I grew up in a very conservative fundamentalist christian family. I spent many hours per week in church, as my family believed in going to services at least 3-4 times per week. This was so natural to me that it was several years before I began rebelling against being required to sit quiet and still on a wooden bench for so long.
Before I began to feel the need to vociferously rebel and protest, I had a method of whiling away those hours by reading the Bible. I would block out the words of the preacher that were thundering over the loud speakers and just read. I would read these stories in the same manner as I did the old dusty books with tales of Apollo and Zeus that were on the shelves of our home library. Sometimes I'd start reading with whatever text the preacher chose for that day, and then let my imagination go from there. Occasionally I'd hear the preacher speak of the same verse I just read and give his interpretation, and I'd look up in astonishment, wondering if we were really reading the same book because my mind had went such vastly different places with the imagery of the text.
After leaving home and no longer being required to spend those hours in contemplation and being preoccupied with esoteric endeavors and classic occult texts, I still occasionally turn to what some hoodoo practitioners refer to as that 'greatest book of conjure', for its exotic stories and legends. In my beliefs, these stories are in no way literally true, and do not teach some unquestionable morality. In fact, I find that the majority of the stories go very much against my personal morals, as the Bible contains a lot of conclusions that go against my personal moral code. Because of it's prominence in my upbringing though, it does hold a certain fascination for me. And due to the devotion of it's followers, I find there's centuries of power stored in those words that can be accessed and used in 'interesting' ways if one wishes to. heh
My favorite chapter during those young church days was always Genesis 3. My thoughts while reading it and ignoring the preaching would go something like this. (Note: These aren't especially original lol, they're just a sample of how I tend to read the Bible, and why I remain a first class heretic.)
3:1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
Subtle indeed. So subtle apparently that he could pass the gate and commune with the humans that this 'Lord God' had created for his amusement only.
3:2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3:3 But
of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath
said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
How rude that 'God' would create the humans and the garden, but leave a deadly tree in the midst of the fruit orchard for no identifiable reason.
3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be
opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
Hmm, so the serpent might have knowledge of this 'God', more knowledge than the humans 'God' created and communes with daily. And also he's mentioned the option that the humans might become as gods as well...
3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it
was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she
took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband
with her; and he did eat.
the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked;
and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
So they both ate, and they did not die. Instead, their eyes were opened exactly as the serpent predicted. Preachers postulate alot about the death of human innocence and the possibility that perhaps in the garden they were immortal, but the fact still remains that according to the text 'God' said 'ye shall surely die' and they did not immediately die upon consumption of the fruit. Now the serpents words feel more trustworthy than 'God's...
3:8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the
cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence
of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.
This tells me that this 'God' made Adam and Eve afraid. You'd think that Adam and Eve would have been seething to confront 'God' about his lie, to scathingly spit out "You said we'd die if we ate the fruit and we didn't! What's up with that fucker, and what else are you lying to us about?!?!" But they didn't, they hid. They disobeyed an order and upon discovering the futility of that order they appeared to be more worried about punishment for disobeying than finding out why the order was issued in the first place. Looking at this as an adult, it reminds me of stories I've read regarding the mindset and psychological state of child soldiers, who are much more concerned about the reaction of their superior than the greater actual implications of their actions.
3:9 And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
3:10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
This was really puzzling to me as a child, and continues to be as an adult. Why was he afraid because he was naked? It's usually explained that it was the awareness of his nakedness that made him afraid, because he knew that 'God' would know that he was aware and would realize that he'd eaten of the tree. But that's not actually what he says, he says he was afraid and hid himself "because he was naked". Odd.
3:11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of
the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
3:12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And
the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
Cowards. Sometimes as children, siblings will take the blame for each other out of love, in order to spare their brother/sister the punishment they know is coming. Not so with these "first humans created in 'God's image"!! Man blames woman, woman blames serpent, there appears to be no thought of frustration with 'God' over his apparent deceit that's been revealed regarding his pronouncement that they would "surely die" if they ate the fruit of the tree. All the focus is on getting responsibility for their disobedience of the futile order shifted to someone other than themselves.
3:14 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this,
thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field;
upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of
3:15 And I
will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her
seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
Harsh, but I'm not convinced this worked out so well. Many cultures revere serpents, even the American Medical Association has the serpent in their symbol. Interesting that 'God' tried to specifically put enmity between the serpent and the woman.
the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy
conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire
shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy
wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying,
Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow
shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
3:18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the
ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust
shalt thou return.
'God' seems to be having an epic hissy fit. He's not given any explanation of why they did not immediately die upon eating the fruit, or why he was so dead set against them eating it, instead he's just cursed his creation in every way imaginable. What a jackass.
3:20 And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.
3:21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
Again with the anti-nudity, although it was all good before... Things that make you go hmm.
3:22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know
good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the
tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
WHAT!!! 'God' just confirmed the serpents statement as truth! He also said "one of us", which reveals from his own words that there are others of his kind. And apparently there is another tree in the garden that the humans have not eaten of, and now he knows that they will not just blindly follow his command so:
3:23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden
Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way
of the tree of life.
Well isn't that just lovely. He lied, was caught in the lie, didn't deny it, just cursed everyone for not blindly obeying, confirmed the serpents words as truth while demonizing it, and then drove his creation away from the the home he created for it and set armed guards at the entrance.
My reaction to this as a child: Revere and commune with snakes, they're trustworthy. Ignore and run like hell from anyone who claims to speak as or for 'God'. :)