Reading the Tenth Commandment

by Anniel4/21/17
All of us who are parents and grandparents like to collect and remember  the funny, wise or profound comments of the children in our families. Sometimes one child will be the pronouncer of all things we want to repeat. This week that honor goes to the 8-year-old son of our oldest daughter. His name is Milo.

Milo was recently chosen to be the Student of the Year in his second grade class. The other students were invited to explain why they voted for him and the consensus was that he is “the sharpest knife in the drawer.”

He loves to read and apparently is very good at math, and remembers odd facts at random.

This week a family that has a son in Milo’s Sunday School and regular school class came to visit and and talk turned to the Ten Commandments. All of the children were being good and participating in the discussion, when out of nowhere Milo said: “I hear that Latin is a dead language.” Which was kind of strange and stopped the conversation for a few minutes. But that’s the kind of factoid Milo often tosses out.

The adults then continued their discussion and said they wished they had some cues to help them remember the Commandments in order. Milo suddenly decided he wanted to read the Tenth Commandment aloud because he thought it was important. And so he read as follows:

“Thou shalt not convert thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not convert thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s.”

His mother says they were all trying hard not to laugh, both because of the mistaken word readings, but also because of the look on Milo’s face when he saw the word “ass.” She says he blushed and looked shocked but dropped his eyes to the ground and forged bravely ahead. When he finished she says he kept his eyes down and apologized for saying a “bad” word, but “that’s what the bible says.”

Then one of the adults gently told him, “Actually, I think we do want to convert our neighbor’s wife, and probably our neighbor and all his friends, too. But we don’t want to covet or take anything of our neighbor’s. You don’t need to worry about the word “ass” though, it’s  just another name for a “donkey.”

Milo understands the difference between “convert” and “covet” now, but told his mom and dad he’s still not going to use the “bad” word, even if it is in the bible.

God bless all the sweet children. I’m going to try and be better about my bad words, too. Maybe that’s one of the apple seeds we need to cultivate in our debased society today. • (1217 views)

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19 Responses to Reading the Tenth Commandment

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    It was only on the third reading of Milo’s recitation of the 10th Commandment that I saw his Archie Bunkerism of “convert” for “covet.” Love it.

    Bad words have their place among adults in private. In public, it’s more problematic. What is it here at ST? A bit in between.

    I’ve always been a “sticks and stones” type of person, Annie, especially now when hurt feelings are so often contrived. If you say something and someone has a right to be hurt or offended, then it’s time to apologize. But I don’t walk on eggshells regarding words such as “ass.”

    That said, what bothers me about bad words is not how they upset other people. It’s that use of such words degrade ourselves. I was thinking about Tim’s opiode article and trying to find the words to counter the Libertarian argument that drugs ought to be legal and plentiful. And I’ll skip past the argument of government for now because I certainly do agree that not everything that we shouldn’t do should be illegal.

    One of the most amazing bits of engineering that we know of is the human brain. And it’s not that other animal brains aren’t fascinating as well. It’s amazing what some insects can do with a brain the size of a mustard seed (and that was not a jab at Nancy Pelosi). This human brain, in particular, is a great gift and we ought not to treat it like a house-of-mirrors. It is one of our most prized possessions…or ought to be.

    Let’s all convert a good book instead of converting all that cell-wasting vapid text messaging of sweet, vacuous nothings. For a start.

    And way to go, Milo. Looking forward to your first Haiku that your grandmother can publish here.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    There’s a story of a writer who confused the words “burro” and “burrow” (probably using the former when the latter was appropriate). He was advised that he couldn’t tell his ass from a hole in the ground.

    I usually just give the commandment as “You shall not covet anything that is your neighbor’s.”

  3. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    This reminds me of a German professor’s story about one of his students who was very religious. The young man had difficulty saying the German word Esel (ass as in jackass) before he finally figured out that it was not a crude word for one’s posterior.

  4. Anniel says:

    I just found Milo’s bunkerism so funny. And I could see his face all puckered up over a word that would embarrass him. And I wish my bad words and thoughts were that clean. But the filth that drips, when every other word describes people in such degrading terms, I get a little upset with that.

    I’ll have to teach Milo how to do Haiku, I think he would learn it quickly.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:


      I know one of your sons speaks the language, but I don’t recall if you ever mentioned whether or not you were part Hungarian. Will a name like Milo, I feel there is some Hunk there somewhere.

      By chance, I was very close to some Hungarians and their immediate circle of family and friends. I first met them in 1973. Sadly, the last person of that group died on Monday.

      • Anniel says:

        We have no actual Hungarian ancestors, although Finnish and Hungarian are part of the same linguistic group, and during the 1956 uprising my father could translate for us faster than the translators on TV. Our son studied both modern and ancient Hungarian and has worked translating from both.

        Too sad your friends have died out.

        One bad thing not well known is that Hungary has become an extremely anti-Semitic country. Our son had a few Jewish friends, including the best Hurdygurdy maker, who have had to leave the country because they were being stopped from working. Sad.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I read an article the other day on the 91-year-old Dick van Dyke lamenting the vulgarity of today’s TV. Yikes. How far we have fallen. What a great man, though.

      • Anniel says:

        I read that, too. Nice that he spoke out.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I like Dick Van Dyke. I cherish Dick Van Dyke as a great piece of modern Americana. And can anyone be all bad if P.L. Travers didn’t like him in Mary Poppins?

          But I was reading his bio at He’s about as liberal as liberal can be. A huge advocate for Bernie Sanders and LGBT rights.

          But as Mr. Kung would say, life is complicated. He was apparently a bible-believing man and one who taught bible study (and had a host of real jobs, hardly born with a silver spoon in his mouth) when he was young. And according to this brief bio, Van Dyke was chosen by Walt Disney for his role in Mary Poppins because:

          I thought Walt Disney hired me because I was such a great singer and dancer. As it turns out, he had heard me in an interview talking about what was happening to family entertainment. I was decrying the fact that it seemed like no holds were barred anymore in entertainment . . . That’s why he called me in, because I said something he agreed with. And I got the part.

          So, much like liberal David Brooks, he remains ignorant of the very causes of the things that he dislikes.

          Are we complicated here at StubbornThings? Yes. As they say, God has a permissive Will. And the last thing I want to be is a bunkered-down JW type saying that the world will come to an end at such-and-such a date, decrying everything, and then seeing that life still goes on.

          We here at StubbornThings, I would argue, are not wound too tightly (at least I hope not) and have a pragmatic permissive will of our own. We can appreciate the talent of Barbra Streisand as a singer (perhaps as an actor as well) without the need to denigrate or deny these talents just because she’s a political loon.

          There but for the (stumbling) grace of God go I. (I still laugh every time I see that.) If I was a successful entertainer and ran in those circles, I might partake of the Religion of Leftism as my worldview.

          The failure of what we could generously call Van Dyke’s liberalism is to assume that the principle of Kumbaya is complex and rich enough to rule a society. It is not. Society is made of sheep and wolves, therefore we need shepherds as well. Good vibes and convivial, back-slapping “niceness” is not a replacement for maintaing the pillars of civilization. Van Dyke on some level understood this because his brief bio at IMDB mentions that bringing back the Production Code (censoring Hollywood’s vulgarity) might be a good thing.

          It might be. Better yet would be Dick Van Dyke and others speaking out against bad films and promoting good ones. He was a strange man in many ways. He admitted that he turned down the lead role in “The Omen” because of the blood and gore. (Good move, Dick.) And yet later (liberals always regret not having it all) regrets that he did.

          In his entertainment career, I can’t think of an instance where he played anything but a fun-loving or wholesome character. How odd, then, that he was blind to the unwholesomeness and vulgarity facilitated by his liberal views. But then life is indeed complicated. We can love the man despite his flaws. We all have them in some degree.

          • Anniel says:

            I love that we are all allowed our eccentricities and flaws, even our spelling errors. The Bear and I have been playing a game with language lately, trying to see how many meanings we can get out of one word, and remembering how we spoke and read to our children. Trying to remember a time when I knew the songs I sang while they were in the womb and how they cuddled up after they were born when I sang those songs.

            Life is a wonderful gift with lots of clues along the way, if our hearts and minds are open. That’s why I love this site. I can learn so much here.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Regarding spelling errors, most of mine are caused by auto-correction in my word processor. That’s another way of saying, “It’s never my fault.” According to Emerson, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Remember that should I ever altar the meaning of a word.

              I used to play a lot of word-game apps on my Android tablet. You’d be presented with, say, a 4-by-4 square grid of random letters and then see how many words you could find. It’s amazing how many there can be…and how easy it is to miss them.

              I don’t know if these would be good womb songs, but in the bio of Van Dyke it mentioned an album he made that was quite popular for the time: Songs I Like. (Here’s a track listing.)

              P.S. I found a good mono recording of this on eBay for $11.00 including shipping. The surface of the vinyl looked good from the photo. Unless it’s total crap, I’ll digitize it and then host a track or two.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Emerson’s quote comes from his essay “Self Reliance”, which as it happens we had in high school. His basic point was that one should be ready to change one’s mind to accommodate new evidence, and was thus a criticism of dogmatism.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                According to Emerson, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

                So that’s who Churchill stole it from!

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                Sounds like a good criticism of dogmatism, Timothy. And yet, whether I misapplied it or not, how often have we seen these sayings used simply to try to de-legitimize the existing order? Think of the popular liberal slogan, “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism” which doesn’t apply in regards to dissenting from liberals.

                But I’m sure Emerson wasn’t of this type, right? I actually have no idea. But poets should be distrusted as a matter of course, in my opinion.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            So one might reasonably compare Dick Van Dyke to Steve Allen — a liberal, but a civil one who respected decency. Such people are genuine liberals rather than radical leftists, but fail to see that leftism has taken over and corrupted liberalism. Still, in Hollywood, one has to take what one can get.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Hey, I can sympathize with Dick Van Dyke. It’s hard, if not impossible now, to carve out a conservative space in the current universe of RINOs and Trumpism. Imagine some “liberal” trying to do so in a cause that has (of course) followed its natural course and is becoming oppressive.

              No doubt Van Dyke ran into a couple Dickensian hobgoblins in his formative years (although he was born in Missouri). It’s easy to run into a bad boss, a criminal with a gun, a racist, etc., and then fall for the Utopian feel-good lie that such things are, of course, calling cards of “the right.”

              Dennis Prager notes the heavy prejudice that Jews have to this big, bad “right.” It is passed on in mother’s milk.

              Let’s assume for sake of argument that Dick Van Dyke is an honest and decent bloke who believes, for whatever reason, that “conservative” is just a code word for exploitation, racism, etc., and that therefore its opposition (“liberalism”) is then, by definition, all sunshine, unicorns, and rainbows. Once these assumptions are made, the confirmation bias (and back-slapping liberal buddies such as Ed Asner) may make it very difficult to question those assumptions.

              Van Dyke could be described as yet another decent man trying to carve out a nice-guy space inside a cause he does not really understand, very similar to what Russell Kirk noted in that famous article by Mr. Kung regarding naive notions of libertarianism:

              “But surely, surely I must be misrepresenting the breed? Don’t I know self-proclaimed libertarians who are kindly old gentlemen, God-fearing, patriotic, chaste, well endowed with the good of fortune? Yes, I do know such. They are the people who through misapprehension put up the cash for the fantastics. Such gentlemen call themselves “libertarians” merely because they believe in personal freedom, and do not understand to what extravagances they lend their names by subsidizing doctrinaire “libertarian” causes and publications. If a person describes himself as “libertarian” because he believes in an enduring moral order, the Constitution of the United States, free enterprise, and old American ways of life—why, actually he is a conservative with imperfect understanding of the general terms of politics.

              We might cheer the good intentions of Dick Van Dyke. But we might question his wisdom in regards to his methods and associations.

              A conservative is not surprised that when you light a match (oooh…but it’s such a small thing) to a bale of hale that soon the entire barn will be on fire.

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Speaking of Dick Van Dyke and the Tenth Commandment (don’t those two just naturally go together?), I received this morning via USPS the 33-1/3 vinyl recording of Dick Van Dykes’s “Songs I Like.” The very good news is that the vinyl itself looks good. I’m playing it now and it seem nearly flawless.

    The first track is a nice rendition of “Nice Work if You Can Get It.” Van Dyke will never replace Sinatra, and yet there is a freshness about the song that I like.

    The second track, “Easy Street,” is okay but nothing particularly memorable. These may be songs he likes but that one I’m lukewarm about.

    The third track is “Put On a Happy Face” which is just the kind of song that suits Van Dyke’s persona. And it has some nice orchestration with it. The production values certainly seem adequate.

    The fourth track is “Walking and Whistlin’ Blues.” I can’t recall hearing this song before. I wouldn’t say that Van Dyke’s voice is the best. But his vocal stylings on this seem fresh, genuine, and creative. This should not be considered a “novelty star vanity” album as is typically done. That doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate, say, the truly awful voice of Leonard Nimoy as he sings Bilbo Baggins, a charming little number. Van Dyke, as a singer, is not a novelty act. He could be considered on the mid-to-upper-tier of all-around-entertainers entering the field of singing. (Conversely, Julie Andrews was an A+ singer who, as an actress, was adequate here and there, even outstanding in “The Sound of Music.”)

    The fifth track is “Baby Won’t You Please Come Home.” I didn’t find anything particularly pleasing about either this song or Van Dyke’s rendition. Forgettable. [Edit: On second listening, it sort of grows on you.]

    The sixth track is “Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home.” A nice song and rendition. I’m sure I’ve heard this song before. It’s sort of a standard, right? But I don’t specifically recall it.

    The last track on the first side (remember when recordings had “sides”?) is “Ain’t We Got Fun.” This is another verging-on-saccharine Van Dyke Up-With-Peoplesque positive song. Okay, I find this song a little schmaltzy and this rendition is, to my ear, a bit of a throw-away.

    All in all, this is more than worth the 11.99 (including shipping) that I paid for it. And I lucked out that the vinyl (at least on side one…haven’t listened to side two yet) is in near mint condition.

    I’ve selected track 4 (“Walking and Whistlin’ Blues”) as the one to upload and share first. Although “Nice Work if You Can Get It” is the other outstanding track, I think this blues number is particularly good. And, unlike that other song, I haven’t heard it a hundred times (although can anyone ever get tired of Sinatra’s 1957 version?)

    When I get a chance, I may upload Van Dyke’s version of this classic as well. For now, here is: Walking and Whistlin’ Blues in downloadable mp3 format (128 bps mono).

    Side Two

    Track 7: “They All Laughed.” This is definitely a sort of novelty song. And yet I’d never heard it before. It’s fresh and certainly a product for it’s time. It might be difficult for denuded ears to appreciate simple charm. But I found this song to be sweet without being saccharine.

    Track 8: “Wives and Lovers.” A few small cracks and pops on this track. Nothing that couldn’t be taken care of in software. Generally, a nice song, this one featuring Van Dyke’s baritone range which he pulls off rather well. He sings it straight, but not without personality. Overall, a satisfying song.

    Track 9: “Lazybones.” This is certainly an old standard (1933, by Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael, inspired by Mercer spotting a loafing Carmichael…they went right to the piano in his apartment and finished in twenty minutes) that I’m sure many of you are familiar with. Van Dyke has a nice version of it.

    Track 10: “My Baby Just Cares for me.” Like much of this album, this has a Nelson Riddle-ish big-band, big-horn sound. This track is no different. In that sense, I like the horns a little more than the actual song. But it works because, at the end of the day, it has that Van Dyke charm.

    Track 11: “When You Want ‘Em You Can’t Get ‘Em, When You’ve Got ‘Em, You Don’t Want ‘Em.” Not sure what the “‘em” is. If the song was as good as the title is long, it would great. But it’s okay. Good filler.

    Track 12: “I’ve Got a Crush on You.” I think this song, most of all, is stretching Van Dyke’s ability to croon-out a classic without it being swamped by his style and persona. I’ll have to listen to this again. I think it’s right on the edge.

    Overall, I like this album. (Here is another opinion). I wasn’t expecting a comedy album (as this other review seems to expect). I agree with this other review that the high production values certainly work to bolster his singing. But I think his more-or-less straight take on these songs (with only very little of his schtick thrown in) works. That’s likely why this album was a hit at the time.

    The album is fairly tight, certainly wholesome, and yet not boring. This harkens back to an earlier day when music’s purpose was to enliven and entertain, not burden one with guilt (aka “social justice”) or pretend at saying something more important and “creative” by doubling down on profanity and vulgarity.

    I consider my own ear very well trained to be able to assess this music for its time and as it was meant to be. I’m glad I bought this.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      As it happens, right now I’m playing the sound track to Bye Bye Birdie, which features Dick Van Dyke and includes “Put on a Happy Face”. When that came on, I thought of this discussion. I would add that “Kids” would also be worth including, though it’s more Paul Lynde (another fine comedian) than Dick Van Dyke.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Nice coincidence. And glad you’re not rotting your mind on, say, rap music. There’s an idea. Dick Van Dyke does Gangsta Rap.

        Not. I’m listening again to side one of “Songs I like.” He’s actually a little better singer than I give him credit for…or remember. Probably about Fred Astaire quality.

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