inner stillness: when everything is all the same to you, and you live for the day, and you are not dreaming and waiting

john r. harrison

my other websites
The United Methodist Churches of Sheldon, Bronaugh, and Moundville

The Southwest District of the Missouri West Conference of The United Methodist Church

The Rotary Club of Nevada, Missouri

The Beloit, Kansas, High School Class of 1960

The Academy for Spiritual formation #17

books I've been reading
Communion, Community, Commonweal: Readings for Spiritual Leadership, by John S. Mogabgab

The Ascent of a Leader: How Ordinary Relationships Develop Extraordinary Character and Influence, by Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol, and Ken McElrath

The Catholic Imagination, by Andrew Greeley

Spiritual Guides for the 21st Century: Faith Stories of the Protestant Reformers

Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ, by Dallas Willard

movies I'd like to see
American Splendor


Lost in Translation

The Station Agent

Winged Migration

sermons in process
Ruth 1:1-18--"Why Go with Me?"

Mark 12:38-44--"Abundance and Poverty"

1 Samuel 1:4-20--"The Desperation of Hannah"

John 18:33-37--"An Interrogation"

Malachi 3:1-4--"Messages and Messengers"

lectures on tape in my car
Introduction to Renaissance Literature

Dante's Life and Times

Dante's Literary Antecedents

Erasmus, In Praise of Folly

Introduction to Shakespeare


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Sunday, February 17

This morning I preached on “The First Temptation,” the forbidden fruit in the garden. It’s an interesting story, but I think we need to wonder why God put that tree in the garden and told the man not to eat of it. I mean, was God setting us up? And there is no indication how long it took for that first couple to decide to try out that fruit. How long did it take the serpent to convince the woman to eat it? Maybe the nature of the temptation, and its consequences, are more important than the plot of this story. Maybe it was impossible for that tree NOT to be in the garden. God was stuck with “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” It could not be kept out of the garden. So God tried to protect the humans. He told them to leave it alone. He tried to scare them into leaving it alone by threatening them with death. Now, my interpretation of this, and the way I preached it, is that what dies is innocence. To know good and evil is to lose our innocence. And, in the case of the first couple, they suddenly became self-aware. “They knew that they were naked.” But when I ask the question, “was God setting us up?” I’m wondering if God wanted us to continue in the garden forever without touching that silly tree in the middle of it? And if God put us in the garden to begin with, why did God throw us out for breaking one little rule? Here’s another sticky thought. In the first chapter of Genesis, according to the twenty-sixth verse, God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness.” Now, if that is the case, to what extent was that first couple “like” God? To what extent are we in the “image” of God? If God knew how that first couple would think, didn’t God know what would happen? I remember a time many years ago when a foreign film showed up in Kansas City, and a small group rushed to shut down its screening because of its sexual content. An injunction was filed. Then, a counter-suit was filed, and the injunction was lifted. The censoring of the film raised such a commotion that when the injunction was lifted, huge crowds descended upon the theatre to see what the fuss was all about. I would call that simple human curiosity. Of course, we can say that these people were succumbing to temptation, but what is the nature of that temptation? If a small child is given one rule, and it is “Don’t,” that small child will “Do” just to figure out why the rule was made in the first place. My point to all of this is that the nature of a temptation is more significant than temptation itself. I find it difficult to blame the first woman for being disobedient if she had absolutely no idea why she was supposed to be obedient in the first place. And God did not tell her. God simply said, in so many words, “don’t or you will die.”

posted by John Harrison at 9:49 PM

thinking links

Alan Colmes

America Held Hostile

American Civil Liberties Union

America's War On Terrorism is about oil

The Association of World Citizens

Barnes & Noble



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BuzzFlash Report

Common Cause

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A Common Reader



Democratic Underground


Doc Searls Weblog

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Journal of the Hyperlinked Organzation

Let's talk sense

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London Review of Books





The Nation

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Nothing Like the Truth

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Young Democrats of America