Saturday, February 21, 2009

Garden in the East

In the context of the story of origins narrated in the Bible, it all starts with a garden. One way to frame the story of God, most briefly is that Creator creates creation.

The idea of Creation and the quality of that creation - namely, "good" - is a core idea to the foundation of eupan and the Eupan Global Initiative.

I have commented briefly elsewhere that one of the first distortions of Creators "good" creation arrives in the violence of Cain. Another interesting feature of the story of origins as found in Genesis (in the Bible), lies in the fact that as distortions in creation began to pervade the story, the story also indicates in subtle ways that persons move further and further "east" of God's garden. (See Genesis 4:16, 11:2, 29:1)

It does seem to be the case that the story of creation demonstrates in geography as well as in orientation, that people "move away" from God's garden.

To the extent that we can, metaphorically, get closer to God's garden, we can reinvigorate God's goodness for the world. I genuinely believe that anything we can do to get us closer to God's (Eden) Garden intention, moves us in the direction of eupan.

I find that I am always trying to discern patterns of violence in our world - bringing "goodness" to those patterns. For me, violence is a very "large" word.

I think most people associate violence with some form of physical action enacted by one person (or group of persons) against another person (or group of persons.) By this understanding, violence is when I hit someone or violence is when a nation attacks another nation.

For me, violence is more than physical action - and it is more than between persons. Violence can be silence in relationships, where one person, lets say in a marital relationship, shuts out the other by a failure to speak - or by a failure to listen. Silencing oneself or the other - apart from some shared understanding and participation in the context of a relationship - enacts a kind of subtle violence that shuts out the other and seeds the basis of missed communication which might mature into brokenness in relationship, separation, and dislocation. (This does not mean that any or all relationships must stay permeable or transparent for all time - but that, in the context of relatedness - relational partners deserve to not be violated by silence.)

It is easy to call physical violence "violence", because the scars or bruises or physical death it manifests are easy to "see" - picture, record, or describe in objective and quantifiable ways. It is harder to call silence "violence." In relationship even silence can cause "scars," "bruises," and "death."

How can we become the kind of persons who demonstrate and effuse a kind of radical openness for the sake of others and ourselves? How can we model relationships that demonstrate only charity and kindness?

We must discern such things.

We must embody such things.

We must enculturate such things.

Perhaps, if we discovered a way to discern, embody and enculturate a kind of radical openness, in a stablized and structured world we could create a fertile habitat for all God's inhabitants in the world . . . it could seed a new kind of "gardened" existence for our world today.

Working towards eupan.

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.

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