Eating problems

In the previous post I suggested the possibility of a non-historic fall, that the text can be understood as indicating an accurate record of what has been the driving factor in the arena of human choice. An ancient text but maybe even the language suggests a root issue that is very pertinent to a society that is separated some millennia from that original story.

We read of the generosity of God – ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden’ except for one tree. We do not meet a killjoy God, but one who opens up all possibilities with boundaries. Boundaries are certainly a recurrent OT theme, from Sabbath, foods, neighbours’ boundaries etc. Maybe we could suggest ‘enjoy but respect boundaries’ as a strap-line for both the garden of Eden and the OT, and of course the word translated as ‘trespass’ covers this aspect. We can add the concept of disobedience or rebellion, but the wording in the text surrounding the fall is such an up-to-date critique:

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

Saw – delight – desired – took – ate.

Some versions even use the verb consumed! ‘I saw the latest… really want one… must consume’??? Consumerism is not very original but could well be at the heart of the original sin. Endless ‘more’ becoming the path to destruction. Shuts God out, causes alienation horizontally, causes problems for creation – then opens the door to murder, exploitative building projects, secure national boundaries. Maybe when we say everything is mine to possess we release ever greater measures of disruption, chaos and conflict. Certainly seems to be James’ perspective:

You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions

Contentment with enjoyment counteracts the never ending drive for more. And perhaps it is cultivation within the boundaries that God sets (work), and cultivation for the ‘other’ that is to shape society. Taking responsibility for the sake of the other might be the kingdom pathway. Although addressing the thief, if we understand the original insatiable drive for more as robbery, the Ephesian text becomes very pertinent:

Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.

There is a total reversal – as is always the case with redemption. Taking what is not our own (the negative – the Fall) to working with one’s own hands (the neutral – Creation) to giving to those in need (the positive – Redemption).

Likewise Jesus dies the death of the common criminal, the trespasser, the thief, to rise and become a Life-giving Spirit.

So coming to a close – do we read primarily of an emphasis on individual sin or a critique of human society, and indeed a very accurate critique of our Western capitalist driven society? I am neither suggesting that there is no critique of other societies, nor that entrepreneurship is wrong – certainly not… Yet ancient texts loosed from our desire to have them as historic records and allowed to roam free as holy myths might release their power and open up other ways of reading. What if Abraham / Israel were called to live counter-cultural to all the nations of their day? What would the implications of that be? Where might that lead us in our writing out loud?

Writing out loud

Ever had crazy thoughts? Or thoughts that are outside of the box that had shaped your thinking previously? Well for a few posts I plan to explore where some such thinking might take us. I am, so don’t worry, pretty conservative so will not likely be straying too far outside of the boundaries that we evangelically-types tend to think within. This will hardly be a systematic approach, but I will try to stay inside the Creation and then wider OT narratives to begin with. So a couple of preambles then off we go at a gentle pace.

Gen. 1-11 are pretty much to the Hebrew scriptures what the Hebrew scriptures are to the New Testament. They provide an important backdrop for us to understand the call of Abraham and the ensuing ups and downs of the Jewish people.

They deal with a lot of pre-history and whether they were understood literally or not (people living to an extraordinary old age, towers being built, a garden with a talking serpent etc.), I do not consider the type of literature was intended to say ‘these are objective facts so you must take the literally or else!’, but rather they are wonderful vehicles for the communication of truth. They help us understand our world, how it relates to God, and where we fit into the scheme of things.

So I am open to:

  • creation being way old, or even eternal as God is eternally in his nature a creator.
  • Adam and Eve being figurative, and that there was not ‘an’ Adam.
  • no garden
  • no serpent
  • no fall

OK, I heard the shout… what no fall?

Remember I am simply writing out loud, but I am also not writing to shock. And what I mean is no actual historic fall. I am certainly not suggesting that humanity is not fallen. So with that understanding what am I suggesting by ‘no historic fall’.

Let’s start with something I am pretty confident on: humanity was not created perfect. The most we can say is that they are created innocent, with the potential for perfection. So maybe even in that we could suggest the fall is more a failure to develop in humility and obedience than it was to ‘fall’ from perfection.

But if there was never a historic fall, and the Gen. 3 narrative is a myth to communicate truth, and that humanity has always been fallen this could open up an exciting element. Without God, and without the suffering of God, dare I say it, without the death of God there never was going to be a destiny revealed. Could this be what the Scriptures are reaching for with the description of ‘the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world’? God’s commitment then would be to the salvation of humanity, the fulfilment of their destiny, and that he was not going to ever stand aloof from us but would partner with us to achieve that. His contribution to the partnership? Suffering and Death. WOW.

I am not suggesting that there is something dark in God whereby he created us fallen, but that without God and without his suffering added to our world there can be no perfection. That without God’s total outpouring of life destiny can never be fulfilled. If we are in the image of God then we have to see in God what we need to be. And that ultimately is love outpoured, through suffering, through death, solely so as others might live. Fulfilling destiny then is not about obeying laws (eat this but not that) and when we fail to do so God bails us out, but it is about the total outpouring of love for the other. Humanity has never lived at this level – we have always been fallen. (Stop writing out loud now but much more to explore!!)

About this site

I am the main contributor to this site, though there are guest writers from time to time. Hopefully, what is presented are perspectives not the final word!

I am currently developing a part of the site with a focus on the 'gates of society'. That section will develop more as a forum with links to other articles, so that it becomes a resource for the future. I will also be looking for other contributors into the various subject-areas.

In my spare time(!!) I enjoy putting together wordpress sites, and also coaching people to make their own - open to hearing from you on that too.

Magazine articles

Just some more blogs? No, of course not, nothing even similar... well maybe very similar indeed, but hopefully you can use them differently. At the foot of this home page you will find 10 more blogs, these ones are grouped together, they will only be replaced every few months with a new set of 10. They can be downloaded as an emagazine, or read here as blogs (click on one and read, or use the 'emagazine' link in the menu above). Here on this site you can also add your comment.

Their core focus will be toward the gates of influence in society. They will not be the final word, hopefully provocative with some practical aspects thrown in.

The first four volumes will be uploaded here in quick succession, after that a breather before the next one. You can access earlier volumes from the emagazine page using the menu at the top of this page.

So you see - nothing like a blog!!

WordPress design

I develop WordPress based web-sites specifically made for your site. This site here is based on WP and uses a theme that I have developed. It can be as simple as a set of posts and some pages, or a few additional elements can be added such as this animated set of tabs that are activated here. I also plan the sites so that they are mobile-friendly, being responsive, they adjust to the device being used to view them.

If interested in a site feel free to make contact. I also have various courses on WP theme development. If interested in taking one of them online, or indeed you would wish to contact me about presenting a course to a small group.

Previous posts

Prophetic Voices 2

This might be redundant to my UK friends but it is an encouraging sign for those of us in the USA, voices like this are starting to get some traction… I love the quote “It’s hard to be a prophet on the payroll”…which is an interesting thought about resource and speaking to the issues…perhaps this […]

Remember this

Veterans Day, Armistice Day, Remembrance Day.  November 11 goes by many different labels, depending on your history or tradition in your nation.  In Canada, we go with Remembrance Day.  So what is it that we are supposed to remember anyway?  WW1 (aka the Great War), WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam, Iraq-1, Iraq-2, Afghanistan?  Perhaps the end […]

Magazine Articles

Editorial Vol 2.1

In this issue there are a number of articles to respond to. Dyfed reviews Roger Mitchell’s thesis Church, Gospel & Empire. Roger’s book is his thesis so we should not expect it to be an easy read, however, with Dyfed’s review I think the book will be accessible for most. In a recent blog Roger […]

When is a Gate not a Gate?

It is a simple question. Should religion be treated as a gateway in the model of the city that we explore on this blog? Martin and I have both, perhaps instinctively, said no. Then Martin invited an article on the topic: then I got to thinking: then, well, you’ll see.

Ownership, stewardship & forgiveness

“So the business leaders of today are not capitalists in the sense in which Arkwright and Rockefeller were capitalists. Modern titans derive their authority and influence from their position in a hierarchy, not their ownership of capital. They have obtained these positions through their skills in organisational politics, in the traditional ways bishops and generals […]

It’s the Economy stupid!

So much talk about the economy, but what is the economy? Is it just pounds and pence? Dollars and Euros and cents? The Cambridge dictionary defines it as “the system of trade and industry by which the wealth of a country is made and used.”

W.I.L.D. voices for the poor and the powerless

For some time I have been wrestling with the issues of money, care for the poor and how our present western economic system seeks to support people in need. As a community at Antioch, Llanelli we have a focus on ‘God’s presence and the poor’ and over many years see the day to day pressures of folks who are increasingly struggling financially in these challenging times.

Church, Gospel & Empire: a review

‘How is it that the best of church experience in both traditional and radical expressions tends to relapse to hierarchical domination and control?’ This is Roger Haydon Mitchell’s chilling question in his introduction to his newly published PhD thesis, Church, Gospel & Empire.

Art shaping culture

It has been received wisdom for a while now that economic power is shifting from the old world to the new world. Continental Europe is faced with tremendous headwinds to do with spiraling social costs and an ageing population that means growth over the next 100 years will be hard to come by. In the developing world on the other hand very low wage rates and high worker motivation are combining to create a compelling long term argument for excess growth rates and wealth creation for those markets.

Values: unelectability

I watched a film recently ‘Ides of March’. A film looking at people on the campaign trail. The governor has sex with the intern (definitely a big ‘no’ in the film)… However, the areas that were far more challenging though were to do with the ethics of winning votes. One example were meetings with fellow politicians to gain their endorsement. Making a deal so that votes could be guaranteed – in return a position in the forthcoming government.

Wealth: redefinitions

Definitions of course have their limitations, but I was provoked and challenged when sitting listening to a Zimbabwean speak. His question to us was to consider what are we were investing into. To help us he used the two phrases of ‘artificial’ and ‘creational’ wealth. One he said was how the (industrialised) West defines wealth, but is illusionary. This he, therefore, termed ‘artificial’.

Come back Christian nation

Abortion, gay marriage, Sunday trading (sorry, strike that one off, as we like that now)… All evidence that we are losing it. The ‘look, once we could see Cathedrals and church spires on the landscape, now Mosques are where churches once stood’ type of statement are all laments about what is disappearing.