Is the Bull Good?
God who brings him out of Egypt,
is like the horns of a wild ox for him;
he shall devour the nations that are his foes
and break their bones.
He shall strike with his arrows.
Then take all the fat on the internal organs, the long lobe of the liver, and both kidneys with the fat on them, and burn them on the altar. But burn the bull’s flesh and its hide and its intestines outside the camp. It is a sin offering
Sitting in the cab of the F-100 pickup truck, watching my grandpa with the whip, the phrase “The Bull is Good” did not occur to me.
But if it had, here would have been my evaluation of it.
“The Bull” clearly exists. The definition of a bull — what a bull is — is an adult male Bos taurus. The white charolais standing on the gravel might be wished away through some metaphysical definition of “is” — but the act of bull that had led us to that road, led my grandpa to the whip and me to the horn — was unarguable except by the obstinate.
Likewise, the Bull clearly had the capacity to be good, of having a right or desirable quality, at least in the context of himself. The pride, strength, and anger of his design – the protectiveness and the adventure of it — was unmistakable. The bull’s actions weren’t random. There was a design.
Nor was the question if the unhuman way in which the bull was “good” – the alien conception of motivation and drive that led the fence to crash before him – the human conception of good. The bull stood naked, with no shelter or work or history – and was unconcerned with these. “Is the bull good in a human way?” might even be a meaningless question, for it is not certain if a bull could even be human.
Rather, the question is “is the bull good in an inhuman way?” Is the manner in which he crafts the clay under his feet into a path and speaks the the fear into my heart through his nostrils inhuman? He — if not this white charolais, one indistinguishable to it to the seven year old in that pickup — had crippled others like my grandfather. Perhaps he would take away the one I love now.
But I’d seen the calves that were his offspring. I’d seen the way — at a distance, but with the design clear – he had watched as he entered my grandparents (his??) pasture. He was a good cowherd. At least, to his own bullish morality.
Now, what if the Bull’s Calf had come to me, and, like Balaam’s donkey, opened its mouth?
What if the Calf had said, “Love one another, as I have loved you“?
What if He then said, “I have more to say, but you cannot bear it now.”
What if the Bull told the Calf to walk down a garden path. But at the end of the path was not flowers but a dead tree. Not a feedlot but a slaughterhouse.
What if Calf then said, ‘My Bull, my Bull, why have You abandoned Me?”
What if then he was taken to a kosher butcher who followed the law, pierced His slides while the blood drained out, propped Him onto a meat hook, and prepared the Calf into Veal?
What if, after three days, the Veal had once more become the Calf. True Bos taurus from true bos taurus. And the Calf said, “Did not the one on which cooking oil was poured have to suffer these things, to enter into His glory?”
(I don’t know. Why did He?)
(Because the Bull willed it.)
Is the Bull good?