Mincome

Salmos 84:3, “Señor Todopoderoso, rey mío y Dios mío,
    aun el gorrión halla casa cerca de tus altares;
también la golondrina hace allí su nido,
    para poner sus polluelos.

Sweet! I can live on the dole and pretend I am a writer who makes enough to support his addiction to useless work! Stellar. I love my fellow red-diaper babies. Especially the anarchist ones. We’ll tear down the government and make one of our own. The community will own everything. Everybody will be guaranteed a base salary regardless of whether they work or not. We’ll make education free. We’ll make health care free. We’ll eliminate income taxes. We’ll legalize all drugs, opioids, marijuana, all of it. Let’s make sex workers a protected class. LGBTQ Forever! We can set up houses all across the land where you can get your freak on and be stoned! Awesome!

Never heard of this? Think this is a pipe dream of a hippie wanna be millennial? News Flash, we did this. We hated it. What happens when you guarantee income to us, the dysfunctional end of the Bell Curve? Good things? No. We become more fucked up than we were before you made it possible us to expand our man-caves in our parent’s basements and buy better pajamas. If you haven’t noticed, dysfunctional people do dysfunctional shit. Giving us a monthly check just means we can do more dysfunctional shit. It’s awesome.

Mincome is a solution looking for a problem. It is an overly simple framing of the problem as lack of income. It ignores much about us, about people, especially my us, the dysfunctional at the scary end of the Bell curve. The potential for unintended consequences is stunning.

But, we have some who pitch ideas like mincome as the reasonable thing to do. These folk desperately cling to their pumpkin spice latte’s and Nordstrom credit cards (badly over their credit limit) and other social signals to prove that they are the good folk. Mincome is another way to signal that they care. And, after all, it is the strength of the caring signal that is the important thing.

One of Felina’s friends is like this. Felina met her at Stanford. She’s picture perfect NoCal grunge with a bit of goth added. Felina liked her because the girl had the best weed she’d ever smoked. Oh, oh, OH! you are horrified that a hot mess like Felina gets high? Just . . . go away. I’m not going to get dragged into a 1500 word rant that boils down to Nancy Reagan, “Just Say No.” I’m busy with another axe I want to grind. Y e e e s I am a Dad and I inhaled and now I don’t and as-far-as-I-am-concerned addiction is a deadly short game. B u u u t . . . this isn’t an anti-addiction rant.

Where was I? Oh. Felina’s friend, Inger (pronounced anger). No, I am not going to describe Inger’s age, hair, her figure, all that. There is enough free porn on the Intertubes that you can rub your sausage or clam without my help. Is she hot? Are you stupid? Inger is all about protests and grunge guys who claim they are musicians because they can crush Dragonforce’s, “Through the Fire and the Flames” in Guitar Hero. Inger is also, lately, off the radar doing another stint of rehab. Don’t get your hopes up. She drifts about various soup kitchens somewhat volunteering but mostly eating and live tweeting.

Inger is all about mincome. She totally cares about poverty and world peas. She’s punched a Planned Parenthood protester in the face more than once. After graduating from the county’s Anger Management class, twice. She also, before rehab, was depressed because she wasn’t able to get this year’s Nordstrom BP Cotton Anorak. Inger wants mincome for herself. And free mental health care, especially free mental health care. Legal weed, maybe also. Actually . . . legal weed first. Until rehab happened.

One of the many things that mincome ignores is something we Reformed Tradition Christians have heard all our lives, men are made for work. We don’t need more money or a guaranteed minimum income that means we don’t have to work. We need a cause to pursue, we need work. Not so we have access to necessary resources. It goes deeper than that. Idle men, especially idle young men, are fertile ground for trouble. Mincome takes away a key component of our reason for existence–our work.

Women are different. Women are made to help men love God more dearly. They are also the bulk of the work of birthing and raising the next generation. That secondary purpose, kids, is preoccupying for women. Women should and do work, but their two responsibilities mean that they are not first made for work in the same way that men are. I’ll grant you that for a woman, mincome can feel like a solid plan. Inger agrees.

These childish platitudes keep being pushed by left-wing media. Poor people? Give them money with no strings attached. Done. Hungry? Feed the hungry. Homeless? House the homeless. If we do enough of this we’ll accomplish an end to poverty, hunger, and homelessness. New Deal? New Frontier anybody? How about the Great Society? The War on Poverty? How is that working out? An unacknowledged elephant in your safe space is that simplistic solutions like this surface disastrous unintended consequences.

2 Tesalonicenses 3: “Porque incluso cuando estábamos con ustedes, les ordenamos: «El que no quiera trabajar, que tampoco coma.»”

Todo 2 Thessalonians 3 vale la pena leer. One of those unintended consequences is a non-verbal insult to men. Through mincome you are telling us that we can’t provide enough to our kin, that we are not enough. This is demeaning. So much so that our answer is to take your mincome and use it to run black market businesses where we can feel pride of ownership and the satisfaction of being providers to our kin.

We have dumped trillions in foreign aid into third world countries. These trillions have spawned countless acts of evil and corruption. Our trillions we intend for the poor and suffering enrich government bureaucrats and corrupt NGO’s. Yet we continue to be told that we are not doing enough, that we have to dump more cash into the life of that big eyed kid on TV because he or she is still miserable. And that the problem is that we are not trying hard enough. These Utopian fantasies of an end to misery will work if we just apply ourselves with enough due diligence. Did you fill your UNICEF box this Halloween? It’s not our fault that after 73 years these endeavors have entrapped those we sought to help. You really want Grandma to live on cat food? What’s your answer to a single mom with a dickface baby daddy? Grow a garden? Raise chickens? Seriously?

Yah, yah. All this government funded mercy does some good. Cities that have done, “Housing First” have had some success with it. You can listen to the Freakanomics story here: Most of the time when a story of this sort is aired it is presented as the most original, best idea ever. No one has ever thought of this. Why not just pay a guaranteed income to everybody? Poverty solved. I mean, what reasonable person would oppose that? Grandma could afford wet cat food.

But . . . whatever. Do it. Pay a guaranteed minimum annual salary of at least $40,000.00 with benefits. Give women free child care, free maternity leave, and 320 hours a year of paid time off. Ignore Cuba, the USSR, China, North Korea, Venezuela and others where such nonsense is the rule. Ignore the half-century of experience we have in this country with presidential initiatives like Roosevelt’s New Deal and Grandma Billary’s proffered Fair Deal. Us deplorables will happily use your benevolence as we have for most of a century. We’ll cash your checks and take that cash to the black market where we can get all our gluttonous heart desires. We’ll occupy ourselves with grey and black market businesses to give ourselves the work we can’t get because we accepted mincome. Thank you and please, may I have another?

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Love Disrupts

First Posted 20-Apr-2015

Here I am, in my house, in the daylight before my next shift as a rideshare driver. I’ve made a good thing, a mostly stable life living in a rented house, with the inventory that many in the world would call wealth. I have good friends I hang out with. Life is good. The groove I’m in is one I could happily run to its end.

beautiful womanLove Disrupts. It takes our comfortable rhthym and syncopates it. All our habits, hangups, hurts, all these become ingredients in a new stew called a relationship. We are not only ourselves. We become an “us”. Some of our old, our before, dies to be reborn anew as that “us”. She comes over to cook dinner and in the process, rearranges the kitchen. You have been buying Sauer’s spices for years. You grew up with them. She arrives with stuff from Simply Organic she’s been buying lately because it’s Non-GMO and hypoallergenic. You love her so now you love her spices. You’ve always thought you were an autumn. At least, the last girlfriend said that. Your closet is filled with burnt umber, black, tan, and maroon.

She shows up and says it’s fine. But you hear how she says it’s fine and start buying graphic t-shirts from thrift stores. The next date you wear one and she’s all smiles all of a sudden. She says you look good. Your heart swells. Bourbon neat, that’s you. She’s Mai Tai’s in a young coconut. She’s grasshoppers and white wine. She likes this thing called a Foggy Bottom that is kind of a Mai Tai but they serve it in a little crock that has dried ice and water in the bottom so it bubbles fog out of it. You rediscover your love of Pinot Gris. Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey starts to be a plan.

You can’t be in love and remain the same. It’s what’s difficult and wonderful about it. In the two, in the surrender to the new “us” you discover things you never knew. It changes you. If you follow it through to marriage and parenthood the changes are dramatic and permanent. Things about you die so that new things about you can live. I’ve been a bachelor longer than I’ve been married or in a relationship. I have this pathological difficulty getting beyond the first awkward kiss. I hunger for love, for the beauty of a woman, for every way in which she’ll disrupt my quiet life. It has avoided me for most of my life. I can’t say why. Only that I’d rather have her, have the ways in which love disrupts, than remain alone in my quiet house.

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Something I’m Bad At

First Posted 21-Apr-2015

This happened repeatedly in college. It continues to happen. I meet somebody, there are sparks, chemistry, emotional heat. I want her. I want her to want me. Flirting happens, there are some dates, the moment when it’s soaring violins and time to kiss the girl and . . . it doesn’t happen. I don’t kiss the girl. Some really awkward conversation happens, maybe a weird, creepy back-rub or an odd pattern of hugs and I make a polite exit.

young hottie 2I love women. If I have a false idol it is women. It’s worse if I am attracted to someone. It’s so bad that in the moment when the magic is supposed to start I lose it. I become a babbling idiot. Lately, I was at a friends house and it was time. I should have kissed her. I did not. I stumbled out words about really enjoying the time, we should get together soon . . . hey we’ll do coffee some time and made my exit. I don’t get it.

This isn’t a new pattern. It used to really piss me off that in the ‘80’s, before AIDS, I got more play from middle-aged gay men than I did from women. I’ve had girlfriends. I was married, have a son. So, it’s not been a total wash. It still happens. I am into somebody, we get into the same room together, it’s time and . . . and nothing.

Guys that ride with me joke about being desperate for a woman after a couple weeks. They drunkenly boast about the women they’ve been with. I have to laugh because the last time I was with somebody and it went all the way was before the new millennium. Over 15 years. Blue balls after a couple weeks. Nearly 2 decades, people. Epic blue balls doesn’t even begin to cover it. This is how bad it has gotten. There was somebody about a decade ago. We started getting together at her house. We did dinners, watched movies on her VCR, the backrubs, some making out, then one weekend night she sat on her bed, smoking a cigarette, and suggested I rub her back (wink wink). I don’t remember what I said or did next, but there was no backrub and when I tried to call her later she’d blocked my number.

There was a string of Japanese women all through college who even had friends tell me that their cab light was lit. Available cabs have their rooftop light lit. These women knew I drove a cab to help get myself through college. It’s an obvious reference. Yet . . . she and I were in her dorm room, her back to me, mumbling in accented English about tax lights and I totally killed the buzz by launching into an odd tangent about Taxi Unlimited and our art cabs. One of these days the one I catch will figure me out and I dunno, greet me in a robe or something. Maybe not that dramatically clear. Something though, so that I get over my shyness and make my move.

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In Praise of Women, Again

First Posted 20-May-2015

The sequence of the restored posts isn’t what it was in the prior version of this blog. I wrote “Women Are Awesome” forgetting that I’d written this post, In Praise of Women.

brunetteI have plenty of company here. I am neither the first nor the last to plant my flag on crowded turf. I doubt what I’ll post here will be terribly original. The vast majority of popular literature is about love, about women in one way or another. Boy meets girl, blah, blah, blah. Or boy breaks up with girl, girl breaks up with boy . . . the same story retold a gajillion times in a gajillion variations. Women are amazing. Simple as that.

One of my tropes: that God made Eve for Adam as his helper. But . . . God’s idea of help and Adam’s idea of help are not the same. So there is some conflict between Adam and Eve. The whole apple & serpent thing as well. But this post isn’t about how Eve fucked it up. I’m not that guy. I’m not the one holding a faux grudge against women because the whole Bible narrative starts with a snake tempting a woman who tempts a man into eating an apple. I love women, maybe more than I should. The sin in Genesis was one of hubris, of crazy pride, of believing that we didn’t need God. Anyway, Adam could have said, “no.” He didn’t. Boom.

This post is me, vamping, because the whole post is a three word sentence, “women are amazing”. I keep being amazed at how God puts women in the lives of men who are exactly what that man, what I need, at that exact moment. It’s not orthodox or canonical–the Lilith story. It is telling, though that her story stuck around. Adam’s second wife is Eve, so the story goes. His first wife, Lilith, would not relent, to the point of uttering the unspeakable name of God and flying out of the Garden as an owl. Eve was 2.0, a little more docile, clever, smarter and checkmated him.

I’m ducking my premise. Women are amazing because they are beautiful. Women are amazing because they have a God given intelligence that seems perfect for what He needs of us. The curve of her hips, the shape of her eyes, the ways she moves, I know what goes here, the smile on her lips when she looks at me, it’s all amazing. I haven’t met my new soul mate. I thought I met her in Julie some years ago. But we broke up. I married a Triad Princess, so say some of my friends, not a soul mate.

And that’s my problem. I am so overawed by Eve, by what God did in making her, that all my crazy, passive agressive, hiding in obtuseness, comes out. I feel like I’m talking to God in talking to her. So I get weird, can’t write, can’t talk, cat has my tongue. I don’t know how this ends. Most of my tropes are here on this blog. I posted them. So, now, beyond post 200, in praising women, I’m blocked. I got nothing. Which, I hope, is where I’ll find her, find Him, and discover what else there is to say, awkward and all. Women are amazing.

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Women Badly Behaved

First Posted 30-Jul-2015

The knowledge that MGTOW is a thing bugs me. Men Going Their Own Way because they’ve decided that the bullshit way outpaces the affection in all cases and therefore, the affection isn’t worth it–it can’t be that *all* women are like this. There are good women, good marriages, good relationships. There are bad ones, and I guess the men who claim the acronym MGTOW reflect that. But just like you can’t predict future success from the past, you likewise can’t predict future failure based on the past. Every relationship is both similar and different.

pretty-50-somethingEach time there is the chance that this time, it will succeed. Before I go further I have some words for women who have engendered a reaction in men such that they’d rather just go their own way. Girls, if you are pissing off men and breaking up with them, you might want to pause and do an inventory. Maybe it isn’t him. Maybe it is you. That’s one thing. 2. At my age, because of medical problems and changes to my body, you, hotness, are not the stimulus you once were. Where once a pretty woman made me nervous and had me wanting to jump her bones right there, right then, now I wonder what she’s like the other 23.5 hours of the day. I start calculating what she offers against what I have to do to get it. Women offer:

  • Domestic goddess–she’ll clean, cook, do laundry, maybe mow the lawn, & garden, maybe.
  • Chef–she’ll cook all the meals and do the dishes after
  • Child Care–she’ll take care of the kids for the 10 hours a day when a guy is at work.
  • Companionship–she’ll enjoy what you enjoy, including the umpteenth binge watch of Breaking Bad and another marathon of World of Warcraft on your tired old 1st Gen XBox.
  • Sex–she’ll make love to you when you want.

Or, that’s what we men hope for. Too many women fall short of the mark. And I’ve changed. Those five bullet points are not things I hunger for so much anymore. Of them:

  • Domestic goddess–My house is clean. I keep it that way. The one friend who offered to clean it (in a skimpy French Maid costume even), waved a feather duster about in the air while she stood in the middle of the living room holding a Bud Light in the other hand and after a few seconds of furious waving, pronounced the job done and asked for another beer. She hasn’t been back.
  • Chef–It’s been a while since I’ve met a woman that can cook. I’ve worked as a dishwasher and line cook at points in my career. I’ve been trained by a CIA chef to do saute and prep. I can cook. I don’t need a cook.
  • Child Care–my son is 19. He’s beyond child care. When he gets lonely for home he goes to his Mom’s house.
  • Companionship–this, this can only be had by hanging out with other folk. But I’m finding it easier to hang out with the guys than put up with the baggage some women seem to drag to a date. Girls, leave the agenda at home. There is time for that, later.
  • Sex–I’m of a flavor of Christianity that believes in either fidelity in marriage or chastity in singleness. This means, until she and I have married, we are not having sex. I am divorced, with a son, so I am not a virgin. The mystery of married sex and fatherhood isn’t a mystery to me. And I’m not in the flower of my youth. My libido needs a fair bit of encouragement to wake up. Even then, it’s underwhelming. So, sex presents challenges that can cause me to go watch another episode of Mythbusters instead.

I’m sure there is a woman’s take on the above. If I get comments from women worth posting, I’ll do that. I’d love to hear from women on this.

Next, we change. The things that excite us at 50+ are somewhat different than when we were 20-something. I’ll find a woman who is into me and wants to be around for the next 50 years. She’s out there. She’s a reason not to be a man who goes his own way. There are enough good people, good women and men, that the cynical & grumpy who have decided to go home from the sandbox with their toys and sulk, can just do that.

Love disrupts. I said that in a previous post. We can’t fall in love and remain the same. When we do there is strife of our own making. I’ve also said elsewhere that I believe God’s plan in giving us Eve only somewhat aligns with ours. He asks us to love him more dearly, love neighbors and enemies, to treat others as we wish to be treated. Women are gifted with this commission from God, to help us do what he asks of us. So, yeah, we might want a maid, a lover, a cook, someone to listen to the same damn story about that WoW battle we won in college again but along with that, she has a mission from God to fulfill–to help us men do that love thing better.

That is the hope. That’s the thing we can’t get just nursing our annoyances with the ball & chain who bitched at us again for leaving a dirty sponge on the stove as the last thing while cleaning it. Women are here to help us love God more dearly. The way they do it might not be entirely the way we wish they would. But . . . God didn’t ask us what we wish. He decided that we needed help and thus gave us Eve. Instead of sulking and deciding to ignore God, ignore women, maybe we should stop being pussies and cowboy up to what God wants of us through women.

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Women Are Awesome

First Posted 28-Dec-2015

The title pretty much says it. The next 700 words or so are really just a long winded way to say the three word title of this post. This month I posted a piece saying that Eve had her reasons. Then I had Adam in my head scolding me that I didn’t understand, that it wasn’t his fault, and that if God had just left him alone he’d have been fine. Adam wasn’t fine. Men, man, has not been fine for a long time. I can only imagine the sort of transgressive behavior Adam was perpetrating to cause God to decide that it wasn’t good for him to be alone in Eden. A trail of chewed animal bones, exploded stills, poorly buried dung, and scorched earth come to mind. I have a two word movie title to give you if you are still not clear, “Animal House“.

problem-fraternity-brotherWe all witness it. A young man, freshly emancipated from Mom & Dad, loose on the world, feeling his virility and strength, meets a woman. All that bluster & bravado, that willingness to do crazy shit just cuz, starts to diminish. He starts skipping 501st Legion meetings in his area. The guys call to ask him to come with them to the strip club and he declines, saying she wants to go to the ballet. They catch up to him at a college game and instead of tail-gating with them, he’s a couple parking stalls over with her and her sorority sisters. There are numerous selfies and wine spritzers. They try to rescue him and he demurs, saying she asked him to meet her sisters.

We know when it happens. Some time after the first date and before the engagement an archetypical conversation happens that can be reduced down to one question, “what are we?” The answer to that question sets the course for the relationship. It will either continue to flower into a ring and a date or die bitterly in all the spectacular ways that love burns cold.

Fast forward a decade and his old college buddies find him wiping baby puke off his shoulder and testing a bottle to see if it is the right temperature. The legendary Boba Fett costume is splayed on the floor, dusty and forlorn. His oldest is bickering with his middle over whether Darth Vader or Darth Maul was more badass. Shrek covered this in his last movie. Marriage & parenthood changes us. Something dies to be replaced with all the crap that comes with kids and wife. The old buddy who would trampoline over the house after a couple beers now finds excitement in old Oprah reruns.

As a young lion I was going to be a Broadway star, foment a global socialist revolution so that there were no longer starving children in Africa, learn how to make moonshine from Popcorn Sutton, make fire from flint, walk the Appalachian Trail (all of it), and bring about world peas. How did I do? I walked some of the Appalachian Trail. That’s about it.

The thing that happened to me has a name: 常明華 (Ming-Hua Chang). She was born in the year of the dragon. My nickname for her is 皇后 “The Empress”. With all the bipolar and other mental illness in my generation some of my siblings labeled her as a sufferer of cyclothymic disorder. She was born to a prominent, Nationalist Chinese family that escaped to Taiwan and became nightclub owners in 北投區. My friends and I allege, without proof, that she is a princess of the 台灣民族主義黑手黨 Taiwanese Triad. She changed me. It was good.

Eve changed Adam. It is as God intended. Adam, single, was a big and not necessarily benign impact on Eden. He needed something he desired enough to be down with love, loving God, loving Eve, loving enemies & neighbors. He needed something to get him through yet another ten minutes fighting his way through stray Barbie dolls, doll houses and his wife’s lipstick used to draw Barnie on the kitchen walls. Aspects of Adam had to die so that he could become fully realized as the image of God he was created to be.

Eden before Eve was a wrecked playpen. If Adam hungered deeply for Eve maybe he’d come to his senses, maybe he’d grow up some. Teen, single, independent, feeling indestructible and immortal, able to conquer ten dragons before a breakfast of moonshine and Tex-Mex tacos, we fear what we believe will be a kind of death once we meet her. It is a kind of death. On the other side of it is a changed life better than our footloose days. It’s hard to see that, though, on a Sunday morning after getting released from the drunk tank. Right then our plan is a couple breakfast tacos washed down with a redneck bloody Mary and finished with a smoke. Then we get a text message from her with a lot of annoying questions.

She, some of them, is no less fearless nor less harmful to dragons. Then she asks and we answer and the torrential flame of our early glory fades into slow glowing coals baking soda bread in a Dutch oven. We become responsible. We [shocker] get a job and start paying our bills on time. Some of us have to go to meetings for a bit and learn how to contain our impulses. If you are confused, the movie, “What to Expect When You Are Expecting” will explain a lot of this.

Something in us does die once we say to her that we are a couple. In its place grows something new, and IMHO, better. Adam became a father and a farmer. We don’t know what the young Adam was like before Eve showed up. I sort of reckon he weren’t exactly a model son. Men & women need each other. We, together, are more than the sum of our parts. 900 words later, that makes women awesome.

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Adam’s Defense

This First Posted 19-Dec-2015

Adam, the first man, is dead. He’s been dead a while. The Bible says, “Altogether, Adam lived a total of 930 years, and then he died.” Archbishop Ussher of Armgah in 1650 pegged the age of the world at 4004 years, naming Saturday, October 22, 4004 B.C. as the first day of creation. For this piece we’ll say that Ussher was right and it being 2016 A.D. as I type this, the world would be 6,020 years old and counting. This means Adam has been dead 5,090 years. Mitochondrial DNA studies putting the age of Eve at somewhere above 100,000 years? Yah Yah. Can we move on?

Adam in the Garden of Eden Genesis 2:7-8
Adam in the Garden of Eden Genesis 2:7-8

Ever since I posted the piece on Eve having her reasons I’ve had Adam in my head, pissed. He’s been scolding me, saying that I didn’t understand. It wasn’t his fault. God had gone to meddling twice, first with Lilith and second with Eve. Eve offered him a piece of a fig without telling him where she got it and if God and those two women had just left him alone, he’d be fine. He didn’t need to know of good & evil. He didn’t need help.

The first mistake was God deciding that it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone. The second and third had names: Lilith (bitch) and Eve (wife). From day one with both, it was nonstop nagging and judgement. He had to wipe his ass. He had to smell good. He had to work to hunt for food. The garden of Eden was nice, but most of the plants that she liked to eat had thorns, so gathering what she liked was fustrating. There was no pleasing either of them. He’d gather figs and she’d ask for greens. He’d gather greens and she’d ask for nuts. He’d kill a turkey and she’d say she wanted fish. It was just endless.

He was happy finding a tree that had a nice overhang and some mostly clear ground. The rain didn’t really bother him and he never minded the cold. He hunted small game, fished and otherwise ate what he could find.

She. She worried about the cleanliness of the water. She wanted a shelter. Shelters took hours to make. Before the women he could just kick aside the worst of the offending thorny plants in a nice spot and catch some sleep. Not with her. No, every day included a couple hours of work on the shelter, sometimes an old one they’d had for a few days, sometimes building a new one. She didn’t want to be wet. Her skin busted out in red pustules all over her every time she got one little bug bite. She didn’t like sleeping on the ground because of the bugs. She wanted to sleep under covers. She wanted walls. She asked for animal furs to sleep on. She was incredibly annoying.

God kept on about life being better if Adam would just learn to love and trust him. Why? What had God done for Adam? Create him? Thanks for nothing. Alive in this bug infested, cackling, miserable jungle called Eden? To do what? To help her, help the ex-bitch and #2, who was somewhat better but still a huge pain in the ass. Love? What’s love? Love God? That fat lazy bastard who is always hungry and full of ‘spose to’s? Yeah, right. Sure. I’ll get right on that.

Probably the best day of Adam’s life is when he discovered that quinoa left in a gourd with some water would ferment into wine. Hala-frickin-luia. Second best was God showing him how to make fire. Beer & BBQ made her a lot more tolerable. God, drunk, was way more fun than God sober. Her, though, drunk, was a reason to leave for a few days and hunt. She was meaner than a honey badger coked out and psychotic.

And then. And then . . . God shows up and wants to know why he and Eve were covering themselves. Adam didn’t know. Eve insisted on covering her crotch and chest with leaves. She wouldn’t look at him unless his crotch was covered also. Whatever. Happy wife, happy life, right? Stupid wife. Well . . . it turns out that wasn’t just any piece of fruit. It was fruit from that tree, the one God told them not to eat from. Adam really didn’t care. There were plenty of trees that had good fruit. One less wouldn’t make any difference. She cared for some reason. Like it would really be better if he peed out of shouting distance instead of right in front of the shelter. Like her piss didn’t stink. They lost their home in the garden.

Life in the Savanna was harder. Now he had to farm. The edible plants in the savanna were nowhere near as good as what they could get before. There was less water and of what they found a lot of it was spoiled with animal piss. When they planted seed the birds ate most of it. What the birds didn’t eat the rabbits would get as it sprouted. Later the deer would feed on what they planted without having the good grace to hold still as he drew his bow.

It wasn’t fair that my piece about Eve’s reasons painted him as the bad guy. How is it his fault that God decided to meddle and create Eve? Why is he to blame because she decided that he should eat a piece of fig from the one tree he was told not to eat from? Lilith flew from Eden and he had peace and quiet for the first time in a long time? Why not let Eve slither out with the serpent?

Still, he could make beer and that made things better. Then God talked to him about children. He was cool with the part where you laid down with Eve to start the process. The rest of it, though, sucked almost as bad as hoeing a muddy field. If he could just have the sex without all the rest . . . God saying it was part of the plan he had for Adam–thanks for that, yeah, just great. Oh for the days of a meadow full of snorting wild boar and a quiver of arrows . . . It wasn’t fair that I had posted a piece saying that Eve had her reasons. He felt I should give him equal time. I needed to understand, he said. He said this as he walked away to help Eve skin one of their rabbits. Happy wife . . .

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It’s Eve’s Fault

My fellow blogger Aubrey Eicher posted an essay on Eve and the apple.” She writes, “When we love, we do not want to do anything to hurt the heart of the person, or in this case, God.” Which are fine words from a young Christian woman writing in 2015. We have at least five millennia of experience in what is and isn’t out of bounds behavior. If you doubt this, do something out of bounds to a woman and see what happens. Actually, don’t. There is enough out of bounds behavior without my encouraging it.

Smoked-RattlesnakeNeither Adam nor Eve had knowledge of how you love, what love is/was, and what is and isn’t out of bounds behavior. *Everything* is new, a first, including what it means to be a partner to someone. Aubrey says, “Surely, myself included, we would love to go back to the garden and slap the fruit out of Eve’s hand, and give her a piece of our mind, ‘What ARE you doing, you dumb broad, didn’t you hear what God said? Yes, Aubrey, she did. Eve didn’t have the benefit of a few thousand years of hindsight. Worse, not knowing of good and evil, she had no way to express nor process events and behavior that felt out of bounds. Adam could and probably did, do things that caused Eve duress. But it was all good (right?) because without knowing of good and evil there is nothing that is out of bounds. Last, a word from us, the malcontents, we know, she knew and it wasn’t enough, isn’t enough.

I find it beyond reason that the purported prior-fall Eden was entirely sunshine and lollipops. God created a world in which free will exists. This includes the freedom to use his creation for ill as well as good. C.S Lewis, in his, “Problem of Pain“, talks about a baseball bat being a tool for sport as well as a weapon. God made the baseball bat. Man makes a choice and it is either used for sport or for crime. He leaves it to us to decide what to do with His creation. Google News will give you plenty of examples of poor choices. I find it hard to believe that the lack of knowledge of good and evil would obviate the possibility of ill will. Either he made an Eden where free will was impossible, and thus made a couple who were not completely in His image, or he made an Eden where they didn’t know what was and wasn’t in-bounds behavior but could, out of innocence, still behave in ways that were transgressive. You could slap the fruit out of Eve’s hand and she would still be stuck with an impossible to understand feeling that some of what Adam did was not right. Enter the serpent. Eve had her reasons.

To recap: the serpent tells Eve that if she defies God and eats of the forbidden fruit she will gain the knowledge of good and evil. She ate and fed some to Adam as well. In all the sermons I’ve heard and retellings of this tale I can’t remember any time spent in the run-up to her choice. It’s narrated as a series of disconnected events, the serpent talking to Eve, then Eve eating, then Eve feeding some of the fruit to Adam, then feeling shame at their nudity, then clothing themselves, then hiding from and being found by God, then banishment and consequences. It is beyond reason to me that Eve was not talking to Adam through all this. On many Sundays in the sermon I’m told that Eden before the fall was a paradise where evil was impossible. Paradise for whom?

The bible is conspicuously silent on what Eve was going through in her early days. Or that Eve wasn’t processing the events of her life and trying to figure out (a) what it all means and (b) what she should do about it. It was all new to Adam as well. He had no frame of reference, save what God had been telling him, of how to live on God’s good side. Not knowing of Good and Evil, without the law, he had a hard time with Eve, who was not as rebellious as Lilith but was still crazy making. There was no one he could commiserate with, no parents to talk to, no fellow newlywed men to joke about married life with. He had to bootstrap all of this himself. Eve, younger than him, didn’t know either and for all it mattered, was dumber than a box of rocks.

There is another discredited narrative lurking about in Jewish folklore–Lilith. She, it is told, was the first woman, created of the same soil as Adam, and banished from Eden because the fight between her and Adam got so severe she fled to the desert, spewing threats and curses the whole way. One more element. We don’t have a story that connects Lilith to Eve. Lilith exists in Mesopotamian folklore and predates Judaism. If folk tales of Lilith and Eve exist they have not survived. Suppose these two women were alive at similar times, are we sure they never spoke? We can’t say because we don’t have anything to connect the two. But . . . this space is the realm of the bard. This is not a limitation here. This blog can say it, taking the privilege of the story teller, and proceed from there. We’ll say Lilith was able to fill in the details of the dispute over a salad of smoked rattlesnake, sunflower seed and kale dressed with a lime, cilantro and peanut oil vinaigrette served with a nice Riesling. Eve would hear that she wasn’t the first, and why Lilith lived in the desert, shunned.

This means that if she was to get along with Adam she could not merely defy him. She could not plant her flag on equal liberty with Adam and expect to gain his assent. There had been too many words between the angels, Adam and Lilith, too much done, to make that reasonable. Eve needed a new way to be with Adam. Could it be that if he knew what he’d done wrong, if he could be made to see the error of his ways, that there could be rapprochement in Eden and the strife of the past could remain in the past, leaving Eve safe?

Consider Eve’s position. She is newly made of Adam’s rib. She is physically a woman, fully capable of everything God expects of her. Adam has all these “should’s” and “spose-to’s” from his disastrous relationship to Lilith. He’s still seething at the mention of her. He feels entitled to being treated a certain way, full of rants about being respected and the proper place of a . Though she is physically mature she is still young to this life and so much is hard to sort out. Knowing the right thing to do isn’t straightforward. She has no history to refer to, no older kin to speak with. Her only source of reference is God, who is at a turn loving and paternal in frustrating ways, and Adam, who isn’t helping.

Eve has no friends save for these two men, one her father, the other her husband. They are men. They try when she wants to talk. But . . . guys are not girls and though they mean well, it’s not the same talking to them. Lilith is banished so getting to speak with her is extremely difficult. Eve and Lilith had that lunch but since then God has had angels watching her so getting out hasn’t been possible. Adam and God have no clue what it’s like to be a woman in this paradise. Instead, there are legion expectations and pompous, chest puffed, chauvinist ideas about what an ideal woman should be. Into this comes the serpent, who is wise enough to know when to shut up and let Eve talk.

God’s call to Eve was to be Adam’s helper. God keeps talking about children and that’s just disgusting. Adam has a lot to say about this, much of it conflicting with her conversations with God. God wants Adam to love him more dearly and wants Eve to help him with this. Adam seems to want sex (which, btw, could not have gone well at first, “You pee with that thing. You want to put it inside me and pee inside me? That is so not happening ever.” hot meals, a willing ear and someone to clean up after him. No mention of loving God in that. No shortage of what God owes Adam, though. So, here she is, newly made, newly married, to this creature who is inconsiderate, stubborn, resentful, angry at his ex, loudly declaiming that God owes him, and demanding of her. The serpent says that if Adam knew the difference between right and wrong maybe he’d understand the error of his ways and stop being such a prick.

Keep things the same in the garden, tolerating Adam and his anger toward women, toward Lilith and by extension, Eve, trusting God to work it out, or . . . disrupt, defy and in the defiance maybe get this lughead to come to his senses. Yes, the price was death but as in many of these broken relationships, physical death may be threatened but it is the spiritual death long ago initiated that has destroyed the souls of those involved and made physical death seem comforting. Plus, the serpent kept telling her that she would not physically die, not really. She would know from Lilith that the price was more probably divorce from Adam and banishment. So, it became a choice miseries.

Eve chose to eat of the apple and lived to suffer another day. Adam it seems, became a farmer and settled down enough to father Cain and Able. For Eve, good enough. She could live as a farmer’s wife and let the raucous early days of her life fade into fond family stories. For the rest of the story you can read your Bible. It’s all there.

Eve’s sin is still the sin of hubris. Though, not the sort of pride I’ve heard in so many sermons on so many Sundays. No, the old lie the serpent tells us and that we still fall for that we are alone, that no one else understands our problem the way we do, and that we have to take care of it ourselves. It is a pride that comes from fear overtaking our trust in God and in turn letting Him open our eyes to the hidden love and solutions possible once we stop being so scared and proud. Eve was young, thought she had to figure it out for herself, and listened to the serpent as he talked her into feeling isolated and desperate. It doesn’t justify her sin. It’s maybe like Chris Rock said about OJ Simpson–it isn’t right but you can understand.

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