the sin of blame

The Lord God called to the man, saying, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked and I hid myself.” God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from 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 from 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 tricked me, and I ate.”[1]

The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden (c. 1426) Masaccio (ne Tommaso di Ser Giovanni di Simone) (1401-1428)

According to the Genesis story, the first act of the first humans, first having defied God’s will, was to deny all, any responsibility for their actions; the man blaming the woman, the woman blaming the serpent, and both blaming God, explicitly and implicitly, respectively. So it seems that a chief manifestation of human sin[2] is to shirk accountability, pointing a finger of reproach somewhere else at something or someone else.

July 5-17. In the dizzying, disorienting heart-rending spin of thirteen days, two black men were shot and killed during encounters with police and two black men, with declarations of retaliation, in separate incidents of ambush, killed five and three police officers. These tragic events are microcosmic elements of the American dis-ease of strained, estranged race relations, particularly in regard to the police community.

Today, the Republican National Convention begins in Cleveland; a week later, in Philadelphia, the Democratic National Convention. I will watch and listen, praying mightily to see and hear deeds and words of prescience and prudence, reason and respect in relation to race and the myriad of difficulties facing the nation and the world. For the last thing I believe we need is the first thing the first humans did when confronted by God.


Illustration: The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden (c. 1426) Masaccio (ne Tommaso di Ser Giovanni di Simone) (1401-1428)


[1] Genesis 3.9-13, emphases mine.

[2] I define sin (from the Greek hamartia, literally “missing the mark”) as our innate human propensity, whether involving an individual or a family, a clan or a tribe, a community or a society, a people or a nation, to exercise our self-will in self-(often selfishly)interested ways  that violate a right (holy, wholesome, healthy) relationship with God, others, and ourselves.

2 thoughts on “the sin of blame

  1. Paul,

    This is so well-stated! Our dis-ease is out of control. Worse still is my belief that neither of our Presidential candidates can fix this!! It’s a scary thought that this dis-ease could linger for years to come! Is it Time for Jesus to come and help us straighten this (and us) out?? We’re not doing too well on our own!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree. Neither Trump nor Clinton can remedy our American dis-ease. I’m not sure how much the president of the USA can do. But I also believe that reckless rhetoric that vilifies others, indeed “the other” can make matters worse. I also believe that people of good will, which is to say, open-hearted toward all with compassion for all, will have to labor harder to build and maintain connections and coalitions to work for the betterment of all until Jesus returns – and assuming it’s no time soon, we’d best get busy!


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