This weekend at Skyline, in our women’s retreat on Saturday and again in Sunday worship, we are re-examining the powerful mythology of creation, the story of Adam and Eve, and how it continues to shape our views of God and of ourselves.
I love the story of Nancy, a fourth grader whose Sunday school teacher asked her to draw a picture of something from the book of Genesis. Nancy drew a picture of a white stretch limousine. A middle-aged man drove the car and a scantily clad couple sat in the back of the limo. “Why Nancy”, exclaimed the Sunday school teacher, “I asked you to draw something from the book of Genesis!”
“But I did, I drew this limousine”, responded Nancy.
“To which passage can you possibly be referring to, Nancy?” asked the teacher. Nancy thumbed through the bible until she found the passage, Genesis 3: 24: “and God drove out Adam and Eve from the garden”.
Yes, God drove out Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden, from paradise, and ever since, we have referred to that passage in Genesis as the “fall” or as “original sin”. The story implies that God is male and demands obedience, and that woman, since Eve, is the source of temptation and evil.
The story of our origins have a profound influence on how we see ourselves. For ½ of the human population, (i.e. women) this interpretation is unhealthy. Imagine, if as a parent you were to tell your daughter how bad and sinful and evil and rotten she is every day of her life, it would create a dysfunctional child. If as a parent, you were to tell your daughter how wonderful, incredible, and good she is, you would most likely create a healthy child.
How do we re-understand this powerful myth of our origins and of our relationship with God in more life giving ways? How do we re-understand Eve’s choice as the desire for knowledge of the difference between good and evil? How do we re-imagine God as other than and more than a male authority? How do we shake the foundation of patriarchy, which adapts theology to justify hierarchy and power over others?
I believe that we begin by asking such questions and listening for the still-speaking God within us and all around us; especially in the voices of women, as well as men, and all those who have been marginalized. And we remember from the first genesis story the vision that God created them, male and female, in the image of God, and then said, “It is very good”.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; It’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”.
Poet and artist Judy Chicago writes, about re-imagining the mythology of Adam and Eve, in life giving ways, and new creation that will come forth, out of it, in her poem, entitled, “And Then”..
“And then all that has divided us will merge
And then compassion will be wedded to power
And then softness will come to a world that is harsh and unkind
And then both men and women will be gentle
And then both women and men will be strong
And then no person will be subject to another’s will
And then all will be rich and free and varied
And then the greed of some will give way to the needs of many
And then all will share equally in the Earth’s abundance
And then all will care for the sick and the weak and the old
And then all will nourish the young
And then all will cherish life’s creatures
And then everywhere will be called Eden once again.