Parables: the Joys of Being Carried

Carry Me or I Will Carry You

Much more magical than any book in the Christian or Jewish Bible, the book of Parables in The Good Book: A Humanist Bible reads at times like the Humanist 1,001 Nights … stories within stories within stories, fables within fables with moral teachings smartly woven into them, and precious nuggets of wisdom thrown in every now and then for the philosophy-loving soul to ponder.

The book doesn’t just bestow entertaining parables. There’s also a celebration of the art of storytelling, where we learn the therapeutic value of narratives in themselves. The maxim “Carry me or I will carry you” is repeated from time to time. It signifies that we should tell stories to make  our life journey bearable, that without meaning and without sense, life becomes unbearable and that these narratives contribute to the manufacturing of meaning.

There are several portions with advise for people who travel, and speak of how travel relates to the search for wisdom. These portions are reminiscent of the Havamal‘s runes for griots or stray-singers. We learn that hunger ends friendships, that the rich are oftentimes mean whereas the poor are oftentimes kind, and that a crime is mitigated if you confess but is greater if you bring others to commit it.

Some of the most memorable fables are the tale of the monkey and the hiena, and the tales of the king of the fabled City of Stones.

Education as a Quintessential Human Value

Your book was leading you, not you it. – Parables 22:7

There is a portion in praise of books and learning, and we are encouraged to read a good book with a friend (15:1-5).

A word in celebration of Humanist values must be added here, particularly in light of recent events in various parts of the Muslim world.

It was recently announced that the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize was given to Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani girl who nearly lost her life for her advocacy of girls’ right to an education in her Islam-ridden country. Elsewhere in the Muslim parts of Nigeria, the West-hating terrorist organization Boko Haram abducted young girls whose only crime was attending a school. The speculation is that they’re being kept as sexual slaves. They have not been found. In contrast, we find a celebration of the education of girls in the secular humanist Bible.

The entire book of Parables ends with an entertaining legend about legendary sisters from a poor, isolated village who want to see the world and get an education. Eventually the girls end up founding a school under a tree.

And the past and future gather round you when you and your teacher are sitting there. – Parables 23:27

 Further Reading:

Why Your Brain Loves Good Storytelling

The Good Book: A Humanist Bible

About hiramcrespo

Hiram Crespo is the author of 'Tending the Epicurean Garden' (Humanist Press, 2014), 'How to Live a Good Life' (Penguin Random House, 2020), and Epicurus of Samos – His Philosophy and Life: All the principal Classical texts Compiled and Introduced by Hiram Crespo (Ukemi Audiobooks, 2020). He's the founder of, and has written for The Humanist, Eidolon, Occupy, The New Humanism, The Secular Web, Europa Laica, AteístasPR, and many other outlets.
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