Wednesday, July 06, 2022

how to be human


The Bible opens with two accounts, widely taken as creation stories. And they are, but, as I have argued at length elsewhere, not of the creation of the world by God (which is taken as a given) but of the creation of a new Israel. The poetic narrative of Genesis chapter 1 depicts the destruction of Jerusalem and her temple, and the exile into Babylon, and subsequent restoration, with the impact of that restoration on the good of the nations. The prose narrative of Genesis chapter 2 concerns Babylon (Eden), the Babylonian ruling dynasty (Adam), the ruling dynasty of the Medes (Eve), the population of Jerusalem taken into captivity in Babylon (the tree of knowledge of good and evil) and God with his people in exile (the tree of life).

The ability to discern between good and evil, and to choose for the good, is the defining characteristic of human beings, who are found in the likeness of God.

When we choose to ignore discernment between good and evil, determining that it is of no use to us, and ignore it consistently enough and for long enough, eventually we become less-than-human. Brute beasts of the field, without sense, or self-knowledge.

When we do this, we may take hold of all that we grasp, but in doing so we despoil that very thing, and all else with it. When a ruler grasps power in this way, eventually God’s forbearance reaches its end, and they are removed from their place.

This is what has become of our Prime Minister, though he has not yet arrived at the limits of God’s forbearance. He is a brute beast, unable to recognise good or evil, let alone tell them apart. It is a tragedy, for him, and a warning to all who look on him. And this is what is happening also to those who choose to sit at his table, serving at his pleasure. Tragedy begets tragedy.

Meanwhile, our land lies in ruins; and whatever light it held out to the nations, not on account of any special place in the divine economy but because all peoples are called to let their light shine, is obscured.

And yet the foundational story of the people of this God is one of restoration of hope. And, rooted in this story, I am not dismayed.


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