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King James and King George
by Peter Kurth
July 14, 2004

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What does the Bible have to say about cowardice, do you think?

I looked it up and, in fact, there’s nothing there. The word cowardice doesn’t appear in the King James Version, which is the only version I can read, unfortunately, on account of the poetry. The only word that comes close to cowardice in Jacobean English is fear:

Isaiah 8:1: Let the LORD Be Your Fear: Moreover the LORD said unto me, Take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man's pen concerning Ma'her–shal'al–hash'–baz.

Well, “Ma'her–shal'al–hash'–baz” – I dunno. It sounds like the sort of person we might install as police chief in the new, improved Iraq -- although I love the idea of a “great roll” and “a man” who sits there writing on it, as if it were toilet paper, ensuring that nothing essential is lost on the way to hell.

I also love it when the Bible speaks directly to current affairs, like Nostradamus, foreseeing the reign of George W. Bush, for instance, and understanding that nothing occurring under Bush's watch is ever, ever his fault, much less his responsibility as Commander and Executive in Chief. Listen to the Bible on this – I know you will:

Proverbs 20: The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion: whoso provoketh him to anger sinneth.

Did you get that? “Whoso provoketh him to anger sinneth.” It’s the only possible explanation for the utter capitulation of Congress, the media, the so-called chattering classes, Christopher Hitchens and half of the American electorate to everything and anything that Dubya says or does. It's also the way Hitler got in.

And why not? Last week, Bush made it clear, not only that he believes in God, but that he is God -- as witness his remarks about Osama bin Laden in the current issue of The Ladies Home Journal. The Journal wondered, naturally enough, if “bad” people could ever become “good” people, and Dubya replied, in regard to Osama: “This guy’s soul is so corroded, there’s just no way. As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing redeemable about him.”

How’s that for a born-again? “What I say goes!” And it’s so much shorter than the Nicene Creed!

All the rest of the Bible, I regret to say, is in the nature of social instruction:

Hebrews 4:1: Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

Job 25: 3-5: And upon whom doth not his light arise? How then can man be justified with God? Or how can he be clean that is born of a woman? Behold even to the moon …

Yes, well – let’s forget about that. I don’t think anybody but the Hasidim still believes that women are “unclean” as a matter of doctrine. Try flying that in the United States and see how far you get! But it would be exactly the thing to bring up on the floor of the Senate this week, when that august pack of thieves and panderers meets to decide if a constitutional amendment against “gay marriage” is in order for the nation. “Senate Democrats” have already informed the Washington Post that “they will not throw barriers in front of [this] resolution.”

What -- do homosexuals stink as badly as women used to? Where’s Hillary Goddam Clinton when you need her? Call your Senators and ask, in exactly those words.

In Islam, it’s true, the sexes are kept separate, but they are here, too, if you think about it. In America, the division of men and women is factored each month at the supermarket check-out counter, where so-called women’s magazines strive to out-do each other in enticement and vulgarity:

Men Unzipped! Five Down-There Shockers (and How to Handle Them Brilliantly!)

His Body Language: The Little Habit that Tells You Sooo Much About Him!

Celeb Sex-capades! These Slutty Tales of Top Stars Will Make You Wonder Why They Don’t Call It “Sleazywood”

Actually, in many parts of the world, they do call it “Sleazywood,” and they take a dim view of “democracy” trying to pour Coca-Cola and semen down their throats. Neither do they buy the supposedly “post-feminist” idea that all trash is created equal – i.e., that a woman, or a man, can walk down the street dressed in nothing but a G-string and heels and not expect sexual consequences. Call them backward, if you like, but don’t go crying to Mecca for your date-rape counseling.

Enter the Pope – I wish it weren’t so, but it is. John Paul II has been in a regular dither lately about “soullessness” and “materialism” in American life. It wasn’t enough to send him to Baghdad last year, of course, in order to stop an illegal and immoral war, which he could have done just by going there and daring Pee-Wee to drop a single bomb.

No: His Holiness is concerned with “chastity” and “abstinence,” just like any two-bit imam or mullah. He also believes (and has recently said) that the Catholic Inquisition – six hundred years of forced confession, torture, murder, boiling, burning, breaking on the wheel and popping on the rack – “was not as widespread as commonly believed.”

Just a handful of “bad apples” among the priesthood, eh, John Paul? A tasteless friend of mine says that “if the Pope were an Eskimo, he’d have been put out on the ice a long time ago.” But, hey – when kids are having sex and queers cutting wedding cake all over town, who cares about 15,000 dead Iraqis?

Peter Kurth is the author of international bestselling books including Anastasia: The Riddle of Anna Anderson, Isadora: A Sensational Life, and a biography of the anti-fascist journalist Dorothy Thompson, American Cassandra: The Life of Dorothy Thompson. His essays have appeared in Salon, Vanity Fair, New York Times Book Review, and many others. Peter lives in Burlington, Vermont. He can be reached at: Visit his website at:


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* Talking Turkey
* Let Them Drink Coke
* The Gang that Couldn’t Talk Straight On Iraq
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