Moses


… to enlighten the rest of us damned to the eternal hellfire types.

It’s easiest just to dismiss this little girl as a callous whack-job who’s been so thoroughly indoctrinated in what passes for Christianity in the United States these days that she will likely never see the hypocrisy in her words or her own insensitivity in posting her witnessing to a social media site.

When I was teaching in Des Moines, I ran across this shallow vindictive type of Chrisitianism (as Andrew Sullivan as aptly termed it) quite frequently, so while I would like to be shocked, I’m not.

It doesn’t even make me sad or disgusted.

It does make me wonder why, if there is really a God, he doesn’t smote the world and be done with the sorry, stupid, ungrateful, blind as the three mice and nearly as irredeemable as Hannibal Lector species that he bothered to create in the first place.

I am reminded, slightly out of context, of an exchange between Scrooge and The Ghost of Christmas Present about the worth of humans and who should really arbitrate on the matter.

Ebenezer Scrooge: [on Tiny Tim] Tell me, Spirit… Will he live?
Ghost of Christmas Present: I see an empty place at this table. I see a crutch without an owner, carefully preserved. If these shadows remain unaltered by the future, the child will die.
Ebenezer Scrooge: No. Say he’ll be spared.
Ghost of Christmas Present: If these shadows remain unaltered by the future, none other of my species will find him here. But if he is to die, then let him die…! “AND DECREASE THE SURPLUS POPULATION!”
Ebenezer Scrooge: You use my own words against me?
Ghost of Christmas Present: Yes! So perhaps, in the future, you will hold your tongue until you have discovered where the surplus population is, and WHO it is. It may well be that, in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than MILLIONS like this poor man’s child.


This is a photo of a model from 1975 wearing a...

Image via Wikipedia

A recent Dear Prudie at The Slate tackled the all important fashion dilemma that keeps me up at night  – how to make my breasts appear more Barbie like. And not pointy impossible triple D rocket shaped Barbie breasts, but disturbingly smooth in a neutered way because, in case you’ve never noticed, Barbie doesn’t have nipples.

She doesn’t have a vaginal area either but that’s less horrific than her counterpart Ken’s lack of any genitalia.

Ken, by the way? Nipple-less too.

But getting back to Prudie’s dear reader, the woman had just discovered that the outline of her nipples might be considered a fashion don’t in the workplace. What should she do? Provided that it really was a no-no and that something short of a burqa was involved.

Prudie’s advice? Well, a quiet polling of her female co-workers was all over the map, so she did the most Solomon like thing she could, though I doubt really that his majesty objected to a bit of nippage in his harem,

So I will anoint myself the nipple arbiter and say, particularly at the office, keep your nipples under wraps. This does not mean wearing a Kevlar bra; it means finding one with enough lining or tensile strength to make sure that if you’re cold, or if you’re thinking about Mark Ruffalo, the rest of the office won’t know.

I shared this with Rob, who needlessly pointed out that I am in violation of nipple etiquette every day of my life due to my near RainMan inability to tolerate underwear.

Indeed, I have only recently discovered the almost perfect sports bra, which falls short on the all important strap issue but is so sheerly awesome that I barely know it’s on.

Okay, I know it’s on, but it doesn’t threaten to break ribs or realign my spine.

Bras have been my bane since I sprouted boobs – which have always had nipples on top just like a Sundae has whipped cream and a maraschino cherry. There is something slightly off about the way women are expected to disguise the fact that, like men, we have nipples.

Men do not wear padded undershirts. Their nippage is not considered provocative – by them anyway. Really, men are silly creatures. Oblivious to the fact, it seems, that women ogle them as much – probably more – than they ogle us. We are just better at it.

But we are not kind. Know that and live in a bit of fear, gentlemen.

Getting back to nippage though. Is it really that big of a deal if mine show?

When I was forced from my comfy undershirts to the utterly useless for comfort or warmth training bra (an interesting concept but one that makes sense because little girls must train for the chest bondage to come), nipples were not camouflaged as much as they were just smashed flat.

Padded bras and then padded with underwire followed. And they were both of equal awfulness. What is the point of keeping just the breast area warm?

The padding didn’t help with straps that rubbed or underwire that dug into the cartilage, and it was damp by the end of the day.

As a young adult, I found sheer bras that didn’t really help with shape because I am small – cup wise – and, of course, promoted nipple outline.

Shoulder issues, and retirement from teaching, eventually freed me from bras altogether, but I consider my most pressing breast issue to be not falling out when I teach a yoga class.

To that end, I generally wear a wrap sweater of some type though to practice, or if I am teaching a class where I have to do a lot of modeling poses, I man up and don a sports bra.

Still, sports bras mean smashed nipples not invisible ones.

At issue is, once again, the tender male brain. Men, apparently, have the self-control of toddlers and can’t rescue themselves from their sexual impulses. This explains our second class status and the need of religions to swaddle and enslave us. Men can’t rule the world after all when their kryptonite wanders free, equal and showing off nipple.

We could wish that Prudie had taken a more Moses like stand, “Let our nipples show! So let it be written; so let it be done.” But productivity in the office place is paramount. Work suffers when the staff spends more time pondering the reasons behind nippage (is the a/c set too low or is she thinking about doing me?) than attending to their jobs.

Alas, discretion and coverage are the better part of valor for the working woman.

I remain defiantly bra-free and not particularly repentant. After all, I stood on God’s altar this last weekend as witness to my mother-in-law’s wedding completely nude under my lovely formal wear. Comfort above all should be etched in my coat of arms somewhere, methinks.


So the daughter and I are bonding over The Ten Commandments.

Yes, THE Ten Commandments as re-imagined  by the ever so full of his own self Cecil B. de Mille and enacted with too much gravitas by a Charlton Heston to campy effect and scene chewed with relish by Yul Brynner. Who does not love some Yul?

We were in Fargo on Easter Saturday and neither Rob nor I were up for a youth infected dip in the postage stamp pool, so we talked Dee into a “movie night” and she discovered one of my Easter rituals from days of yore – watching The Ten Commandments.

I had forgotten just how bad a film it is. Notable now for the healthy figures of its leading ladies and for the fact that Yul and Charlton were looking mighty fine, Dee was enthralled. It had everything. Princesses. Injustice. Fabulous locales and just enough religious detail to set her near-pagan mind a-tingle with the need to “know more about it”.

As it is an ungodly long flick, she only got to watch up to the part where Moses is banished to the desert. Frankly, the movie goes steadily downhill from this point. Once Seti dies and Rameses are bit players, it sinks under the weight of Heston’s attempts to make Moses a regal authority when in fact, Moses had to be poked, prodded and continually ego-stroked by God to get him to do anything.

And the fact that Brynner and Heston are mostly clothed from here on certainly doesn’t help either.

Moses is a pretty lame hero. Arron, his brother the rabbi, performed most of the plague tricks and Moses whined and doubted – a lot. I think it was the whining rather than the doubting that kept him out of the promised land in spite of what Sister told us in school.

Which brings up a curious point. Why are God’s Old Testament prophets so often cowardly and whingeing? God could have chosen Joshua. Joshua was an Old Testament warrior type. He would have latched onto Pharoah’s ankle and gnawed the guy’s foot off if God commanded it, but Moses was always questioning and moaning, “Why, Lord?”

When we got back home, Dee was still going on and on about the movie, so I stopped at the library after yoga one day and picked it up for her.

It’s three hours and 39 mins long and that is not counting from Judaism sprang the true religion that eventually begat the wonder that is democracy in the United States the greatest place on earth speech that de Mille gives before the film that prompted Dee to say,

“Just go to the menu and pick scene selection, Mom.”

As we watched the first night – and this was after a long day of training – I was reminded of all the times I must have watched this growing up because I easily recognized the bits that had been edited out for commercials when it ran on television. Usually it was Yul who got his lines cut, which is a shame because he is a hoot.

Last night we watched part two which is the boring “let my people go”. Heston is quite impressive with that one line. Unfortunately they gave him a lot of other things to angst about too that really slow the movie down and his Elvira hair distracted.

After boring us with Moses’s time in exile, it surprises me that de Mille skipped most of the plagues, but he’d chewed up over two hours by the time Moses sees the burning bush and returns to Egypt and there was still Passover and a sea to part. The music swells in awesomely in the sea sequence. Still makes me tingle a bit.

Anyway, the last plague is – of course – death to the first-born of Egypt which the Hebrews ride out in their blood stained mud huts – which in retrospect is appropriate because their God is murdering innocents in their name, so smearing them with blood fits.

The superbly cheesy effect of the smoky hand of God, green and wispy, slithering across the moonlight sky before snaking to earth prompted me to think,

“Aw fuck, I forgot about the whole hand of God killing children thing.”

Dee was horrified.

“Why does God want to kill the little boy?”

Pharoah’s son –  if you know the story skip this – is of course smited by the hand of God to teach Pharoah a lesson. A lot of innocent children bite it in the Old Testament because God was, apparently, still working on his personal enlightenment. Perhaps he should have been paying more attention to the Asians because I believe they were busy coming up with what would the be basis for the Sutras and Buddhism. Although, if they had been God’s chosen, the concept of enlightenment might not have ever been discovered by humans at all.

When I was Dee’s age, I knew the story of Moses. The idea that God killed for no other reason than to teach lessons the hard way was not foreign to me and I was Catholic enough to accept this rather bloody-minded view that it was okay because it was God.

Dee has been deliberately distanced from Christianity in general. When Will died, I allowed her to believe in heaven and angels but I kept her ignorant of the hell and damnation component. Two reasons for that. First being that if she is going to believe in God in some fashion or other, I want her to do so without the fear factor. Too many people are religious for no other reason than they are afraid not to be and this, in my opinion, is the root cause of poor Christians. Second, there is no good reason to scare the crap out of children to promote blind obedience to any creed. That kind of nonsense is why Catholic priests were able to get away with abusing children and why Catholic schools were hotbeds of physical and emotional abuse as well.

“Baby, if there is a God, do you think he would kill little children?” I asked her.

“No,” she replied wide-eyed and very serious.

“Moses is a made up story. Churches used to tell horrible stories like this to scare people into believing and being good,” I said – and that’s about as age-appropriate simple as it gets.

“Why?”

“A very good question,” I said. “But I don’t know the answer.”

“God is a good person,” she assured me. “And Daddy Will and Grandpa live with him in heaven and do good things too.”

Seriously, can you wish more for your child than believing this?

But, naturally, the green glowing hand of God came back to slap me about a half hour after I’d put Dee in bed.

“Mom?’ came a plaintive wail from upstairs which I followed and discovered a wide-awake worried child at its tail.

“Can’t sleep?”

“It’s that hand of God,” she said.

Dang-it hand of God. Curse Cecil B. De Mille.