Only Three Ever Made – A Sucker Born Every Minute

The 1937 Bugatti – Atlantic

I am fairly certain that I have never written in praise of an automobile. Oh, I like mine well enough, its color, handling and economy but I am not generally passionate about cars. A vehicle is a way to get from point A to point B and back again (hopefully in one piece). Then I came across a Bugatti Atlantic in a magazine; if not love then at least lethal admiration came near me. What an elegant creature with art deco lines and the mysterious air of the 1930’s. Now, that I should be smitten by a machine brings to mind the question, “what is it that makes something so attractive?”

Eros and Psyche

We could of course talk a long time about the qualities that arouse various kinds and levels of desire even passion. Things, people and other living things have their erotic [a word not used in Christian scripture, by the way] charms, certainly, but what interests me even more is what is in me or any human that is “evocable” – given that not all are moved by the same object or person? In the culture of the West we find the pattern in Genesis.

Genesis 3.1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; 3 but God said , ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’ ” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; 5 for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked ; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha. Harper Collins, Inc. Kindle Edition.

I hasten to add that Adam was right there the whole time, so don’t blame Eve. Also desire is not evil! One should of course be wise (no pun intended) in how desires are met. Note the progression in verse 6, now that Eve is assured by the neighbor that in truth God is trying to hold out on the Adam’s family she ventures toward it.

Eve saw the fruit was:

  • good to eat.
  • a delight to the eyes
  • it was to be desired to make one wise

so she took of it and ate and gave some to her husband. The way to a man’s heart may well be through his stomach, although the aesthetic beauty of form has moved more than a few [as non-domestic beauties with caterers on speed dial can attest]. It is also true that many a wholesome boss’s daughter [with good personality] waxed beautiful in the eyes of the boss’s new hire. But the end of the progression is power. Everything in chapter three is about who has it and who doesn’t and who would like to have some, thank you. God has it, the serpent doesn’t and wants to spoil life for the humans by tempting them to over-reach for power beyond their capacity to bear.

Here the ancient practices come into play. These practices emerged as means of ordering human desire. What is God’s will for humanity? God’s will is for humanity to grow up. This is achieved by facing challenge. The greatest challenge is regulate self. Of this most of the Greeks thinkers and Jewish prophets would agree. This reason, if for no other, is reason enough to explore, extol and even emulate. – JWS+

Our God Makes Leaders Out Of Cowards And Elders Of The Deceitful

Recently I found a new title on Dove Booksellers, “Forsaken Firstborn” a study of how God seems to choose the “wrong” one rather than the one that should be the heir. We find this pattern in the Old Testament. God chooses Isaac over Ishmael. Jacob is chosen over Esau, his twin, even thought he is a stinker. Judah is chosen over his older brothers to be the father of the principal tribe of Israel. Joseph is chosen over his older brothers to be the one to deliver his family even though his brothers reject him. Jacob then blesses the younger of Joseph’s sons to be the chosen son.

Jacob Blessing his Grandsons - C V Vos

Jacob Blessing his Grandsons – C V Vos

As an oldest son I hope that senior birth order is not always the source of perdition and divine rejection. However this does seem to point to the spontaneous, creative and even, if I may say, playful nature of God who makes leaders out of cowards and elders of the deceitful. It gives me hope. Then a thought seized me that I had never thought before. Jesus, the first born, the beloved, was abandoned on the cross. Here the divine pattern is played out in a cosmic way. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” is the cry not just of Jesus but also of all the forsaken firstborn.

We are the descendents of Adam the firstborn yea even the forsaken firstborn alienated by sin. Jesus became for the forsaken firstborn. If that were the end of the story it would be a tragedy. But it is not the end of the tale. Jesus is not the forsaken firstborn he is the firstborn of those that sleep. His resurrection is for the forsaken firstborns and all those who have wasted their inheritance (and we all have) in the far country. The good news is that like Jacob the heel grabber who was reconciled with his forsaken older brother Esau, we too are reconciled by the death of Jesus who died as the forsaken firstborn, risen from the dead that we too might not be forsaken but have not only life in the age to come but life and that life full in this present time. Praise be to God who gives us the victory.