40 Days – Day 3: Large-Scale Horrors Are Usually Okay

sunrise-meditationDay 3: Cycling: 2 miles in 9 minutes; Eddington Number = 2.

Day 3: Weights: 28 minutes. 9,670 lb. Eddington Number (tons) = 3

Day 1: Meditation: Art of Living

Can barely stay awake. So bored. Mind wanders.

Day 2: Bible (Genesis 3-4)

I never noticed how tragic this chapter is, and how plainly written. How is the serpent shrewd? He asked a question that he knew would lead to a discussion. “You can’t eat from any tree in the garden?” And then everyone blames each other and God punishes the whole lot of them. Just last night we were discussing how nobody in the banking industry was punished for wickedness leading up to the financial crisis, simply because as long as you can blame someone else, you’re in good shape. Also war criminals this works for. Not average people doing average wrong-doings, but large-scale horrors are usually okay. It’s all in the bible!

The the tree of good/evil interests me because it leads back to wondering what it means to be made in God’s image. If man had no concept of ethics prior to eating from the tree, then “God’s image” doesn’t mean free-will…it literally means we look like God. The “God’s image” bit is part of Genesis 1, though—whereas chapters 2 and 3 seem to be in another storyline.

People say the tree has something to do with sex, since Adam and Eve feel shame after eating it. So perhaps it’s not that they ate fruit, but rather that they had sex, which leads to creation, which is God’s job? But no, since God told them to be fruitful and multiply. So it may just be that eating the fruit led to self-awareness.

Another part I like is that the writing quickly explains the transition from nomadic to agricultural societies. God plants the Garden of Eden, where man can just gather food, and then banishes man to till the soil for food—which requires settling down. So, it’s historically accurate here also. Apparently, Jews generally believe that Eden is a metaphorical, not actually a place, although I once learned that Alexander the Great visited the gates and spoke to the cherubim with their flaming swords.

Lastly, I think it’s beautiful that God, after banishing man from Eden, makes clothes for Adam and Eve. It’s also the first time that an animal is killed in history—and it’s for the sake of clothes. He still cares for his favorite creations, even after punishing them, like a parent.

The next chapter begins with Cain and Abel. So many questions. I always mixed Cain and Abel up, because I assumed the manlier of the two would deal with the animals, and thereby know how to kill another man. Why did God pay no heed to Cain’s offering? That’s where all the problems begin. Like most of our prayers, God ignored them, which led to Cain feeling distraught. God comes down and talks with him, telling him he’ll feel better if he’ll do right, which I can only take to mean that what matters to God is not your churchiness in church, but your churchiness in life.

There’s another possibility I’m curious about though—which is that Cain enjoys being a farmer. In the previous chapter, the curse on Adam was that he’d have to become a farmer. One generation later, Cain’s actually enjoying the curse. Abel, on the other hand, is tending to the flocks, which is still in line with what God had put man in charge of in Eden—being in charge of the animals.

I begin to side with Cain, because it seems like he couldn’t really win. He’s farming, by order/curse of God, while Abel is shepherding, by order of God. God punishes Cain by making it so he can’t be a farmer anymore, which makes Cain so unhappy that he becomes suicidal. This seems to catch God off guard, so he puts a mark on Cain so that nobody murders him. I’m not sure who would murder him, seeing as there’s only three people on earth now, but Cain is sent off to wander the earth ceaselessly. Also this is the plight of the Israelites and the Jewish people in general—which is a sort of disheartening parallel. If the purpose of these early stories are to contrast God’s elegant creation of the world with our ability to really mess it up, it’s a point well made. Cain’s descendants include all nomads, musicians, and blacksmiths. Also disheartening.

Lamech, one of his descendants then recites a strange bit of poetry to his wives. We know it’s poetry because it has pairs of lines, the second restating the first in each case. What this means is that neither of the lines is to be taken literally since each is supposed to mean the same thing. Did he actually slay a man for wounding him and slay a lad for bruising him? Or is this metaphorical? And what of his math on Cain being avenged sevenfold (in case of his murder), and himself seventy-sevenfold?

It brings back to mind what the perspective on the soul is: it’s not really so important. The breath of god gives us life. From dust we were formed, to dust we return. After death, there’s nothing but dust. And that is why Cain’s punishment is to wander the earth—because he can only be punished within his lifetime. To kill him for killing Abel would not be a punishment because he would not experience it. So, back to Lamech—I wonder if what he says is not a lament, but a boast. You thought Cain was bad? I’m worse. And it perhaps provides an answer to why good things happen to bad people: God plans on punishing them sometime.

Adam steps back into the picture, thank God, and produces another son: Seth. Things are looking up.

Day 2: Vitamins

Makes me feel sick.

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