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If I ever go to heaven, I will ask to meet Adam and I will tell him that I personally ate too much shit in life because of him and his wife eating the damn apple 🙂

These words were spoken by Khaled Tantawi, a pharmacy student in Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt.  I have met Khaled on line many years ago (when exactly?) while working on my novel, To Kill the Other.  At that time Khaled was an exchange high school student in Chicago.

Khaled provided invaluable information about his home city, Ismailia and helped me with Arabic, a language used sporadically on the pages of To Kill the Other.  His inquisitive mind and witty humor find many followers on his blog, Thoughtful weirdo’s weblog!

I am planning to write a longer post about my cooperation and friendship with Khaled but for today here is an interesting exchange I had with him on Facebook yesterday:

Khaled:

God gave us the right to choose, but he created the weak nature as well that make us unable to make the right decisions or fight the temptations so I am confused. It’s like you design an imperfect toy and expect it to be perfect. Wrong analogy, I know, but I was trying to explain my point. I have so many question about the Genesis, I know I will never get the answers but I have this chronic illness of questioning things.

Danuta:

The apple is a symbol of knowledge of good and evil. In order for Adam to gain this knowledge, he had to eat the apple. Before eating the apple all he knew was good. If all you know is good than you don’t really have a choice between two options. If you don’t have a choice than you can’t really create. If you can’t create, than you can’t exhibit the quality of “in the image of god.” If we were made in the image of god, we were put on this earth to create life, and creating life means constantly choosing between good and evil. Besides, how would we know if we were truly granted the gift of free will? Breaking the rule of eating the apple proves that we were indeed granted the gift of free will.

We were granted the gift of free will so being “a good person” is our choice and not some “forced upon us quality.” This is how we create our life and ourselves — hopefully by choosing good all the time, knowing that we could have chosen evil, but we didn’t. Does it make sense?

Khaled:

Yes, Danuta, thanks for your input. I have never thought of it this way but it’s a very nice and positive way of looking at it. I am not sure if I believe in free will. I believe we can choose but our choices are very limited, I go to school and choose my friends, but I choose friends from the limited social circles I am exposed to, so I choose but it’s a limited choice. As to Adam and the apple, If he knew the consequences that he would be expelled from heaven, do you think he would have eaten the apple? I think the apple was meant to be eaten for life to go this way so I doubt if he really had the free will to eat the apple.

Danuta:

Adam had to eat the apple because he was made in the image of God which meant he had a free will. God created life and then God created someone in his own image who could also create life. But of course people “don’t remember” who they really are (children of God) and still struggle with choosing between good and evil, instead of abandoning evil and embracing good. You are asking excellent questions but they cannot be really answers using our human logic … but then again, what choice do we have? About your friends … yes, you are limited to the circles in your immediate surroundings but at the same time you know me, and I am not in your immediate physical circle. You and I choose the friendship that we have — even though you are in Egypt and I am in the USA; even though you are in your twenties and I am in my forties; even though we have never met, we certainly feel connection and this is why we keep in touch. This is our choice. We created our friendship. We created this part of our lives that we call our friendship. Here is a poem about Adam’s choice:

Adam

by Rainer Maria Rilke

Marveling he stands on the cathedral’s
steep ascent, close to the rose window,
as though frightened at the apotheosis
which grew and all at once
set him down over these and these.

And straight he stands and glad of his endurance,
simply determined; as the husbandman
who began and who knew not how
from the garden of Eden finished-full
to find a way out into
the new earth.

God was hard to persuade;

and threatened him, instead of acceding,
ever and again, that he would die.
Yet man persisted: she will bring forth.

And here is what Eve looks like:

Eve

by Rainer Maria Rilke

Simply she stands at the cathedral’s
great ascent, close to the rose window,
with the apple in the apple-pose,
guiltless-guilty once and for all

of the growing she gave birth to
since form the circle of eternities
loving she went forth, top struggle through
her way throughout the earth like a young year.

Ah, gladly yet a little in that land
Would she have lingered, heeding the harmony
And understanding of the animals.

But since she found the man determined,
She went with him, aspiring after death,
And she had as yet hardly known God.

In those poems Adam is proud of his choice and Eve is clearly in love with him because he is determined.

What do you think? I remember I was surprised with Rilke’s perspective (so new to me) but the variety of perspectives helps us to come up with our own ideas.

Khaled:

The poem is really great, I am surprised with Rilke’s perspective as well. I always thought Adam was depressed when he landed on Earth because moving from heaven to Earth is, by our human measures, devastating. But that’s a really surprising and nice perspective. Thank you for sharing this.

I also want to tell you that I really appreciate that I had the privilege of knowing you. I am happy we bumped into one another even though we could have lived our entire lives not knowing that we both existed thousands of miles away. I do believe in fate and thus I believe we were meant to know each other too.

Danuta:

Beautifully said, Khaled, my dear friend. Thank you!

One Response to “If I ever go to heaven”

  1. […] conversation brought me back to the question: Who makes the choice? Am I responsible for my choices or am I only answering to something that makes me choose and my […]