“He rescued Adam and Eve from obscurity, devised the doctrine of original sin—and the rest is sexual history.”
Of course, the New Yorker article entitled “The Invention of Sex” caught my eye, especially since it was about St. Augustine. I thought, did a saint really invent sex? Turns out the article by Stephen Greenblatt is about Sarah Ruden’s new, ‘strikingly colloquial translation’ of St Augustine’s, “The Confessions.” The more I read the more I realized I didn’t care much for Mr. Augustine. Seems he was the one who really promoted original sin and wrote about it for 15 years. I always hated the idea of original sin and the torment that this concept has leashed upon the human race. And he was made a saint for this?! In his book, “Confessions,” written around 397 C.E., Augustine described an event in the bathhouse many years earlier. That day, his father Patricius, saw in him the signs of inquieta adulescentia, restless young manhood, and was thrilled that this might lead to grandchildren.
There are many ways to interpret ancient religious texts, and I personally forswore this fruitless enterprise many years ago. We are reminded by this article of the preposterous intellectual exercises that engage theologians.
Augustine apparently became obsessed with the fact that his penis seemed to have a mind of its own. As a result, his view of Genesis is that, “. . .the consequence of Eve’s disobedience is twofold: women are condemned to bring forth children in pain and to yearn for the husbands who dominate them.” Clearly he blames Eve for the behavior of his randy little penis. Very convenient and a belief that has tormented men and women since the man-made creation of the Bible.
I apologize to all women for this Adam and Eve torment. It’s really embarrassing to me as a human. I have selected certain paragraphs from the article to show why this religious mumbo-jumbo should be deep-sixed in the quicksand of time!
“The archaic story of the naked man and woman, the talking snake, and the magical trees was something of an embarrassment. It was Augustine who rescued it from the decorous oblivion to which it seemed to be heading. He bears principal responsibility for its prominence, including the fact that four in ten Americans today profess to believe in its literal truth.”
. . .”Pagans ridiculed that story as primitive and ethically incoherent. How could a god worthy of respect try to keep humans from the knowledge of good and evil?. . .To Augustine sex was a touch of evil. “Surely, any friend of wisdom and holy joys. . .would prefer, if possible, to beget children without lust.”
. . .”Pelagius and his followers were moral optimists. They believed that human beings were born innocent. Infants do not enter the world with a special endowment of virtue, but neither do they carry the innate stain of vice. “
. . .” Augustine embarked on a work, “The Literal Meaning of Genesis,” that aimed at discussing “the scriptures according to their proper meaning . . . For some fifteen years, he labored on this work. . .In the end, it defeated him, and he knew it. The problem is that not every word of Genesis can be taken literally. . .”
“. . .How, specifically, were they meant to reproduce, if it was not in the way that all humans have done for as long as anyone can remember? In Paradise, Augustine argued, Adam and Eve would have had sex without involuntary arousal: “They would not have had the activity of turbulent lust in their flesh, however, but only the movement of peaceful will by which we command the other members of the body.” Without feeling any passion—without sensing that strange goad—“the husband would have relaxed on his wife’s bosom in tranquility of mind.” (What about the snake???)
How would this have been possible, the Pelagians asked, if the bodies of Adam and Eve were substantially the same as our bodies? Just consider, Augustine replied, that even now, in our current condition, some people can do things with their bodies that others find impossible. “Some people can even move their ears, either one at a time or both together. . .Others, as he personally had witnessed, could sweat whenever they chose, and there were even people who could “produce at will such musical sounds from their behind (without any stink) that they seem to be singing from that region.” (Doesn’t this say it all!)
“Adam had fallen, Augustine wrote in “The City of God,” not because the serpent had deceived him. He chose to sin, and, in doing so, he lost Paradise, because he could not endure being severed from his sole companion ♦”
Adam did fall. . .he fell in love with Eve. Give it up, Mr. Augustine.
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