May 30, 2005: New and Improved Commandments on the Way

Much has been made of whether or not to allow the Ten Commandments to be posted in government buildings, but not much has been said about whether or not the Commandments as written are appropriate in today’s fast-paced world. After all, the original Commandments were written thousands of years ago for a bunch of people walking around lost in the desert, with no maps and no air conditioning. We are more sophisticated today. We have maps and air conditioning, and we need Commandments that fit our more tolerant life style.

As usual, I waited for somebody to take the lead on rewriting the Ten Commandments, and as usual, I ended up having to do it myself because everybody else is preoccupied trying to figure out why Republicans in Congress are getting their lunch eaten by the Democrats, who still think they run the country.

My first decision was to take the Ten Commandments off of stone. Stone is heavy and totally passé as a communications device. Stone is also difficult to edit, not that I am any expert on editing. I wouldn’t recognize a participle if you dangled it in front of my nose.

Editing the Ten Commandments has been hard work, but well worth the effort. I hope you like the new version. Please clip and save.

1. (OLD) Thou Shalt Worship No Other God.

(NEW) The worship of money is now permissible, because it contains the phrase “In God We Trust.” It is the best of both worlds. Just don’t tell the ACLU.

2. (OLD) Thou Shalt Make No Graven Images.

(NEW) Still not recommended, but you can make a John Kerry bobblehead doll. Same thing.

3. (OLD) Thou Shalt Not Take the Name of God in Vain.

(NEW) If you hit your thumb with a hammer, slice a golf ball into the water or get poison ivy, don’t take God’s name in vain. Instead, say #%^&#*!*%. It will make you feel better and will disassociate God from your ineptness.

4. (OLD) Remember the Sabbath and Keep It Holy.

(NEW) You may ignore the Sabbath under the following circumstances: (a) To work in the yard, (b) go shopping, (c) lay on the couch and watch TV while you stuff your face with Cheetos or (d) rationalize why all of the above are more important to your well-being than going to a house of worship. (Note: When you die, you will have the opportunity to explain your reasoning to God up close and in person. Good luck.)

5. (OLD) Honor Thy Father and Mother.

(NEW) Oh, please. Parents are so out of it. What do they know about anything? They can’t even set the clock on the VCR.

6. (OLD) Thou Shalt Not Murder.

(NEW) If you do commit murder — like killing a superior court judge, a court reporter, a deputy sheriff and an immigration official — be sure to point out that you are black and a victim of racism. That way Jesse Jackson can visit you and recite a rhyme that starts, “Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho!”

7. (OLD) Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery.

(NEW) This commandment does not apply if you are richer than Croesus and serve on the State Board of Regents. Please check the governor’s office for eligibility.

8. (OLD) Thou Shalt Not Steal.

(NEW) Filching paper clips, pencils and printing supplies from the office doesn’t count.

9. (OLD) Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness.

(NEW) You may bear false witness if you are a CBS anchorman, or write for Newsweek magazine and think it will embarrass the Bush administration.

10. (OLD) Thou Shalt Not Covet.

(NEW) The following are now eligible for coveting: (1) BMWs; (2) your neighbor’s lawn that looks like Astroturf; (3) your neighbor’s wife, who looks better than Astroturf; (4) Tiger Woods’ golf swing; (5) Tiger Woods’ wife, who looks better than your neighbor’s wife and Astroturf combined, and (6) the unfathomable genius of modest and much-beloved newspaper columnists.

Now that I have finished modernizing the Ten Commandments, I am looking into the possibility of adding a few additional ones, like making female preachers mandatory and ice hockey a sin. Stay tuned.