The myth of the Fall in Genesis 3 rests on a Mysterious Prohibition (as in all good fairy stories): You shall not eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Lovers of fairy tales, myths, and fantasies are well aware of the trope:
- Attention, arrogant prince on quest for glory: Do not blow the forbidden horn in the witch’s lair, no matter how tempting, or the castle across the sea that you left for your quest will fall and leave you exiled.
- Attention, teenage kids in the cabin in the woods: Do NOT put on the ring you found in the drawer that belonged to the demon-possessed ax murderer and is rumored to be potent with his malignant spirit.
The Forbidden Condition is one of the basic parts of the structure of the moral universe and echoes something deep in the human psyche. Asking questions like “Explain the sense of having such a Condition” is like asking “Why is there anything at all?” In Faerie, it’s more in the nature of a discovery than an invention. It’s part of the Way Things Work.
And the Genesis myth simply gets this brute fact of reality and goes with it rather than trying to account for it.
In Genesis, the serpent begins the work of temptation with a little good old-fashioned ground softening. “Has God really said?” he rhetorically asks about something that God has not, in fact, really said. God has not said that Eve may not eat of any tree, just the one. The purpose of the question, of course, is not to communicate, but to poison the mind and heart with doubts and the presumption of bad faith. But instead of turning away from an obvious liar asking accusatory questions in bad faith, she listens to the doubts sown. Next thing you know, the Accuser is flat out saying that the God of the universe is filled with petty fears of competition and worried about his creatures becoming like God. (Ironically, the fullness of revelation will reveal a God who longs for us to become like him and even share in his nature (2 Peter 1:4).)
So, in the myth first Eve and then Adam reach out and take the Forbidden into their own hands and, in a twist worthy of Rod Serling, get everything they wish for–and it is nothing but nakedness, fear, suffering, domination and submission, toil, and death. The Tree of Life is barred to them, not so much as punishment as to save from an endless living death. Moral: Don’t listen to liars because a liar is a kind of murderer. Indeed, long after, Jesus will unite the qualities of the Liar and the Murderer in the fallen angel Satan and those who serve him with lying tongues and murderous tongues:
You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. – John 8:44
I think of that tactic of ground-softening lies as I contemplate the spectacle of the Catholic sector of the Right Wing Lie Machine tossing out based “What if?” questions about Pope Francis for one purpose only: to sow doubt:
A vital tool of the Right Wing Lie Machine is sowing fear and fanning the flames of anxiety and panic over stupid crap that will never happen. It’s the “throw enough mud and some will stick” technique and, if you do not (as Scott Eric Alt does above) actively cultivate antibodies against such “seeds of the Lie” you are very likely to come away infected with a baseless “gut feeling” that the victim of such propaganda campaigns (in this case, Francis) just has “something about him” that you fear. Instead, learn (like Scott and Where Peter Is) to cultivate a healthy skepticism of such Panic du Jour crap. It is from Hell.