellectual sphere as biblical literalism and its dogmatic progeny, fundamentalism. Biblical fundamentalists believe the Bible says certain things that are immutably true. Absolutes. In its most literal mode, fundamentalism essentially does the same thing to Holy Scripture that originalism does with the United States Constitution.

Both deign to read the minds of the original authors, with sole right to do so bequeathed to those who think alike.

Backwards progress

The inevitable convergence of these cultural thought memes has been in progress for a long time, but most pronouncedly in the last 40 years or so, when conservative thought leaders on the political side began dragging America back to the so-called “original” interpretation of the United States Constitution and conservative religious factions began demanding that the Bible be represented only as infallible, inerrant and literal in its context.

The problem with both originalism and fundamentalism as social constructs is that they by definition ignore the significant social changes by which society has evolved to provide equal rights to all citizens regardless of race, creed, religion, gender or sexual orientation. To ignore these changes is to dumb down the culture rather than enlighten through social progress and yes, through revelation. Turning the words of the Constitution or the Bible into gods themselves is rather a form of idol worship, ignoring the plain fact that the words themselves are but symbols of the actions of humankind.

Slaves to ideology

For example, both the Constitution and the Bible in their “original” forms share a common flaw in tolerance and promotion of human slavery. This single aspect when it comes to civil and spiritual rights is sufficient to call other notions of originalism and literalistic fundamentalism into question.

In the book of Exodus 21, the Bible sets for the following laws. We can therefore also imagine them as part of the United States Constitution, which when it was written and installed as the law of the land did not ban slavery.

Exodus 21:  “There are the ordinances that you shall set before them: When you buy a male Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, but in the seventh he shall go out a free person, without debt. If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s and he shall go out alone. But if the slave declares, “I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out a free person,” then his master shall bring him before God. He shall be brought to the door of the doorpost; and his master shall pierce hs ear with an awl, and he shall serve him for life.”

A different time? Not so fast.

Certainly arguments could be made that slavery was perhaps, in some way, a different social institution then than it is now. But that would just be lying to ourselves about the egregious nature of slavery as a social institution in order to accommodate the anachronism of a literalistic ideology that cannot account for social change.

The Bible was plainly wrong to advocate slavery, and so was the US Constitution in its original and sustained enactments until the passage of the 13th Amendment that abolishes slavery and involuntary servitude. So neither the literalistic fundamentalism of the Bible or the United States Constitution can be trusted with complete abandon. It took nearly 100 years and thousands of lives to accomplish the human rights goal of banning slavery in America. It took another 40 years or so to give women the full rights of citizenship.

The lessons of Constitutional Amendments

No less than 27 Amendments have been ratified to the United States Constitution, including those protecting the right to bear arms, which was not guaranteed in the “original” Constitution but needed to be defined to create the “more perfect union” through a Bill of Rights and amendments designed to protect the natural rights of liberty and property. As a nation we have deigned through amendments to the Constitution to bring clarity to many issues that deserve full measure of understanding. We have also struggled with many of these issues even with greater definition through enactments of law such as those that affect separation of church and state, so strongly implied in our history as neither establishment of a national religion nor the right to practice religious freedom. Clearly the only preventative measure to uphold that span of rights is a separation of church and state. Yet so many refuse to acknowledge even that plain truth, so determined are they to impose their own religion on the masses. Those efforts, in turn, have produced an erosion of scientific understanding, humanistic approach to civil law, and egregious attempts to control and define the private rights of individuals in medical, social and personal terms, right down to the womb of a woman.

Originally flawed

So despite the apparent aims of Constitutional “originalists” to drag America kicking and screaming back to a “literal” interpretation of the Constitution in which Supreme Court justices try to play mind reader or simply impose their own prejudicial will upon the nation on whatever issue they choose, there can be no such thing as originalism. It simply does not exist, did not exist when the Constitution was written, and later ratified, and so we should cease deceiving ourselves as a nation and quit trying to paint everything in our laws as “original” and/or black and white.

The same goes for literalistic fundamentalism, which bears part of the blame at least for the anachronistic mindset of a nation falling into intellectual ruin because 50% of its populace can’t make sense of metaphorical truth, not even when Jesus Christ himself was a teacher who made use of organic parables to convey spiritual truth.

Originalists and fundamentalists are lost in a maze of wishful thinking and backwards logic. Our Founding Fathers thought better of the Constitution to force it to lie there and play dead after it was written, and Jesus castigated the Pharisees and other teachers of the law for turning scripture into law. Neither is a legacy worth living, yet there are millions of people who believe they speak the truth without testing it against the wisdom of time and social change. That is a fatal flaw for any nation.