Eden revisited

Trees and flowing water at Tel Dan National Park, Israel

A few different friends suggested that I watch Good Omens on Amazon Prime. It’s funny, British, has a stellar cast, and is an irreverent take on the relationship between good and evil? I’m there. (Well, I’m only 3/4 of an episode there so far. Finishing a thesis and attending Annual Conference really takes it out of a person.)

As I was driving in to the church this morning, though, I started thinking about humanity, the garden, the “fall” and “original sin.” I decided to process here, where others might find something in my thoughts too.

The garden

In the beginning, Genesis tells us, God created the adamh. Later, when God decides that the adamh needs a partner, God creates that partner from the adamh themselves. What if…what if that separation occurs after the adamh eats the fruit of the tree of knowledge?

Hear me out. The adamh is with God, whole and wholly in God’s presence. As a child they delight in the wonders of creation, and as a child they become curious about the tree in the center of the garden. It is not time for that, God says. All I have made is for you, just let this one tree be. And the adamh, for the first time, senses that they are separate from God. The tree becomes the focus of that sense of separation. The fruit embodies the adamh‘s obsession with figuring out why. So they eat, and then they know.

Separation

Knowledge without wisdom is a dangerous thing. The adamh panics now. They understand now that some things are “good” and some are “evil” and humans really are separated from God and oh no, God isn’t going to love me anymore. The adamh becomes desperate to separate themselves from the impulses that led them to eat from the tree. And thus does one human, wholly connected to God, become an echo of themselves. Humans then birth humans, female and male and nonbinary and intersex and in countless variations–because the adamh, the human, was never supposed to be separated. But even separation reflects the boundless creativity of God.

So the humans exit the garden. And I think maybe it’s not that God pushes them out, but that the humans are so aware of their separation, so convinced that God doesn’t want them, that they slink away through a chink in the wall rather than being locked out at the gate. (That’s what happens in Good Omens, anyway.) And what develops over centuries is an understanding of a harsh, punitive God who is looking for reasons to lay the hammer down on humans.

Instead…what if God is just sitting in the garden, waiting for us to come home?