On the Road to Babel

Today’s readings:

Dread fear of you shall come upon all the animals of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon all the creatures that move about on the ground and all the fishes of the sea; into your power they are delivered. 
Genesis 9:2-3

One way to view Genesis is a whole lot of Middle and Near Eastern mythology duct-taped together to account for a pseudo-people wondering around looking for a new home.  Another way to view it is the psychological descent of man from divine creation to starvation and slavery.  Without any regard to sources, the author of Genesis is a brilliant psychologist! He knows us well.

Earlier in the story, coming out of paradise, God had given us all the greasses of the field to eat. And here it it is the beasts themselves. Abel, of course, sacrificed a lamb, so killing animals, as such, was not out of the question even earlier in the story. But here suddenly, we get the whole thing. You might be able to say in this story Mankind is growing up. But we are also falling. We are finding, more and more, that for us to live we need to suck other life into us. We are disconnected from the life of God and plugging in to the life of this world. This is also why the lives of the men get shorter – from a whole age of the world (nearly 1000 years) to just over 100. The further we fall, the less we live – even though God gives us more to eat! Tomorrow the tongues are divided, the Anti-Pentecost, and the fall will be complete.

A passion is, really, a temptation over indulged and turned into an addiction: a self-perpetuating cycle of pleasure and shame well-crafted to manufacture a false sense of self: a “self” that needs the addiction to exist and a self that only exists because of the addiction. We don’t get to choose our temptations, but we do get to pick how we interact with them. What becomes our false self, built on our passions, is our enslavement.

We start out eating only plants (which can be like what we had in Eden, but we have to grow them ourselves – already our sin making us toil). Then we move to eating animals – sustaining our (false) life by consuming the lives of others, being totally detached from the life of God, not even pretending to be in Eden anymore.

It is our stage now – consuming the lives of others just to stay afloat, if you will – that most people will recognize as “high functioning addict”, the “social drunk”. We are able to move through the world, totally imprisoned in our sin. We are able to function not only “normally” but in some cases we are “the life of the party”. We may indulge our additions so much that others with the same passions look up to us. We may find ourselves highly desirable in certain circles because of our sins. (Courtesans are highly desireable, yes?) Those certain circles can be highly placed: some Courtesans only play the Palace. But Courtesans are consumed: men consume them to feel “validated”. Courtesans feel “validated” by leading others into sins and consuming them as well. They, themselves, got to their position also through consuming and being consumed. They find themselves on the lowest rung of a social ladder able to bring down even the highest with one wag of the tongue.

All sins are like this: from sex to telling lies. The point where it begins the sin is nearly like Eden, just outside it really. Even slavery to sexual sins will start out feeling fun. But it ends in Babel tomorrow.

Again: this is not punishment. This is what happens – natural consequences – when one disobeys God especially when everyone else is doing it.  Every sin is the  original sin. Every sin leads to deeper falls, as every good action raises us up.

The LORD looked down from his holy height,
from heaven he beheld the earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoners,
to release those doomed to die.

It is into this world that Jesus comes, God and Man, to restore us to the upward track. In this world Jesus says to Peter, “You are thinking not as God does, but as men do.” Do you think it’s interesting that Jesus calls Peter “Satan” and compares his thinking to other men? “You’re thinking not like God, Satan-Peter, but you’re thinking like men.” Even the Apostles fall like this. This is how men think. Satan may show us a path as a cool option, but we walk down it. We – with God’s help – can come back.

But first – like all addicts – we hit rock bottom. We must go to Bable.

Author: Huw Raphael

A Dominican Tertiary living in San Francisco, CA. He is almost 59. He feeds the homeless as a parochial almoner and is studying to be a Roman Catholic Deacon. He is learning modern Israeli Hebrew and enjoys cooking, keto, cats, long urban hikes, and SF Beer Week.

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