Tuesday, January 03, 2017

"Invent Your Own Reality"

Genesis 4.9 NIV

“Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Where is your brother Abel?’ 

‘I don’t know,’ he replied. ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’

Cain was a murderer. In the fit of jealous rage “Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him” (Genesis 4.8).

But was Cain a liar? At first glance it seems that he was. Surely Cain knew of his dead brother’s whereabouts. The LORD inquired,
“Where is your brother?” and Cain responded, “I don’t know.” Did he?

Our minds play amazing tricks on us. We see what we allow our minds to visualize. We know only what we can comprehend. Some realities are more intense than we choose to tolerate. We minimize, pretend, ignore, forget, anesthetize, rationalize, or medicate reality away. Our brains possess a remarkable capacity to invent new realities more palatable than the old ones. Invented realities work well for us. They allow us to function. Pure reality can emotionally cripple and render us helpless, or worse, force us to face the truth and become responsible. Denial is a much easier and more desirable path.

Did Cain know where his brother was? Maybe not. To allow himself such knowledge would have meant taking responsibility for his brother’s condition. The answer to the question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” depends entirely upon my choice of realities. If I  invent my own reality, as did Cain, then I may honestly reply, “I don’t know.” If I make it my business not to know where my brother is, how then can I be required to become his “keeper?” 

This self-serving logic lays the groundwork for a life of denial. Denial is an alluring and powerful form of self-deception, and hurts everyone in its path.


The excellent image of Cain peering at his brother Abel is called "Cain" by eikonik whose amazing Bible art you can view and purchase at his Deviant Art site (http://eikonik.deviantart.com/).


Anonymous said...

Great question, Dave. And one I am attempting to work on this year. A few thoughts I had on Genesis 4-6:

1) In my past readings of Genesis, chapter # 4, I always thought it odd that scripture would make a long genelogical record from Cain to Lamech, and then finish the story with an odd account that Lamech had "killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me. If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times." The story stops and inexplicably goes back to the story and line of Noah. If I had written this in high school and handed it in to be graded, Mr Hazel, my English teacher, would have "dinged" me for my effort and lowered my grade for "improper paragraph transition." What never struck me until yesterday is:

1) The story picks up a few paragraphs later and lets us know it was Lamech (a murderer) who was the father of Noah. Funny how one can read scripture many times and all the sudden see something one never saw before.

2) Adam and Eve introduced sin, Cain introduced murder, but it was Lamech who introduced vengeance into the world; harming one even more harshly for a prior wrong committed by another. Scripture clearly tells us that vengeance is the responsibility of the lord. Funny how Lamech decided he was in the position to play the role of God. "If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times." No wonder that Jesus later tells us we should forgive not seven times, but seventy times seven.

3) Many people lived many years and then died, but "Enoch walked with God, then he was no more, because God took him away." Later in chapter # 6, we find that Noah was blameless and righteous and he "walked with God." We find this pattern from the beginning of time. People either walked with God or they walked /were sent away from him. Funny how human nature remains the same. We are exactly the same today.

Dave, as always, thanks for the blog. I'm always amazed at what you can draw from scripture and how you can apply it to daily life. I plan on matching you post for post this year. Have a great day and see you on Friday.


Dave's Bible Blog said...


Thanks for your comments. Keep 'em coming. I appreciate them.


Anonymous said...

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