Friday, January 1, 2010

Genesis 11, Or, Babel, Tennessee, and more philosophy

So I closed out 2009 with a pissy little row with my husband, plans to stay in education if the NYCTF accepts me, and the tower of Babel. Which is another story that served me well as a budding young agnostic and serves me less well as a Christian.

Strauss is actually pretty instructive, here. Not because I have actually waded my way through The Beginning of Wisdom to its section on Genesis 11 - though that would be great, right? -- but because his read on the Fall, and his answer to its critics, is similar to mine on Babel. If my powers of interpretation were worth the tens of thousands of dollars of debt I incurred while honing them, Strauss is saying that it's a lousy critique of God that He "can't, or won't" find a way around the problem of sin for us. Students inevitably ask Strauss why God put Adam and Eve near the tree if He knew they would eat from it. To which Strauss its like, maybe this is just how humanity is. Maybe God was warning, not ordering; maybe -- and this might be my own extraction, so don't quote me as saying Strauss said it -- but, you know, maybe God doesn't make the rules so much as He is the rules.

At which point my conception of God shifts, and I think: maybe God is not essentially like us, at all, and the problem is that we all claim to worship Him but really are just trying to appropriate Him. Maybe Christ as the human Jesus was something more of a stretch than we want to acknowledge and God is something a lot less humanoid than we can handle. Maybe He can't just go in and override the system because He is the system, and it/He has to take the long way around for reasons I don't understand.

So it's not like, This is God's will (which, fuck you, people who say that about other people's loss!) It's more like, That super-sucks. But I know that it ultimately will be okay, although I, as yet, have no way to rationalize that. Because I don't know, I don't know, I don't know. I am coming to believe that those are the three words most essential to growth, and to progress. And in that light, the Fall and Babel can both be read as attempts to evade that claim -- attempts that don't piss God off, per se, but that He (unlike us) is in a position to recognize as essentially futile and ill-advised.