“We have ten fingers to remind us of the Ten Commandments.”

The Ten Commandments “epitomize the childishness, the vindictiveness, the sexism, the inflexibility and the inadequacies of the bible as a book of morals, (an anti-religion website)


Of course, there are other voices, such as that of the preacher David Lose. The Ten Commandments, he says, “are not only a baseline of decency but an embodied relational, transformative encounter with all whom we meet.”

Next Sunday’s reading from Deuteronomy says that the Commandments help us “choose life.”

I just finished reading Pulitzer Prize winner Jon Meacham’s book, The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels. In one of the most moving segments, he describes the meeting of Grant and Lee at Appomattox where Lee surrendered and the Civil War ended. It was a meeting of such respect, such dignity, that it stands in stark contrast to much of the present:

The occasion was muted; the generals gracious. They were soldiers and they understood one another. In defeat, Lee was stoic; in victory, Grant was sympathetic…. Grant sent word to the Union troops: no gloating. ‘The war is over,’ he said. ‘The rebels are our countrymen again.’ As the two generals parted in the yard outside, Grant took off his hat as Lee rode by. Lee raised his own in mutual tribute.”

Somehow this heals my heart, torn apart with our leaders at each other’s throats. It shows how an individual relationship can set the standard for how to treat one another, even at the end of the greatest internal conflict our country has ever endured.

Not only an anachronistic screed about being good or the name of a bad old movie, The Ten Commandments, as Jesus elaborates on them in Sunday’s Gospel, show us that relationships are where most of our moral choices are made, and the ancient, trustworthy tradition of the Commandments can help us do relationships right.

What could be more important?

See you in church.

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