soulA-Z G for GENESI

 

                                                 

                                                 G:GENESIS

In memory of the Holocaust.

– Genesis: ‘Origins’. The Hebrew word ‘Beresheet’ meaning ‘In the beginning’ –

Have you ever had the desire to read the Bible, from beginning to end? I have, but I haven’t accomplished this. I sometimes read parts of it for research which often becomes sheer pleasure. But I mostly read psychological expositions on it which I find extremely illuminating, by authors whose purpose is to show (inter alia) that while the place and setting, circumstances good or ill have drastically changed, the dynamics of the human condition have changed little. We continue to search for meaning in our lives, for our sense of identity, connection to our neigbour, a connection to our soul -. 

Interestingly, the Bible gives no biography of God – we are introduced to Him by His actions which were all good and creative for example: light is created to balance the darkness (ignorance).

He creates Adam and then Eve as a catalyst for his growth, so they that they can be in relationship and dependent upon each other as equals. Yet God is genderless and so it’s interesting that He creates them in His own image. What does this mean? God is surely infinite; so does this mean that we too have an infinite capacity to grow? To keep on developing our potential and our identity –  and not be defined by anyone else’s? So that we have, or find within us, the ability to journey to find our own soulful centre?

Adam and Eve each denied that they were to blame for eating the apple. But we see in  their expulsion from Paradise that, with this, paradoxically, came the gift of free will, with  accountability and responsibility as its partner. And, we gain a psychological insight into the power of denial. The universal story of growing up and leaving home – leaving established boundaries and voyaging into the unknown is apparent.

Cain and Abel – blessed first borns to Adam and Eve – what can we learn from this tragic fratricide? The Lord says to Cain when He questions Cain’s sadness at Abel’s offerings being preferred: ‘But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door. It desires to have you, but you must master it. And to you shall be its desire, and yet you may rule over it’. God essentially tells Cain that denial will not be accepted and that he has the choice to make the right decision. Cain’s violent impulse was not restrained and he kills his brother. He then challenges God ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ (denying accountability yet again) and is bereft when he is cast out, marked on his forehead, nevertheless with the mercy of God upon him. Thus begins the separation of nations ..

What can we infer from this, today? It’s extremely tricky for me. Was God capricious in favouring Abel’s offering over Cain’s and why allow Cain to live albeit in exile? Why was Abel’s murder not prevented? Is this the first instance of evil winning over good? Does it illustrate the inherent evil in us so graphically enacted? Was this an unjust death? So often this is how it is … God’s favoured ones die unjust and undeserved deaths. 

Was Cain envious of his brother as happens within the family? A child who perceives rightly or wrongly that its parent/s favours his sibling over him/her, feels a rejection in the ground of its being. I can only infer that Cain’s violent anger arose from extreme envy. How can we tame the beast that crouches at our door? Sibling rivalry or rivalry between our colleagues, friends, envy between groups, cultures, countries is ever present, in today’s world.

If the first few chapters are read with a psychological and contemporary eye we can see the potency of these human stories. They do not contain sweet and simple tales with happy endings. Rather, the allegories in just these two stories, highlight the contradictions and extreme difficulties and sufferings we all face in our daily lives. We can temper the sadnesses by generating growth in our lives by seeking deeper and deeper – and remembering our genesis –

And which helps me believe in the unfolding of our souls, throughout our lives.

 

 

19 Comments on G: GENESIS

  1. I love this post Susan. I’ve recently been more locked in to the New Testament Gospel stories so sometimes I forget how good those early lessons are. I will have to make an effort to try and take a fresh look back at the beginning of the Good Book.

    Thanks,
    Dan

    • Thanks Dan for commenting – the NT Gospels are so beautiful – works of Art.

      One of my very special books is ‘The Teacher: An Existential Approach to the Bible’ by Zvi Kolitz – or on a different level, Bruce Feiler’s: ‘Walking the Bible’.

      “Wrestling with Angels” by Naomi Rosenbaum & Joshua Horwitz is also a favourite book of mine.

      Thank you,

      Susan

    • Baie dankie Elizabeth .. maar ek is nie seker about the nie maklik .. .do you mean that it was a difficult post on a tricky subject!

  2. Who is God’s keeper? Jung comments on this in his book Answer to Job and it is a tricky answer. Because, we are.
    Good and interesting commentary, Susan

  3. Susan, having been a psych major in college, I read your post with great interest since I am also a Christian. However, the only time I read the Bible from Genesis to Revelations was on a dare from a boy I thought was cute in my Sunday School class. I read it . . . but most of it didn’t stick or I didn’t understand it.

    I rarely read it now, but instead rely on others’ theses, books, essays, etc. to enlighten my mind and heart on its stories, revelations, promises. Our pastor is a great storyteller and uses the allegories, as we’re calling them here, to play out a most understandable message . . . then I come away feeling refreshed, filled and blessed.

    Among your last few sentences, I was struck by the following: “If the first few chapters are read with a psychological and contemporary eye we can see the potency of these human stories. They do not contain sweet and simple tales with happy endings. Rather, the allegories in just these two stories, highlight the contradictions and extreme difficulties and sufferings we all face in our daily lives. We can temper the sadnesses by generating growth in our lives by seeking deeper and deeper – and remembering our genesis.” Remembering our genesis almost looked bold on my screen, and it made me realize that remembering our genesis brings startling reality to the now and what is happening and why.

    We recently lost my husband’s brother who died from a rare and seldom heard of dementia. It took him cognitively within a 4-month period from diagnosis and his life in 18 months. My husband and I have questioned why this man of such goodness, intellect, talents and gifts is gone. Reading this post has given me some clarity on this question. He is gone because his genesis from the dust had no determinate ending. His life was given by God who knew how long he intended for Jim to be here among us before he would be needed for something greater. You may or may not agree with this completely, and that isn’t important. The importance lies in the fact that you have opened my mind and heart to other possibilities and considerations when this question continues to come up in our conversations about Jim.

    Thanks so much and forgive the length of my comment!

    Sherrey at Healing by Writing

    • O Sherrey, thank you so much for your comment and sharing your sad loss of your brother-in law Jim. May his dear soul rest in peace. I hope that the grief is passing although this has its own time. The memories of this good man will surely remain alive among all those who had the gift of knowing him.

      How lucky you are to have a good pastor who makes the Bible stories come alive! – and that are refreshing! And for you to have access to others’ thoughts on books, essays etc. They are truly important for a broader view which leads us to question even more.

      I am so pleased that you said about ‘genesis from the dust having no determinate ending’ and that this resonated with you. I too will now look at it this way – it is significant. And as you say, Jim has now gone on to greater things.

      Thank you again Sherrey. I loved your comment and thank you for taking the time to write it, so beautifully.

      Susan.

  4. I have always been attracted to Jesus and his ways, even at a young age. The Bible never interested me; I was not drawn to it and really believe it is simply misunderstood and thus taken literally.

    One of our earliest mistakes is to see life as physical and our true selves as physical. The physical, what eyes see, is not ‘real’ in the sense that it is not eternal. Only what God created is eternal. If it is not eternal, God did not create it. It’s really that simple, yet it’s the simplicity that we struggle with.

    There’s a lot to discuss in a post and topic like this, but for questions such as these, you will find answers in ACIM.

    “What exactly, then, is A Course in Miracles? The summary introduction, which appears in its Text, is quite succinct and brief. It reads:

    “This is a course in miracles. It is a required course. Only the time you take it is voluntary. Free will does not mean that you can establish the curriculum. It means only that you can elect what you want to take at a given time. The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, which is your natural inheritance. The opposite of love is fear, but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite.”

    This Course can therefore be summed up very simply in this way:

    Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists.”
    Herein lies the peace of God.”

    • That is such a wonderful comment Ryan thank you so much! I love the ACIM … time for me to check it out again. I’ve just looked up and located it.

      I agree that the opposite of love is fear and not hate or power as some would have it. And I so love your last quote thank you …

      “Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists.
      Herein lies the peace of God.”

  5. What I find “interesting” is that the home of the bible, the ark, and so much biblical history is also the pit of a violent war. What has not changed? What are we not seeing? I would expect “LOVE” to be at the heart of our “beginnings” rather than hate. WHY???

    It has been years since I have opened the bible, but I do wonder if the bible has answers for my questions. In allowing Cain to kill Abel and live, was that “begetting” the animosity that exists there now? I wonder, would God change what he allowed to happen in the past, if he had the opportunity?

    I hate seeing the violence and the hatred coming because of all of our discrepancies instead of the appreciation for our unique differences.

    Thank you for your wise words.

    • Thank you Gwynn for commenting, as always much appreciated! I can’t answer your questions as they are questions I myself continue to ask.

      The question itself is most times more important than the answer .. I think Patricia’s and Lesley’s responses below are wise –

      Keep asking Gwynn …

  6. Hi,

    Well done, sister heart, well done!

    The first sentence that struck me was, the dynamics of the human condition has changed little.” We only need to look at the situations going on throughout the world. We are living in the time of technology, yet we are not one step closer to acknowledging that we are all one. Different skin color, different language and different nationalities, but we are related to one another.

    This is also an excellent thesis of where we are today, and I enjoyed listening to your points of view.

    For the record, I have read the complete Bible many times and can agree with you on another point wholeheartedly, and I quote you directly, “If the first few chapters are read with a psychological and contemporary eye we can see the potency of these human stories. They do not contain sweet and simple tales with happy endings. Rather, the allegories in just these two stories, highlight the contradictions and extreme difficulties and sufferings we all face in our daily lives. We can temper the sadnesses by generating growth in our lives by seeking deeper and deeper – and remembering our genesis.”

    However these stories are more than allegories for me, they are sign posts on how to live life to its fullest.
    Love you, Susan.

    Shalom,
    Patricia

    • Thank you so so much Patricia!

      I agree allegory is not quite the right word.They are REAL stories which illustrate our darkness and provide sign posts – and symbols – on how to live our lives to the fullest.

      Thank you as always, dear Patricia. I am encouraged by your reading of the Bible several times and will set aside time on a daily basis. There is ALWAYS something new and meaningful to learn.

      Shalom, and with love and gratitude.

      Susan

  7. “How can we tame the beast that crouches at our door? ” – Hi Susan, Wonderful article here and so many questions. To answer the one here: We can tame the beast best by practicing acceptance and by knowing our own heart. Self esteem is something that has to be worked on, on a daily basis by everyone. The result of low self esteem mixed with a clouded vision of reality produces crimes of passion.
    Have a wonderful week ahead!

    • What a wonderful comment thank you Lesley! I swear I learn something new every day! That is so true – practise, practise, practise self acceptance, and it will follow that one will be accepting and compassionate towards others. Reality becomes more real. And hopefully from that, one’s self esteem will rise!

      Thank you! And here’s to a wonderfully creative week for you as your Spring blooms! Beautiful autumn day here in Johannesburg South Africa, though right now it is getting seriously chilly.

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