The Garden of Eden and the Pit
Nobody can be sure exactly how long human beings have been walking the Earth. Recorded history dates back not more than 8,000 years and the oldest cave paintings are dated as far back as 30,000 years. It’s said that the Australian Aborigines have a cultural heritage that is older still, but there are only estimates and little concrete evidence for determining an accurate time line. There is archeological evidence of the presence of human beings dating as far back as 200,000 years.
All of this casts doubt on the veracity of claims that the Old Testament contains a literal history of Mankind. Nobody is being burnt at the stake for this anymore, of course. Yet the story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden is not to be shirked at. Important lessons can be learned from the ancient texts.
The tale of the Garden of Eden, of Man’s fall from grace, has been interpreted every which way. In essence it is the story of rebellion against God, yet in some respects it describes how God has set Man free, to go out into the world and make what he can of things, taking the good for himself and also the bad. The failure of Adam to resist temptation was no accident, as God knows the nature of all his creatures and could foresee it. The event was, in fact, inevitable. Although in the first instance it appears that God is cruel and unfair, all is revealed when Christ appears and completes the picture. The fall of Man was a necessary part of his friendship with his Creator.
Many similarly apparently unfortunate events are inevitable. For example, if we dig an inconspicuous hole in the ground and put a sign up in English warning of the hole’s existence, it is inevitable that someone will fall in, be it someone who can’t see, can’t read, can’t understand English or is stupid. Yet it may be simply someone who wants to find out if, indeed, the sign is telling the truth about the hole, or has doubts about the laws of physics and the limitations of human biomechanics. Whose fault is it? In Christian morality, the evildoer is he who dug the hole insofar as he knew it would be a trap for the unwitting. But outside of Christianity, a view is held that nobody is responsible except the one who fell in the hole, since a sign was put up and he must have disregarded it.
And now, if we turn to Bishop Williamson, we have an example of someone who has fallen into just such a hole. Anyone else would have seen it coming. Anyone who reads the newspaper knows of others who have fallen down the same hole. From the sidelines, the hosts of angels in Heaven were probably screaming “No! Don’t do it!” and yet there he was, on television, in Europe, performing the totally unnecessary act of falling into a hole, with Lucifer, perched on the signpost, chuckling to himself. The hole was deliberately dug to catch those who practice the modern-day witchcraft of critical thinking, of asking forbidden questions. How ironic that this would occur on anniversaries of Galileo and Darwin, both heroes of dispassionate, systematic thought.
Of course, Galileo and Darwin are famous, not just for “thinking” but also for being right about something. Bishop Williamson may or may not be correct in his understanding of history (as he himself admits), but he is similar to Darwin, Galileo, Martin Luther, Ghandi and others, in that he dares to think and dares to speak. History has shown that many such heroes were mistaken, wrong, even sinful. None, of course, can compare to Jesus Christ who was, in fact, honest, open and right about everything, even about the metaphoric Hole which was dug by others to stop Him, but in all of these cases cases, these men were speakers of truth as they saw it, yet breakers of laws that prohibited them from speaking it. All else being equal, they were all martyrs for Truth.
No doubt, when Jesus was being tried before Pontius Pilate, many in the crowd thought of Him “Is he that stupid that he walks right into Jerusalem, into this den of wolves?”, and when He was crucified, they shook their heads and said “I told you so.”
It was only much later that everyone saw what Jesus was really saying, both in word and deed. He pointed out to us our blindness and our willingness to cling to our material goods, to our comforts and to our hypocrisy. He showed that Mankind had distorted the truth and justice to create an inverted society.
Nobody can pretend to know what is in Bishop Williamson’s heart of hearts, but you have to hand it to him, he knows where he stands in the grand scheme of things:
We just want to be Catholic, nothing else. We have not developed our own teachings, but are merely preserving the things that the Church has always taught and practiced. And in the sixties and seventies, when everything was changed in the name of this Council, it was suddenly a scandal. As a result, we were forced to the margins of the Church, and now that empty churches and an ageing clergy make it clear that these changes were a failure, we are returning to the center. That’s the way it is for us conservatives: we are proved right, as long as we wait long enough.
The prophets waited for the coming of the Christ and were finally proven right. In the days when Christ walked the Earth, it was the Pharisees who had changed the religion, taking the focus away from God and making themselves into idols. So it is today, that the Church has drifted from a religion that loves, faces, adores God to one that has its back turned to Him and now worships Man.
God doesn’t change. If you find yourself nolonger able to accept the Christianity of old, then it is you who has changed.
I wonder if the Pope realizes this.