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?”
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+