After a busy day

Adam named them all.

that done, he lounged.

Naked and unashamed.

In the Garden.

He contemplated his help-mate.

Considered locating her.

He realized that she was nowhere to be seen.

He realized there were these rules.

He’d never told her of.

By the time

he worked up the enthusiasm

to go find her.

She

was already mid-conversation

with a thing

he’d recently named serpent.

(He was especially proud of that one, serpent.

It starts soft and ends hard.)

One wedge had been chewed out of the fruit in her hand.

Its juices ran down her chin.

Adam took it from her with a shrug.

But also a feeling of wonder and horror.

He contemplated that he’d mastered all the nouns on that warm afternoon.

He reckoned that he was ready

for the knowledge of good

and the knowledge of evil.

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jeffsdeepthoughts

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

13 thoughts on “After a busy day”

  1. Interesting poem, has some cool ways of saying things that go beyond mere words, but poetry should be true, especially if recounting a true event. These lines lie: “He realized there were these rules. He’d never told her of.” Is this another instance of the man being slain by the woman’s spite? “Your desire will be for your husband, to lord it over him.”

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  2. Romanós-
    One of the things I wanted to highlight in this poem is a couple aspects of the Genesis account that are often overlooked.
    The first is that it appears that God gave the rules about the tree to Adam before Eve was created. The second is that Adam mysteriously shows up half way through the whole Serpent thing. I think it’s an open question as to whether he showed up through the whole ordeal half way through or if he was standing there silently from the beginning.

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  3. Sorry, Jeff. You’re wrong on that one! Are you better than Adam? Man’s role is teach and guide Woman, who was created to be his helper. When God tells you something or gives you a commandment that affects you AND your wife, don’t you tell her? Or do you just keep it to yourself. Please, brother, get real, and stop playing speculation games with God’s Word. The whole Church from the beginning till now understands this story as showing that Woman apart from Man is susceptible to the thought invasions of the evil one. Man is Woman’s teacher and lord, and Christ is Man’s Teacher and Lord. Woman took what Man had told her of the commandment, and added to it. That is what women have been doing ever since, in their natural state, when they are not in submission to men in Christ. And that’s also what men do, when they have let themselves become effeminate by following the lead of women. The effects in the modern evangelical churches are obvious. Women ruling over men, who sheepishly prattle their praises and follow them in their increasing errors, modern-day Nicolaitans with their false prophetess Jezebels.

    Genesis 2:16-17 (NIV) And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

    Genesis 3:1-4 (NIV) Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ” [Eve added the part, “and you must not touch it.”] “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman.

    So you see, the Woman added to God’s commandment, which is the first lie, taking on to herself an authority she was not given, and that opened the door to the second lie, contradicting the Word of God, who told Adam that death would result if the commandment was transgressed. The serpent contradicted the plain meaning of God’s word, saying “You will not surely die.”

    Sorry to have to correct you, brother, but the path of speculation is a hamster wheel, you just keep going round and round, and never get anywhere.

    Biblical Christianity is not a human invention, nor is the Bible and all it contains a mere book to be played around with. People keep playing church games because they refuse to acknowledge the real Church, just as they play word games with God’s Word because they refuse to accept it as it is, as it is handed over to us by Christ and His holy apostles.

    Please accept this correction in the spirit in which it is intended. “Love the Lord with all your heart, strength, mind and soul, and your neighbor as yourself.” You are my neighbor, Jeff, and I am yours. Go with God.

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  4. Hello Romanós-
    You are right that it is clear that Adam spoke with Eve based on the fact that she has at least half the story from Adam. This is not conveyed in the poem. I should have re-read the whole Genesis story, as it was not in my mind when I began writing.

    However, I still regard it as an open question how much the error belongs to Eve and how much it belongs to Adam. You are quite right that Adam clearly had an obligation to convey what he knew to Eve.

    You are also right that some speculation is quite pointless and even destructive. You are often quite discerning on this point and have helped me to see this, in some cases.
    But in this case, I think speculation is all that we’ve got. How much communication Adam did with Eve appears to be a pretty important question that scripture is quite silent on.
    My assumption is that God chose to be silent on this issue because he knew that furnishing any more details would lead to more finger-pointing between the genders. This is only an assumption.

    A significant difference between you and I on this appears to be how much value you place in the church’s traditional view. I don’t consider the church’s view wholy irrelevant, but I consider it considerably less authoritative than what actually appears in scripture. I’m particularly suspicious of the church when it takes a position that appears pretty similiar to the culture at large. The main stream view of the church was on the wrong side of too many issues across the centuries for me to give it an authority approaching scripture itself.

    In this particular case, Western Society was sexist and anti-woman for milenia. (I’ll take a pass on the question of whether it continues to be.) Therefore, the fact that Eve has historically been blamed is both unsurprising and unconvincing from where I sit.

    Regardless of the speculation around how much Eve knew, their is a strange silence around the question of where Adam was through the whole thing and why he was so passive. A matter not open for speculation is that Adam was sinfully silent through the whole ordeal. Even if he wasn’t there for the whole thing this leads to the question, “Well, just where was he?” and regardless of when he showed up he should have spoken up. And yet the traditional view somehow gives him a pass for all this.

    Scripture is God-breathed. And the church was comissioned by God… But it’s been run by men who often do not act as if it is Christ who is in them.

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  5. Speculation in scripture is the source of most of the errors of Roman Catholicism, and also of those Christians in the West who think they can fill in the gaps that God has placed in scripture. This is a spiritual disease which afflicts unsaved mankind, but the degree to which it afflicts Christians is astonishing.

    Our dialog is severely crippled most of the time, and this is a good example, by your reactionism against what you call the teaching of the traditional church. What you refer to here is almost exclusively your imperfect knowledge of the history and practices of Roman Catholicism. But from the day it departed from the Christian community, it has not represented the Church, though it has kept millions of Christian souls in captivity for centuries. Even many of those who have escaped it as a denomination are still infected with its rebellious and proud spirit. Only those Protestants who have kept to the simple and plain meaning of scripture have rejoined Orthodoxy, even when they do not unite themselves to it visibly.

    You say that the church was on the wrong side of too many issues in history for it to have a good claim to authority in interpreting scripture, but then what are you replacing it with? Your own opinions? You’re reacting, along with the world, against an imaginary authority that you yourself have created intellectually.

    We are coming to an irreversible parting of the road very soon now. Feminism, the modern, sinful aggregate counterpart of Eve in her natural state, is about to swallow the large chunk of the Church that it has bitten off. This is not going to be a case of Jonah being swallowed by a fish and then vomited out. Once you are in its belly, brother, you’re gone for good.

    Poor Eve! Though she was forgiven her transgression and her unsaved womanly nature has been redeemed and transfigured, how she must look at us from where she reposes now in paradise! The serpent still does his work, on women over men, and on men under women, and the whole order of human society is trampled.

    Soon, brother, soon comes the Day.

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    1. I think you’re probably right. Our dialogue is crippled by some fundamental differences in our world views.

      I’m in a little bit of an uncomfortable position, here. I think you’re position is this:
      A) Others are engaged in pointless speculation.
      B) When you fill in the blanks that scripture leaves open, it doesn’t count as speculation because it’s based on a long tradition which you place lots of faith in.

      The reason I’m uncomfortable with this is that it leaves me in the position of either having to agree that you are right or of having to attack your long tradition as a way of demonstrating that it’s assumptions shouldn’t be treated as gospel.

      The two options I’m left with aren’t helpful ones.
      You strike me as a Godly man. It’s one thing for me to offer a critique of the church as a whole. It’s another thing for me to go after you individually. I’m not so arrogant as to think that I’d be crushing your faith… I just don’t see that this is a helpful thing to do.

      In answer to the question: “You say that the church was on the wrong side of too many issues in history for it to have a good claim to authority in interpreting scripture, but then what are you replacing it with? Your own opinions?”

      I’d say in answer to this that I’m doing my best to replace these views with the most prayerful understanding of the scriptures I can come to.
      And I’d suggest that there’s no alternative to this… This is the best that any of us can do.

      I was a little less clear by what you meant by following that statement up with “You’re reacting, along with the world, against an imaginary authority that you yourself have created intellectually.” If you’d care to expand that, I’d be interested to hear.

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  6. I have a new question for you Jeff, maybe you could give some insight.

    I have an exam in my biblical course tonight, and I have been debating some key points with friends of mine regarding Abraham. I suspect we will have an essay question about his faith on this exam.

    “Why did Abraham leave everything to follow the call of God? Where did his tremendous faith come from?”

    One friend, a Jehovah Witness, cited Job Chapter 38 and a psalm, (I think 117)

    Another, an evangelical, pointed me to Romans 4: 18-23 and the godly line of Shem

    It is such an interesting question – considering the scattering of the people, the mixing up of languages and Nimrod, who was there to instill faith in God in Abraham. When our professor posed the question, I commented on the obvious answer… “Well wouldn’t you go if God called you?” – the professor’s response was “How did he know it was God?” – the whole class was in the debate…

    Do you have an opinion?

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    1. What a fascinating question. I’ll be really interested to hear how the discussion goes.

      The only thought I have about the issue is that perhaps God chose Abram because he saw that Abram had such tremendous potential. After all, it’s not like this was a lottery and God had to call whatever random person’s name he drew out of a hat. Being omniscient, he could find the best person for the job.

      I suppose that this is side-stepping part of the question… It doesn’t explain why Abram was the best person for the job. But scripture doesn’t offer a whole lot about Abram’s life before God called him. We get the Tower of Babel, a listing of Abram’s ancestors, and then… poof! God calls out to him.

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  7. Well, the discussion didn’t go too far. The exam question was to give an example of Abraham’s faith, not nearly as all encompassing as I was preparing myself for.

    The key points of understanding that a man of Abraham’s nature and background (family history and status) leads me to believe he had some time to ‘ponder the world” and in doing so could not dismiss the greater power that was obviously at work. And, as we know from many cultures, there were origination stories and myths in all societies.

    So, in considering these points, it seems that Abraham was ready for ‘a call’. And, not only ready, but able and willing to do something greater then just subsist in the land and gain wealth.

    I believe his faith also builds, growing as he experiences God more and more – which of course is ultimately clear in the sacrifice of Isaac. (Let’s remember too the faith he must have instilled in Isaac to be a willing sacrifice and not question or fight his father.)

    All in all, the study of Genesis has been an interesting journey. Our class began with Exodus through Deuteronomy and then returned to the beginning so we could best understand the ‘primeval’ history Genesis would bring us.

    We now move onto Joshua…

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  8. Brother, I just have to laugh at us! We are both so entrenched in our own being that we can’t see over the edge, sort of like what happens after you fall into a black hole. You can’t see out.

    Forgive me for carrying on a conversation which was doomed from the start. This is an example of where words are impossible, they can drive wedges of discord between people where none exists.

    Basic faith clears up all misunderstandings. When we use our brains to think with instead of using them for what they were meant for—to see God—we become blind.

    Go with God, brother, and forward, further and deeper into the promise, where Christ awaits to plucked and eaten, where He hangs as our precious Fruit on the Tree of Life.

    The gates of repentance are open. Yes, paradise awaits. Kalí sarakostí!

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