November 23, 2008

The Human Condition according to Genesis 3.14-19

The Lord God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you beyond all cattle; and above all wild animals; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.

"I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."

To the woman, he said, "I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you."

And to Adam he said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I said, 'You shall not eat of it,' cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.

"In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread til you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. You are dust, and to dust you shall return."


At 7:55 a.m., Blogger forrest said...

It was William Stringfellow who reminded me (if I'd ever been quite unaware) that according to this, work is a curse!

That is, the American notion that earning one's living by the sweat of one's brow is not what makes people worthier than us! (It is, however, a burden that some people bear a lot more gracefully than I could!)

And that American dream about earning one's living by the sweat of someone else's brow is not merely contemptible; it is the flip side of that same curse. Neither can a person escape it by unemployment. All are consequences of our subjection to the Power Stringfellow called "death."

Having a worthy task, a project to carry out, is something else. But even that does not "justify" us; it is merely a set of psychic clothes we may wear to cover our spiritual 'nakedness.' (That said, there's nothing like clothes to keep us warm, prevent sunburn, console us for our lack of fur!)

George Fox, believing that he and Friends had been given a spiritual condition like that obtaining before The Fall (but transcending it, having learned its lesson) considered that Friends (like the early church) were in a spirit that transcended the subjection of women that most Puritan groups used the Bible to justify.

So far as we rightly understand Jesus, I would say we become less and less subject to 'death' as a Power... There are two common Zen answers to "What will happen to you when you die?"--

1) I will lie on my back with my arms & legs in the air


2) I was never born; how can I die?


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