Black Medicine: The Dark Art of Death – N. Mashiro, Ph.D.

black medicine the dark art of death n.jpgBlack Medicine: The Dark Art of Death – N. Mashiro, Ph.D.
Paladin Press – First published 1978 

When I was a teenager, I went to the Gaeltacht, an Irish language summer camp. One of the other boys staying in the same house as me was a very interesting individual. He had a penchant for exposing himself, and he had brought two rather curious items with him for the 3 weeks of camp. One of these items was a leather gimp mask, a real one. It was not part of a Halloween costume. The other item was a book about how to kill people. We spent a few afternoons looking through it, laughing at the pictures.

reading black medicine2004

I recently came across another copy of this book, and I decided to read it for nostalgia’s sake. It doesn’t quite fit in with books I normally review, but whatever. It’s the darkest thing I’ve read in a while.

breaking his backThis is a book about how to quickly and efficiently murder a human being. It discusses the most sensitive parts of the human body and the most efficient ways of destroying them. This isn’t simple ‘kick him in the balls’ stuff. It’s more ‘stick the knife in here and twist it upwards to paralyse your attacker and leave him vulnerable to decapitation’. I guess I’m a bit of a wuss because I actually felt quite sick as I was reading through this. The description in here is extremely gory. It’s easy to forget just how fragile the human body really is.

how to kill a personOnly the actual need for a book like this is more upsetting than the gore it contains. This is a self defense manual. It’s supposed to be read by people who need to know how to promptly incapacitate an attacker. How many people need to know this? Lots, unfortunately. I only hope that it’s the people who need to know this stuff that end up reading this book. Black Medicine was followed with a series of sequels, but I don’t personally feel any desire or need to read them, thank goodness.

biting earlobeThis image has stayed with me.

As for the boy who first showed me this nasty book, we have remained good friends ever since. I have a strong urge to recount some of the further adventures we had with each other, but doing so online would doubtlessly be a poor decision. I’ll just post this picture of us from 2006, and maybe you’ll get the idea.

boys will be boysHe always carried a weapon, sometimes it was a hatchet or a crowbar. Once he had a hammer on a chain.

Drunk With Blood

drunk with blood steve wellsDrunk with Blood: God’s Killings in the Bible – Steve Wells
SAB Books – 2013

I read (past tense) the Bible largely out of spite. I went through the whole thing, chapter by chapter, underlining or highlighting bits that I thought were silly or violent. Needless to say, it took a lot of ink. I did a Bible post on this blog, but it was a fairly general overview of the entire text, and I didn’t get into specifics. When it comes to a text like the Bible, there’s not much a person can say that hasn’t been said before.

While I didn’t bother to get into specifics, Steve Wells has been doing so on his sites the Skeptics Annotated Bible and Dwindling in Unbelief since 1999. In this book, Drunk with Blood: God’s Killings in the Bible, he examines each murder committed by God throughout the events of Bible. It’s a bit like a true crime book about the most insane and successful serial killer of all time. Using the numbers provided in this text (which are sourced from the Bible itself), I worked out that throughout the Bible narrative, God was murdering between 500 and 7000 people a day on average.

The material in the book is well organized, and Steve Well’s comments are often very funny. It does get a bit boring at times, but that’s not really the author’s fault, and in a way, the offending sections make the book more effective. These boring passages highlight the fact that the Bible should be seen as nothing more than a collection of repetitive folktales from the iron-age.

Keeping that in mind, I sometimes felt a bit sorry for the Bible when reading Wells’ criticisms. He’s interpreting it literally, and for most texts of this era and genre, I would say that this would be a fairly silly thing to do. It would take all of the entertainment out of the old Greek or Irish myths if you were to take them at face value. Of course, very few people have taken literal interpretations of the Greek and Irish myths to enforce their perverse ideals upon others in the last thousand years, so I completely understand the author’s approach. I just want to put it out there that the Bible is actually a really interesting resource for entertaining stories and cultural insight. Just please understand that it’s a book from history, not a history book.

It has been long enough since I read the Bible for me to have forgotten big chunks of it. Reading this book reminded me of Biblical gems such as the tale of Elisha and the children (2 Kings 2:23-25). Elisha was a mate of the prophet Elijah. One day, he was out and about when a group of 42 children teased him for being bald. Luckily for Elisha, his merciful and forgiving God sent two bears in to kill the children. He didn’t give them a dose of diarrhea or a headache or have their parents talk to them about being polite. He had their little bodies torn limb from limb by a pair of nature’s fiercest animals.

Will many Christians read Drunk with Blood and change their minds? I doubt it. If they haven’t read the Bible, the book where all this horrible shit came from, why would they read a criticism of it? I’d imagine that most non-believers wouldn’t have much time for this kind of thing either; I mean who cares if the imaginary man in the sky is a murderer? I guess that leaves the annoying people who like to think that they know more about scripture than the majority of believers to enjoy this book.

It’s good. Read it.

jesus cant dieWhile we’re on the subject of Bibles, I “found” this illustration in a hotel room Bible over the summer. Thought this would be a good opportunity to post it.