YHVH’s Heart-On: A (Mildly Cynical) Parable

Jake Goodman
February 16, 2012
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Once upon a time, it happened (or it didn’t) that a god named YHVH (sp?) ran for President.  The terrain was tough: the electorate was apathetic, voter-turn out was expected to be dismal (hardly surprising given all the voter restrictions) and the field was already packed with establishment favorites (Ra, Isis, Osiris and Horus) who decided to coalesce under the Pharaoh’s coalition candidacy.  Most challenging, nobody knew who the *F* YHVH was. (“YHVH who?  How do you even pronounce that name?!  Is he Muslim?)  [NOTE:  YHVH did, in fact, check “male” on the gender box of the candidate application sheet because a focus group determined that the people were not ready to be led by a(nother) female leader.  And he was sexist.]

At an early strategy session with his host of advisers, YHVH determined that the most compelling way for him to make a name for himself and mobilize the voters was to run a populist campaign that proved its viability by flexing its muscles and win the people’s support by being unafraid to go negative and play dirty.  The campaign went by the name “Operation Heart-On:  Change you must believe in.”

The first order of business was to discredit the other candidates.  Pretty easily done.  YHVH’s second most trusted advisor marched into to the opposition’s headquarters and had his snake swallow the others’ snakes.  His was bigger.  (Or maybe he just knew how to use it better?)

The second order of business was to win over and mobilize the people.  Not so easily done.  The people notoriously voted against their own interests – if they voted at all (again, voter restrictions).  (Also, the corporate media barely covered the snake swallowing upset, so people still didn’t know this god from Adam.)

But no worries!  Being a god, YHVH had access to supernatural powers!  (Obviously, this was before Reconstructionists brought their buzz-kill theology to the table.)  To perform this final coup d’état, YHVH first took advantage of a little known provision in the Patriot Act and (sort of) secretly infiltrated Pharaoh’s heart and hardened it – a shrewd move that served a dual purpose.

First, it painted Pharaoh as being tone-deaf to his citizens’ real life problems and concerns.  He could have stopped the plagues at any time by executive order, but Pharaoh instead chose to stand idly by as the Egyptian people were forced to wash their clothes in blood, eat frog bread, fumigate their apartments because of lice infestations, face beasts, get inoculated from new epidemics every other day, and so on and so forth.  Power had changed him.

More importantly, the YHVH campaign understood that YHVH-the-candidate was actually a product that voters needed to want to buy.  Focus groups indicated that his key constituency (blue-and-white collar workers) would only support a leader who could lead them with a strong (right) hand.  Otherwise, they wouldn’t even vote.  So, Operation Heart-On ensured that the Israelites would have no less than 10 opportunities to witness their candidate’s power in spectacular action.  (After watching their goyishe neighbors dodge falling balls of flaming ice and have all their firstborn sons die at the exact same time, how could they refuse?!)

Of course, this was a risky strategy.  Some of YHVH’s advisors feared that such a negative, nasty campaign would backfire.  Others cautioned that people would tire of the spectacle and want to focus on the issues.  But YHVH never balked.  (He was, after all, omniscient.) (Mostly.)  (At the time.)  He knew that once people started buying his product, it was very hard to stop wanting to buy more of it.  He knew that some people would indeed be turned off by the dirty tricks, but many more of them would keep coming back for more, and they would bring their friends – because it was real, because it was awesome, because it made people feel alive to associate with a movement (yes, it was a movement now) so powerful and vital.   He knew that, once people bought his product, he would be able to run as The God That Delivered Them From Egypt for years to come.

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Jake Goodman is an LGTBQ activist, Jewish educator and performer. He holds an MA in Jewish Education with a specialization in Infomal and Communal Education from the Davidson School at JTS and a BFA in Acting from Emerson College. Jake has worked increasingly to advocate toward full equality for LGBT people. Jake is a founding member of Queer Rising, a grassroots organization that demands queer rights through direct action, is on a committee to confront homeless queer youth with the Ali Forney Center, and is currently working on a book. Jake is also a proud company member of Storahtelling, previously serving as Associate Director, and serves as senior faculty for the 14th Street Y's LABA fellowship. He has served as educator in various capacities at seminaries, synagogues, JCCs, camps and pre-schools around the country. In the theater world, Jake has performed across the country and internationally at The Berkshire Theater Festival, Actors Theater of Louisville, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Alma in Tel-Aviv.

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