You Shall Not Use My Name For Vanity; Cotton Teeth and Porcelain Tongue

Back: The Second Commandment

The door slams shut over your poorly placed fingers. The thud runs up your arm and a panicked numbness holds your once useful knuckles in place. Looking through the mental fog you locate the door handle and force the wooden seam off your multicolour hand. As the blood rushes back, all of your reawakened nerves flood your mind with their opinion on what just happened. “Jesus Christ! How did this happen?” you ask. A kindly old lady points to the spring-loaded arm above the door right after reminding you that “you shouldn’t use the Lord’s name in vain.” After being checked out for no real damage you aren’t sure which is worse, the beat of pain, or the shame of being seen. 

Anybody who has grown up under an organized Christian religion will know that mentioning “God” or “Christ”, as an expression of emotion ostensibly goes against the Third Commandment. For people of this mindset, exclamations like this are comparable to any currently taboo obscenity. In a way, it makes sense to respect aspects of the highest value. For somebody to take the name of something so important like the creator of reality and use it to describe a moment of suffering like pain! One might use a tailored business suit to plug a leak in a sewage line. I can understand a thought process that follows; if one cannot restrain themselves in their speech, †he their ability to undercut the highest possible value structure suggests they might not respect any lower value structure. 

I can empathize with this current cultural understanding. In a secular view, the thought process of the Third Commandment can be extended to people’s poor use of scientific discoveries to push some radical and poorly based ideas. It’s not hard to have the thought; If only I could find a way to get people to respect those ideas of science properly then the world would be a better place. How can one not hold angst against the entire world when everyone seems to have so much more action than understanding. However, this interpretation of the Third Commandment places the onus on external parties and therefore gives the limited capacity to reflect on oneself. This interpretation is a mechanism of social control, rather than of personal growth.  

A cynical person could easily write this off as another self-serving rule to maintain an already entrenched religion. Blasphemy! Anything that exists outside of the community’s accepted set of ideas regarding the transcendent can quickly be pointed out as vanity and destroyed. ‘Clearly, this Commandment just gives carte-blanche for the community to self-police itself and any ideas that are allowed to propagate through the community. How can we respect an idea that is just used to resist free-thought?’ Ironically enough, In a close reading of the Commandment, this mechanism of thought policing is one of the things the Third Commandment is trying to get individual people to stop engaging with. 

To get personal value from a Commandment we cannot consider the Third Commandment to be a weapon to be used against others. Much like the other two Commandments, this is not a mechanism for social control, but instead a tool for personal growth. The Third Commandment aims to align speech and thought about oneself with reality. Through an honest relationship with their past, one would be able to forgive themselves for not being perfect and then act honestly and with forgiveness into the future. Through an honest relationship with one’s past, there would be no need to use vain justifications like “I was trying to do the right thing” or “I did it in the name of God”, instead one can say “I’m sorry, I wish I had known better”. When one is following the Third Commandment, they can apologise quickly, and also withhold an apology for that individual has an understanding of their past that is not worse, or better but is the closest understanding of themselves as possible.  

This can be justified as the full commandment from the King James Bible is “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” With this, we have a qualifier for the Commandment. If an individual breaks the Commandment then they will not be ‘guiltless’, therefore an act which breaks the Commandment should be able to be noticed by causing some degree of guilt. I don’t feel particularly guilty for the numerous times I have said the word “God” or “Christ” in an emotive context, I have not harmed anyone nor have I damaged myself through these. If I were to feel negative about these cases then it could only be from shame over the fear of losing my place in a hypothetical afterlife. If the genuine belief of this kind of afterlife is held then any kindness or observation of faith is transactional and undermines the critical introspection required to improve oneself. This then isn’t guilt, but the refusal to act out a contract that one never chose to enter. 

Guilt should perhaps be more technically understood as a case where one is increasing the amount of harm that they have done in total, (the derivative of harm), versus regret where one looks back and feels negative about their total harm, (the integral of harm). This model explains waves of guilt, where the ‘real’ harm caused by your actions was greater than the ‘imagined’ harm, and therefore that sudden understanding causes significant distress and guilt as the internal tracking of harm violently jumps to the realised level. Therefore two kinds of guilt could be experienced, regarding the Third Commandment. Those cases where the individual knows they are sustaining a vain lie and it slowly eats them from the inside, a case like an accountant embezzler. Alternatively, and more insidious, the deluded liar who believes that they are doing something for a good reason while actually doing it for a terrible reason, like the case of the mother who does everything for her children so they can control them indefinitely. 

The most valuable understanding of the Third Commandment that meets the technical writing of the Commandment is something like this. “Understand why you do the things you do, don’t assume it’s because you are an inherently good person. If you don’t then only you will be to blame for the damage you have done to keep up the lie of self-righteousness”. If one doesn’t have a good grasp of their past it will be easier to claim that their successes are entirely “the will of God” or “due to my natural superiority” and therefore using vain reasoning to justify one’s position. By believing success comes this way one fails to appreciate the help that was given to them and therefore fails to understand how they can help others. Alternatively, negative expressions in one’s reality can vainly be put down to “bad luck” or “forces outside my control” which disconnects one’s self from their capacity to improve themselves. 

There are numerous cases of this manifesting in reality to the detriment of the individual breaking the Commandment. A normal man may be given a significant amount of support through a family network and the resources of wealthy parents. Through this support and by being diligent they can attain a high position in the social hierarchy that gains them access to a high level of material wealth. It isn’t unbelievable that this character could believe that their circumstances are all a natural result of their brilliance and hard work. While this causes animosity within the community due to the many people who may have been better deserving of the position due to merit, the greater damage is done inside the person who believes this lie about themselves. This damage is the constant ache that they are not actually up to the role that they are acting out, a version of the imposter effect. In many cases, in a professional environment, revealing that you believe you are not up to the task will result in support and clarification that you are getting along well. However, if the position attained is above one’s capacity, then revealing that one is suffering the imposter effect will only realise in both individual’s minds that the status of the imposter is inflated which will result in a rapid social correction, therefore the only way for the imposter to continue to act in a stable way is to act while feeling that they are acting out a lie. That individual would be guilty of living a life that was not theirs and would forego the ability to know who they are. 

The only method to avoid using God’s name for vanity is to have the most accurate understanding of the factors that were required to place you in the position you are in now. There are many occasions in my life I found myself doing something inefficiently or using an out of date tool, I was sometimes lucky enough that someone more knowledgeable might want to show me a better way. The natural response to save face is “I was doing this way because hard work is good”. In actuality, self-imposed incompetence only ever results in waste which I alone am guilty of. 

The effects of individuals ignoring the Third Commandment across the entire culture has disconnected people en masse from their past to such a degree that it is hard to find people in an Anglosphere society that don’t feel to one degree or another ‘lost’. Multiculturalism is a fundamental and deeply revered aspect of British culture nations, as it should be. Because of this, it is a cultural idea set that is naturally dissociative. For multiculturalism to work, the multicultural culture must achieve two opposed things. It must first oversee a collection of cultures with different cultural expressions without smothering any of those cultural expressions. Secondarily it must never allow any of the minority groups to become larger than the dominant British Culture otherwise multiculturalism won’t be sustained. Therefore the only way for the policy of multiculturalism to sustain itself is if the British Cultural majority is blind to itself. If the followers of British Culture realised in large enough numbers that they were acting out British Culture then this awakening would also smother minority cultures. This does not achieve multiculturalism. This quickly is exposed in the case from the USA, there are Italian-Americans, Chinese-Americans, Indian-Americans, and every kind under the sun. However, ‘Americans’ implicitly refers to British-Americans rather than those more legitimate to take the title, Native-Americans. Despite this blindness, there is a range of distinctly British ideals that people will protect, while also claiming that they are ‘natural rights’ rather than the expressions of British Culture. Free-Association, Political Representation, Free Trade, separate legislative and judicial governance, and Individualism are the same ideas that projected British influence across the world. The long-term effect of multiculturalism has ultimately been to propagate one of the world’s few, non-racial and peaceful cultures, in British Culture. The irony is that if those that assert British Culture are not able to connect again to the culture in an intelligent way, then the long-term peace afforded by this cultural expression of multiculturalism will come to an end, however, the assertion must be done without losing multiculturalism as a tenant. 

The Third Commandment is not about understanding history or specific facts regarding this or that. It is about taking the next action regarding your past. To follow the Third Commandment it is most important to have an honest relationship with one’s past up to the moment. By doing to one can understand their negative patterns, and in cases where harm has been done, the apology can be given quickly and without shame. It is easy to see why this isn’t followed. If an idea is presented, even by oneself, that fundamentally undermines an important piece of knowledge that one has been relying on to act, then it is easier to reject it. It is easy to think that action was taken because that information is ‘better,’ an appeal to the authority of the past self. Ignoring the Third Commandment is ignoring the ability to be critical of oneself, and therefore limits one’s capacity for growth. It may be no wonder then that those who are first to claim they are acting on God’s behalf, or in the interest of the greater good, seem like very small people. This thinking only allows an individual the illusion of comfort, as we all suffer for the lies we tell ourselves.  

Onwards: The Fourth Commandment

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