Article by Ethan
The ‘royal the’ and the devolution of spirituality, religion, theology and atheism.
It is absolutely essential in life to understand language and the criticality of communication. To quote my father, the infamous blues musician Jimmy Midnight, “Anyone who can learn to speak is intelligent.” And it’s true. In fact the most complicated thing most people learn to do is speak. Learning a language is incredibly difficult. Communication is intensely nuanced and complex. Effectively speaking is one aspect of communicating and effective comprehension is another. Effectively transmitting and receiving messages is incredibly difficult because the slightest moderations can have huge effects and outcomes.
The word ‘the’ is a small thing, three little letters which sometimes can be left out without impeding the intended meaning, but its inclusion can change everything, entirely. The significance of which is perhaps most easily recognizable and best explored when compared to its alternatives and further when its roots are etymologically elaborated on. The ultimate way to explain exactly what the means is through the most well read sentence in history.
“In the beginning god created the heaven and earth.” Genesis 1:1
That is the first sentence from the book of Genesis in the Bible. ‘The’ in this sentence implies that there is no other. There is no other place in time or space and there is no alternative in any way, that there is only the beginning and if you believe otherwise you are contrary to all things good and sacred. However this quite possibly is the greatest misusage of ‘the’, the biggest mistranslation there has ever been in the last 2,500 years, since Genesis first was written. ‘The’ was possibly originally this. The sentence might have more accurately originally read ‘in this beginning…’
Now that would have changed everything. What if monotheists accepted this instead of only the? They certainly would be less close-minded and practice more openness with others lifestyles and ideas. Perhaps they might understand they were not born god’s people, but by being compassionate might become god’s people. ‘This’ in exchange for ‘the’ would mean all the difference in the world. No matter how different monotheists claim to be from one another they are the same in their ardent belief that they alone are correct.
‘The’ is monotheistic and says no whereas ‘this’ is open and says yes. The etymology of ‘the’ is actually derived from the word for god which is the same as to be. El is the original Hebrew word for god. And all the desert gods of Judaism, Christianity and Islam all claim something to the effect that “I am that I am.” They all claim to be the one and only, to be being itself and the complete total ‘the.’ Elohim is the plural form of El, meaning god, Allah is possibly derived from the same root, only the feminine. Al means ‘the’ in Arabic.
“I am that I am.” ~Exodus 3:14
The ‘royal the’ as I call the monotheistic the, has devilish effects. It induces false pride, being proud of being born a certain way for instance as opposed to being proud of accomplishments since being born. It creates the ‘us and them’ mentality that has driven Israel to build walls and treat Palestinians like they were criminals on a 21st century reservation, which has convinced Muslims to react violently to silly D-movie depictions of Muhammad made only to incite their monotheistic ardent reaction. The ‘royal the’ has been behind every war there has ever been in the form of religious and national jingoism. The ‘royal the’ leads to the certainty one is among the chosen people, the leads to fighting everybody who do not behave or believe as you do. Jews, Christians, Muslims and even atheists all have ardency in common. ‘The’ is absolute and definitive, while ‘this’ offers room, the openness and forgiveness of god.
After 38 years on planet earth I think I have finally found out who in fact are god’s chosen people. I deduced as much by observing those who claim to be god’s chosen, those who claim to have the only true word of god and then comparing them to the essence of the word of god. Everyone who claims to be god’s chosen monotheist acts repugnantly towards others, they don’t consider alternative ideas, they kill and maim and fight slaughter in god’s name. Monotheists are not god’s chosen people. God’s chosen people do not kill and maim, for god or anything. Institutions got you tricked if you believe otherwise.
God’s chosen people are over here, refusing to kill each other with the completely comforting knowledge that god is in everyone, not in one form, but billions of forms and that god does not need people to enforce her dogma. The more monotheistic people are the less chance we all have to live together. The world needs more ‘this’ and less ‘the.’