Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Song Called "Lovely"

we're taught in calvinist churches that human kind's most basic tendency is to be sinful, that, in fact, we are by our very nature “sinners.” we look back to the story of adam and eve and recall their “fall."  there is an old lutheran chorale that pretty much sums this idea up in its first line: “through adam's fall the human race was doomed to condemnation.”  i think this is a very unhealthy, dangerous point-of-view, and i'm not sure that is what the story is intended to teach.

if we insist that the adam-eve story is literally true, we're presented with some serious limitations and contradictions.  we are shown a god who wishes human beings to be unable to distinguish between good and evil, a god who desires that this first couple should remain innocent and incapable of reason.  this god is unable to prevent the force of evil that is embodied in the serpent from persuading eve to eat of the forbidden fruit or to reach adam so that he does not eat the fruit.  a literal reading suggests that god is ignorant of the events unfolding in the primeval garden and only learns of them during a walk through the garden looking for adam and eve.

we know from the evidence of science that this story can't be factual, and those who insist that it must be read as literal truth miss the point of the story altogether and are led to what i believe is a mistaken interpretation.  we each relive this story in our own lives; we are adam/eve.  god does walk among us.  we see god when we engage with nature, when we admire the beauty that is creation, when we feel the tug of love in our hearts, when we use our minds to reason, when we are touched by the lives of others.

every day we make choices.  some are the wrong choices, some are right.  discerning which is which is difficult.  the knowledge of good and evil is not as simple as checking off our adherence to a list of rules.  the complexity of reasoning out what is right and what is wrong demands that we listen to both our hearts and our minds.  the forbidden fruit that gives us the absolute knowledge of good and evil is the wrong-headed notion that there is a code that applies in every situation, that we can easily determine the right course of action as we switch off our brains and allow some external system of morality to be imposed on us.

females are not evil because eve allowed the serpent to persuade her to disobey god.  males are not evil because adam allowed eve to persuade him to eat of the fruit.  the lesson that the first sin was commited by eve, thus condemning all females to lives of subservience to males, is perhaps the second most dangerous lesson that literalists take away from this story, the first being that human beings are innately evil.  this ancient story has so much more to teach us than a literal reading can ever discover.

my prayer for us today is that we will sense the presence of love in everything around us, that our lives will resonate with the hum of the powerful love that vibrates in every molecule of creation.  may we use our powers of reason to discern what is good and beautiful and to reject what is evil and unlovely.  shalom.

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