Archive for November, 2009

A Meditation on Creation and our Modern Situation

November 23, 2009

“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”
– Genesis 1:31a (NIV)

If, as it says in Genesis, God was satisfied with the world as He had made it, and this was “very good,” why then did humanity feel the need (and still does) to change the creation so drastically from the way God made it?  God did not create this world with parking lots and highways, stadiums and strip malls, sky-scrapers and secret underground bunkers.  God made the world as it was before all of these so-called innovations, the very same natural world that man, for millennia now, has tried to “tame” and “master.”  We’ve been fed a cultural narrative of mankind “taming the jungle” as matters relate to development.  However, long before we had ever even thought to do so, God called this creation “very good.”  The jungle was a paradise.

So what went wrong?

“But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will certainly die.”
– Genesis 2:16-17 (NIV)

According to the story of Genesis, God forbid mankind from eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but, as we all know, that same account says that man ate that forbidden fruit and was thrust out of paradise.

Could it be that, when man ate that fruit, he did not actually gain a knowledge of good and evil, but thought that he did?  After all, God Himself had not had any problem leaving the man and woman naked, and you would assume that God, in all of His wisdom, would not neglect to cover them if their nakedness was shameful.  But when they ate of the fruit, thinking they were knowledgeable, they said, “let us cover ourselves.”  As Daniel Quinn points out in his novel Ishmael, the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil must surely have been sustenance for God, and as such, it cannot be expected that such Godly food could be made for people, and so this food would have passed through their bodies, undigested.  That is to say, mankind did not digest the knowledge of good and evil, and that knowledge remained mysterious to them.

However, having eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and not having immediately died, man was  now convinced that he could discern between good and evil, saying “whatever is beneficial for me must surely be good, and whatever is not must surely be evil.”

And so man undertook a sacred campaign to change the world to suit his desires.  Not having perfect knowledge of good and evil, however, man did not know that in his quest to make the world a better place for himself, he would be doing evil to other members of the community of life by ruining their habitats through his varied means of resource exploitation.  In doing so, man began disrupting the natural balances that God, in his perfect knowledge of good and evil, had created, and so man was breaking apart the natural order that made his world livable, even if it was at times inconvenient or even hostile.  In making the world unlivable, man was  undertaking a suicidal mission, a mission that would end in his death, which was why God forbade him from eating that fruit in the first place.

However, God has also given us the Holy Spirit, which, when we listen, will happily share with us Her knowledgeable thoughts on good and evil.  We therefore have the ability to recognize our arrogance, our mistakes, and out sin, and we have the opportunity to repent, to turn around, not only with our heart and minds, but with our hands.  We have the opportunity to turn around and leave our unsustainable habits, as temporarily pleasurable as they might be, and seek once again that sustainable pattern of living, that humble pattern of living, which reflects a belief in the account of Genesis 1:31, which tells us that God made this earth without all of our modern amenities, and that God called this creation “very good.”

I pray that God’s Holy Spirit will also grant us all the courage and grace to truly repent, and leave these unjust and unsustainable habits behind, in favor of the way that God favors. Amen.

A Call for Awaress

November 19, 2009

People, awake from your slumber and take a look around you!

When anthropologists in the future look back at us, they will say that the gods we worshipped were our corporations.  Just as pagan societies worshipped gods that they perceived through natural phenomena in the world around them, our society worships the god-like corporations that we experience through the amnesiac commercial landscape of material consumerism.  To be clear, when I say that we perceive these corporations to be god-like, I mean that we perceive them to be all-pervading and yet elusive, all-powerful in our lives and yet invisible, and with no selfish interest but to take care of our needs.

Furthermore, Modern neuro-psychologists have shown that corporate logos illicit the same responses in our brains as do religious symbols.  Just as Christianity has a cross or a fish, Judaism the Star of David, and Islam a crescent moon, our American religio-consumerism has its Swoosh and Golden Arches, its Target, VW emblem, or any one of a host of other symbols which illicit from our minds a feeling of pious loyalty and trust.

This ethos exists in part because people don’t even see it, though it’s right in front of their faces:  through commercials we are taught to look to these companies and the things they sell us for comfort and reassurance when things are at their worst.  Shopping malls are our modern-day temples and consumption is our sacrament.  We make pilgrimage, as often as we find time for, to the hallowed halls of our shopping malls, and faithfully, piously, and yes, patriotically consume, finding fulfillment therein and always looking with eagerness to the purchase hereafter, when we can find it bigger, better, and at a lower price.  We sacrifice our money and our allegiance to our gods in exchange for the assurance that this purchase will surely come; it is good for us and it is good for the economy.  It is indeed these very sacrifices of ours that give our gods their power, as they use them to buy favorable legislation from the men and women in high office.  Our gods then reinforce their Gospel through advertising on billboards and TV screens everywhere, and people are convinced that their car insurance company will watch over them with the same loving care as the God they read about in the Bible.  Are you in good hands?

Are you resting safe in the hand of the Almighty, or are you resting safe in the Invisible Hand of the Free Market?

The words of Isaiah come to my mind:  “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Hearken diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in fatness”  (Isaiah 55:2).

This blind, religionized consumerism is truly a form of hypnosis.  People need to harken to the voice of a true God and wake up.

a fundamental question, and a further truth.

November 17, 2009

If life were but a dream, and our dreams the reality, do we perceive them to be as nightmares?
Let me ask it this way:  is the essence of existence against me, or for my good?

Now, to progress from me and my toward we and ours is really a remarkably mature thing to do.  Enlightenment grants one an awareness of the connectedness and unity of all things that the self-centered fog of individualism leaves one blind to.