If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you’ve probably noticed that I am listening to the Bible (starting with the Hebrew Bible, and then I’ll do KJV for the New Testament) on audible. I’ve been relaying my biblical hot takes, with the full awareness that for many of my believing friends, they could be kind of offensive. I mean, I’m listening to the Bible as literature–a document that’s heavily influenced the society in which I live. But for many people, this is the document they use to organize their lives.
Now, the obvious take is that you can’t appropriate the dominant culture of your time and place. I mean, we’ve got legislators trying to impose biblically-related strictures on our lives; they’ve made the Bible my business.
But I view it from a place of, well, I’m not a huge believer in cultural appropriation being wrong in the first place. I have a ton of friends who have some glancing familiarity with Hinduism and other religious / philosophical traditions from India, and usually their understanding of Hinduism strikes me as a bit comical. Like, they don’t even have a basic understanding of the concepts. For instance, your karma is a result of your actions in past lives–if you do good stuff in this life, it doesn’t mean good stuff will happen to you in this life. That’s not how it works.
Also I’ve never heard a white person discuss dharma–the central concept in Hinduism–your destiny, your fate, your place in society. Dharma, which is intricately related to the caste system, is all about doing the thing you’re supposed to be doing right now. And obviously white people who’re into Hinduism don’t like this, because clearly their dharma is not to be Hindus. If their dharma was to become a Hindu, they would’ve been born a Hindu. Their dharma is to be a good Christian.
But it’s okay! Having a comical misunderstanding of Hinduism doesn’t hurt anyone! And it’s a lot better than them practicing Hinduism the way it’s meant to be practiced, with all kinds of religious prescriptions and caste-discrimination. But if they can make free with Hinduism (and I DO think they’re fully allowed to do that), then I am allowed to have my own opinions on the Bible.
Like, okay, for instance, am I just totally crazy or…is the OT kind of silent on the area of whether or not it’s okay to sleep with sex worker? They’re like, don’t sleep with another person’s wife, don’t sleep with a mother and a daughter, don’t sleep with your mother’s daughter, don’t sleep with an aunt, don’t sleep with your father’s wife or your brother’s widow, and definitely don’t sleep with a Temple prostitute devoted to the god Moloch, and if a priest’s daughter becomes a prostitute that’s really bad, and if you live off the earnings of prostitution that’s bad, and if you set your daughter to become a prostitute that’s bad, like…isn’t there kind of a gap here? Clearly it’s sort of okay for a man to pay a woman for sex. And I assume, there’s also some exception for sleeping with your slaves, too. How come Mike Pence has never mentioned this?