trigger warnings: genocide, sexual abuse, emotional abuse
John Mark Reynolds. Ah, John Mark.
I try to avoid stereotypes, but it feels oddly right and hilarious that John Mark Reynolds is a Baptist. And not just any Baptist. He’s the Provost of Houston Baptist University.
He’s the King of Baptists.
The King of Baptists is offering a prize. I want to win it.
Do you hear me, John Mark Reynolds? Are you listening? Are you going to give me your prize?
The winner is to be sent a copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Perhaps his copy will be more expensive than mine. Perhaps the ice and flames of the Inferno will crackle more as Dante walks past.
I want it so much.
I wonder what the qualifications are. Let’s see.
He opens by referencing a story, from which he takes the title of the prize. It’s probably important to understand the story. Right?
He begins with Noah. You know. Noah. Who, as the story is told, was one of the few survivors of God’s most spectacular genocidal outbreaks- the destruction of an entire inhabited planet.
God should consider a role as a science fiction villain. He could use method acting. He wouldn’t even have to take on a different personality than the one he has now.
God’s reasons for doing this are somewhat murky. As the story is told, humans had become terribly violent, and therefore deserved to be destroyed… but then God is rather violent as well. He had specifically created humans in his image- what did he expect?
Perhaps he didn’t like to be reminded of what he looked like.
Another, more obscure, reason has to do with ‘The Sons of God’. That title, along with a reference to mortality/immortality has been interpreted as meaning Angels. Some people try to make this less horrifying by saying that ‘the Sons of God’ were Noah’s direct line of ancestors, but the sad fact is that ‘the Sons of God’ were looking over the population of human women and ‘marrying whichever of them they chose’.
Did you catch that? Not whichever of them accepted an offer of marriage or (if you’re going to be all patriarchal about it) was offered to them in marriage- but just- whoever they had the hots for. Whoever they chose.
Whoever they took.
Noah’s direct line of ancestors was an extreme minority among the people of the world. It’s not likely that they had that kind of power, especially if the evil, wicked world was so violent and all, and they were God’s little lambs.
God was understandably offended by this Angel/human interaction. He decided, after playing omniscient voyeur for close to a thousand years before doing anything about it, that drastic measure were called for.
Those filthy humans had to be punished.
I mean- that a person has been raped or been habitually non-consensually used for sexual pleasure- by one of your subordinates- in a situation where the subordinate had near total power over them- and YOU had near total power over your subordinate- and you knew what was happening the whole time-
It is an EXCELLENT reason to punish that person- right?
(In case Mr. Reynolds is reading- that last sentence is what’s referred to as ‘sarcasm’.)
Oh, but ‘for whatever the reason, his heart or his shoes’- God wiped out the entire human race. Except for Noah and his family. God decided to keep them alive.
Have you ever heard of PTSD? Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
NIMH defines it this way.
PTSD develops after a terrifying ordeal that involved physical harm or the threat of physical harm. The person who develops PTSD may have been the one who was harmed, the harm may have happened to a loved one, or the person may have witnessed a harmful event that happened to loved ones or strangers.
PTSD was first brought to public attention in relation to war veterans, but it can result from a variety of traumatic incidents, such as mugging, rape, torture, being kidnapped or held captive, child abuse, car accidents, train wrecks, plane crashes, bombings, or natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes.
The Lone Survivor Foundation, geared towards helping veterans of war, among whom the disorder was first identified, has this to say.
… PTSD leaves SM/Vets with painful symptoms such as flashbacks, avoidance, isolation, and hyper-arousal reactions including anger outbursts, tension and hyper-vigilance. These emotional and behavioral changes can have devastating effects on someone’s interpersonal life, but also their family and work life as well. If left untreated, PTSD can spiral into other problems such as panic disorder, substance abuse, depression, and suicidal feelings.
According to the Bible, after witnessing the extermination of his entire race, Noah took up gardening as a hobby. He took up the growing of grapes. And the collecting of grape juice. And…
Genesis 9:20 Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. 21 When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent.
Funny. That almost sounds like- AT LEAST- substance abuse and depression. I could be wrong.
Mr. Reynolds has something to say about this incident.
He is famous for his ark and the grace he found in the eyes of the Lord, but his struggle with drunken behavior is less well known. A man who saw the world before the Flood destroyed it evidently could not face life in the wreckage…
Aww! Mr Reynolds is almost being sympathetic isn’t he?
…and so he drank, as foolish men do, to dull the pain.
Because if your entire universe consists of God and the world as you know it, and then God destroys the world as you know it, specifically keeping you alive- to watch?!? Why? God! I wasn’t different- all humans have fallen short of your glory- Why did I have to live? Why couldn’t you have just killed me too? Please! If we’re so worthless in your eyes- if we have failed so badly- Maker- please- just let me die…
And then God dumps you in the rubble and leaves, you have so many other resources to fall back on that getting drunk is just foolish, isn’t it?
Mr. Reynolds is a Provost. At a University. He clearly understands all this better than poor Noah did. Or at least has stronger character.
And then, along comes Noah’s son, Ham.
Ham had also witnessed the extermination of his entire race.
In adults, PTSD causes emotional disturbance, angry outbursts, and can devastate interpersonal relationships. Ham was probably an adult when the flood took place, but NIMH also points out that…
Older children and teens… may also develop disruptive, disrespectful, or destructive behaviors. Older children and teens may feel guilty for not preventing injury or deaths. They may also have thoughts of revenge. For more information, see the NIMH booklets on helping children cope with violence and disasters.
Noah, apparently, didn’t have access to the NIHM booklets on helping children cope with violence and disasters.
The Bible says that-
Genesis 9:22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside.
The Bible contrasts the two brothers with Ham by saying that they walked into the tent backwards, and put a garment over their father, covering his nakedness. They had to- to prove they hadn’t done what Ham had done. It seems that Ham didn’t just walk in and glance over at the naked, drunken Noah. He looked at his father.
Found favor in his eyes, did you? Were you putting out too? Were you his little pet? What kind of equipment do you have, daddy, that He liked you so much?
Noah, who’s mental health could not possibly have benefited from being looked at, woke up and heard what had happened. Heard what Ham had told his brothers outside the tent.
And had they lived in a house, before?
Noah flew into a fit of rage. Cursed…! Cursed…! Hands shaking, he pointed at Ham, Cursed be… Canaan!
The family knew what he meant. The fruit of Ham’s loins, his son. The power of generation his eyes had fondled and mocked in his father. The sensuality that had just been too much for the Angels to resist, that had been the reason for the more or less enslavement and then the destruction of the human race. Cursed be Canaan. Cursed. Forever.
Here’s what Mr. Reynolds has to say about this.
Noah was not pleased and so cursed the offspring of this undutiful son proving he was an undutiful father and grandfather: the prototype for the angry drunk as ruler.
Again, Mr. Reynolds has so much better moral fiber than that undutiful Noah. He’s in a position to judge. Aren’t you glad he established that? Noah was an angry drunk and the family tyrant as well. Tsk tsk.
Now comes the awkward part- the part where Mr. Reynolds explains what this story has to do with his award.
This is a little sad. If you’ve made it this far, you have endured my storytelling. I’m sure some people will find it biased. I don’t argue with them, one way or the other. But, sadly, I have all the major points of the story here, more or less in order, however I may have slanted them.
We’ve come to the part of the story that reflects highly on the institution at which Mr. Reynolds holds a post.
We’ve come to the part of the story where Mr. Reynolds can’t read.
Ever since Canaan was cursed, he has had eager followers: those young adults, and not so young adults, eager to expose their parent’s nakedness for profit.
Explain to me. ANYONE. Where profit was involved in ANY OF THIS? Explain to me where the actual person of Canaan had ANYTHING TO DO with his grandfather’s nakedness? Explain to me how, although Mr. Reynolds, so wise and noble, HIMSELF called NOAH, THE ONLY PERSON IN THE WORLD TO FIND FAVOR IN THE EYES OF GOD ALMIGHTY, UNDUTIFUL and an angry DRUNK, for attributing Ham’s sin to Canaan, he himself has has no problem making the exact same attribution?
How he dares casually heap scorn on Noah, and then causally heap scorn on Ham/Canaan for casually heaping scorn on Noah?
Alright. No. I suppose some questions are better not answered. Let it suffice to say that, no matter what bias you tell the story with,
1) Canaan did not expose his parent
2) Canaan did not expose Noah
3) Canaan was not eager to expose Noah (or either of his parents)
4) Canaan did not do any of the things that he did not do for the motive of monetary gain
5) Canaan was completely uninvolved in this story, except as a kind of revenge on Ham
6) Canaan can’t have followers of any age because Canaan didn’t actually do anything.
Except, of course, being punished for someone else’s crime.
This is the name of the award Mr. Reynolds says he’s going to hand out. The Canaan Award.
Fitting isn’t it?
And we’ve only just begun.
Here is his full article. If anyone can answer my questions- please do.