…to a text so filled with metaphor, and they cherry-pick Scripture — nor are they alone in doing so. Northrop Frye used to say that the Bible is not a book you judge, it is a book that judges you — by which I took him to mean that since there are so many contrary opinions and teachings in it, the group of them you select will say a lot about who you are.
The core of Christianity is surely the key teachings of its founder, namely: Love your neighbor as yourself; love your enemy — who ever said that before? The forgiveness of sins, the Spirit as opposed to the letter, and rebirth in the Spirit. Gilead observes none of these teachings. Instead, it uses religion as a hammer to wallop people into submission, as religion has been used so many times before, in many different contexts. Those intent on the letter as a method of enforcement and a tool for compliance have little use for private believers or for mystics such as Julian of Norwich and the poet William Blake. And worship of the dead letter, as opposed to the living Spirit, might well be viewed as just another form of golden-calf idolatry by Jesus of Nazareth, who never wrote down anything, except once, with a stick, on the ground — that “let’s stone a woman to death” episode, as you may recall — and what he wrote on that occasion is not known to us.