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June 27, 2007

God to Charlton Heston: Get Off the Road

The most important news story of the year came and went last week with barely a whimper. The Vatican released the Ten Commandments of Driving, the first new commandments the Church has had since Moses sauntered down Mt. Sinai more than 3,000 years ago. The only other time the Church came close to adding another Commandment was when a fellow named Jesus introduced his Golden Rule. In the end, though, even He didn't have the political clout to get his Rule passed as a Commandment.

Apparently, the Church has really toned down the production values with these Commandments. From every video account I've seen, the original Commandments were handed down to Moses during some sort of storm at the top of a mountain. I believe a trumpet was involved, along with some excellent lighting work. God spoke ominously from a cloud and then later chiseled the commandments into stone with his own finger.

This time around, it seems like a bunch of people were in an office and started trading rush-hour horror stories and decided to do something about it. These Commandments feel like a rushed chop-job. In fact, the first one is a blatant rip-off of an original ("Thou Shall not Kill"? Certainly Thou shall get no points for originality).

Nevertheless, this is a big deal. Sure, "Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events" doesn't have the pizazz or sexiness of "Thou Shall not Covet Thy Neighbor's Wife," but the fact that the number of Commandments doubled overnight should have been a front-page story.

Any practical effect the new Commandments have comes from No. 6: "Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so." Basically, it means, "Tell old people to stop driving." See, Grandma? I told you God doesn't want you on the road! Either turn in your keys or keep driving on the Highway to Hell.

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