I've always been (and
am) intrigued with the story of Eden. I've brooded over
it and written about it many times, trying to tease out some other interpretation
besides crime and punishment.
Adam, the first human creation, was pretty much
coddled by God—fed, protected, cherished, given special benefits.
He received a mate because he was lonely, and, he didn't have much
to do to earn his keep. He was spoiled. rotten.
It's not rocket science to predict that the only
stated rule would be disobeyed. One of the hardest jobs for a parent
is to enforce the standards and inflict consequences. Without
that structure the child grows up undisciplined, unruly, and unprepared
for life outside the home. The consequence in Adam's case was life
outside the home. Only there, without all the props and privileges
of the garden, would he learn how life really works.
I think we've taken that story and twisted it inside
out. We've assumed that obedience and perfection are the points
here, when it may be that listening to the advice of one with
more knowledge and experience is the point.
Eating fruit that gave useless knowledge (of good
and evil) did not kill Adam, but it certainly messed with
his mind. He noticed he was naked and felt shame. He noticed he
had disobeyed and felt shame and fear. He reacted to both in ways
that were easily detected, and when challenged, he blamed his wife.
She in turn blamed the snake. Neither had ever experienced guilt
before, yet both knew instinctively the worst way to assuage it...
blame someone else.
A new life outside... totally new experiences, opportunities
to learn for themselves, to work and earn their own living, to trust
each other, rely on each other, support each other, rather than
blame each other... those were the consequences.
One of my studies (as a candidate to the religious
life) included an online course called The Universe Story,
based on a book by the same name written by Brian Swimme and Thomas
Berry. Using science and mathmatical cosmology, these men composed
a “new” story of creation charting the origins of our
universe from the “flaring forth” (big bang) til now.
The theme that humans, as self-reflecting beings, have evolved as
part of a larger, more profound universal tendency is explored.
I definitely enjoyed the challenge, and felt the
ideas expressed spoke of a deeper truth than we normally imagine,
but the fact that this was billed as a “new” story troubled
me. As a Christian I wanted very much to implant this story
into the older, poetic story of Genesis. While in general I regard
literal interpretations of Scripture with a pound of salt, I firmly
believe in the underlying truth beneath all mythology.
The composites in this “Eden” series
tell loosely of Adam and Eve’s time in the garden. The use
of an apple provides a symbolic container, not just for
consistency, but because if we all are, in fact, the apple of
God’s eye, then any judgments about temptation, disobedience
and consequences can be tempered with an understanding of that underlying
love, affection and forgiveness parents will have for their children.