X: Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness

King James Bible New Living Translation Bible English Standard Bible
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. You must not testify falsely against your neighbor. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  1. ‘False witness’ shall not be construed to include any of the following:
    1. Lies of commission
    2. Lies of omission
    3. Advertising or marketing
    4. Election campaigning
    5. Disinformation
    6. False promises
    7. Dating site profiles
    8. Misreporting of tax liability
    9. Any statement made in order to pursue one’s mission from God

IX: Thou Shalt Not Covet

King James Bible New Living Translation Bible English Standard Bible
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s. You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.
  1. ‘Covet’ shall not be construed to include any of the following:
    1. Envy
    2. Jealousy
    3. Lust
    4. Use of pornography
    5. The obsessive creation of wish lists on retailer web sites
    6. The obsessive comparison of one’s own finances and possessions with those of others
    7. Queueing to get the new shiny thing before anyone else
    8. Boasting about owning the new shiny thing before anyone else

VIII: Thou Shalt Not Steal

King James Bible New Living Translation Bible English Standard Bible
Thou shalt not steal. You must not steal. You shall not steal.
  1. ‘Steal’ shall not be construed to include any of the following:
    1. Theft
    2. Robbery
    3. Fraud
    4. Embezzlement
    5. False advertising
    6. Phishing
    7. Eminent domain
    8. Usury
    9. Misreporting of tax liability

VII: Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery

King James Bible New Living Translation Bible English Standard Bible
Thou shalt not commit adultery. You must not commit adultery. You shall not commit adultery.
  1. ‘Adultery’ for unmarried people shall not be construed to include any of the following:
    1. Kissing
    2. Heavy petting
    3. Oral sex
    4. Use of pornography
    5. Participation in pornography
    6. Exchanging of favours where sex is one of the favours
  2. ‘Adultery’ for married people shall not be construed to include any of the following:
    1. If you plan to divorce your spouse and have told them so
    2. If you plan to divorce your spouse and have not told them so
    3. If you no longer love your spouse (whether or not you’ve told them so)
    4. If the person you’re committing adultery with is really hot

VI: Thou Shalt Not Kill

King James Bible New Living Translation Bible English Standard Bible
Thou shalt not kill. You must not murder. You shall not murder.
  1. Neither ‘Kill’ nor ‘Murder’ shall be construed to mean any of the following:
    1. Any of the 41 different loopholes listed in the Bible
    2. Legally execute
    3. Summarily execute
    4. Kill in the course of a war
    5. Kill in the course of “freedom fighting” (however, killing in the course of “terrorism” shall still be considered killing)
    6. Kill pre-emptively in self-defemce
    7. Kill for looking ‘suspicious’
    8. Kill by denying health care or medical assistance

V: Honouring one’s Parents

King James Bible New Living Translation Bible English Standard Bible
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you. Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
  1. ‘Honor’ shall not be construed to include any of the following:
    1. Disparagement of differing religious or politcal views
    2. Inaccurate accusations of senility
    3. Patronising behaviour
    4. Anything that may be necessary to secure one’s inheritance.

IV: Keeping the Sabbath Holy

King James Bible New Living Translation Bible English Standard Bible
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
  1. ‘Work’ shall not be construed to mean any of the following:
    1. Shmoozing
    2. Networking
    3. Politicking
    4. Ceremonial duties
    5. Emergency services
    6. Military services
  2. Also, due to the absolute impossibility of actually doing it, just go ahead and ignore the bit about livestock.

III: Taking God’s Name in Vain

King James Bible New Living Translation Bible English Standard Bible
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. You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
  1. ‘In vain’ shall not include:
    1. Exclaiming
    2. Swearing
    3. Cussing
    4. Invoking his name to support any course of action
    5. Praying insincerely
    6. Assigning his Vengeance as the cause of any event
    7. Insulting remarks about anyone else’s faith
    8. Insulting remarks about anyone else’s lack of faith

II: No Graven Images

King James Bible New Living Translation Bible English Standard Bible
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected — even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
  1. ‘Idol’ shall not be construed to mean any of the following:
    1. Anyone on ‘American Idol’
    2. Anyone on the ‘Idol’ franchise in any other nation
    3. Billy Idol
  2. ‘Likeness’ shall not be construed to mean any of the following:
    1. Image
    2. Picture
    3. Painting
    4. Photograph
    5. Motion picture
    6. Video recording
    7. Audio recording

I: No Other Gods

King James Bible New Living Translation Bible English Standard Bible
Thou shalt have no other gods before me. You must not have any other god but me. You shall have no other gods before me.
  1. Unless those gods are one or more of the following:
    1. The Baby Jesus
    2. Saint Mary
    3. Santa Claus
    4. Mammon
    5. The Free Market
    6. Political power
    7. Expediency
    8. Pride
  2. It is also quite acceptable to have other gods:
    1. After me
    2. Beside me
    3. Below me
    4. In addition to me, but in a clearly subordinate posiion
  3. It is also acceptable to blur the lines between 1 & 2, above

The Annotated Ten Commandments: an Introduction

I’m sure it’s occurred to many people that the Ten Commandments are honoured far more in the breach than in the observance. And understand, I’m giving all non-Christians and non-Jews a pass on this. If you do not profess a faith that in some way partakes of the dubious wisdom of the Pentateuch, it only makes sense that you would ignore the Ten Commandments. I mean, you probably still think that killing people isn’t such a great idea, but the other nine are likely more negotiable.

It’s just that it often seems to me that those who most loudly talk about the Ten Commandments seem to have a great deal of trouble understanding them – and even more trouble obeying them. But this doesn’t stop them from wanting to shove the Commandments down everyone else’s throats. Methinks they doth profess too much.

Starting tomorrow, and for the next nine weeks, I’ll be providing annotated versions of the Ten Commandments, each of them expanded to include the many, many apparent caveats, exceptions and loopholes that the Commandments seem to possess in actual practice. It should be a lot of fun (unless you’re a member of one of the relevant faiths, in which case, no, I’m sorry, it won’t be very much fun at all).

This work is dedicated to the two organisations that have done the most to inspire it: the Catholic Church of Rome, Italy, and the Republican Party of Washington, USA.

Batman: Holy Terror Annotations

By Alan Brennert & Norm Breyfogle

Front Cover –
Batman’s pose and lighting are reminiscent of his slightly different costume in this alternate world. Likewise, the American flag is different – instead of showing the 50 stars, it shows a modified and warlike Christian cross.

Page Four –
Gotham City in Holy Terror is stilled called Gotham Towne. In the mainstream DC Universe, it became Gotham City at some point during the 19th century. Other differences include the much greater use of gargoyles, religious statuary and stained-glass windows.
The text makes it quite clear why this is so – the America of Holy Terror is a virtual Theocracy, run by the Church, and all of this is due to the survival of Oliver Cromwell in September 1658 – in the real world (and in the DC Universe) he succumbed to his illness on September 3rd of that year. In Holy Terror, it seems that he survived, and more, that the state he set up survived into the 20th century. Despite all this there seems to have been little change to the world geo-political picture. The only real exceptions are that England still has its Empire – and that America is still a part of it, there never having been a revloutionary war.

Page Five –
Panel One – note the multitude of statues of angels.
Panel Two – the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne, as it occurred in this world
Panels Three to Five – Introducing Jim Gordon, Inquisitor. It seems clear that the Inquisitors are the police force of this world – note the wigs they wear, very similar to those still worn by barristers and judges in the English legal system even today. The name Inquisitor also calls the mind the Holy Inquisition, a sad chapter in European history in which thousands of innocents were tortured and even executed by the Church for supposed heresies. (This is not to say that there were not real heretics at the time – but their numbers were greatly exaggerated by the Inquisition.) In this world, rather than being contemporaries, there is a generation dividing James Gordon and Brcue Wayne.

Page Six –
Although Bruce’s parents were still murdered by Joseph Chill, in Holy Terror, the killing was a state-sponsored execution rather than a random street crime. Ugly. But just like in the DC Universe, Jim Gordon struggles against the corruption of his superiors, although with less success. His wife is still named Barbara, also.
Coventry is the name of the prison Chill was being held in – no doubt this derives from the original Coventry, a town in England. (This is also the origin of the phrase “sent to Coventry” meaning “to ostracize”, and dates from Cromwell’s uprising – the inhabitants of Coventry refused to have anything to do with the rebellion.)

Page Seven –
Introducing Victoria (Vickie) Vale – in the DC Universe, a photojournalist and sometime romantic interest of Bruce Wayne. Once again, she has gravitated towards a career in News – although television rather than newspapers. Note also her manner of dress – this is a vastly more conservative America than we are used to.
Panel One – General North is presumably the analogue of Colonel Oliver North – the man at the centre of the Irangate scandal some years ago. The fact that he is a hero to the State of this world is another indication of the corruption of the State. He seems to be involved in an imperialist attempt to subjugate all of America under the Covenant Nations.
Panel Two – more details on the “Manifest Destiny” of America as seen in this world. The picture is a visual reference to the famous picture taken by Joe Rosenthal showing a group of US troops raising the standard on the island of Iwo Jima during World War Two.
Panel Three – Oliver Queen, the man who was the original Green Arrow in the DC Universe, is clearly just as heroic in this reality. Here, he pays the ultimate price for his battle against censorship. (His supposed recanting of his heresies is almost certainly false, and merely state propaganda. Oliver Queen in the DC Universe was incapable of backing down from his ideals, and it seems unlikely this version of him would be any different.) Isaac Singer – better known as Isaac Bashevis Singer, is the author of several novels, notably The Golem, The Slave; and Enemies: A Love Story. His works were often considered to be pornographic at the time they were written, and were once on the banned books index in the United States – although clearly there is a racist element to this as well.
Panel Four – It seems likely that Plymouth is the analogue of Washington DC – note the similar but different architecture of the Congress building. The rights of women and non-white races are clearly lagging way behind the real world under the Church.
Panel Five – Lord Protector Maleville is the head of state. The first Lord Protector was Oliver Cromwell himself – it seems that his successors have retained the title, just as they did in the real world. (In the real world, the only other Lord Protector was Oliver’s son, Richard, who proved to be no good at the task, and was soon replaced by Charles II, the very king his father had deposed) It is interesting that ‘Maleville’ is somewhat bastardized Latin for ‘evil town’ or ‘evil city’ – a fair description of this Gotham or the mainline universe one.

Page Eight –
Even Wayne Manor is different – like the rest of Gotham, its architecture is like that of a gothic cathedral. Note in particular the Christian iconography in Panel Two.
Panel Three – Alfred Pennyworth, the long-suffering butler of Bruce Wayne, does something here that it took him nearly sixty years to do in the mainstream universe. He leaves his post, although not without good reason.

Page Nine –
Panel One: The line in my father’s house are many mansions is a biblical reference, as befits a man of the cloth. The reference is to John 14:2.
Panel Five: This room has very different architecture from the rest of the house – there are batlike demons on the crossbeams, and a collection of suits of armour reminiscent of that seen in the 1989 Batman movie. From right to left they are: A Medieval Knight, A Samurai, an unidentified figure holding a sword, Bruce himself (silhouetted by the doorway), another unidentified figure (or possibly two figures), what appears to be the Riot Armour of a modern cop, and a Roman Centurion.

Page Ten –
Panel One: once again, Christian imagery adorns the walls of Bruce’s gymnasium. As he notes, it is a dead end that he has abandoned – which presumably is why the swimming pool is empty of water.

Page Eleven –
Panel One – this is a nice turnabout. More often, in the mainstream Bat comics, it’s Jim who doesn’t hear Bruce entering (or leaving).
Panel Six – Jim’s posture is not unlike that of any man confessing his sins to a priest. Interestingly, the two pictures on the wall behind him are far more clearly defined in this panel, and are recognizably (on the left) Christ praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, and (on the right) the Crucifixion of Christ. These neatly sum up Jim’s moods on this page – in Gethsemane, Christ prayed that he would not have to suffer as God required of him, but was refused, and emerged set in his purpose and determined to see it to its end. That end was his arrest and Crucifixion, where he sacrificed himself for the good of others. Here we see Jim sacrifice the love of Bruce in order that Bruce know the truth.

Page Twelve –
Panels Two and Three – the ‘counter-repoductive activities’ that the Waynes were convicted of, and the manner of their trial and punishment are remiscent of (if much more severe than) the Communist witch-hunt led by HUAC in the US during the 1950’s.
Panel Six – the revelation that Gordon has collaborated with this brutal regime (and acts now only to salve his conscience) is a shocking one. Clearly, the James Gordon of this world is not as unbendingly idealistic as the one we know.

Page Thirteen –
This whole page is flashbacks, with the text coming from the diaries of Thomas Wayne.
Panel One – McNider, as we are about to see, is Dr. Charles McNider, better known as Doctor Mid-Nite.
Panel Two – another example of the Covenant’s perversion of Christian ideals. While Christianity has usually derided homosexuals as sinners, Nazi-style concentration camps are another thing altogether.

Page Fourteen –
Panel Two – Charles McNider in the DC Universe was the Golden Age Doctor Mid-Nite. In the world we know, he was blinded by criminals in retribution for his attempts to expose them. Here, the State was responsible. It is unclear whether he developed the same power of darkness vision in this world.
Panel Six – This McNider also has the burn scars around his eyes from his blinding.

Page Fifteen –
Panel Two – Alan Scott was also the Golden Age Green Lantern. In the DC Universe, he ran the Gotham Broadcasting Company, a radio (and later television) network based in Gotham City. Carter and Shiera are Carter Hall and Shiera Sanders, the Golden Age Hawkman and Hawkwoman, and were indeed archaeologists. Rex Tyler was the Golden Age Hourman, and a chemist of some note.
Panel Four – it seems that this world also had a Second World War, although one assumes that it went very differently, considering that America would have been involved a lot earlier in the war.
Panel Six – the first mention of the mysterious Green Man. The obvious suspects are the Martian Manhunter or Swamp Thing, both of whom are green, and man-like.
Panel Eight – Myra McNider was Charles’ wife in the DC Universe as well, although it seems that she came to a sadder end here. The implication is that she was killed by agents of the State also.

Page Sixteen –
As unlikely as it may seem, the Bruce Wayne of this world is not merely righteous, but also religious. Although implied in many places before this, it is only here that we discover that Bruce’s quest for inner peace led him into the holy orders.

Page Seventeen –
Panel One: A classic Batman pose, and shadow.
Panel Two: Bishop Judson Caspian is clearly a mentor figure to Bruce. Ironically, in the DC Universe, Judson Caspian was a vigilante named The Reaper, who tangled with Green Lantern during the fifties, then returned to plague Batman in his second year of crimefighting. At that point, Bruce was dating Judson’s daughter Rachel. After Judson’s unmasking and apparent death, Rachel became a nun to atone for her father’s crimes. (For more details, see Batman: Year Two; Batman: Full Circle and Secret Origins #50)
Panel Four – The Batcave, of course.
Panel Five – In the DC Universe, some accounts state that Thomas Wayne wore the Bat costume to a fancy dress party years befor his death. His wearing in the role of demon for a church passion play is deliciously ironic. (A passion play is a stylized theatrical event held by a church to illustrate some biblical truth or virtue. They have largely fallen out of favour today, but were very popular during Cromwell’s, when they were the only legal form of theatre.)

Page Eighteen –
Panel One – The name Lemuel Brown has no particular significance that I am aware of.
Panel Six – As Brown points out, this is Scripture – Galatians 6:7 to be precise. This same quote was also the inspiration for the modus operandi and costumed identity of the Reaper.

Page Nineteen –
Panels One and Two – a continuation of the quote from the previous page.
Panel Four – A Star Chamber is a secret court, much as described above. They are generally illegal – and very effective.

Page Twenty-Three –
Panel One – introducing Barry Allen, better known as the Silver Age Flash. He has the same powers as his counterpart in the DC Universe – and the same dress sense (the Flash’s costume is also red with gold highlights).
Panel Five – The first mention of Erdel. Dr Saul Erdel, in the DC Universe, was responsible for experiments in matter transmission that resulted in the accidental teleportaton of J’Onn J’Onzz, the Manhunter from Mars, to Earth.

Page Twenty-Four –
Panel Three – Barry’s origin is largely the same in this world.

Page Twenty-Seven –
The horrific truth about Saul Erdel’s experiments is revealed. Panel Six – Yet another biblical quote – this one’s from Matthew 25:36. And Arthur is…

Page Twenty-Eight –
Panel One – Arthur Curry, better known in the DC Universe as Aquaman. Here, as in the regular comics, the Flash was the first other superhero he met.

Page Twenty-Nine –
Panel One – Presumably, this Lori is Lori Lemaris, a distant relative of Aquaman, and a mer-woman. She was also the love interest of Superman, who is becoming more conspicuous by his absence with each passing page.

Page Thirty –
Panel One – Zatanna Zatara, sorceress and ally of both Batman and the Flash in the DC Universe, has a different and altogether nastier aspect in this universe. Her costume resembles a modified version of her lesser-known costume in the main universe. And she still speaks backwards to cast spells.
Panel Two – Looks like Barry managed to get a fair bit of practice at using his speed before they busted him.
Panel Four – The Salem Witch Trials were an infamous incident in early American colonial history, in which several women were burnt at the stake after being convicted of witchcraft.

Page Thirty-One –
Panel Four – Get the impression that Old Testament style justice is a big thing in this world? Barry did kill once in the DC Universe (to prevent the murder of his second wife by the guy who murdered the first one), but as a last resort, and without threats.

Page Thirty-Four –
Panel One – Dr Saul Erdel, and like Zatanna, not at all improved by the differences in this world’s history.
Panel Four – Barry (and other super-speedsters) project a small aura that protects them from the effects of the friction they generate by moving at the speeds they do. Remove that aura, and they burn. Iris is the wife Barry mentioned earlier, and is presumably the same Iris as in the DC Universe.

Page Thirty-Five –
Panel Two – Batman’s pain and tears seem quite intense. It seems that the Batman of this world is not as cold and withdrawn as his grim and gritty counterpart.
Panel Three – That’s what I said.
Panel Four – One of Batman’s greatest abilities is the way he makes everyone else assume that he’s superhuman. Somehow, being over-estimated always seems to work to his advantage.
Panel Five and Six – Matt Hagen, known to the regular DC Universe as Clayface (the second of five villains to bear that name, and the first one to die).

Page Thirty-Six –
Panel Three – This does appear to be Metamorpho in the holding cell. Funny – I was expecting him to be one of the radioactive subjects…
Panel Five – Erdel abandoned his experiments in matter transmission? But in that case, who is the Green Man?

Page Thirty-Seven –
Panel One – The Green Man – dead, and in a pose that suspiciously resembles that of the crucified Christ.
Panel Two – ‘A God-fearing couple in Kansas’ would no doubt be John and Martha Kent, doing (as always) what they believe to be the right thing. Unfortunately, in this world, the authorities are not worthy of their trust.
Panel Three – The Green Man, clearly, is Superman.
Panel Four – The Kryptonite poisoning no doubt accounts for Kal-El’s green hue. (This whole page is highly reminiscent of the scene in The Dark Knight Returns where Batman compares the ‘lesson’ his parents; death taught to the one Superman’s parents taught him.)

Page Thirty-Eight –
Panel One – Somehow, Batman has an inkling of how easily Superman could have saved the world – and what a fine world it would have been.
Panel Two – As in our world, it is senseless death that is the catalyst for the origin of Batman. Raging and struggling against injustice has always been part of Batman’s character.

Page Forty –
Panel Two – Although Erdel didn’t list them all, bullet-proof skin is one of Superman’s powers.
Panel Three – Kal-El avenges his own death via a lucky ricochet.
Panel Five – Again, Bruce sheds a tear…
Panel Six – And then smiles, as he sees God’s Hand in all of this.

Page Forty-Four –
Panel One – One more biblical quote, but fair enough – Bruce is holding services here. The quotation is: John 11:25
Panel Two – And he’s smiling. His mission may lay mostly ahead of him, but he is at peace with himself.
Panel Five – The religious iconography throughout this book now takes on a new sense, as Bruce himself gets a halo. Hmmm, Saint Batman?

Pages Forty-Five and Six –
Nice to see the Batmobile, after everything else. A jihad is a ‘holy war’ – which is a most appropriate description of the task Bruce has set himself.

Page Forty-Seven –
Fortunately, this particular Elseworlds tradition, that of harking back to the main universe explicitly, was soon discontinued.