* to encourage a reasoned awareness of how our beliefs impact the way we interact with the world around us
* to foster intelligent and open dialogue
* to inspire a sense of spirituality that has real meaning in day-to-day life

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Work Does not Equal Punishment: Genesis 3 Revisited

I concluded my reinterpretation of Genesis 1-2 with:
No person is an isolated being.  We are at our very core relational.  We are in constant relationship with the natural world around us, and we are in constant relationship with one another.  These connections are as vital to us as physical nourishment.

[Chapter 3]

Yet we don’t always honor that connection.  We don’t always honor the truth and beauty and creativity within us.  A story could be told about a serpent and a certain tree, but as evocative as they can be, stories are also subject to interpretation.  Even though our stories are all essentially the same, we manage to focus on points of distinction rather than commonalities.  Our connection to one another and to ourselves becomes compromised.

Although this may not be a desirable thing, it’s certainly natural.  When we don’t honor the truth and beauty and creativity within ourselves and others, it can always be traced back to fear.  Most often, we fear that which we consider different from ourselves more than we fear the familiar.  When we believe our fears, it becomes easy to forget about our infinite creativity and beauty.  When we believe our fears, it’s difficult to be truly inspired.

And when we realize how easily we have given ourselves over to fear, we often feel shame.  Fear and shame are unpleasant enough feelings that we invent all manner of coping mechanisms, many of which only serve to keep us further from simple awareness of the truth and beauty and creativity at our core.  In truth, we can never know enough or do enough to overcome our basic need for connection with ourselves, with one another, and with the natural world.  It isn’t possible for life to be entirely comprised of pleasure, but neither is it entirely comprised of pain.  There is pain and there is pleasure, and we are capable of embracing both as natural parts of life.

The greatest rewards are experienced when we are willing to put forth honest effort to bring about satisfying results.  Our connection with ourselves, with others, and with the natural world requires a bit of work, but this work is not punishment for some wrongdoing.  Work, in one form or another, is simply one essential ingredient toward fulfilling experiences.  We may imagine a paradise where perfectly ripe fruit falls from trees to land at our feet, animals all get along peacefully, and there is no danger of disease or injury, but such is not the reality of our lives.  In all honesty, most of us would get bored of that before very long anyway.


  1. Just a suggestion... if you can somehow link to the passage you're "reinterpreting", it would be helpful for people like me who don't have the entire Bible memorized.


  2. That is a fantastic suggestion. Here is a link to Genesis 3. (You can select which version to read once you get to the site.)