Jesus in our time – 1

Jesus in our time – 1

I was tired that morning and my mouth tasted dry and chalky as I reached for the first sip of iced tea. I had quit smoking some time ago, so, as with most mornings while I reach for the first sip of iced tea with a lemon and the crackling splendor of infinite fresh so fresh, I wished I could smoke and enjoy a cigarette with my iced tea; and then, of course, as with mornings, I recoiled as my body remembered how cigarettes made it feel.

I was supposed to be at work. I was at work. But nothing was happening at work and I was getting ready to sit in my comfy !ergodynamic-and-plush! swivel chair, and have a half an apple and half a cara cara orange (the red kind) with iced tea. Oh, so I guess I wasn’t having lemon in my tea that morning; since I only do that on mornings when I don’t have a little fruit for breakfast.

I was at work, but didn’t plan to start working for another hour. I opened my Scofield Study Bible, trying again to read it, starting again at Genesis, glancing again over the glosses, hearing again an ancient middle eastern people through the lens of 20th Century English-speaking Protestantism.

What about this:

And Jehovah God saith, ‘Lo, the man was as one of Us, as to the knowledge of good and evil; and now, lest he send forth his hand, and have taken also of the tree of life, and eaten, and lived to the age,’ —
Jehovah God sendeth him forth from the garden of Eden to serve the ground from which he hath been taken;
yea, he casteth out the man, and causeth to dwell at the east of the garden of Eden the cherubs and the flame of the sword which is turning itself round to guard the way of the tree of life. [Young’s literal translation (1898) Genesis 3 verses 22 through 24]

Or again, as King James would have it:

And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; 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.

We got so close to being God! Why didn’t Eve think to pick fruit from both the Tree of Life and the Tree of Good and Evil!?!?!?

And now what? We’re like God (?like the Gods who used to reign over this story before it became monotheistic?) in our knowledge of good and evil, but like tadpoles in that we’re trapped in timespace and thus cannot ever really get it together. Except, no, that’s not quite right, because the Jehovah hanging out in this Garden was in time and space. Well, was He?

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. [KJV, Genesis 1:1-10]

In the beginning, God created two worlds, both filled with water, and he divided the two realms with a firmament called “Heaven”? So “Heaven” is the dividing line between this world and another, similar world? I thought Heaven was that other realm. And I can’t tell from this passage, if God started from outside time and space or not.

I was going to say that our problem is not so much that we get old and die, but that we are stuck within timespace, and thus can never enter true wisdom, which is the perspective of eternity, the perspective beyond timespace, mind, matter, and cause-and-effect. But then I see that it’s not even clear that God was ever outside timespace, and that His big ambition was to create a place where he could hang out with His creation in timespace, but He foolishly gave them access to a pair of trees that could turn his human creations into Gods. What was He thinking?

But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man 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.

And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone. And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia (Cush). And the name of the third river is Hiddekel (Tigris): that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.

And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 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.

[KJV, Genesis 2:6-17. I added (Cush) behind Ethiopia, since the literal text here is “Cush”, which the Bible often associates with Ethiopia. Herodotus seemed to think there was both an African and a middle-eastern Ethiopia, which would help with the geography of this account, although it’s hard to get four rivers flowing out of any hypothesized Eden. NB: Having an Ethiopia in the Middle East would also make the Pericles story’s geography more fathomable. I also added (Tigris) behind Hiddekel, because the latter is the Hebrew word for the former.]

Why didn’t God tell Adam that he couldn’t eat of the Tree of Eternal Life? And why didn’t Adam eat of that tree right away? What was he waiting for? A helpmate? Okay, so when Eve comes online, why don’t they immediately go and eat of the Tree of Eternal Life? And now what? We’re stuck with only the worst part of being godlike: We know we’re full of shit, but we’ve not the energy, elasticity, and leisure to shrug it off and enjoy ourselves.

And it was with such dark and spiritually unreasonable brooding that I answered the first call of the day.

“Hello, I’m going to have an operation next month and wondered if there are any rooms available.”

“Yes, sure, what dates?”

“The operation is the sixth. I was hoping on booking the fifth through the tenth.”

“No problem, all our bookings are conveniently located within timespace and abide by any and all physical laws, not to mention all local, state, and federal regulations.”

“I’m sorry?”

“No need to apologize. I said that we charge $50 a night, and you can book with a credit card.”

“Ah, Okay. Is there a cancellation fee?”

“Are you going to cancel?”

“Uh, I don’t plan on cancelling, but you never know what might come up.”

“Of course, I understand implicitly. The cancellation fee is $10 per cancelled night.”

“OK, well, I guess, I guess I’ll book those days, then.”

“Sure, no problem, I would be happy to assist you. However, has it ever occurred to you that if humans were given the ability to differentiate between Good and Evil, that implies an eternal perspective, and we can therefore not use mortality as an excuse, since we clearly have the ability to stand outside of our mortality for the space of contemplations upon moral questions?”

“I had not thought of it in so many words, but has it ever occurred to you that outside of time and space, there is no Good and Evil, but only an infinite undifferentiated explosion of Pure Love?”

“Yes, yes it had. Are you single?”

And that’s how I met her, my dear Susan, without whom I was lost and with whom I have been found.

And nothing was ever going to happen without Susan, because without her, I was going to keep drinking early and waking late and drinking early and going nowhere all day long every day day upon day.

We were surprised by a knock at our door. I had been surprised that Susan had come home early. She was surprised to find me smoking a cigarette. I was not surprised when she did not believe me when I told her that it was the first cigarrette I’d smoked in years. We were surprised by a knock at the door.


Author: Bartleby Willard
Editor: Amble Whistletown
Copyright: Andrew Mackenzie Watson

Comments are closed.