-Pastor Melissa Fain-
Almost every week, I purchase apples for school lunch. Sometimes, a brown spot appears after I purchase, and I remove it, and cut it into slices.
Last week, there were these two apples that didn’t really go brown, but went translucent. They looked so interesting, I took a picture of them before I chucked them, and promised I would illustrate them. I love them, because It’s impossible to see they’ve gone wrong. It requires picking it up for closer inspection.
Then an idea hit me, and I was drawing away. May I introduce Forbidden Fruit.
The Apple and the Age of Reason
About a decade ago I picked up Thomas Paine’s Age of Reason. It is a case against Christianity in particular. I like to read these kinds of books, because it sharpens me, like metal on a whetstone. This particular work was not the whetstone I was looking for.
In any book, there are certain key phrases and words that tip me off that the author did not do his/her research. One of those words is “apple.” There were no apples in the Eden narrative. There was a forbidden fruit, but that fruit remains ambiguous, and I believe on purpose. When the word, “apple” is used I hear that the writer didn’t consult the source material.
This is what ultimately made me put Age of Reason down before I finished it. His problems were often extra-Biblical. That becomes a problem when the target is supposed to be the Bible.
Thomas Paine is actually the reason I chose to read a Ravi Zacharias book. How was I to have any opinion on the man at all if I hadn’t read any of his words? I saw what it looks like when speculation is used to rail against a subject. Speculation can obliterate any self-made strawman. It is only research that destroys the subject at hand, if the subject is capable of being destroyed.
Therefore, the apples in my illustration have become my personal strawman. They are drawn up front, unknowingly rotting away, while the actual subject is tucked away behind them.
Seeing the Garden of Eden like a story a parent would tell their child.
There are a multitude of ways we can look at the Creation Narrative, but two I want to bring to focus. Either you see the Bible as literal or not.
I’m using these words loosely here. There are gradients to these two choices. I don’t want to discount the multitude of belief systems. It’s just if I spent time going through the gradients I’d be writing a book instead of a post. Let’s keep it simple here.
I’m in the “not” camp, because I am more concerned about the events that lead to the story. The Biblical stories exist for a reason. Not every story is meant to be taken literally. The parables, for example. Creation too.
Literalists believe the Creation Narrative is literal and happened around 4000 BC. Then, 2,500 years later, here comes Moses. I mention Moses because the first five books of the Bible are attributed to him as the author.
Going back to Thomas Paine, he found an issue with this. How could a very well educated Egyptian end up being the one who wrote the Creation Narrative? As much as I believe Paine should stay out of religion, it’s not a dumb question. A literal approach says that Moses talked to God, and while with God, Moses wrote down the Creation Narrative. 2,500 years later. More importantly, at least 3,500 years ago.
What did we know as a people 3,500 years ago? God was above. Death was below. The Middle East (to the Ancient Middle East) were the only known people in the universe.
Let’s say Moses is on the mountain with God and asks the question: “How did all this come to be?” You think God is going to talk about cosmic explosions, and atoms?! Do you actually believe God would talk at God’s level today?! God would talk to Moses in a way Moses would understand.
I can see Moses writing Genesis 1. I can also see the Priests coming in behind them, and putting their known creation story in, of Adam and Eve. (There are many reasons to believe Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 were written by two sets of authors, none of which I’m going to go into today.)
Being a Woman taking back Adam and Eve
I’m a human, who has human needs. Maybe that’s crazy to consider. I want to share my opinion, and at least know my opinion was heard.
Eating the forbidden fruit did not bring death, but the knowledge of death. More than that, it was a tree put in a centralized place, and focus was drawn to it. It would be like telling a toddler, “I’m putting these newly baked cookies in the middle of the table. Don’t eat a cookie!” Y’all! I’m a mom, so I know how this ends, but scientists have also run tests on kids. The kids are going to eat the cookie!
In a literal Creation narrative, God implicitly wanted them to eat the fruit, or God was a moron! As for me, I’d like to believe God had more intelligence than I did in my early parenting days.
Eden was a place that was comfort for both Adam and Eve, and eating the fruit (learning the knowledge) they had to leave their comfort and struggle. It was turning their knowledge into shame that was the sin.
Getting to that picture I drew
The books are the subject.
I put the books in the kitchen, because traditionally you are more likely to find a woman in a kitchen over and beyond a man. Also, we’re consuming the Word. Theology and Faith are named like old friends.
Eve must eat it before she feeds it to Adam.
That’s where the story falls apart.
Adam would necessarily need to leave his comfort to eat what Eve is serving. It’s not Eve’s comfort. Eden was created for Adam, and Eve is simply a partner to Adam’s land. To eat what Eve is serving is to know this, and realize they have to make a new land that belongs to them both. The ultimate power is not Eve’s which is what makes this picture so bitter. It’s a beautifully bright possibility. That is all.
-Pastor Melissa Fain-
Happy New Year!
Can you believe we are not even a week into 2023?! It feels like much more time has passed. Did you make any resolutions?
Resolutions are silly in a way. It’s a promise to do something different because the planet made an entire rotation around the sun. Seriously?! Why do we wait until January to resolve to change our ways? Because of December. I’d surmise many of us are not really resolving to change anything for good. We are actually resolving to undo the frivolity of December, and that will take 2-3 months.
I’ve found, as I’ve entered middle age, that I’m not as tied to where we are in relation to the sun. I want to celebrate people on random days. I want to resolve to change when I realize I need to.
The Magi: Journeying after the party was over
The Magi, or more commonly known as the wisemen, were not only fashionably late to the party. They arrived after the party had concluded, everything had been cleaned up, and there had been two more parties since. See, Jesus was about 2 years old when they finally made their way to see him. Either that, or Herod waited years for the Magi to return with the news.
No matter how the events did or didn’t take place, they didn’t just resolve themselves all at once. We’re talking like Peter Jackson’s, Lord of the Rings bajillion resolutions. Mary and Joseph get a resolution. Then the shepherds get a resolution. The angels joyfully pop in like the hobbits to be part of whatever resolution they want. All those resolutions conclude, then another more somber one concludes it all.
In the Christian calendar, Christmas doesn’t even start until December 25th and goes until January 6th, 12 days later. This is where the Twelve Days of Christmas really comes from. (The link is my favorite version of the song. You’re welcome in advance.)
It’s on that 12th day, on the Christian Calendar, the Magi FINALLY get their resolution. After the baubles have been packed up. After you are back to work, and trying to figure out the remainder of your kid’s school year. When you are trying to work off that frivolity, not go back to it: that’s when we are told to remember the Magi’s trip to find Jesus.
That’s also what makes it so special. You have outsiders coming into the story, and God still gives them time, even though they are late. January 6th is a reminder to not forget. Even if you got your frivolity and are ready to move on, maybe others are not. Maybe we shouldn’t leave the story until everyone gets their resolution, even if it appears a little late. The foreign outsider is part of the party. Now the story is complete!
Reddit subreddit /r/Christianity drama