“Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Zoroastrian, stone, ground, mountain, river, each has a secret way of being with the Mystery, unique and not to be judged.” — Rumi
Do you know that there are TWO different creation stories in the book of Genesis?
Genesis chapter 1 describes the creation event in the way most of us have heard it: God created the earth in 7 days, “let there be light”, yada yada. The second story, however, which begins in Genesis chapter 2, does not have that 7-day storyline, and instead says this:
“This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created. In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens – “. – Gen 2:4
“The day”, as in ONE day, or maybe “the day” as in “time period” – e.g. “back in the day”.
Additionally, in this second version of the creation story, the order in which God creates things is different from the first. Story 1 reports the order of created ‘things’ in this way: 1) separation of day/night, and separation of heavens/earth, 2) separation of earth/seas, 3) vegetation to cover the earth, 4) lights in the sky (i.e. the sun, moon and stars), 5) living creatures in the waters and in the sky, 6) living creatures on the dry land (including humans, male and female simultaneously).
“So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them”. – Gen 1:27
Story 2, however, orders creation like this: 1) earth, 2) water, 3) man, 4) vegetation, 5) other living beings, 6) woman.
Somehow, over the years, these two stories seem to have blended into a bit of a religious folklore that says “God created the earth in 7 days”, and “God created man first, and then woman second”.
But what the Bible actually says is: “here are two different versions of how this all went down – enjoy!”
Now, of course, these stories have some fundamental agreements – e.g. they seem to agree about the phenomena of 6 separate creation movements, and that God was in charge of the roll-out either way. But they also have some pretty fundamental disagreements – i.e. how long it took, the order in which it all happened, etc.
And while this is all completely fascinating to my inner literary-critic, it’s not really the point I’m trying to make here. The point I am trying to make, however, is that if we set out to read the Bible as a literal account of historical events, our brains are going to explode less than 3 pages into the reading material.
Or, in other words, THE UNFOLDING OF THE BIBLE NARRATIVE ITSELF DOES NOT NECESSARILY ENCOURAGE A LITERAL INTERPRETATION OF THE TEXT.
Dear Persons To Whom This May Concern:
You will no longer find me apologizing for my “liberal” political ideology — unless, of course, “liberalism” gets hijacked at a later time and means something different than it does today. But for now, I am proud to wear that label.
To me, liberal political beliefs are synonomous with “being a good neighbor”, “caring about people other than myself”, being firmly on the side of racial and economic justice, fighting for access to decent public education for every child in every town and city across America, championing the health care rights of women, thinking about how to take care of our disabled, our infirm, our aging, our traumatized, and our mentally unstable Americans, finding ways to provide ongoing support to the brave men and women who sacrifice their lives to protect us, and being a good steward of the planet we inhabit.
And if that means my taxes are higher tomorrow than they are today — as a Christian SPECIFICALLY, why should that concern me? As scripture tells us, “When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required” (Luke 12:48). And also this: “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” (Matthew 10:39).
Trust me: the yoke of this belief system is easier, the burden much more light.
Grace to you, as it has been given to me,