I have been pretty good about staying off Twitter, but I did just have a peak yesterday. There is some person taking the trouble to screenshot the Twitter profiles of major corporations. Apparently, you don’t just have one single Twitter handle, you have one for every geographical branch of your company. So, for example, BMW has one official Twitter address, but then a separate one for Dubai. Other companies the same. One for the US, one for the UK, another for the Middle East. Shockingly—by which I mean, not the least bit shocking—lots of various major corporations are observing Twitter-rainbow-logo Pride Month everywhere but in Dubai and the Middle East. That part of the world is not keeping the feast, and those corporations seem to be very respectful of that abstention. If you live here, though, of course, it is essentially a Forced Feast—you will be happy and joyful over the question of human identity, whatever that happens to be.
So anyway, a long time ago, before the advent of Twitter or any major industrial-sized company, in another part of the world, one which generations of people have wondered about but have been debarred from ever seeing with their own eyes, one day a person with pronouns she/her was wandering around in that idyllic place with another person whose pronouns were he/him. They had only themselves to worry about, and it was not a worry, for nothing that they had to do was frustrating or difficult. All the work they faced every morning was pleasant. They had no beds to make, no teenager-wrecked kitchens, no dead poppies because they forgot to water the night before. And they neither of them got on each other’s nerves, nor had to bash down the rising irritation of being patient with someone who is selfish or tiresome. They could have gone on this way for a long time. Perhaps they did. No one really knows because it doesn’t say. But after a while, another person came along to trouble them. This person’s pronouns are inconsequential—they/them perhaps? I don’t know. I guess we’ll go with he/him for grammatical ease. This person came in the form of a serpent, having tried his best to grasp equality with God, and having lost, and been very angry. He desired most of all to destroy whatever and whomever he could.
The person with the pronouns she/her, I guess we might as well call her Eve, seemed a profitable object to the serpent, who, though a low, wretched person, yet possessed a certain intelligence that made it easy for him to make her life a certain misery. This he did, first by casting doubt on the goodness of the Person who had made the gentle, sloping landscape, the subtle and breathtaking variations of green, the well-arranged trees, the kindly animals. Would a person who purports to be good really be good if there are any limits—any at all—on what people can eat? Eating is such a basic, such a necessary element of life. What you eat should be up to you. And look at all these trees. If that Person, God, if indeed there is such a one, has made them, and made you to want them, then he must be a very bad kind of character to then say that you can’t eat of any of the fruit of all this arboreal realm.
Eve paused to consider the logic of this, for, indeed, it did seem to be very very very sensible, if not actually logical, in whatever way one might understand that word. And yet, the serpent did not have it exactly right, because she had just been eating something really nice from a tree over there. “No,” she said, after a bit, “we may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said,” and here she paused again and tried to discern exactly what it was he had said. Already, the deep logic of herself, of her own right to eat whatever kind of fruit she wanted, and the profoundly good and true inclinations of herself, her own feminine mystique, her own brave importance was making everything so much clearer than it had been…so, what exactly had God said about that tree? Isn’t it strange that he would give all these trees, and the desire to eat all this fruit, and bodies that could be nourished by it, and yet then withhold some of it, insisting that the one tree whose fruit looked most particularly toothsome would be something she was supposed to not eat? Is that why she and the other person, I guess we might as well call him Adam, had not even come into this part of the garden before? But now that they are both here—together—what the serpent says makes so much sense.
Still, she “does the work” and explains to the serpent, rather gently, that they are not to eat the fruit of that tree there, nor touch it either, because God, for some reason or other, said they shouldn’t. Oh, that’s right. If they do, they will die. The word “die” seems as strange, honestly, as the mystery of having a tree right there, and not being allowed to enjoy its sweet produce.
The serpent, who is now always dying, who is always angry, who is always being devoured by his own hunger and pride, seeing that the woman was full up of her own thoughts and ideas, doesn’t bother with any more winsomeness. “You will not surely die,” he satansplains. God is not actually good. He doesn’t want you to have good things. He doesn’t love you.
The woman considered this new idea and it did seem as if it was the case. Why bother? Why make something and then not allow a person to have it? Or taste it? Or do it? Or be it? Only some wicked and perverse person would think to arrange a garden like this. She reached out and picked a piece of the fruit and tasted it, and it was delicious. And Adam, who was with her, also ate some of it because, well, he didn’t really care what the serpent said, or Eve for that matter. He knew God was good and had given him good things—and people, well, a person, a person who had been very pleasant to be with. But the fruit was there, and the others would keep talking and talking.
The fruit was delicious. It was. They were very happy for a moment and felt a deep thought inside them, that love is love, that water is life, that kindness is everything, that Eve’s rights are everybody’s rights, that no one is illegal, that tautologies are the best thing ever. But then they felt sort of sick, and they did suddenly know that they needed something more—clothes. So many clothes. Clothes would be a good way to express their new identity, to deal with the…what is it? Shame? The gross and sickening sense of shame and death. They looked around, but the serpent wasn’t there to help them anymore.
And so I wander around Twitter, and around my own lush garden, picking the yellow leaves off my rose bushes and crushing Japanese beetles under my crimson-clad heel. I try to think about what I can possibly eat that will be good for me and not make me ill or fatter or be too exhausting to clean up. And yet, as I go back and forth and up and down, that same Person who came to Adam and Eve in the aftermath of their ruin, is there with me also. I do not lose heart because, though my outer self, including all the effulgent pride that comes out of my mouth whenever my heart considers my own self, is wasting away, my inner self is being renewed, being clothed day by day by the deep mysterious goodness of God. This is but a light momentary affliction. This is a brief kind of death that is swallowed up, devoured by Life, by Jesus. The eternal weight of his glory is beyond anything that I can imagine. Meanwhile, my soul waits for the Lord, more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.