Monday, February 23, 2015
Out of the Garden
Here’s the gist of the myth.
Adam (Man) created by God and Eve (cloned from Adam’s rib) wake up in a beautiful Garden without a worry in the world. Lots to eat and drink. No worries, no pain, no need for clothes so I guess no mosquitoes and perfect weather. Totally taken care of and so I suppose plenty of servants to clean house, prepare food, and wash clothes (oops! No need for them). Only one thing they have to do or really NOT do; and that’s eat the fruit of this one tree mysteriously called the Tree of Good and Evil.
In steps Serpent. Serpent talks with Eve and Eve listens. “Eve, want some excitement? Don’t you want to be like God? Aren’t you a bit curious why you shouldn’t eat the fruit of that one tree? C’mon try it.” And she does. And then she gets Adam to try it too.
God booms out: “What have you done?” They hide, are ashamed and blame each other. They realize their nakedness and put on clothes. Then, in steps Angel with a fiery sword and kicks them out of the Garden and tells them that now they have to work, bear children, have pain, and die.
Interpretation 1: Fathers of the Church.
This disobedience of the divine commandment is the Sin of Man with which every person who is born is cursed. This Original Sin will plague all mankind and keep them from Paradise.
Serpent is Satan, the disobedient Lucifer who had led the angels in a revolution against God and was cast down to Hell. Satan takes it out on Man who is God’s creation and whom God put in charge of all the Earth. Eve, Woman, was the tool of Satan to seduce Man into sin and thus separate him from God.
This Sin brings Evil into the world and explains why bad things happen to even good men (and women) including droughts and famines, anger and murder, sins of the flesh and bodily sickness, wars and death. And because Women seduced Man into this sin, she will suffer both bondage and the pain of childbirth.
But there is a happy ending. Angry Father God sends down his Son to be tortured and killed as a sacrifice to make up for this Sin. For only someone equal to Father God could balance the scales. That’s why Jesus, the new Adam, was born, suffered, and died for all mankind. And the Sin is removed from all those who are born again with the resurrected Jesus through baptism of water or the fire of martyrdom and who turn themselves over to the obedience of God’s commandments within His Church. Felix culpa, O happy fault, that made it possible for God’s Son to walk the Earth and lead men to salvation, the Church sings at Eastertime.
Many fathers have gone on to speak of the New Eve, which is Mary the Mother of Jesus/God, who was born without Sin and without pain. And she didn’t have sex to get pregnant with Jesus—semper virgo. Her birthing pain would come when she watched and so joined Jesus, the New Adam, in his sacrifice on the cross to appease Father God for the injury done by the First Adam.
Order is restored. God rules with Jesus the Christ His Son by His side; and all in unison sing His praise. Paradise regained.
Interpretation 2. Mothers of the Church
(There were mothers back then like Magdalene, Phoebe, Priscilla, Julia, Lucia, Mary; but they didn’t get published. Today there are many who are getting published like Elaine, Rosemary, Corita, Elizabeth, Jane, Joan, Dorothy; but most are not really recognized by the fathers.)
Here is an interpretation by Mothers taking Eve’s point of view.
Eve is dissatisfied and bored. She is like Prince Rasselas in Happy Valley as told by Samuel Johnson’s Tale. If Rasselas leaves Happy Valley where all his needs are met, he can never go back. Nevertheless Rasselas and his sister sneak out to find some adventure and, if not total happiness, at least the satisfaction of new understanding of themselves and the world.
No wonder Eve talks with Serpent! Adam is hardly a good conversationalist because he hasn’t explored anything anywhere. And obviously there is not much of a sex life since the two do not even notice their genitals or how to have children until after they leave the Garden.
Serpent is clearly another face of God. In some mystical traditions of India, the rising Serpent is symbolic of rising kundalini energy, which is a Spiritual awakening that can bring forth healing, empowerment, knowledge and wisdom. Throughout the Near East the serpent was considered a symbol of wisdom, health and even immortality. This was usually connected with snakes shedding their skins, which made a semblance of rebirth into eternity. In some representations the goddess of fertility is entwined by the serpent as a phallic symbol to bring forth new life.
So who is this Serpent God enticing Eve to become a goddess of fertility and bring forth new life by disobeying the commandment of Monarch God by eating fruit from the Tree of Good and Evil? The Serpent is telling Eve to think for herself, to adventure out into the unknown by breaking the rules and transcending the boundaries, to become as a god by taking on the divine activity of creation.
Felix culpa—O happy fault! Original sin is really the original blessing by which humanity is truly made in the image of God. This is the moment of divine infusion, the divine spark, in which humanity knows good and evil, in which humanity risks pain and death for hope and life, in which humanity wakes up to its responsibility by thinking, by questioning, and by going outside the box. Adam and Eve become progenitors of homo sapiens only after getting out of the Garden of stifling innocence and ignorance.
Thanks to the wise Serpent’s agitation, Eve becomes as a goddess to seduce Man into the light of reason by discovering the capacity for curiosity and care, the cogito. And other gods and goddesses will rise up to continue to indicate the way, as did the Serpent to Eve and Eve to Adam. There will be Vishnu/Shiva, Buddha, Socrates, Aphrodite, Jesus, Magdalene, Francis, Martin, Joan, Dan, Jane and many more down to our own day.
And so the story of Adam and Eve is really the creation story when homo became sapiens. It points to that moment when humankind began to think and when thinking brought good and evil and so freedom and responsibility into the world. The moment of transcendence. Across the boundaries. Outside the Box. The Big Bang of the Moral Universe.