“The beginning is near!”
Check this space for updates and details as the date draws closer.
The power of story. photo by D Sharon Pruitt, wikimedia
Perhaps you’ve noticed the ad below in Merida English Library’s newsletter. It’s an invitation to a conversation, not to a lecture. I’m hoping that you, and others, might enjoy discussing primitive stories which touch on human nature — stories that could enhance our understanding of ourselves and our interactions with each other. Of course, there will be some god-talk, as God is a character in these stories. There is likely to be some irreverence, as we may have issues with this first-appearing character. We will need to suspend doctrinal positions, endeavoring to ask apt questions of the text. Right questions, rather than bright answers, will be our focus. Civility will be maintained at all times.
This is an experimental project which cannot get far in a single hour. (We will examine only a small portion of chapter one at this first meeting.) I’m very grateful to the Board of MEL for allowing us to convene in the courtyard of the library, but we must move elsewhere if we wish to continue this conversation. Please bring your spontaneity. ~eric.
I’ve read a lot of creation stories, most recently “Primal Myths” by Barbara Sproul. The thing I find interesting is that nearly all of them begin the world with water, or in some cases, milk. It’s an obvious metaphor for primal chaos, although there are others who posit that it represents a time when our ancestors spent more time in the water (http://www.aquaticape.org/). Also, in more than half of the stories, there are two children of the First Couple, if the stories have such a couple, that get into some sort of scrape that gives rise to the world the way it is. Not all, in fact very few, have one of the children killing the other. One of the first I heard that threw me for a loop, was the Mayan Popol Vuh, which also features a tree in the Primordial Garden. But in this story, the boys are born to play Ball, the Mayan sort, where the winning team gets to kill the losing team or something like that.
Many of these stories also feature a Tree, but it isn’t there for the purpose of tempting people with something that’s right in front of them but they’re supposed to stay away from it like in Genesis. One of the more interesting examples of this to me is Yggdrasil, the Norse World Tree. I only find this interesting because another book I read explained how this is a metaphor for the electrical system of the Earth, that the Aurora is just the visible manifestation of this.
Those stories that do not feature a Tree, instead have an Egg, something you don’t find in Genesis, but an egg is a convenient metaphor for creation that even a child can understand.
When the Buddha was asked how the world, and what is meant here is the universe, came about, the Enlightened One rattled off several scenarios that were being entertained at the time, and a few that were considered incomprehensible or nonsensical until the discovery of Quantum Mechanics, and then poses the question, and I’m paraphrasing here, “How is knowing the answer to that going to make you a better person?”.
And I have to just sit back and blink and say, “Good Question”.
Yes, “good question”! One of the things I find amusing in Popol Vuh is that the Mayans have a committee of three gods involved in their creation story, one of whom is named Hurican (hurricane) — creative destruction, I guess. But we will confine ourselves to questions focusing on Genesis. (So much to do before Saturday!)
Here’s a review of an intriguing book about fresh starts, titled BEGINNINGS, The First Seven Days of the Rest of Your Life, from author Steve Weins.