Finally having a teenager in the house has illuminated all sorts of previously mysterious subjects for me. I've previously mentioned how it led me to understand Evil Child narratives.
Now it has led me to a revelation about the Old Testament. I was at the wake of the parent of a friend yesterday. In talking about what she had to do, my friend mentioned how distressing she had found most of the Old Testament quotations on offer for the funeral ceremony. That God seemed permanently pissed off.
I thought about the Israelites and their relationship with their God, and realized that the entire dynamic works perfectly if you regard the Israelites as a teenager, and God as their parent.
God constantly warns the Israelites not to do certain things. Not only do they do them, but they seem to do them just to get God's goat--I mean, if God so clearly exists, why would you go through all that effort to create a Golden Calf, which is just a statue?
But it sure did piss God off.
The Israelites have short attentions spans, never take care of things when they should, are constantly enraged, sulky, or depressed--and then complain when they are not taken care of. They lie, they hide things, but hate being regarded as anything less than honorable. They hang out with bad companions and bring back terrible habits ("I mean, I'm the only people not allowed to worship idols! Do you have any idea of how much everyone makes fun of me?")
God is short-tempered, saves them from the consequences of their actions, and feeds them. Sometimes He doesn't feel like explaining every detail of His plans, and just wants them to do what they're supposed to do, and then has to deal with a lot of complaints.
Sometimes He loses His temper and slays thousands of them.
They make up afterward, but are never quite comfortable with each other. There is no other option, however: He is their God, and they are His people. So if the trip across the Sinai seems like the worst family vacation you've ever been on ("Are we there yet?"), it makes perfect sense.
The New Testament is something else. Maybe I'll understand it when my kids get older....