Is Henry’s 1st Commandment on Writing Blasphemous?

Always one to one-up Yahweh, Henry drew up his “11 Commandments on Writing.” You can read them in his book, “Henry Miller on Writing,” which, if we’re to extend the Yahweh analogy, would be the Bible.

Taking this analogy further, one has to assume that the first commandment is the most important. For Yahweh, it was “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

That’s a pretty fierce commandment, and it’s caused quite a bit of trouble throughout the years. Skeptics of Christianity, citing the Trinity, say, “Wait, how can you worship three Gods, when Yahweh explicitly says only worship me?” Back in the day, Protestant Reformationists used it to harass Catholics who worshipped saints and Mary, claiming they were dissing Yahweh.

Print of the destruction in the Church of Our Lady in Antwerp, 20 August 1566, by Frans Hogenberg[1]

And if you read Yahweh’s words closely, you’ll see he isn’t saying, “I’m the only god.” He’s saying, “Don’t worship the other gods,” which is pretty fascinating in and of itself, because it suggests the existence of other lesser competitor gods like and Baal and Asherah.

You can’t Yahweh didn’t warn us. Here he is doing his best John Lennon impression in Exodus 20:5: “You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God.”

Lastly, liberal-minded theologians may argue that “other gods” needn’t be deities. They could be ideas. Indeed, it appears that more Americans than ever are bowing down on the alter of moolah — something that wouldn’t surprise Henry.

Bottom line? The first commandment is a big deal.

So what, pray tell, is Henry’s first commandment? It’s this:

Work on one thing at a time until finished.

We’d venture to argue it’s just as contentious as Yahweh’s first commandment.

Why’s that? Simply consider, if you will, this article by David Clear. Titled, “Why You Should Work on a Million Drafts at Once, Clear argues the exact opposite of what Henry commanded! Money quote:

Instead of being a gardener who’s dedicating all their time to growing a single plant from seed to fruit-bearing tree, you’re a gardener with dozens of plants at various stages of development. And isn’t that the better way to garden?

Our answer? We don’t know – is it?

We’re not gardeners. (We Googled “best way to garden” and Better Homes and Gardens didn’t mention anything about cultivating dozens of plants at various stages of development. It did, however, say, “Protect your garden with mulch.”

We admit we’re a bit biased, but given the evidence — or lack there of — we have to side with Henry on this one.

Which reminds us: Anybody have a good inquisitor on speed dial?

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