Theme 3 : Artwork 1

Reflection Title: 
Knowing Good and Evil
Reflection Content: 

Some see the source of human suffering in acts of disobedience, when we are not following a divine plan, the proper path. Exile and its suffering is then seen as the fruit of poor decisions. We ought to have known better. A less known set of insights drawn from this narrative in Genesis and depicted by von Stuck’s Expulsion from Paradise invite us to a sharper reading, a deeper remembering. The temptation offered to Adam and Eve does contain a truth: “You will become like gods.” Surely that is a worthy aspiration. But the only way human beings can be open to this temptation is if we forget that we are already created “in the image and likeness of God.” The greatest temptation is to become what we already are. The only way we hear it as temptation is when we forget that we already have what is being offered and, in fact, are in need of nothing. Exile is the fruit of self-forgetting. It is a departure from self-knowledge to estrangement. It is an exile from our own heart.


Story Title: 
Where Are You?
Story Content: 

Now the snake was more shrewd than all the living-things of the field that YHWH, God, had made.
It said to the woman: Even though God said: You are not to eat from any of the trees in the garden . . .!
The woman said to the snake: From the fruit of the (other) trees in the garden we may eat, but from the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden,
God has said: You are not to eat from it and you are not to touch it, lest you die.
The snake said to the woman: Die, you will not die!
Rather, God knows that on the day that you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you will become like gods, knowing good and evil.
The woman saw that the tree was good for eating
and that it was a delight to the eyes, and the tree was desirable to contemplate.
She took from its fruit and ate and gave also to her husband beside her; and he ate.
The eyes of the two of them were opened and they knew then that they were nude.
They sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
Now they heard the sound of YHWH, God, (who was) walking about in the garden at the breezy-time of the day.
And the human and his wife hid themselves from the face of YHWH, God, amid the trees of the garden.
YHWH, God, called to the human and said to him: Where are you?
He said: I heard the sound of you in the garden and I was afraid, because I am nude, and so I hid myself.
He said: Who told you that you are nude?
From the tree about which I command you not to eat, have you eaten?
The human said: The woman who you gave to be beside me, she gave me from the tree, and so I ate.
YHWH, God, said to the woman: What is that that you have done? The woman said: The snake enticed me, and so I ate.
. . . .
So YHWH, God, sent him away from the garden of Eden, to work the soil from which he had been taken.

—Genesis 3:1–13, 23 

Contemporary Story Title: 
Reclaimed Dignity
Contemporary Story Content: 

The award winning feature-length documentary A Walk to Beautiful tells the stories of five Ethiopian women who suffer from devastating childbirth injuries and embark on a journey to reclaim their lost dignity. Rejected by their husbands and ostracized by their communities, these women are left to spend the rest of their lives in loneliness and shame. They make the choice to take the long and arduous journey to the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in search of a cure and a new life.
One of the patients, Wubete, whose treatment was not immediately successful, has returned again to the hospital in the hope of effective treatment. She is very depressed. She vows never to return home to the father who beat her because her husband had rejected her. The hospital staff listens to her story and suggest that Wubete visit an AIDS orphanage in a different part of Ethiopia to find employment. With her physical problems finally beginning to heal, Wubete becomes a foster parent at the AIDS orphanage, caring for children and taking her place as a valued and contributing member of society— the two things she never thought she could hope for.

Artwork Title: 
Paradise Lost
Artwork Content: 

Franz von Stuck (1863–1928), a professor of the Munich Academy and the recipient of many awards, has almost been forgotten since his death. Expulsion from Paradise, painted in 1891, is a work from his biblical cycle. It depicts Adam and Eve sent out of paradise by the guardian angel. Notice the symmetrical composition, divided into two parallel spaces by the vanishing demarcation line between the angel and Adam and Eve. The sharp contrast between the black sky and dark ochre desert contributes to the somber mood and the feeling of emptiness. Adam is depicted in profile and Eve from her back, both embodying the human emotions of abandonment, disillusionment, and guilt. The angel on the left, shown in profile, is the epitome of order and punishment. His heavy wings, the muscular nude body, the verge in his hands, and the paradise borderline create a vertical rhythm that visually establishes an impression of division, the absolute impossibility of returning. In 1897, the subject matter of the expulsion from the Garden of Eden was reinterpreted as a Symbolist reference to John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost (1667).

Question Title: 
Why do I suffer?
Question Content: 

The Temptation
Be like God, and know good and evil.

Have you ever felt left out while others were able to enjoy themselves? Maybe you experienced a kind of exile, no longer at ease in your own skin, no longer content with your relationship to others, no longer knowing you belong. Like the man and woman in the painting, you feel set apart in shame, certain there is no way back, that the way is blocked and the exile is permanent. The place of peace and contentment has turned into a rough place, a deserted place.  

Music Content: 

This is the Truth Sent From Above

A traditional English carol from the sixteenth century arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

“This Is the Truth Sent from Above,” English Traditional, arr. Ralph Vaughan Williams, adapted by Joseph Jennings, Christmas with Chanticleer, Dawn Upshaw, soprano, Chanticleer; Joseph Jennings, director, Teldec Classics 2001. Track 1. 


Is That All There Is?

Inspired by Thomas Mann’s story Enttäuschung (Disillusionment), many of the lyrics to “Is That All There Is?” are the stories of the narrator. 

Mann’s story suggests that there is an overwhelming abundance of language, that whoever enters the realm of creative language understands the chasm between what is and what could be and must therefore be disappointed by life. (Hannelore Mundt, Understanding Mann, University of South Carolina, ebook, 2004.)

“Is That All There Is?” Mike Stoller, Jerome Lieber, lyrics “Is That All There Is?” Peggy Lee, vocalist, Capital Records 2011, remastered 2003. Track 1.



The South African Soweto Gospel choir was formed in 2002. The Grammy winning fifty-two member choir celebrates the unique and inspirational power of African Gospel music.

“Modimo.” Soweto Gospel Choir, African Spirit, Shanachie Entertainment 2006. Track 14. 

Image Theme: 
Image Thumbnail: 
Image Summary: 

The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise, 1891. Franz von Stuck, 1863–1928. 

Story Audio: 

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