Eden Hill Journal
Comments, dreams, stories, and rantings from a middle-aged native of Maine living on a shoestring and a prayer in the woods of Maine. My portion of the family farm is to be known as Eden Hill Farm just because I want to call it that and because that's the closest thing to the truth that I could come up with. If you enjoy what I write, email me or make a comment. If you enjoy Eden Hill, come visit.
- Name: Bill
- Location: Maine, United States
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
1. To submit to an overpowering force or yield to an overwhelming desire; give up or give in. See Synonyms at yield.
2. To die.
It would appear that John McCain is going through a bit of a political metamorphosis. For several months the political left has been noticing how McCain has been prostrating himself to the religious right despite his not-so-rightish political positions in the past.
This past weekend he went sightseeing in Iraq and followed up his little shopping blitz with a press conference where his eyes seem to constantly dart down to something on the podium that he appears to be reciting from. The script sounds an awful lot like neoconservative propaganda to me.
So now this little ditty on McCain's new political fundraising strategy.
Does it sound to you the way it sounds to me, that McCain is selling his soul to the devil in order to fund his upcoming run for the White House using George W. Bush as his model? Hey, somebody's got to follow in Bush's footprints. Why not McCain, eh?
Doesn't McCain realize that Bush is the captain of the Titanic and the iceberg has already been struck? Isn't it a little late to be jumping on board that ship?
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
That was before Jimmy Carter was a "born-again" President...
before Bible believing became so common it was insignificant...
before America traded "fundamentalist" for Saudi oil.
Nevertheless, I attended, often several times a week, one of those churches where an open Bible during sermons proved the superiority of the church to any other church in town. Our prayers had more power. Our righteousness was supreme because we didn't claim it as our own. We claimed it was divine!
I remember one time when I was involved in a rebuilding project of the main sanctuary. I was one of only a few who dedicated a whole lot of time to the project. When it was completed I became involved as a technician with the church's first real sound system. One thing led to another and at one point I was even teaching an adult Sunday school class. I still remember, though, hanging around the church during the week, cleaning or working on projects, when the building was absolutely empty, me wondering how it can be that all these dedicated and faithful Christians could have no use for the building when they weren't there for one of the three or four scheduled hours of meetings. Something was wrong with that.
After a decade of this it began to dawn on me that I was getting more and more uncomfortable being around people who seemed to be using Christianity as a tool to judge other people by. I realized that I also had been judging, but that even when I worked hard not to judge, I was still completely surrounded by it. It was literally in the air in that church. Eventually that shattered my faith. I could see that the primary focus of the faith was to seek reasons to believe that our choices were better than the choices of others and that based on those choices we deserved more from God. Of course we denied that, but we lived it at the same time.
Years after I had stopped attending that church, and after the church had essentially stripped me of any illusion that I was a Christian, something that wasn't in doubt while I attended church, I came across something in the Bible that surprised me, something that helped me understand what was going on with that kind of Christianity. Amazingly, it is the very first lesson in the Bible and it may well be the least understood lesson in there.
In Genesis chapter 3, the serpent told Eve that as soon as she ate from "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil":
1) she wouldn't die
2) her eyes would be opened
3) she would be as gods, knowing good and evil
Here we learn that it was the serpent's idea, not God's idea, that gods behave this way, that gods distinguish good and evil, that gods judge. It was the serpent's idea, the deceiver.
Oddly enough the first thing Adam and Eve notice after they eat the fruit is that they are "naked."
So from that we can see that being naked is evil.
Yet God created Adam and Eve to live naked in the Garden of Eden.
If we are to believe that God practices this exercise of defining, knowing, and judging good and evil and that being naked is evil, then what conclusion can we draw other than that God created man and woman to be evil, to live evil lives?
Yet it was not God's assurance that knowing good and evil is something God does. It was the serpent who assured that.
I think we all pretty much jump to the conclusion when we read this story that everyone already knows that God does that. The serpent wasn't introducing anything new here.
But that's clearly not true. This is mankind's introduction to this concept, speaking from the perspective of Biblical Creation. The serpent is the first one who ever suggested to mankind that it is a common practice of God to know and thus judge good and evil.
The idea that gods define what is good and what is evil came from the serpent!
Backing up a moment, this argument that I'm presenting doesn't seem to belong to Christianity. I've never seen a Christian emphasize the meaning of the term "tree of the knowledge of good and evil." Most Christian teachers pay no attention to what this supposed fruit actually did to Adam and Eve. Instead, they focus on the idea that by eating the "forbidden fruit" these two first humans in creation disobeyed a command of God. Everything subsequent to this was because of the disobedience, not because of the effects of that fruit, the effects on mankind of having this "knowledge of good and evil."
But to me, this clearly is a false teaching. This story has nothing whatsoever to do with disobedience other than the fact that mankind didn't take God's advice and chose to transform their nature into this nature that we all have today, this nature where we live as though we are capable of knowing what is good and what is evil as though we know the will of God and it is somehow in God's Will that some things are good and some things are evil.
In the grander scheme of things, what is good and evil in an existence where God creates and destroys species, creates and destroys continents, creates and destroys planets, suns, galaxies, universes!!!!!
No, that's not God's gig at all. That's something we choose to do to ourselves and what this story in Genesis actually tells us is that it is through this behavior which we choose to do to ourselves, this thing we base on an idea that comes from the serpent, the deceiver, this practice of deciphering and judging what is good and evil, that we separate ourselves from God, from truth, from the reality of the way God created nature, and from the very nature of God's grace and forgiveness.
Why is it that "fundamentalist" churches make this the last lesson you learn instead of the first?