Joel Watts shared the above photo on Facebook. I remember some people not getting the point when I shared the meme image with Admiral Ackbar at the Last Supper warning “It's a trap!!!” I wonder whether this one will be any different.
As soon as I saw the image, it reminded me of another image from the Admiral Ackbar meme:
I wonder whether the two images are not really saying the same thing, talking about the same human experience – one symbolically and mythologically, one more literally – and in this case, both in connection with Star Wars.
The story in Genesis 3 has become, in traditional Christian theology, a story about “the Fall,” a story about an event from long ago that has left us human beings with a handicap that we cannot overcome.
But read on its own terms, the story is about growing up. Human beings always reach an age when we begin to rebel against parental authority, and need to take responsibility for our actions. It is a moment lost in the shrouds of childhood memory, just like the transition from innocently running around naked to wearing clothing.
We can all relate to Admiral Ackbar saying of growing up that “It's a trap!!!” Being held accountable, having to work, and everything else that goes with the loss of childish innocence has negative aspects to it.
But it has positive ones too. And few of us, given the choice, would truly choose to live in Eden – i.e. in childhood – forever. We are made to grow up and leave that Eden behind. To discover God, or not, for ourselves, and not merely accept what we were given. To create, to build, to love, to marry, to grow old, and eventually to die and make room for those who come after us.
It frustrates me that young-earth creationists have turned the story in Genesis 3 into a story that is false, because if it is treated as a story about an actual event some six millennia ago, that is what it is.
But the Eden story is true when treated as what it clearly seems to be, namely a mythological depiction of universal aspects of human existence and experience. We feel a loss of something precious in growing up, even though the post-childhood life of maturity can be richly rewarding. We appreciate and miss childhood's innocence, and yet we hopefully learn that there is much to be gained from, as Paul put it, “putting away childish things.”
And sometimes we need Admiral Ackbar's help to see it.