In his famous book, “Rules for Radicals,” Saul Alinsky states ““Lest we forget at least an over the shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins – or which is which), the very first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom – Lucifer.”
If life is defined by power, then the score-keeping gets much easier.
It seems politics always devolves into that mindless mentality. And politicians know that, if they want to win an election, or a battle, they must first demonize their opponent. They must first paint their opponent as the “enemy of the people.” This is why in every election cycle the politicians will decry the “mudslinging” of the negative TV ads, and then promptly increase their media budget and create more negative ads. They wouldn’t spend the money on the negative ads if they didn’t work. But they do work.
This is not a new pattern of human behavior or the human condition, dear ones. No, the roots of this pattern of behavior in we humans is traced all the way back to the very beginning.
Our Scripture Lesson comes to us today from Genesis 2:20-3:20. Here Moses recalls for us the fateful events in the Garden from the naming of the animals to the creation of Eve and the wonderful moment when God brings Eve to Adam so he can name her as well. Lots to say about that, but not today.
Moses goes on to relate for us the sad events that led to the pollution of our race by short-sighted choices. He tells us of the Fall.
Look at Genesis 3:1. The Serpent (Lucifer) begins the process of demonizing God. He asks (notice he doesn’t “tell” Eve. He’s more subtle than that) “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?” Notice, the key to the beginning of that fateful moment was the creation of doubt “Is God trying to keep us from something we want?” “Perhaps God hasn’t been completely honest with us.” “Maybe He just wants us to be His possessions, and we deserve better than that.” “Maybe God isn’t good.”
The enemy of mankind begins his subtle slavery over humanity with a slander of the Father. Frankly, that’s always his first weapon of choice.
After Eve answers the snake, he continues his lie “You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5) The evil one continues his half-truths to impugn the character of the Father by telling her that they won’t die; technically correct since they didn’t immediately drop dead when they ate, but terribly false when the spiritual death that gripped them took root in their hearts; and that God was hiding something wonderful from them.
Today, it is the enemy’s sole purpose to foster and further a false view of God, the Father. His desire is for you to doubt God’s goodness, His love, and His purpose for your life. If Adam and Eve would have only waited until their relationship with God had matured and they were able to handle well the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, God would have welcomed them, and has always wanted to welcome us all, to share all that He has. He even sent His Son to restore humanity to that maturing path to be “like God.” The enemy LIED, and humanity DIED.
But our loving Creator did not leave us in such a state. He came to rescue His creation and untie all the knots of the Fall. And now His wisdom, preserved in His Church; His “ecclesia;” offers us the same path offered to our first parents; the path of disciplined maturity, the path of fasting(“Don’t eat”), the path of trust and love rather than mere rule keeping. The path that restores us all rather than perpetuating the slavery of self-centeredness foisted upon us by a lying enemy.
We are in Great Lent, my dearest. We not only return to the path given to our first parents, but we follow the path successfully traversed by God’s grace in the lives of the saints since the beginning. We are moving toward Pascha where we see our Lord Jesus pulling Adam and Eve from the tombs. This is our destiny as well if we will only reject the slander of our Good God, and embrace the “growing up” path of disciplined lives.
May God, that Good and Loving Lord; the only true Lover of mankind, grant us the grace and strength to follow that Path. Amen.
P.S. Begging your prayers, and expressing my deep gratitude to God and His Church, I celebrate today my 4th anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood by His Eminence, Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta. Doxa to Theo!