Brian’s Reflection: Monday, March 14, 2011
God took the man and put him in the
garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And
God commanded the man, "You may freely
eat of every tree of the garden; but of the
tree of the knowledge of good and evil you
shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it
you shall die."
Gen 2: 15ff [The Hebrew Scripture for Lent I]
[ Full text here: http://www.io.com/~kellywp/YearA_RCL/Lent/ALent1_RCL.html ]
All Creation Myths derive from their cultural setting, and reflect it. This one has never been a “favourite” - but I realize now that this is not because of the Myth itself. Like all Creation myths, it contains some creative thinking about the origin and meaning of Life. Rather, it is because of the way it has been interpreted by continuing generations - shamefully, in some aspects. I prefer to put all the Creation Myths together, and get a broader picture.
Here’re my musings on this Genesis passage.
Life is about Reality. So is “God”. So is the Gospel, and most spiritual paths. Lent, with its emphasis on confronting Sin and on repentance, is about Reality, about dispelling Unreality and self-delusion.
Adam and Eve are One: “bone of bone and flesh of flesh”. But the story is set in a patriarchal culture, and Eve as woman gets blamed, dragging Adam along with her. Shamefully, Christianity has perpetuated this subjugation and inferiorization and untrustworthiness of women. What can we expect from a tribal patriarchy? But the Reality is: Adam and Eve are One. The decision to “eat” is Humanity’s decision.
The Serpent says, You won’t die if you eat; you will be like God. The Myth makes it look as if Humanity left a state of Eternal Goodness and “fell”. This is Unreality. The Reality is: Humanity IS “like God”; we share in Being, which God represents. We have the knowledge of Good and Evil, we always have had, and we have always exercised it. The Fig Leaf (which has nothing to do with any condemnation of sexuality) represents, as a parishioner said this morning, our admission of the Reality that we are “made in the image” of the God of Love and Compassion, but we reject it. Herein lies the basis of the havoc of our lives.
The Serpent gets a bad rap ….. to this day feared and loathed. But the Serpent – which was indeed feared and loathed – is just a character of the Myth. It represents Humanity’s self-deception, its willingness to shun responsibility for our choices “against God”, i.e., against our truest Self.
When we “eat” of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, i.e., say Yes to Evil (which is what Jesus rejected in the story of His temptation by Satan in the Wilderness), we do indeed “die”. We die to a Life of Love, Compassion, Justice, Forgiveness.
Courageously embracing Reality. Accepting Responsibility for our choices. Being freed over and over to choose the Good. This is to walk the Sacred Way.