Imagine Star Wars (the original) starting with Luke Skywalker bemoaning the effects of planetary warming (or climate change) on Tatooine. What would that do to the movie? Even if this farmer on a desert planet blamed the climate change on the evil Empire and the rest of the movie stayed exactly the same, it would still change the entire movie, wouldn’t it? By the end you’d expect him to update his droids to greener versions, fly a hybrid X-wing, and adopt more sustainable farming practices.
…but that’s not how the film goes.
Instead, Luke Skywalker bemoans vague inner longings for life and adventure. Those inner longings are then fulfilled by “The Force” and the adventure he has with it.
Beginnings of stories matter. They let us know what the story will be about. It works much like a thesis in a essay (or the title to a blog). It frames everything that comes after it. If an essay strays from it’s thesis, the professor will ask the student to correct the issue. Sometimes the issue is where the author went astray in the essay. Sometimes the issue is the thesis itself. The same holds true for a story (as we saw with Luke Skywalker).
Now before you start accusing me of going to far from my title, let’s pull this into the Christian Biblical narrative.
I grew up in the Christian Evangelical culture and heard the popular beginnings to the Christian narrative. Most (if not all) of them had to do with “The Sin Problem.” That generally accepted beginning is: God made humans good (“The Creation”)… But then humans sinned (“The Fall”)… And God can’t be near sin (“Holy”)… so He sacrificed his Son to get around our sin (“Salvation”)… So now those who believe in his Son can be with Him (Heaven)…
The trouble came when I tried to read the Bible from beginning to end. It felt a bit like watching Star Wars thinking it’s about saving the environment. Sure there were parts (like handfuls of verses) that made sense, but large parts of it seemed to stray from what I thought was the beginning (or thesis).
Ironically, the same idea that started the Protestant movement (which eventually lead to the Evangelicals) can helps us today: Read the scripture, not the tradition.
The beginning of the story in the Bible doesn’t have them eating from the Tree of Sin. It’s the Tree of Knowing Good and Evil. Sin isn’t even mentioned until the next chapter with Cain. Plus, when Adam and Eve disobey, God doesn’t run away and hide behind his holiness. Instead, humans run and hide, and God comes after them. Don’t believe me? Try reading the beginning of the Genesis again, but try to only read what’s on the page.
If you grew up in some of the same traditions I did and you let this idea in, it could be scary. It has been for me sometimes. Changing the way you look at “The Fall” changes the way you look at “Salvation” and every other aspect of the Bible and of faith… But it’s good. It makes more sense more often. It rings truer.
This is huge and re-frames everything. We’ll go more into this in the next post and the rest of the blog. I hope you’ll join me on this journey. Cheers!”