Hey kids! It's time for another "As I Recall"! After my last post about the Easter Story, I think it's time I got back to my comfort zone: the Old Testament. Ahh, good ol' OT. You are like the girl at the bar wearing a gold tube top for a skirt: no matter how messed up I expect you are, you always seem to have a level of crazy hiding that I never would have guessed.
And, not one to disappoint, the book of Daniel pulls through again!
Okay, here's the story as I remember it:
Daniel doesn't want to pray to the king. He wants to pray to God. So the king throws Daniel in with a bunch of lions. God protects Daniel from being killed, and when the king comes back to retrieve the bones, he finds Daniel alive and well. Hurrah! Done.
But I checked Ol' Soggy, and there all kinds of shenanigans here, you guys. Read on:
First we start with how Daniel got there in the first place. There's this king named Nebuchadnezzar. Best named king EVER. But since it is a bitch to spell out, we're going to just refer to him as the King. Sorry, guys. So the King takes over some spot of land, and commands that the smartest, strongest Israelites be brought to him so he can convert them to his...sect or whatever. Oh, and they've got to be easy on the eyes. BY THE BY, have we all noticed that Old Testament characters tend to be acknowledged as hot? Don't even start with me on Hollywood giving everyone a complex. God started it.
So they send over Daniel. Oh and they send over three other guys who I thought were from a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT STORY: Hsomething, Msomething and Asomething. Who were renamed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. WHAT?! Okay, awesome. Apparently you guys are getting a double whammy story. How fun for you. If anyone needs me, I will be blogging into the late evening, apparently.
The first story here is a little lesson in healthy eating. Let me just brush off the powdered sugar from my hands...*wipe, wipe*...that's better. So Daniel, Shad, Meesh, and Bed are living with royalty now. But Daniel doesn't want to defile himself with all that evil, delicious King food and wine. Because God forbid someone take pleasure in anything they ever do in the Bible. So Daniel demands that they be fed only vegetables and water. Awesome. Our Bible heroes are a bunch of vegans. Well, I'm sure this will turn out well for them.
BUT IT DOES. After ten days of nothing but celery, these men are fatter and healthier than the people given the royal food. WHAT? In what world are we living here? Were these chocolate-coated carrot sticks? Lard-infused zucchini? I guess we've gotta chalk it up to God and move on. But come on now. Can I move to this magical land where wine and King food knocks off this little mid-section I've got going on?
WHATEVER. Next the Bible goes LOST on us and explains how huge things happen in four seconds. ("This is what the whispers are?" "Yup." *Emily punches JJ Abrams in the eye*) At this point we learn in one sentence that God gives the four men knowledge "in every aspect of literature and wisdom, even SEO" and gives Daniel special dream-interpreting skills. Also nunchuck skills.
Next the King has a dream. And he says he'll kill anyone who can't interpret it for him. So Daniel of course steps up, does the job, and is praised by the King. YAWN, heard it before. Come up with some new plot lines, The Bible.
Okay, here's a new twist. The King creates a statue out of gold. And he demands that everyone worship the statue. Some people point out that Shad, Meesh, and Bed are Jews and won't worship the statue. The King goes crazy and demands that they worship the statue or face the fiery furnace. The three of them get all kinds of attitude, doing z-snaps and they're all, "We don't have to prove NOTHING to you. Our God might save us, he might not, but HELL NO we will not worship your shitty statue."
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand *furnace*. The King was SO angry that--get this--HIS FACE WAS DISTORTED. Good God, not that! ANYTHING BUT THAT!! So, with steam pouring out of his ears, the King demands that the furnace be turned up 7 times it's normal heat and had the men thrown in, clothes and all. Turns out, I guess 7 times the normal amount is a bit rash. The flames were so insane that they immediately killed the men who threw in Shad, Meesh, and Bed.
And guess what? Suddenly the king looks into the fire and sees four men (one "having the appearance of a god", because we all know what that looks like), unbound and strolling around in the middle of the fire. Having some crumpets, tipping their hats at one another...that kind of thing. So the King calls to them to come out, and they do. Completely unsinged. Damn it, if I put my hair dryer too close to my face, I singe an eyebrow. Where's God when I need him, hmm?
So the King decrees that anyone who talks shit about God from now on will be torn limb from limb! Hooray!! Nothing like peaceful protest to inspire love and understanding in others.
Now, are we done? Of course we aren't. The book of Daniel has only BEGUN to get crazy. So here we go. One day, the King is walking around his Kingdom, being all "wow, isn't my kingdom awesome?" when a voice from heaven calls down to him and says, "Nope. You will be thrown out and you'll have to eat grass until you learn that God does whatever the hell he wants." And then that exact thing immediately happened. No one kicked him out, no reason given for the change. Just all of a sudden, the king finds himself living alone, eating grass, until "his nails became like bird's claws." W. T. F.
WAIT, THERE'S MORE. Because then we go FIRST PERSON on your ass. And suddenly we get, "Yes, I, Nebuchadnezzar praised God for being so awesome and making me eat grass. And then my 'reason' returned to me and I went back to my kingdom and was reinstated and I praised God." I can't even...there's not even...so many....*sigh*...moving on.
OH MY GOD. Okay, so you know how I started writing this so that people who don't know the Bible can understand common allusions? Well consider my mind blown.
Ever heard the phrase, "He couldn't read the writing on the wall"? As in, he ignored the obvious doom coming? IT'S FROM THE BIBLE. Is this an ends meat situation all over again?? Please tell me that you all did not know that this was a biblical issue.
Okay so here's the story: The King (who is now Nebuchadnezzar's son) is having dinner with a bunch of people and suddenly Thing from the Adams Family starts writing in the plaster wall. Which ARGH that must have sounded terrible. But it wrote in some other language that the King couldn't read. So he called in everyone to interpret it for him, and of course no one but Daniel could do it. Part of the interpretation was "your days are numbered, Kingy." And the King's like, Yay! Thanks for telling me what it says! Here is purple clothing and a gold chain (very Run-DMC if you ask me.) That night, the King was killed. WHOOPSIE! Probably should have read the writing on the wall. And that is where the phrase comes from. World: upside-down.
Now finally, FINALLY we come to the Lion's Den Plotline. And, frankly, I am worn out. I have been interpreting the hell out of this book. To be honest, there's not much more to the plotline than what I told you.
Here's my beef: what is the point of teaching every king the exact same lesson? How many kings do we need to teach here? Why does no one EVER figure out that God is the best BEFORE terrible things befall him? I'm not even done with this book and so far we have 3 kings learning the exact same thing. We get it.
Can we all move on now?