Genesis 2:4-3:24 KJV

The Story of Eve and Adam

These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,
And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a woman to till the ground.
But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.
And the Lord God formed woman of the dust of the ground, and breathed into her nostrils the breath of life; and woman became a living soul.
And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the woman whom he had formed.
And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.
11 The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;
12 And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone.
13 And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.
14 And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.
15 And the Lord God took the woman, and put her into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
16 And the Lord God commanded the woman, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
18 And the Lord God said, It is not good that the woman should be alone; I will make her an help meet for her.
19 And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Eve to see what she would call them: and whatsoever Eve called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
20 And Eve gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Eve there was not found an help meet for her.
21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Eve, and she slept: and he took one of her ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
22 And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from woman, made he a man, and brought him unto the woman.
23 And Eve said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: he shall be called man, because he was taken out of Woman.
24 Therefore shall a woman leave her mother and her father, and shall cleave unto her husband: and they shall be one flesh.
25 And they were both naked, the woman and her husband, and were not ashamed.

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the man, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

And the man said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
And the serpent said unto the man, Ye shall not surely die:
For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
And when the man saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, he took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto his wife and with him; and she did eat.
And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Eve and her husband hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.
And the Lord God called unto Eve, and said unto her, Where art thou?
10 And she said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
12 And the woman said, The man whom thou gavest to be with me, he gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
13 And the Lord God said unto the man, What is this that thou hast done? And the man said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
14 And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
15 And I will put enmity between thee and the man, and between thy seed and his seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
16 Unto the man he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy wife, and she shall rule over thee.
17 And unto Eve he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy husband, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
20 And Eve called her husband’s name Adam; because he was the father of all living.
21 Unto Eve also and to her husband did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
22 And the Lord God said, Behold, the woman is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest she put forth her hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
23 Therefore the Lord God sent her forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence she was taken.
24 So he drove out the woman; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

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Song of Solomon

The song of songs, which is Solomon’s.

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine😚😉.
Because of the savour of thy good ointments😉 thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee.
Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee.
I am black, but comely😩, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.
Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother’s children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.
Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions😖😓?
If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids🍕🍟 beside the shepherds’ tents.
I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh’s chariots.
10 Thy cheeks are comely😉 with rows of jewels💎💎💎, thy neck with chains of gold.
11 We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver.
12 While the king sitteth at his table🙇, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.
13 A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me; he shall lie all night👉👌 betwixt my breasts.
14 My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi.
15 Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves’ eyes.
16 Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant: also our bed is green😕.
17 The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir.

I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.

As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters😛.
As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste😋😉😆.
He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.
Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples🍎🍎: for I am sick of love😒😓.
6 ✋His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me🖐.
I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please😩.
The voice of my beloved! behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains✈, skipping upon the hills🚌.
My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself through the lattice😁.
10 My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away😉.
11 For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone☔;
12 The flowers appear on the earth🍄; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land😐;
13 The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell😉. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.
14 O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs😕, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.
15 Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes🍇🍆.
16 My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies🍑😉.
17 Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether❤💕💖.

Organic Morality

I don’t know anybody who thinks that they are not moral or good. But what does that mean? Is it the piety found in religion? Is it giving to the poor? Eating Vegan? How can a person read, “love thy neighbor as thyself” and continue to partake in the same bloodshed and tragedy that’s persisted throughout history?

Do bacteria count as life? Are chemicals alive? An atom? Does the cell suffer when it splits? Must it have a brain? Jellyfish don’t, but I consider them a living thing. If everything is energy, then it’s active, and if that’s true then everything is alive in a way. This is much easier to accept than the opposing argument: that we and all else are lifeless bio-cogs in a Petri dish.

This is a fallacy, though, perhaps only a few things are really living, in that case, the Christians have it right that we are held accountable, but it’s to death, not God. Life is then precious for the sake living and nothing else. Morals then come from the necessity to live.

Free From Misery II: Chasing Whispers

When I talk about being miserable I mean one’s discomfort with their place in the world. Sadness and tragedy can come from anywhere, I’m talking about the feeling we get when we contemplate the dull knife of death inching into us or when the realities we’ve built suffer damage.

We’re always chasing vapors and always confounded when they slip our grasp. We buy clothes to fit in, but still we dwell on our nakedness. We chase love and file for divorce. Companies that thrive on clothing, make-up, dieting, and fucking rely on Photoshop and filters to make people look flawless, but perfection isn’t obtainable. Our very existence hinges on split-ends and pimples.

Perfection is the reason I let the holy books gather dust. To present humanity with a supernatural caricature of ourselves and tell everyone it’s the best—the highest aspiration—makes everyone less of a person by comparison. It’s a psychic attack built around making people feel powerless and ineffective without co-dependence, not just on God, but the man at the pulpit who speaks on His behalf.

So what good does this do anyone? Why should we do anything at all if everything we want and strive for is bullshit? Why go to church? Why go on? Why not jump into traffic or throw yourself off a cliff? The answer is simple. You wouldn’t do that because that’s not what you feel compelled to do.

We’re driven by our biology to live, survive, and smash our bodies together in the way that makes life go on. What’s damning is figuring out why? This obnoxious need to know. The raspy ceaseless voice that cries “Why?” long after our childhood curiosities dwindle. Our parents eventually get really sick of answering questions and say something like “just because” or “I don’t know” and that’s probably as honest as our parents will ever be. We’re never going to have all the answers. Even if we do someday, what does it matter? The sun’s going to explode in a few billion and wipe away every deed done, forever.

I’m Everything Because I’m Nothing

I grew up in south Texas, the crotch of the “Bible Belt”, raised by a broken family. Three generations whose core social theme involved two things: god and politics. Today, I’m only writing about one, God. My step-dad was very open about his faith and his conservative leanings. He and my grandmother fought constantly over politics—she was very liberal. When I was young she read me the Bible, and after I learned how to read, I read it, in all it’s King James glory. But above all Christianity for us was social–God and country. My parents where “Christian” and they also collected porn, drank, and smoked weed and tobacco.

Things changed when I moved up north thought. Due to some family issues I went to live with my dad and sister in Michigan for four years, until I graduated. And he had some radical ideas about the bible, to say the least. The world of the Evangelical Christian is bizarre. Buzz words like faith healing, prophesy, chastity. It was never uncommon to see someone literally rolling around or convulsing, people literally going out of their minds “in the spirit”, and as a kid I had no idea how crazy many of these people really were. To be fair, they’re a very small amount of Christians—most people aren’t as extreme. Largely, what I discovered is that Christianity isn’t so much a religion, but a social value system (Aslan).

People naturally seek meaning and purpose, it’s part of what makes us human. We need meaning because it allows us to fully master our environment—this is the premise behind a lot of the popular psychologist Victor Frankl’s work. In an article by Neel Burton on Frankl, he quotes the following:

We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms—to choose one’s own attitude in any given set of circumstances—to choose one’s own way.

The problem is practical application.

Religion works for many people, and it has its place in culture. It didn’t work for me because I’m the type of person to comb over every sacred word looking for flaws. But now the question is how does one be ethical without a book of ethics? For me, ditching the bible was a great start. The fear of hell-fire over every little sin becomes very stressful. I’ve seen a lot of Christians break down over “sinning”. Jesus does make a few good pitches about love, life, and money (my personal favorite), but he also told his followers he’d return before they had died. Jesus talked about sacrificing his life, but if you come back to life, three days or not, isn’t so much a sacrifice as it is hiding around for three days, and surprising everyone who thought you’d died. Jesus then made sure to bash “doubting” Thomas for making sure he wasn’t full of bull—that’s anti-intellectualism.

As for biblical ethics, I found I did what many other Christians did, pick whichever rules and rituals to follow–there are many to choose from. The ethics didn’t come from the book, they came from me. Otherwise I’d have to use all my time burning offerings to God and other strange things modern living simply doesn’t accommodate. So I walked away from religion and started a journey I began before I moved to Michigan, the pursuit of myself. And to get there, I used the philosophy of Existentialism.

Ultimately, the problem of trying to find meaning is that there just isn’t any. We get a few years, maybe, then we face the abyss of nothingness. That really freaks a lot of people out. Religions reconcile this with the idea of a heaven, or reincarnation, but those ideas break down under critical examination. So why do anything if nothing matters? If this spinning rock is just some strange accident and if we’re doomed to simply fade out of memory, then why try? Try, because in the absence of real tangible meaning, the only thing left is the meaning you make.

Religion, Christianity, I think in particular has come under a lot fire. Richard Dawkins believes religion breeds extremism. But everywhere you look, be it the church, the senate, or the battlefield, there are extremists. No matter what you believe, it’s going to seem like a delusion to someone else, and there’s nothing wrong with a bit of delusion either (Popova). Each of us has a self-enhancement bias. In his book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, he describes talking to prisoners, all of whom talked of themselves in a very positive light, people who’ve killed others in cold blood, to show that we all view ourselves in a unrealistically positive light—and that helps keep us sane.

Dwelling on the “The Nothing” as the Never Ending Story put it for kids, renders us fearfully incapacitated—religion can do the same. I believe our ethics boil down to the “golden rule” because we can’t stay alive unless we help those around us do the same, and I think most people will do just about anything to say alive. The difficult part is find our own personal meaning in the midst of all the chaos around us.

Existentialism’s answer to that is to shed the thing you believe you are, and to accept what you really are, and what you really are depends on what you really do. So many of us try to express ourselves with labels. I’ve made use of labels throughout this entire essay: existentialism, Christianity, god, good, evil; all really more like Plato’s forms—abstract ideas that can’t be articulated—like trying to describe love, we all see it differently.

As I stripped away the vanity, the malice, and the mindless distractions, I began to see myself as complexity rather than an embodiment of ideas of which can either hinder life or progress it (because to do nothing is to hinder). A complexity can’t be reduced to single, simple, stereotype or idea. I think that makes life inherently beautiful, and to maintain that beauty we must maintain ourselves, and consequently each other.

Work Cited

Aslan, Reza. “May 13, 2015 – Reza Aslan” The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. By Comedy Central. 2015. Web.

Burton, Neel, M.D. “Man’s Search for Meaning.” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, LLC, 24 May 2012. Web. 26 May 2015.

Popova, Maria. “How Our Delusions Keep Us Sane: The Psychology of Our Essential Self- Enhancement Bias.” Brain Pickings. N.p., 04 June 2014. Web. 28 May 2015.

Dreams

When I was really young I had two strange dreams. In the first, I was deep inside a cave, so big I looked like an ant. And before me was this immense opening, leading deeper still, but as I approached it I felt something I can’t really explain, but if a single word could do it justice, then it felt hollow. The rest of the cave seemed bright compared to the path before me. A sort of dull terror seized me, and I woke up. In the next dream I’m crawling through a maze of plastic pipes, like the slides on playgrounds, but these tubes just went on and on and on, with no life, no point, just a strange maze that filled me with that same hollow feeling.

When I was a teenager the dreams took a strange turn. I don’t have many nightmares, thankfully, but bad dream or no, enough of them ended with me “waking up” but unable to move. Granted, there’s a perfectly good scientific explanation for this. We can become conscious while still under sleep paralysis, if you haven’t, Google it–it’s enlightening. I was 14 and quite ignorant when this started to happen, and encouraged by my dad to believe it was demons, and his only advise was pray until it was over. So that’s what I did for many years.

After I gave up religion I discovered a couple things about my strange dreams. For some odd reason, sleep paralysis happens to me most when I’m face up. Either I fall asleep on my back, or I end up that way from tossing and turning, I always wake with my eyes to the ceiling. I have no idea how that affects my dreaming, but it does. Also, it’s not scary anymore. I don’t actually believe invisible tormentors are waiting for me to sleep–and that’s when something really special happens.

A few years ago I had a dream that I was walking through a garden in a large greenhouse. Not an ordinary greenhouse because the panes looked like cut crystal–I was lucid dreaming at this point. Something caught my eye, I turned to look at it and my brain drifted back. I couldn’t move, I opened my eyes, and my room was light blue, as if it were dawn. I pushed my chest up as hard as I could, and I started to sit up when I turned and looked down at myself asleep, then I woke. The strange phenomenon is commonly called astral projection. For me it was just a long lucid dream, I don’t believe we have a soul, much less that we can release it to wander and affect others. Sadly, the experience hasn’t happened since then–next time, I’m projecting myself to the coast.

Good Friday

After my usual two cups of late morning coffee, I went down the street to grab an order of Huevos rancheros. As I approached a long string of people whose two leaders, a cute old couple, passed me carrying a cross. I could count all those under thirty on both hands, and I’m sure they were coerced into it because they were all texting while a couple, probably in their mid-70s, marched on in the rain. I know it’s Good Friday, but honestly what is point of carrying a cross around town with a bunch of people. If you wanna go for a walk and feel holy, march your ass down to a homeless shelter and cook some food. If you can carry a cross around, then it stands to reason you can carry a box of old cloths to people who don’t have any, or do one better and donate feminine hygiene products. Yeah, they nailed Jesus to a cross and he rose three days later, that’s not even his best miracle–compared to making wine out of water. He also killed a tree, hallucinated in a desert while he starved himself, and told everyone he’d be back before they died. Carrying a cross isn’t going to fill the pews, but helping the poor and hungry can’t hurt.

You could worship a tire and, unlike years ago when I thought everyone had to be an atheist, I won’t say a word against it. But I’m gonna be up your ass if that tire tells you to teach children unsubstantiated “science,” vote against women’s rights, or take from the working class.

Money, Politics, and the Mind

I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. “ – Jesus Christ

I’m no longer a religious person, but truth can be found almost anywhere. Unlike so many who believe a wallet stuffed with Benjamins is the key to happiness, but Christ wasn’t so hot on money. Christ’s words seem a little odd though. Why a camel? It’s hard enough just getting a thread through the eye. As the story goes the actual “eye of the needle” was a smaller secondary entrance into Jerusalem which only an unpacked camel could pass through. Unfortunately, there is no concrete proof to the story, but it’s the oldest, and it gives Christ’s words a practical meaning: it’s difficult for the rich man to enter because it’s difficult for the wealthiest to give up, or “unpack” their temporary status and income. Throughout history the wealthy have always sought more wealth, typically at the expense of others, but what if they couldn’t help it? What if they were driven by a force they weren’t consciously aware of?

Neuroscience is slowly unlocking the mystery behind our brains, but doing so is putting some powerful human ideas to rest. The soul, freewill—our diets and dispositions have more to do with what the bacteria in our stomachs want than what we believe we want independent of external forces. We have a long way to go before we fully understand the brain, but it’s giving us clues to how and why people think and practice the things they do.

Scientists can predict a person’s political stance by simply showing them disgusting images and watching what part of their brain fires—with 94% accuracy. Overall their study demonstrates an evolutionary need to stay away from rotting things. Before the days of doctors and antibacterial soap a rotting dead carcass was a real risk to one’s health (Feltman). Another study done reveals the same pattern. Scientists monitored the brain scans of people weighing a risky gambling decision. Marina Koren of the Smithsonian sums up the findings:

Building on this, the new research shows that Democrats exhibited significantly greater activity in the left insula, a region associated with social and self-awareness, during the task. Republicans, however, showed significantly greater activity in the right amygdala, a region involved in our fight-or flight response system.

Koren’s article focused on brain plasticity, comparing the data to another study that showed cab drivers developed more gray matter in the part of the brain responsible for navigation. I think that’s a bad comparison. It makes sense that someone who drives all day, everyday, would develop the brain wiring needed to do such a task well, but how do we do that with politics—which for many of us isn’t a day job.

Brain plasticity makes it very difficult to determine if our worldviews are inherent and beyond our ability to control, or if our environment plays a greater role, which gives us some control. It’s probably both, but if so than how much of which? It may seem trivial, but a lot goes into our politics—not just money. Laura Meckler reports the differences found by the Pew Research Center, “Conservatives are more likely to value teaching religious faith and obedience. Liberals are more likely to value teaching tolerance, empathy for others, curiosity and creativity.” Those observations cut to the core of our nation’s political divide. If we can figure out the chemistry of political breakdown then we can resolve many of the problems in Washington.

Right now there’s a lot more correlation than causation, but notable insights can be taken. It’s very important to be aware of the forces that drive our decisions—like voting. Had the rich man in Christ’s story unpacked his possessions for the kingdom’s sake he’d have gained spiritual wealth. We too have the opportunity to unpack our thoughts and emotions by being aware of our biases, be they genetic or environmental. That awareness allows us to more deliberately and conscientiously weigh our decisions. And although we won’t live forever, our legacy may live on.

Works Cited

Feltman, Rachel. “Your Brain’s Response to a Gross Photo Can Reveal Your Political Leanings.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 30 Oct. 2014. Web. 19 Feb. 2015.

Koren, Marina. “Study Predicts Political Beliefs With 83 Percent Accuracy.” Smithsonian.com. Smithsonian, 14 Feb. 2013. Web. 19 Feb. 2015.

Meckler, Laura. “Study: How Liberals, Conservatives Split on Religion and Tolerance.” Wall Street Journal. Wall Street Journal, 18 Sept. 2014. Web. 20 Feb. 2015.