Thou Shalt Not Burn My Name In Vain? A Ten Commandments’ Tale

You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain, for the Lord will not hold blameless anyone who takes His name in vain.

exodus 20:7

was mr. abou an artist or arsonist when he burned god’s name?

the term “artist” is a title with no qualification. no academic program bestows the title of “artist.” the artist title is commonly one of self-declaration. with hard work and success, one may be recognized as an artist by others. the term “artist” is now one of mockery. fast food workers at subway are titled as “sandwich artist®s.”

past great artists respected religion and created amazing works of biblical inspiration. hundreds of years after some of their creation, they are still admired. the torah evidences the master of the universe’s great respect for artisans as he personally commissioned bezalel and others for art work relating to the tabernacle and ark. exodus 31: 1-6.

while admittedly some great religious works of art may violate other provisions of the ten commandments, i.e. “you shall not make for yourself a graven image or any likeness which is in the heavens above, which is on the earth below, or which is in the water beneath the earth,” there is no denying that they are both aesthetically pleasing and the intent behind them was positive. michaelangelo’s “creation of adam” is one of the most well recognized art pieces in history.

the modern artistic world has replaced respect towards religion with irreverence. the media goes along with this trend. mr. gregory israel abou, in the story’s reporting, was labeled as an “artist.” in his alleged pursuit of art, mr. abou videotaped a art piece which included god’s name being burned. arguably, many would interpret his actions as taking god’s name in vain. mr. abou, however, felt comfortable breaking a moral code within his “art.”

the times of israel reported that “gregory israel abou’s piece was on display for …months at the ein harod museum of art in northern israel, until it caught media attention after a woman complained about it. the burning of a paper with the name yahweh on it occurs in the final seconds of the 13-minute piece. after causing a fracas, which included various religious figures condemning the act as blasphemous and even, in the words of religious zionism party chief bezalel smotrich, “barbaric antisemitism,” abou agreed with the museum to take the piece down, saying he’d never meant to offend.”

perhaps, mr. abou’s answer was a second violation of the ten commandments. he must have known that burning god’s name would have offended some religious people.

the mr. abou’s saga continued…

in a homage to the series hawaii 5-0, “good book him, danno!” should have declared as when the police confronted mr. abou.

it is reported that “abou was then summoned for questioning by police, supposedly under a law against causing “grievous offense to the beliefs or religious sensibilities” of an individual.” the police doing so was with controversy. it was reported that “police must get approval from the state prosecution in order to launch an investigation on matters related to freedom of expression, something it did not do.”

perhaps, the state prosecution should have understood that police officers may answer to a “higher authority.” perhaps israel’s state prosecutors needed to be reminded that, at one point in time, the torah and the ten commandments were the law of the land.

in this circumstance, the police giving mr. abou a “hard time” was perhaps giving the public a little “red meat” to satisfy their outrage. police often send individual’s messages to keep the peace. noise disturbance warnings are a perfect example.

in sum, it is upon us to take insane moments and make them teaching opportunities. we often need to “steal” other’s bad publicity and turn it into a positive for ten commandments’ values.

be well!!

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Published by biblelifestudies

I am a practicing lawyer and long term admirer of the bible

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