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Epi-emotions...

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.  But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Genesis 3: 8-13

 

Have you discovered what’s really going on in this cruel world? Why are we so cruel to one another?

 

Surely we know what’s really going on in Jersey through channel TV, BBC Jersey and the Jersey Evening Post? Maybe. But others (“conspiracy theorists”?) would claim that most of what is really going on is covered over by the deceit of the powerful and the wealthy.

 

Even if that’s right it doesn’t seem to provide a satisfactory reason for the emotional damage which we do to each other. Why are we so cruel to one another? Is there something above our emotions, something that drives us to ignore or, at least, to minimise the emotional damage to others of our words and actions?

 

If there is truly something above emotions, a driver of emotional hardness, let’s call it epi-emotions – because the prefix epi- means “above”.

 

What then can we discover from the words in bold above – words that were written over 3,300 years ago by Moses – words that are on page 2 of the Jewish Scriptures and page 2 of the Christian Bible?

 

What epi-emotional things are going on here?

 

·         Husband and wife want nothing to do with God anymore despite the wonderful gift of the garden given to them – and despite having each other. They’ve disobeyed God the giver. Emotionally they mustn’t meet God anymore. The epi-emotion is the fact that they sought their own good. For that reason (the predominant ME) they were prepared to go it alone without any further relationship with God.

·         Husband and wife are now actually afraid of God – the giving God their (former) friend. The emotion of fear is tolerated by them because of an epi-emotion – the need for the ME to be first.

·         Husband blames wife for giving him the fruit of a tree which God had told him he should not eat. Blames wife? Hold it, Adam, that’s emotionally damaging to Eve. Yes, but Adam has an epi-emotion consideration – he needs to justify himSELF before God. The ME is above his emotions.

·         Then husband blames God for giving him such a wife as this. Blames God? But Adam, it was you who disobeyed God. And Adam, what effect is this going to have on your relationship with God the Giver, your creator? Again, Adam has an epi-emotion that is dominant. He must be seen to be right and correct and not to blame – every time. The ME.

·         Wife blames serpent. “The serpent deceived me.” This is a subtle one. The serpent was the most “crafty” animal which the Lord God had made. (“Crafty” as used in our word “craftsman” – the serpent was not human but had ability.) Eve senses that her only hope is to claim that she was not responsible for her actions. A creature made by the Lord God had deceived her – she can’t be to blame for that. Eve’s emotional response is governed by an epi-emotion. “If I claim weakness and confess gullibility rather than guilt I may be let off.” The ME hoped desperately for restored relationships. But it was the ME which was in play again – the ME that drove her disobedience towards God the giver in the first place.

 

Like the Olympic athletes we desperately want to win. That gets in the way of our emotional need – to be loved. The ME gets in the way – and stays in the way through thick and thin – even in despite of the message of the love of one man for all his enemies at the cross.

 

 
‘The true problem lies in the hearts and thoughts of men... What terrifies us is not the explosive force of the atomic bomb but the power of the wickedness in the human heart.’ (Albert Einstein, Physicist, 1879-1955.)
 
‘Man naturally is apt to crown anything but Christ. (C H Spurgeon, preacher and writer, 1834-1892)
 
Richard Syvret

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