The Making of a Pagan
The little tow-headed boy is sitting cross-legged on the living room floor, watching TV. Showing—because it’s Holy Week—is C. B. de Mille’s epic kitsch-fest The Ten Commandments.
The film is unrelentingly grim. Oh the slavery! Oh the plagues! Oh the suffering!
Suddenly, the mood changes. The Children of Israel are, for once, happy. They’re dancing, they’re getting drunk, they’re grabbing each others’ asses.
They’re worshiping the Golden Calf!
That looks like fun! thinks the little boy. That’s what I want to do!
With its implications of juvenescence, “calf” is really something of a mistranslation. In Hebrew, an égel (עגל) is actually a yearling bull, newly come to maturity. The Golden Bull is a youthful god, shining with juicy adolescence.
“What the heck is that?” asks my friend.