So, that was all well and fine, but I do want to make an exception to the rule, and I hope you will forgive me, but I want to call your attention to my most recent entry on my other blog, which is: The Ten Commandments. Now, you can just click on that link there, and go take a look, if you would be so kind. Go ahead, I'll wait here. (If it doesn't work, that's due to one of MySpace's periodic glitches, so please do try again later.)
Back? Okay, so now let me explain. I guess I could start with my religious education as a child, but instead I'll begin a bit later, still almost a quarter of a century ago now, when I was a doctoral student studying with Neil Postman in the media ecology program (sadly gone now) at New York University. Neil had been emphasizing the importance of the Second Commandment, with its prohibition against graven images, as an early form (quite possibly the first) of media ecology. This idea was included in his well known book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, and he later noted that of the Ten Commandments, two others were also about communication, the prohibition against taking God's name in vain, and the one about bearing false witness.
So, that got me to thinking about the Ten Commandments off and on over the years. More recently, Donna Flayhan, who's a professor at SUNY New Paltz, had been pointing out that the idea of the Sabbath wasn't such a bad idea either, given that we find ourselves in a society overwhelmed by media and technology--it was an idea that I liked so much that I have used it on a number of occasions (thank you, Donna!). And the idea of the Sabbath is, of course, codified by the Fourth Commandment.
So, even more recently, I was thinking that it wouldn't be a bad idea for me to try to write an extended essay, or even a book about the Ten Commandments, all ten of them, I mean, about their significance in the context of a society that had only recently adopted the medium of the written word, that is ancient Israel, and about their significance for our modern, or postmodern, technological society. And maybe I will write this, some day. But as the old Yiddish saying says, man plans, and God laughs.
And maybe this is cause for a chuckle, because instead of expanding on the Decalogue, I found myself condensing it. It started when I realized that the Second Commandment could be reframed in terms of what we often say to young children: "Use your words!" From that beginning, and thinking in terms of poetry because of this BlogVersed project, the first five commandments just sort of came to me. The second five took more work.
But overall, here's what I was going for. First, my goal was to shorten each commandment down to the size of a line of a poem. The actual Ten Commandments in Exodus and Deuteronomy are characterized by the copious quality of oral discourse--they're long-winded. There's explanation, detail, and a good deal of redundancy. And that's fine for the actual Ten Commandments, but given the fact that everyone knows them already, or at least knows of them and has easy access to them, I wanted to shorten them down to the length of an aphorism or, okay, an advertising slogan. Something concise, punchy, snappy, getting the meaning across quickly and, I hope, memorably.
Also, to make them more accessible and easier to relate too, I wanted to put them into a more contemporary argot. Use your words is one example, the buck stops here is another, give us a break a third. And I wanted to eliminated the harsh, well, commanding tone in the commandments, because that doesn't play so well in our new age of affirmation, casual and informal communication, etc. So I tried to capture the essential values behind the commandments, especially the final five, in that kinder, gentler manner that we all have grown accustomed to.
Anyway, that's what I wound up trying to do, without really planning it out or anything, it's just where I wound up going while more or less wandering aimlessly, like a clod. And maybe it was nothing more than a meander, just shooting the breeze, from the hip, I really don't know.
I guess, though, this means something to me, which is why I'm going to the trouble to do a blog about a blog, and write about it here. There's also an added significance, or coincidence, which I'll write about in another entry tomorrow (God willing!). But now, it occurs to me that you may not have clicked on that 10 Commandments link before, and just humored me and continued to read this blog. And that's okay, don't get me wrong. Because I want to record my Ten Commandments here on Blog Time Passing as well, so I am going to end this post with that. But it still looks different over on that other blog (and there are a few comments from MySpacers, in case you're interested). But anyway, thanks for your patient understanding and indulgence, and here comes tonight's Top Ten List:
As Told By God to Moses
(A New Translation and Interpretation by Lance Strate)
The Buck Stops Here!
Use Your Words,
But Choose Them With Care!
Give Us Both A Break,
And Your Parents, Too!
Labor As Well!
Be Honest, And