Opinion » Bill Cope

Commandments Quiz

And no cheating, thou


Last month, I was walking into one of the multitude of entertainment opportunities your fine community has to offer (a Hawk's game, if you just have to know, Captain Nosy) and I made the mistake of asking a guy in front of the stadium what it was he was trying to get people to sign up for.

"You live within Boise city limits, sir?" he wanted to know, and I stood up straight, chest out, chin high. "No sirree Bub. I'm a third-generation Meridian feller," I said. You know, like I was proud of it.

"Sorry, but this is just for Boise residents. It's for the initiative to put the Ten Commandments back in Julia Davis Park. Too bad you can't sign it, sir."

So I said, "Heck, Bub, I wouldn't o' signed it anyway. See, the Good Lord, in his infinite mercy, has bequeathed to us atheists the gift of disbelief so's that we won't have to spend one lousy second ... let alone eternity ... in the company of pests like Bryan Fischer and Brandi Swindell and, uh ... you. Bub."

Then I walked away--chest out, chin high--like I'd just put an end to the matter, once and for all.

Oops! I did it again. Told another lie. That's not even close to what I said to that guy outside the stadium. The way it really went was I said "Oh" and just walked away. No chest out, no chin high and definitely no withering dismissal. Truth is, I didn't come up with what I wished I'd said until days later.

So, yeah, I lied, dangit. Broke the ... what? ... the 8th Commandment? Or is it the 3rd? Give me a sec here while I go look it up. Be right back.

Huh! Couldn't find anything about lying. Not in my copy, at least. There's that bit about thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbors, but that's not what I did. I only made up a whopper to impress you with how cool I am. "Bearing false witness against thy neighbors" sounds more like what Dick Cheney does every time he talks about Iraq. Weird. I woulda swore there was something in those commandments that straight out says no fibs. Not about neighbors, not about yourself, not about how much money you make or how much beer you can drink without having to go pee or how the cable payment is in the mail or how you're not just interested in her for her body or how it wasn't you that chopped down a cherry tree or ...

Wait a minute! I see what's happening here. I'm getting the Ten Commandments confused with my Mom's and Dad's Commandments. Mixed up, that's what I am. I guess I heard, "Don't you lie to me, Billy Cope!" so many times when I was growing up that I just figured I'd heard it in church.

But I say this all raises a question or two. First of all, it makes me wonder if everyday people aren't mistakenly assuming that ... for example ... it's wrong to bully small children or tease blind people because there are commandments that say not to.

And secondly, it makes me wonder why some things aren't in the Ten Commandments that maybe oughta be. You know, things we should all know are wrong without the Lord having to tell us, but they didn't actually make it on the list because... well, because who knows? Maybe the Lord ran out of stone tablets before He was finished. Or maybe He just plain couldn't imagine anyone would ever bully children or tease blind people.

Anyway, it's made me think it might be worthwhile to test you Boise folks on your knowledge of the Ten Commandments before you go to war again over whether Julia Davis Park should get another copy for everyone to forget is there. Following are a number of commandments, some of which come straight from the chisel of God, and some of which I made up myself--with help from Mom, Dad, every good person I've ever known and 56 years of watching how good people the world over treat one another, with or without the Ten Commandments. Check the ones that you think are real.


OK, let's see how you did. For your individual test results, go down to the corner of 8th and State and compare your answers to those on the slab of granite there in front of St. Michael's Church.

And as to those commandments that aren't on the original--the ones I made up--what say we start a petition drive to get them added to the new version? I'm sure the Good Lord wouldn't mind. In fact, I do believe He would have put them on His original list, Himself ... had He foreseen way back when how some of His most ardent fans might turn out to be such pushy, sanctimonious weenies.