Friday, August 1, 2014

Objectification and Foreskins


Perhaps one of the oddest forms of religious sexual objectification is the mutilation of the penis through the removal of the foreskin among Jews.  This, of course, dates back to Genesis 17:
And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.

And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, "As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.  And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God."

And God said unto Abraham, "Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.  He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant."...

...And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham's house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him.

And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son. And all the men of his house, born in the house, and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him..
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This all seems like a strange thing to do.  I know full well that religions aren't supposed to make any sense, but how silly can they get?  "Wee!  Look at us!  We don't have foreskins!  You can see the whole glans penis, like the cap of a mushroom!  We've got a covenant with Yahweh!"  I previously discussed phallic symbols in national monuments and in certain religions; and, in another one, asexual objectification.  Perhaps, in Judaism, this is a means of emphasizing the masculinity of the Jewish concept of God.  Jewish girls are not similarly marked, and apparently have no role in the Covenant.  As mentioned in a prior post, some religions do incorporate female objectification.  In Judaism, the objectification is all male.  In fact, one daily Jewish prayer formula is as follows:
Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has not made me a non-Jew.
Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has not made me a woman.
Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has not made me a servant.  

A Jewish male has only to behold his cock to be reminded of the first two lines of this little prayer.  On a fully intact penis, the glans is covered by the foreskin except when the penis is erect.


On the circumcised penis, this little symbol of the Covenant is perpetually exposed.  Jewish males thus carry a constant reminder of their godhead.  Some Christians might wear a cross as a pendant on a necklace, to objectify their religion.  All that a Jewish boy has to do is look at his dick to remind himself of his Covenant.  And, the mushroom shape (cap uncovered) remains, even when the penis is flaccid.  According to Jennifer Adele, the symbolism and cultural history surrounding the mushroom are impressive, and mushrooms "tend to symbolize male fertility and virility."  Robert Graves states that mushrooms had a profound importance in primitive religions.  Perhaps the best known and most widely distributed of the entheogenic mushrooms is Amanita muscaria, or the "fly agaric."

...In eastern Siberia, A. muscaria was used by both shamans and laypeople alike, and was used recreationally as well as religiously.  In eastern Siberia, the shaman would take the mushrooms, and others would drink his urine. This urine, still containing psychoactive elements, may be more potent than the A. muscaria mushrooms with fewer negative effects such as sweating and twitching, suggesting that the initial user may act as a screening filter for other components in the mushroom...
In Magic Mushrooms in Religion and Alchemy, Clark Heinrich sees evidence of the influence of Amanita muscaria in ancient Indian, Judaic and Christian beliefs.  Why, at the age of 99, would Abraham have imagined a conversation with God, where God told him to round up all his men and circumcise them?  It might have been the result of some sort of mushroom-induced hallucination.

To continue with the story of Abraham, Genesis 19:
And the Lord appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre, and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, And said, "My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant.

And they said, "So do, as thou hast said."

And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said," Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth." And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it. And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.

And they said unto him, "Where is Sarah thy wife?"

And he said, "Behold, in the tent."

And he said, "I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son." And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.
Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, "After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?"

And the Lord said unto Abraham, "Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, 'Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?'  Is any thing too hard for the Lord? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son."
Some may say that it was the magic of the circumcision which made it possible for Sarah to have pleasure with her 99-year-old lord once again.  Not only that, but in the very next chapter, Abimalech, the king of Gerar, was hitting on Sarah in a very serious way.  After Sarah eventually died at the age of 127, Genesis 25:
Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah. And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah....And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac. But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country.  And these are the days of the years of Abraham's life which he lived, an hundred threescore and fifteen years.
Abraham's first son was Ishmael (by Hagar).  Then, after his circumcision, from the age of 100 to 175, he sired Isaac (by his first wife, Sarah), six sons by his second wife (Keturah), and who-knows-how-many sons by who-knows-how- many concubines.  Man, that old dude could fuck.  I hope that I'll be that potent when I get to be his age.


Either it was mushrooms, or the circumcision.  Maybe Abraham's foreskin had been getting in the way.  King Solomon had a personal copulation cabinet of 700 wives and 300 concubines to service his circumcised penis.  According to Nathan Abrams, Jews account for the bulk of the male talent in pornographic films.  So, maybe it is the circumcision.  Except that most American Gentiles are also circumcised. 



Cordyceps sinensis is a mushroom species that is said to improve libido (in both men and women) and even to cure impotence.  I haven't been able to find any evidence of Amanita muscaria enhancing sexual performance, although I've been told that coitus while stoned can be quite an experience.   According to Robert Graves, the girl's line from Song of Solomon 2:
Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes
meant "Solomon must fortify his manhood with mushroom-juice laced with wine, the better to enjoy her young beauty."  According to Mr. Graves, the juice of Amanita muscaria (which still grows under the pines of Mount Tabor) can be laced with juice or wine, and the mushrooms, when dried, are fox-colored.  It seems plausible--I can't think of a better explanation for the verse, when the next line is "My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies."  She couldn't have been talking about literal foxes, any more than "he feedeth among the lilies" meant that he was out eating worms in the flower garden.  More likely, "lilies" would have been a metaphor for her labia.  So, if the mushrooms had anything to do with improving Abraham's sex life after the age of 99, then perhaps the circumcision, which rendered the penis more mushroom-shaped, was in token appreciation.
 
Of course, the Israelites/Jews are not the only tribal people to objectify their penises in ways that outsiders might find odd.  Behold, for example, these chaps from New Guinea:


And, beginning at the 24 minute mark in this video, you may behold how Zo'é men go about decorating their privy members:



Circumcision comes up again in Genesis 34:
And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land. And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her. And his soul clave unto Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the damsel, and spake kindly unto the damsel. And Shechem spake unto his father Hamor, saying, "Get me this damsel to wife."

And Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter: now his sons were with his cattle in the field: and Jacob held his peace until they were come. And Hamor the father of Shechem went out unto Jacob to commune with him. And the sons of Jacob came out of the field when they heard it: and the men were grieved, and they were very wroth, because he had wrought folly in Israel in lying with Jacob's daughter: which thing ought not to be done.
And Hamor communed with them, saying, "The soul of my son Shechem longeth for your daughter: I pray you give her him to wife. And make ye marriages with us, and give your daughters unto us, and take our daughters unto you. And ye shall dwell with us: and the land shall be before you; dwell and trade ye therein, and get you possessions therein."

And Shechem said unto her father and unto her brethren, "Let me find grace in your eyes, and what ye shall say unto me I will give. Ask me never so much dowry and gift, and I will give according as ye shall say unto me: but give me the damsel to wife."

And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister: And they said unto them, "We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one that is uncircumcised; for that were a reproach unto us: But in this will we consent unto you: If ye will be as we be, that every male of you be circumcised; Then will we give our daughters unto you, and we will take your daughters to us, and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people. But if ye will not hearken unto us, to be circumcised; then will we take our daughter, and we will be gone."

And their words pleased Hamor, and Shechem, Hamor's son.  And the young man deferred not to do the thing, because he had delight in Jacob's daughter: and he was more honourable than all the house of his father.

And Hamor and Shechem his son came unto the gate of their city, and communed with the men of their city, saying, "These men are peaceable with us; therefore let them dwell in the land, and trade therein; for the land, behold, it is large enough for them; let us take their daughters to us for wives, and let us give them our daughters. Only herein will the men consent unto us for to dwell with us, to be one people, if every male among us be circumcised, as they are circumcised. Shall not their cattle and their substance and every beast of their's be our's? only let us consent unto them, and they will dwell with us."

And unto Hamor and unto Shechem his son hearkened all that went out of the gate of his city; and every male was circumcised, all that went out of the gate of his city. And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah's brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males. And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem's house, and went out. The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and spoiled the city, because they had defiled their sister. They took their sheep, and their oxen, and their asses, and that which was in the city, and that which was in the field, And all their wealth, and all their little ones, and their wives took they captive, and spoiled even all that was in the house.

And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, "Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house."

And they said, "Should he deal with our sister as with an harlot?"
Some English translation have it that Prince Shechem raped Dinah.  But, it seems to have been more of a seduction than a rape.  Looking at some of the previously quoted passages from the Torah, the writers of Genesis might not have recognized a huge distinction between seduction and rape, as both represented a property crime.  Prince Shechem really liked Dinah.  Dinah may have had similar affection for Shechem, although her preferences seem not to have counted for anything.  Indeed, some Christians consider the moral of the story to be that "Dinah should have stayed home."  Shechem was a prince.  How many other options did a girl like Dinah have?  Especially at this point, after she had been deflowered?  Simeon and Levi went and ruined everything, not only for their sister, but for their father as well.

One of the strangest circumcision stories occurs in Exodus 4:
...And the Lord said unto Moses, "When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go. And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, 'Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.'"

And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the Lord met him, and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, "Surely a bloody husband art thou to me." So he let him go: then she said, "A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision."

And the Lord said to Aaron, "Go into the wilderness to meet Moses." And he went, and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him.  And Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord who had sent him, and all the signs which he had commanded him. And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel: And Aaron spake all the words which the Lord had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people. And the people believed: and when they heard that the Lord had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped...
Right after persuading Moses (Mr. "Slow of Speech and Slow of Tongue" himself) to go to Egypt, and telling Moses that he was planning on hardening Pharoah's heart.  Moses' wife Zipporah thinks fast, and saves his life by slicing off their son's foreskin with a sharp stone.  Zipporah was a Midianite, and probably didn't think too much about Hebrew circumcision.  After that, the narrative proceeds as if this little, nearly-fatal incident had never happened.

Another fascinating foreskin fable occurs in 1 Samuel 18:
Michal, Saul's daughter, loved David: and they told Saul, and the thing pleased him. And Saul said, "I will give him her, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him." Wherefore Saul said to David, "Thou shalt this day be my son in law in the one of the twain."

And Saul commanded his servants, saying, "Commune with David secretly, and say, 'Behold, the king hath delight in thee, and all his servants love thee: now therefore be the king's son in law.'"

And Saul's servants spake those words in the ears of David. And David said, "Seemeth it to you a light thing to be a king's son in law, seeing that I am a poor man, and lightly esteemed?"

And the servants of Saul told him, saying, "On this manner spake David."

And Saul said, "Thus shall ye say to David, The king desireth not any dowry, but an hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to be avenged of the king's enemies". But Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines.

And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be the king's son in law: and the days were not expired.  Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king, that he might be the king's son in law. And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife.
Michaelangelo obviously didn't read the Bible very closely: his David is uncircumcised.



Scalping was fairly common during warfare in North America, well into the nineteenth century. Confederate guerrillas led by William Anderson decorated their saddles with the scalps of slaughtered foes.  Ears served as trophies during the Vietnam War:

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David paid for his first wife, Michal, with a basket-full of Philistine penises.  At least with penises, you knew that the victim was a male non-Israelite.  Scalps and ears could have come from anyone.  On the other hand, having a circumcised penis often ended up being fatal when the Nazis were looking for boys to murder during the twentieth century.

According to Frederick Hodges, the ancient Greeks greatly esteemed the foreskin.  Here is an ancient Greek image of an athlete toying with his foreskin:


an image of that includes a young man with a somewhat elongated foreskin:


and a Greek statue of Zeus hurling a lighting bolt: 


According to this website,
...In Ancient Greece and various vassals of the Greek city states an uncircumcised, small penis was seen as a sign of nobility and cultural superiority, whereas a penis of a bigger size was regarded as vulgar and inappropriate...In the arts, small penis identified the ideal or intellectual aspect of the human male, whilst in theatre for example, the person playing the "fool" role wore something like an oversized phallus to indicate his stupidity, the idea being he was therefore closer to animals and less human than his opponent....

Getting back to the Bible, the two books of Maccabees (which are excluded as "apocryphal" from many Bibles) describe clashes between Greek and Jewish ideals during the Hellenistic period.  Maccabees 1:
This history begins when Alexander the Great, son of Philip of Macedonia, marched from Macedonia and attacked Darius, king of Persia and Media. Alexander enlarged the Greek Empire by defeating Darius and seizing his throne.  He fought many battles, captured fortified cities, and put the kings of the region to death. As he advanced to the ends of the earth, he plundered many nations; and when he had conquered the world, he became proud and arrogant. By building up a strong army, he dominated whole nations and their rulers, and forced everyone to pay him taxes.

When Alexander had been emperor for twelve years, he fell ill and realized that he was about to die. He called together his generals, noblemen who had been brought up with him since his early childhood, and he divided his empire, giving a part to each of them. 8 After his death, the generals took control, and each had himself crowned king of his own territory. The descendants of these kings ruled for many generations and brought a great deal of misery on the world.

The wicked ruler Antiochus Epiphanes, son of King Antiochus the Third of Syria, was a descendant of one of Alexander's generals. Antiochus Epiphanes had been a hostage in Rome before he became king of Syria in the year 137.[i.e., 175 B.C.]

At that time there appeared in the land of Israel a group of traitorous Jews who had no regard for the Law and who had a bad influence on many of our people. They said, "Let's come to terms with the Gentiles, for our refusal to associate with them has brought us nothing but trouble."  This proposal appealed to many people, and some of them became so enthusiastic about it that they went to the king and received from him permission to follow Gentile customs. They built in Jerusalem a stadium like those in the Greek cities. They had surgery performed to hide their circumcision, abandoned the holy covenant, started associating with [or marrying] Gentiles, and did all sorts of other evil things...

Some Jews thought that the culture of the Greek invaders was really cool, and sought to emulate it.  Athletic competitions were very important to the Greeks, who competed in the buff.  Jewish boys wanted to do this, too, but were ashamed of their penises.  Jon Safran did a short bit about restoring his foreskin:


I don't know whether Mr. Safran stayed with the program and succeeded, but some men have apparently been pleased with the result.  Now, they can go out and participate in nude athletic contests without being embarrassed.  

The story continues:
...When Antiochus had firmly established himself as king, he decided to conquer Egypt and rule that country as well as Syria.  He invaded Egypt with a large fleet of ships and a powerful army, including chariots, elephants, and cavalry.  When the attack came, King Ptolemy of Egypt turned and fled, and many of his soldiers were killed.  Antiochus was able to capture the fortified cities of Egypt and plunder the whole land.

In the year 143,[169 B.C.] after the conquest of Egypt, Antiochus marched with a great army against the land of Israel and the city of Jerusalem.  In his arrogance, he entered the Temple and took away the gold altar, the lampstand with all its equipment, the table for the bread offered to the Lord, the cups and bowls, the gold fire pans, the curtain, and the crowns. He also stripped all the gold from the front of the Temple and carried off the silver and gold and everything else of value, including all the treasures that he could find stored there.  Then he took it all to his own country. He had also murdered many people and boasted arrogantly about it. There was great mourning everywhere in the land of Israel.
 Two years later Antiochus sent a large army from Mysia against the towns of Judea. When the soldiers entered Jerusalem, their commander spoke to the people, offering them terms of peace and completely deceiving them. Then he suddenly launched a fierce attack on the city, dealing it a major blow and killing many of the people.  He plundered the city, set it on fire, and tore down its buildings and walls.  He and his army took the women and children as prisoners and seized the cattle.
Then Antiochus and his forces built high walls and strong towers in the area north of the Temple, turning it into a fort.  They brought in a group of traitorous Jews and installed them there. They also brought in arms and supplies and stored in the fort all the loot that they had taken in Jerusalem. This fort became a great threat to the city...

...Antiochus now issued a decree that all nations in his empire should abandon their own customs and become one people. All the Gentiles and even many of the Israelites submitted to this decree. They adopted the official pagan religion, offered sacrifices to idols, and no longer observed the Sabbath.

The king also sent messengers with a decree to Jerusalem and all the towns of Judea, ordering the people to follow customs that were foreign to the country.  He ordered them not to offer burnt offerings, grain offerings, or wine offerings in the Temple, and commanded them to treat Sabbaths and festivals as ordinary work days.  They were even ordered to defile the Temple and the holy things in it.  They were commanded to build pagan altars, temples, and shrines, and to sacrifice pigs and other unclean animals there.  They were forbidden to circumcise their sons and were required to make themselves ritually unclean in every way they could, so that they would forget the Law which the Lord had given through Moses and would disobey all its commands.  The penalty for disobeying the king's decree was death.

The king not only issued the same decree throughout his whole empire, but he also appointed officials to supervise the people and commanded each town in Judea to offer pagan sacrifices.  Many of the Jews were ready to forsake the Law and to obey these officials. They defiled the land with their evil, and their conduct forced all true Israelites to hide wherever they could.

On the fifteenth day of the month of Kislev in the year 145,[167 B.C.] King Antiochus set up
The Awful Horror on the altar of the Temple, and pagan altars were built in the towns throughout Judea.  Pagan sacrifices were offered in front of houses and in the streets.  Any books of the Law which were found were torn up and burned, and anyone who was caught with a copy of the sacred books or who obeyed the Law was put to death by order of the king. Month after month these wicked people used their power against the Israelites caught in the towns.

On the twenty-fifth of the month, these same evil people offered sacrifices on the pagan altar erected on top of the altar in the Temple.  Mothers who had allowed their babies to be circumcised were put to death in accordance with the king's decree.  Their babies were hung around their necks, and their families and those who had circumcised them were put to death...
There was quite a struggle between, on one side, the Hellenized Jews and, on the other, the Conservative Jews, with Antiochus taking the side of the Hellenized Jews.  The writer of Maccabees 2 identifies Jason, a Hellenized Jew, as the primary villain.
...just as soon as Jason took over the office of High Priest, he made the people of Jerusalem change to the Greek way of life. He began by abolishing the favors that John had secured for the Jews from previous Syrian kings. (John was the father of the Eupolemus who later went to Rome to make an alliance and to establish ties of friendship.) Jason also did away with our Jewish customs and introduced new customs that were contrary to our Law. With great enthusiasm he built a stadium near the Temple hill and led our finest young men to adopt the Greek custom of participating in athletic events. Because of the unrivaled wickedness of Jason, that ungodly and illegitimate High Priest, the craze for the Greek way of life and for foreign customs reached such a point that even the priests lost all interest in their sacred duties. They lost interest in the Temple services and neglected the sacrifices. Just as soon as the signal was given, they would rush off to take part in the games that were forbidden by our Law. They did not care about anything their ancestors had valued; they prized only Greek honors...
Anyway, the Conservative Jews won, and, for a while, Judea became an independent kingdom under the Hasmonean Dynasty.  In The Antiquities of the Jews, Flavius Josephus describes John Hyrcanus' conquest of Idumea:
...Hyrcanus took also Dora and Marissa, cities of Idumea, and subdued all the Idumeans; and permitted them to stay in that country, if they would circumcise their genitals, and make use of the laws of the Jews; and they were so desirous of living in the country of their forefathers, that they submitted to the use of circumcision, and of the rest of the Jewish ways of living; at which time therefore this befell them, that they were hereafter no other than Jews... 
Gosh, such an odd fixation with the appearance of the penis.  Although not specifically mentioned in the Koran, male circumcision seems also to be an integral part of Islam, and, in some Islamic countries, female circumcision is also practiced.  Apparently, ISIS intends to force all women under the age of 50 (who are in Iraqi areas under its control--potentially 4 million victims) to undergo circumcision.  From Islam Question and Answer:
The most correct view is that it is obligatory in the case of men and Sunnah in the case of women. The difference between them is that in the case of men, it serves an interest which has to do with one of the conditions of prayer, namely purity (tahaarah), because if the foreskin remains, when the urine comes out of the urethra, some of it will collect there, and this causes burning and infection every time the person moves, and every time the foreskin is squeezed, some drops of urine come out, thus causing najaasah (impurity).

In the case of women, it serves a useful purpose which is to reduce desire. This is seeking perfection, not removing something harmful.

Looking at the 1955 Istanbul Pogrom, which the Turkish government instigated against Istanbul's 150,000-strong Greek minority (and which also targeted Jewish, Armenian and Georgian residents):
...A man who was fearful of being beaten, lynched or cut into pieces would imply and try to prove that he was both a Turk and a Muslim. "Pull it out and let us see," they would reply. The poor man would peel off his trousers and show his "Muslimness" and "Turkishness". And what was the proof? That he had been circumcised. If the man was circumcised, he was saved. If not, he was doomed. Indeed, having lied, he could not be saved from a beating. For one of those aggressive young men would draw his knife and circumcise him in the middle of the street and amid the chaos. A difference of two or three centimetres does not justify such a commotion... 

When the pogrom ended, a day later, 16 Greeks and one Armenian had died, 32 had been severely wounded, dozens of women had been raped and several men forcibly circumcised.  More craziness over foreskins.  ("My god is better than yours, and I'm better than you, and I can prove it!  Just look at my weiner!")  I'm not sure that Mohammed, or even Allah, would have whole-heartedly approved.  On the other hand, if Yahweh was cool with what Levi and Simeon did to the Hivites, then Allah might have winked at the Istanbul Pogrom.  Still, not very nice.  How would the Turks have liked being forcibly un-circumcised?

The issue of circumcision of converts to Christianity was discussed and settled at the Council of Jerusalem, which occurred some time around 50 A.D., as described in Acts 15:
Some men came from Judea to Antioch and started teaching the believers, “You cannot be saved unless you are circumcised as the Law of Moses requires.”  Paul and Barnabas got into a fierce argument with them about this, so it was decided that Paul and Barnabas and some of the others in Antioch should go to Jerusalem and see the apostles and elders about this matter.

They were sent on their way by the church; and as they went through Phoenicia and Samaria, they reported how the Gentiles had turned to God; this news brought great joy to all the believers. When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church, the apostles, and the elders, to whom they told all that God had done through them.  But some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and told to obey the Law of Moses.”
 
The apostles and the elders met together to consider this question. After a long debate Peter stood up and said, “My friends, you know that a long time ago God chose me from among you to preach the Good News to the Gentiles, so that they could hear and believe. And God, who knows the thoughts of everyone, showed his approval of the Gentiles by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he had to us.  He made no difference between us and them; he forgave their sins because they believed.  So then, why do you now want to put God to the test by laying a load on the backs of the believers which neither our ancestors nor we ourselves were able to carry?  No! We believe and are saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they are.”

The whole group was silent as they heard Barnabas and Paul report all the miracles and wonders that God had performed through them among the Gentiles. When they had finished speaking, James spoke up: “Listen to me, my friends!  Simon has just explained how God first showed his care for the Gentiles by taking from among them a people to belong to him.  The words of the prophets agree completely with this. As the scripture says,
After this I will return, says the Lord,
and restore the kingdom of David.
I will rebuild its ruins
and make it strong again.
And so all the rest of the human race will come to me,
all the Gentiles whom I have called to be my own.
So says the Lord, who made this known long ago.
“It is my opinion,” James went on, “that we should not trouble the Gentiles who are turning to God.  Instead, we should write a letter telling them not to eat any food that is ritually unclean because it has been offered to idols; to keep themselves from sexual immorality; and not to eat any animal that has been strangled, or any blood.  For the Law of Moses has been read for a very long time in the synagogues every Sabbath, and his words are preached in every town.”
Paul's opinion won the day, and Gentile converts do not have to get snipped.

Cum to think of it, the concept of the Resurrection, where Jesus bursts out of his tomb and ascends into Heaven, is central to Christianity.  What more apt objectification of the Resurrection exists than the glans emerging boldly from the prepuce of an uncircumcised penis, thence to enter the glorious, heavenly abyss, there to spawn new life?  Circumcision ruins the metaphor.

Mushrooms do represent something of an intersection, in that they serve not only as powerful phallic symbols, but also objectify the Resurrection.   Here is a brief video which provides some mycological examples in Christian art:


The next time that you order pizza, be sure to have some mushrooms with it, to turn it into a spiritual experience.

Anyway, in the very next chapter of Acts:
Paul traveled on to Derbe and Lystra, where a Christian named Timothy lived. His mother, who was also a Christian, was Jewish, but his father was a Greek.  All the believers in Lystra and Iconium spoke well of Timothy.  Paul wanted to take Timothy along with him, so he circumcised him. He did so because all the Jews who lived in those places knew that Timothy's father was Greek...

Imagine a similar reaction to an itinerant preacher today:  "Hold on!  Before you get started, we want to look at your penis!"  Privy members must have been considerably less privy back in the day.  The Christian world was largely spared this indignity, at least until the end of the nineteenth century in the Anglophone world.  In 1890, Dr. Jonathan Hutchinson wrote:
...It is surely not needful to seek any recondite motive for the origin of the practice of circumcision. No one who has seen the superior cleanliness of a Hebrew penis can have avoided a very strong impression in favour of removal of the foreskin. It constitutes a harbour for filth, and is a constant source of irritation. It conduces to masturbation, and adds to the difficulties of sexual continence. It increases the risk of syphilis in early life, and of cancer in the aged. I have never seen cancer of the penis in a Jew, and chancres are rare...
and
...My late colleague, Mr Curling, I know held the opinion that circumcision was of advantage as preventing the tendency to masturbation. At one time he tried to collect facts in order to institute a comparison between Jews and others in respect to that habit, but the distasteful nature of the inquiry I believe caused him to abandon it. It is indeed one upon which it is impossible to collect statistics. General impressions are all that can be had. I have myself, from considerable experience, formed a strong opinion that Jewish young men do not suffer nearly so frequently as others from the maladies which we associate more or less definitely with masturbation and nocturnal emissions. We must remember, however, that in their case we are dealing with the circumcision of infants as preventive, not with that of adults as curative. Under the latter conditions the operation is far less hopeful. Still, I am inclined to believe that it may often accomplish much, both in breaking the habit as an immediate result, and in diminishing the temptation to it subsequently. I know that the reply from specialists will be that the disorder is in the nervous system, and not in the organs, and this no doubt is in part true. The reiterated complaints and confessions of young men, however, force on me the conviction that he habit in question is very injurious to the nerve-tone, and that it frequently originates and keeps up maladies which but for it might have been avoided or cured. I confess I see no reason why a man admitted into an asylum for ailments associated with that vice should not be allowed such chance of relief as the operation offers. I may indeed go further than this and avow my conviction that measures more radical than circumcision would, if public opinion permitted their adoption, be a true kindness to many patients of both sexes...
 People were confined to asylums, for masturbation and nocturnal emissions?  As recently as 1994, Dr. Jocelyn Elders was fired from her position as Surgeon General, for having mentioned masturbation.  This obviously remains a touchy subject for the still-puritanical Anglophone world to handle.  With the subsequent rise of the internet, as mentioned in a previous post, American males have been accused of masturbating more than ever. Perhaps foreskins would have enhanced the pleasure, and guaranteed that we never left the computer.  Sadly, most of us will never know.  Look at Ernest Borgnine:


At 91, the legendary actor was still going strong.  He was born in 1917, to Italian-immigrant parents, so he might have escaped the snip.  Fox News personalities giggle at the topic, but, some time ago, his pastime might have led to his confinement in an asylum.

As this short film explains:


John Harvey Kellogg, who invented corn flakes to feed to his sanitarium inmates, promoted circumcision as a means of inhibiting masturbation.  Now, circumcision is primarily an income booster for obstetricians and pediatricians.  None of them are going to attempt to talk parents of newborn boys out of getting it done.




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