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Posts Tagged ‘Adam and Eve’

For parts one through four, click here

Well I guess our subject is both timely and apropos, given the recent sexual abuse allegations against various high profile media and entertainment figures.

Sadly, this problem is very much like the Halloween franchise’s Michael Myers: It can be neutralized in individual circumstances, but it never really dies (not, at any rate, on this side of life).

But we’re talking about Wind River, so let us proceed along our course. (more…)

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For part one, click here

Ok — we kind of got away from the actual story last time.  So let’s dive right into the first scene.

The film opens with Natalie Hansen running frantically across the frozen wilderness in the dead of night — all alone, visibly distressed, (more…)

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Among the many instances in which we find, in popular media, a beautiful female either falling in love with or giving her affection to a comparatively unattractive and/or awkward male are the following:

Theory of EverythingWe have the graceful and lovely Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones) and the nerdy, awkward Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) in the 2014 film “The Theory of Everything.”

Bill HaverchuckVicki ApplebyGoing back about 15-16 years to the short-lived but subsequently quite popular television series “Freaks and Geeks,” we find cute cheerleader Vicki Appleby (JoAnne Garcia Swisher) in the closet with lanky geek Bill Haverchuck (Martin Starr) after a game of spin-the-bottle.  At first she is perfectly beastly toward him, but she gradually warms up to him and, before their time is up, gives him a kiss.

Beauty and the BeastAnd then of course there is the archetypal “Beauty and the Beast.”  Need I say more?

We tend to see and hear about situations like these, in which a man not blessed with physical attractiveness or grace is nonetheless blessed with the affection of a beautiful woman, and think to ourselves: “Wow — good for him.”

But let’s reverse the situation a minute.  Imagine a strapping, musclebound, suave, and extremely handsome young man lovingly courting a woman who is grossly overweight, wears glasses, has a retainer, and has nothing of what anyone would consider conventional attractiveness. We see something like that and we think: “Wow — good for him.”

See where I’m going with this?  When a woman looks beyond mere appearances and finds the goodness inside, we think very little in her favor.  We expect it of her.  But when a man does so, we seem to think he is “going the extra mile,” and to be heartily congratulated for it.

Albrecht_Dürer_-_Adam_and_Eve_(Prado)_2“Albrecht Dürer – Adam and Eve (Prado) 2” by Albrecht Dürer – The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Albrecht_D%C3%BCrer_-_Adam_and_Eve_(Prado)_2.jpg#/media/File:Albrecht_D%C3%BCrer_-_Adam_and_Eve_(Prado)_2.jpg

Granted, part of this may be due to a certain intuition about the nature of man and woman.  We read in Genesis 2 that Adam was created before Eve, surveyed all of creation in its manifold richness (rocks, trees, sea, animals, etc.), and could not find a companion suitable for himself; God then makes Eve, the first woman.

Don’t panic. Whether or not this is literally how events transpired is irrelevant.  What the Sacred Text gives us is a psychology of man and woman.  Through the person of Adam, we see that man’s initial purview includes merely things.  Granted, some of these are living things; but even these are not en-souled persons like himself.  The arrival of the woman completes his purview.

On the other hand, through Eve we see that woman’s purview from the very beginning includes persons.  This is perhaps fitting, since she is meant to bear life within herself for nine months.  It may be, therefore, that a certain nurturing spirit, awareness of beauty within, and gift of oneself in kindness comes more naturally to women than to men.

So it is quite possible that a similar insight explains why media portrayals of beautiful-woman-falls-for-not-so-beautiful-man are more frequent than the opposite.  Still, while it is true that our intuitions influence art and media, the reverse is also true.

Let me be clear: Recognizing that beauty is not only skin deep is good. To recognize a woman’s ability to see this is likewise good. But as a man, I am concerned that we do not hold ourselves to the same standard.  Discernment in romantic matters is no easy thing, and no one of either sex should have to bear this burden alone.

Image of Adam and Eve from Wikipedia; remaining images obtained through a Google image search

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AdventCandlesI want to remind people that we are technically not in the Christmas season just yet, in spite of what retailers and radio stations would have us believe.  Don’t get me wrong — I love this time of year, and rejoice with any Christmas-lover that it is time to sing “Fa-la-la-la-la” again.  But, technicality of technicalities, it is in fact Advent.

Is Advent counter-cultural?  Yes, but for reasons that have nothing to do with religion.  Advent is a season of waiting, a season of expectation.  We commemorate the expectation of the birth of Christ, and we anticipate His Second Coming at the end of time.

But it doesn’t matter all that much what we are waiting for, because any emphasis on waiting itself implicitly flies in the face of our instant-gratification, “now-now-now” society.

Imagine a world in which everything we want is immediate, though.  This would mean no more surprises, no more joy of anticipation, no more sense of adventure, no more wonder…

Needless to say, I don’t mind being a “sign of contradiction” here…though, of course, I’m not sure how well I succeed in it.  I am as prone to impatience as anyone else.   Nevertheless, as a Catholic, I am very grateful for this special annual opportunity to observe the expectation of the one thing most worth waiting for.

That said, I thought it might help to enhance our appreciation of Advent — or, if you do not observe Advent yourself, to better understand what it means to those who do — by offering a short outline of the ways in which we hold that God prepared a waiting world for the coming of Christ throughout the millennia.  I’ll list just two of them here, and we’ll pick up with #3 tomorrow or Wednesday.  Bear with me — you may find that you didn’t expect all of the preparatory milestones I list.

1. Creation

CreationYes, the creation of the universe is itself the first step.  All things were created through and for Christ, the Eternal Word.  Everything that happened before the first human beings appeared — from the Big Bang through the dinosaurs, ice age, etc. — was a preparation for humankind, for the world was made for man; man, in turn, was made for God.

2. God’s Solicitude About Man

 

Adam_&_Eve_02God makes human beings in His own image and establishes them as the monarchs and priests of His creation.  Our first parents disobey God and go astray…but God does not abandon them.

There are two things of note in the Biblical account of the Fall.  First, God clothes Adam and Eve with animal skins (tradition sees in this the first animal sacrifice, as an animal obviously had to be killed in order for the skins to be obtained).  Mankind’s survival throughout the ages owes itself to the mercy and providence of God, which I think is aptly expressed in this primordial gesture.

Secondly, we have the proto-evangelion, the first promise of redemption:

[Addressing the serpent] I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.

Genesis 3:15

Here we have the prophecy of a mother giving birth to a son who will save the human race, defeating the serpent (“He will strike at your head…”), though it will cost him something to do so (“…while you strike at his heel”).  This promise lies near the root of humankind’s deepest (if forgotten) memory.

And I think that’s a good place to stop for now.

Images from Wikipedia

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Just saw this movie a couple nights ago — I regret not having heard of it until recently.

I won’t launch into a full-scale review or commentary, but I want to say a quick word about I.S. 318.  While the school’s thriving chess team is, in many ways, the main focus of this movie, chess is not the only thing I.S. 318 has to offer.  They also offer their students a variety of great programs in the arts, music, technology, etc…and you get a nice snapshot of these at the beginning of the film.

Plus, they appear to have a very active student government; and whenever their school’s programs are threatened with budget cuts, the students work hard to raise necessary funds — and with remarkable success.

The whole thing reminded me very much of the the story of Eden and God’s original vision for humanity.  When we hear “Garden of Eden,” we typically think of God’s prohibition: “Do not eat from that tree.”  But we tend to become so focused on the prohibition that we forget about the far greater permission given in the very same story.

God gave to our first parents the right and the mandate to cultivate the Garden.  Many of the Early Christian Fathers saw in this His endorsement of the human project — of human flourishing in the arts, sciences, politics, and all of those very exciting things that show forth the dignity of God’s children.

When we talk about educating “the whole child,” we are getting at something much deeper than we think.  Would the world be made magically perfect if a school like Brooklyn’s I.S. 318 was replicated everywhere?  By no means…but I hope you are presupposing my acknowledgement of this in reading this article.  But I do think that in a school such as this, we can see something of the Edenic ideal in action.

One more thing: I was very impressed with the fact that the students in this documentary didn’t whine about their school’s budget problems or sit around waiting for the City to give them more money.  They took ownership for their school, and for the programs that meant so much to them.  That’s another aspect of God’s vision for humanity that we need to recover: Personal responsibility…agency…free will.

Anyway, I’d recommend the movie. (I would also recommend reading the first few chapters of Genesis, but one thing at a time :))

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I hope John Milton will forgive me for titling my post with a variation on the name of his magnum opus.

What I mean by the phrase is this: When we try to build something lasting and perfect in this world, we are building on what are either the ruins of a toppled paradise or the pieces of an incomplete project (in which case, our construction is premature), with dust and darkness — the “shadows” of part two, if you want — in the in-between spaces.

So it’s obvious why we can’t be successful: We are making our home in a destructive atmosphere with insufficient defenses.

Adam_Eve

Unfortunately, we have been doing it on and off ever since our First Parents.  They thought they could have their freedom and happiness apart from God, which is intrinsically impossible.

Things are as they are because as a species, we tried to build on the wrong foundation to begin with.  Ever subsequent attempt to build the perfect society by our own powers — starting with the Tower of Babel and going all the way up to the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century — ends in disaster.

Such attempts not only echo the Original Sin, they build on an even worse foundation, since death entered into human existence and the world over which we were meant to be stewards became subject to futility and decay.

A.I.Still from “A.I. Artificial Intelligence” (DreamWorks/Warner Brothers, 2001)

The dystopian future as a science fiction sub-genre warns us about our technological dream, our temptation to build a perfect world through technology.  Any “Babel” project will divide, not unite; confuse, not uplift; dehumanize, not perfect humanity.

As much as we may (indeed, should) appreciate the healing, innovation, and other gains afforded by technological progress, we all have a sense that it has to be approached with humility, not hubris.  Otherwise, what happens?

I look forward to finding out in August, when the movie “Elysium” comes out.

Top image from Wikipedia; “A.I.” image obtained through a Google image search.

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Mother MaryFor part 2, click here: https://intothedance.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/the-praises-of-mary-the-new-eve-part-2/

We left off with a comparison of Genesis 1 and John 1, demonstrating that the latter shows Jesus Christ to be the New Adam by following the creation-based trajectory of the former.  In John 2, we see a corresponding revelation of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as the New Eve.

Here is how the Bible recounts Adam’s discovery of Eve on the “Seventh Day,” after all of creation had been completed:

So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The LORD God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man. When he brought her to the man, the man said: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body. (Genesis 2: 21-24)

Before we go any further, let me stress that this is not any indication of inferiority or merely derivative dignity on the part of women.  For the ancient Hebrews, bones represented the whole person.  And so what these verses truly imply — nay, profess — is equality and mutuality between the sexes.

Anyway, let’s move on to John 2:

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” (And) Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2: 1-5)

Keep in mind the introductory clause: “On the third day…”  This means the third day from where John 1 left off (and keep in mind that there were no chapters or divisions in the original; these were not added until the Middle Ages).

If you remember our discussion of John 1 in part 2, you will remember that it follows a certain pattern from Genesis 1: “The next day…” “The next day…”  This phrase occurs three times, which makes for a total of four days accounted for in the first chapter of John’s Gospel.

Now, if the wedding at Cana takes place on the third day following the fourth day, what day would that be?  Come on, first-grade math buffs, you know it…

That’s right — the seventh day.

Just as the first Adam finds Eve on the Seventh Day, calling her “woman,” so does the New Adam see his Mother, the New Eve, on the seventh day, addressing her as “woman” (this, by the way, was an idiomatic expression in both Hebrew and Greek that implied no offense or denigration).  Just as on the Seventh Day of Genesis the first marriage takes place, so on the seventh day of John’s Gospel is there a wedding at which Christ, at the instigation of His Mother, will perform his first miracle (turning water into wine), thus inaugurating the new, spiritual marriage between God and man.

As the Mother of God, Mary had a unique and intimate partnership with her Divine Son in His plan of salvation.  The immensity and the great honor of her role are not to be underestimated…yet, that role would cost her.  She would have to give up her Son to a painful death (if you are a mother, please take a few moments to imagine this).  She would have to share in His very sufferings, as prophesied:

…and you yourself a sword will pierce… (Luke 2:35)

Yet through the strength of her obedience and love, Mother Mary has restored to us that which mother Eve lost us by her disobedience and selfishness.  God be praised!

Image from Wikipedia

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