Friday, February 27, 2009

Why did Adam & Eve fail to dialogue with God?

In the book The Road Less Traveled, author Scott Peck M.D. discovers an important missing link in the serpent-and-the-apple story: "The key issue lies in what is missing. The story suggests that God was in the habit of 'walking in the garden in the cool of the day' and that there were open channels of communcation between Him and man. But if this was so, then why was it that Adam and Eve, separately or together, before or after the serpent's urging, did not say to God, 'We're curious as to why You don't want us to eat any of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. We really like it here, and we don't want to seem ungrateful, but Your law on this matter doesn't make much sense to us, and we'd really appreciate it if you explained it to us'? But of course they did not say this. Instead they went ahead and broke God's law without ever understanding the reason behind the law, without taking the effort to challenge God directly, question his authority or even communicate with Him on a reasonably adult level. They listened to the serpent, but they failed to get God's side of the story before they acted.

"Why this failure? Why was no step taken between the temptation and the action? It is this missing step that is the essence of sin. The step missing is the step of debate...The debate between the serpent and God is symbolic of the dialogue between good and evil which can and should occur within the minds of human beings. Our failure to conduct –or to conduct fully and wholeheartedly- this internal debate between good and evil is the cause of those evil actions that constitute sin. In debating the wisdom of a proposed course of action, human beings routinely fail to obtain God’s side of the issue. They fail to consult or listen to the God within them, the knowledge of rightness which inherently resides within the minds of all mankind. We make this failure because we are lazy. It is work to hold these internal debates. They require time and energy just to conduct them. And if we take them seriously –if we seriously listen to this “God within us”- we usually find ourselves being urged to take the more difficult path, the path of more effort rather than less. To conduct the debate is to open ourselves to suffering and struggle. Each and every one of us, more or less frequently, will hold back from this work, will also seek to avoid this painful step. Like Adam and Eve, and every one of our ancestors before us, we are all lazy. So original sin does exist; it is our laziness. It is very real. It exists in each and every one of us –infants, children, adolescents, mature adults, the elderly; the wise or the stupid; the lame or the whole. Some of us may be less lazy than others, but we are all lazy to some extent…Much of our fear is fear of a change in the status quo, a fear that we might lose what we have if we venture forth from where we are now...Here again the risk is of the loss of the status quo, and the fear is of the work involved in arriving at a new status quo...This fight against entropy (laziness) never ends." (p. 272-74)

This ties in beautifully with several points made at our St. Paul's Workshop tonight.

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