Is it, as the book of Genesis suggests, that we are tempted to be like God so that we will know both good and evil? Is it simply a matter of needing to know our context so we can understand why we were born? Or are there other explanations?
Yes, yes, and yes in a qualified way. Meaning none of those answers is exhaustive.
The globe then was much more a mystery than it is today, when Google Earth can show up a bird's eye view of almost anywhere in seconds and when there are jet planes to take us there.
But imagine a time when people could only conjecture about what was over the horizon, if anything. That's the world in which Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan and the other great explorers lived. And it's the world in which they were faced with the great questions that had no certain answers -- at least no answers until someone went exploring.
For many years some lines of a poem by the great Theodore Roethke have been stuck in my head. Here's what they say:
Old men should be explorers?
I'll be an Indian.
I've often wondered why he wrote that old men should be explorers. I think everyone should be explorers. The creation that the great religions say is God's handiwork is a gift to us. We should be unwrapping it and, in author Anne Lamott's words, saying in response "thanks" and "wow."
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TROUBLE FOR THE JEWS OF GREECE
The other day here on the blog, I wrote about the resurgence of antisemitism around the world. Here's another example reported by NPR: a movement in Greece that blames Jews for just about everything. Not what Jews want to hear in their current High Holy Days, but truth must be reported nonetheless.
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P.S.: Here's a nifty little piece written for Christians but is pretty much good advice for everyone. It's 10 things we should say more often. Thanks to a Jewish friend, Barry Speert, for calling it to my attention.