Monday, March 1, 2010

Other Effects of The Fall ...

Prior to the fall, people were "naked and unashamed" ... even as described, poetically, in Genesis. Even today, primal people have a profound lack of same, regarding their nakedness ... as well as an open attitude toward sex (some of their languages even lack a word for virginity). It seems that they had no sense of shame, or guilt, regarding sexuality. According to some anthropologists, a free and balanced sex life had a direct correlation to a lack of aggressive and war-like behavior ... suggesting that sexual tension can lead to fighting.

Along these lines, our prehistoric, unfallen ancestors had a healthy attitude toward menstruation, birth and lactation. They seemed to realize that while normal blood loss means death, menstrual blood signifies life... and so it was revered. The men were not disgusted, and menstruating women were not seen as "unclean".

However, after the Fall, the overly-developed egos caused a sense of separation from everything -- including their own bodies -- with minds being valued over the body. The ego declared war on the body. Just as men sought to dominate women, and nature -- they sought to dominate their bodies. In a twist of understanding, normal and natural human instincts became seen as "evil/sinful" and normal bodily functions became "unclean/obscene." And so it has been, ever since ...

Even today, in some cultures, women are forced to cover their entire bodies (often even their faces and eyes -- we've got women running into things in public, as they can hardly see!). This neurotically repressive attitude toward women and the female body has reached an insane mindset: a girl's virginity is so linked to "family pride" that girls are never left alone with boys or men -- the men so completely misunderstand female sexuality, that they imagine that girls/women will give in to lust at any opportunity. But, if a woman does lose her virginity, the family may "save honor" by killing her. In many cases, the girls are raped by family members ... who will then kill her if she becomes pregnant -- as her "shame" infects the entire family's honor...! How sick is that?!?

The three Saharasian religions (Judaism/Christianity/Islam) all have a dualistic attitude about sex and the body -- focusing on the "corruption of the flesh" against the "purity of the spirit/mind". Pre- or extra-marital sex was punished with the threat of eternal hell (sometimes "helping God out" by torturing them before dying) ... and even sex IN marriage was seen as sinful, if it was done for pleasure, rather than for procreation. Celibacy was seen as the highest calling. Some groups even recommended castration as a sure means of getting into heaven...!

It shouldn't come as a surprise to realize that female sexual pleasure was expressly forbidden. Good Christian women were expected to despise sex (& let me assure you, this sentiment still prevails for many!). Still today, there are cultures which go to extreme lengths to ensure that women will *not* enjoy sex -- including "female circumcision" (removal of the clitoris and labia majora), ensuring that she will have pain for the rest of her life, during sex, and when urinating.

Menstruating women have often been the "scape-goat of choice" ... being blamed for ruining crops, causing miscarriages, and bringing about sicknesses ... the old testament declares that a woman is unclean while menstruating ... and that she has to stay away from others for a long period of time after giving birth (longer if the baby is female, than if it's male).

A pregnant woman was long looked upon as shameful -- for she had obviously had sex... as late as the 17th century, pregnant women were called "sick with sin." In many areas, Christian teachers called breast-feeding "a filthy and swinish habit" ... requiring women to hire wet-nurses instead of feeding their own children.

All because the ego hates to be out of control, to be dominated ... the ego despises the body for controlling it, with biological urges and desires.

Another aspect of the ego-exploded life, is our anxiety-ridden concept of time. We see time as linear ... with a starting point, and a straight line to the ending point. But earlier people saw time as circular ... even as an upward leading spiral ... life was seen as evidencing cycles, which repeated, and we just flowed with it. But with a linear perspective, we see time as something that's always getting away from us ... we feel the pressure to make the most of time, for it's running out on us ... and if we don't DO something worthwhile with each moment, we're wasting a precious commodity! Stress!!!

But very few of the unfallen peoples have words for "time" or "past" or "future" ... they live in the NOW. The present moment. They seem entirely undisturbed by waiting ... while we fallen folks *hate* waiting! They enjoy "going within" and meditating, whereas we fear going within -- we crave (& will create) distractions.

Since the Fall, we are painfully aware of the passage of time ... each day bringing us closer to our own demise ... the fear of death hangs on us ... which sucks the meaning out of all that we do. Thus Solomon wrote, "vanity of vanities, all is vanity." This obsession with the passage of time stresses us out, and leads to pessimism and despair ...

Because of our focus on the past, and the future, we keep missing out on the only time we have: right now. And so we don't live fully ... we're always "somewhere else." For the most part, we humans aren't really living. Blaise Pascal wrote:
"We are so unwise that we wander about in times that do not belong to us and do not think of the only one that does; so vain that we dream of times that are not and blindly flee the only one that is ... Thus we never actually live, but hope to live."

One other result of the Fall, is our penchant for destroying our own planet. It would appear, to an outside observer, that we've signed an all-inclusive suicide pact.

Primal people had a profound sense of connection to nature, and so they respected, and even revered it. They saw the planet, and all that's on it, as alive. They were empathetically connected ... and lived in harmony with all else. They felt a sense of responsibility to all other things ... and a concern for long-term sustainability.

But since the Fall, we've had a sense of recklessness, of not caring, of short-sightedness ... and greed. What's in it for ME? We've lost that sense of connectedness ... and many would laugh at Chief Seattle, who said, "to harm the Earth is to heap contempt on its Creator." But when we invented "other-worldly" gods, the earth became "desacrilized" ... and even Christians believe that we have a mandate to "subdue the earth" ... since we're the only beings "with souls" (so they say). We look at the earth, and everything in/on it, as resources for our disposal ... Michael Perry, Archdeacon of Durham, England says this:
[this biblical view has given us license to] "take and take and never give back; to squander the fossil remains of forests which had taken a million years to build up, and burn them in a generation; to make dustbowls out of wheatfields and deserts out of fruitful ground; and to believe that, as lords of creation, we were not only allowed, but divinely commanded to do so."

We no longer see the earth, and everything on it as living ... we see it as dead matter.

So, are we doomed? Is our extinction inevitable?

We've been insane for 6,000 years. Our psyches have fallen. The solution, it seems, is for our psyches to change.

The good news is abundant. Historically speaking, we have been "waking up", becoming more empathetic and compassionate ... and generally changing *beyond* the sense of ego, for the past few hundred years ... let's explore that next, as a way of wrapping up this "book report"..!

Shalom, Dena

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