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Posts Tagged ‘dr doolittle’

Painted by Hans Baldung Grien
16th Century

In a previous post, I spent some time thinking about the idea of choices and boundaries for human in the Garden of Eden (a decidedly perfect environment) and yet, within that garden stood a tree with forbidden fruit. Human had to choose whether to honor God’s boundary (“do not eat”) or not. Now, it appears another kind of choice was there as well, whether or not to believe the “crafty serpent.”

Genesis 3:1aNow the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman . . .

Another thing occurred to me today. Why are so few people concerned with the concept of a serpent that could a) talk and b) interact with human? Some might reason that this was possible because it was really Satan in the guise of a serpent, but still, a talking critter is talking critter. And apparently, human (Adam or Eve) was not particularly surprised by this talking faculty either. Is it possible then that other animals or creatures in the Garden could communicate? I know, that sounds fantastic. (Is that any more fantastic than the idea of a Garden with only two people who named all the animals and walked around naked?) After all, the Garden is not supposed to be Dr. Doolittle’s domain. And yet, isn’t it fun to consider? Perhaps this ability to communicate with other species was lost to us in the “fall.” In some ways, it makes perfect sense that we make up so many stories about talking animals in our children’s stories, fairy tales, and movies. If only, we think, if only my dog could tell me what he really wants. If only my cat would explain why she is so angry with me. And so on.

A few years ago, Carolyn Parkhurst wrote a novel called The Dogs of Babel, in which a man’s wife dies after falling from a tree and the only witness was their dog. The man, a linguistics professor, is so embroiled in grief that his only hope for recovery is to get the truth about his wife’s death from the dog . . .  by teaching him how to talk. To me, that story captured the longing of inter-species relationships.

But, enough about talking animals. What I really wanted to investigate was the logic of the serpent for challenging humans. I believe he really wanted to undermine God’s authority and the best way to do that was by usurping the human role in Eden. The serpent, as a creature of the Garden, had been placed under the authority of human (see Genesis 1:28) just like all the other animals and creatures. To me, this is the reason the serpent was so crafty. He had a bone to pick with Creator and for this reason, he tricked humans, those most beloved of God. Otherwise, why bother?

This breakdown of the chain of command works in today’s world too. What better way to break things up than to hit the “middle manager.” In this way, the organization (or the church) suffers both up and down the ladder. Those below the middle manager begin to distrust that person’s reliability while the administrator above is seen as a poor leader, unworthy of respect. By encouraging human Adam and human Eve to break the boundaries of the Creator, the serpent broke himself free as well. The serpent’s goal was and still is bigger than human.

Evil has an agenda that is beyond mere “search and destroy” missions of human beings. Ephesians 6:12 says “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Same for them.

What is my role then today? See the big picture. Believe in the boundaries of God. Believe in the reality of a secret agenda of evil. Trust the sovereignty of God.

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