So Long Ago the Garden, Part 2

 

          I think I can point to the moment when I started coming out of fundamentalism. I was watching a Beatles documentary with my grandmother[1].

Just so we’re all clear—one key indication of mental instability is a tendency to take everything literally. This is why we like to say that people who struggle with insanity have trouble distinguishing fact from fiction. What we mean is, they don’t understand when a story is being edited or framed in such a way as to inspire a certain reaction in the audience. So for example someone watching The Wizard of Oz might actually think the world is exploding with color at the critical moment when Dorothy arrives in Kansas. “Did you see what just happened?” they will ask you, as though at that moment in the movie it literally, truly did just happen.

There was a time in high school when my grandmother and I watched the same Beatles documentary at least once a month. I must have watched it at least five times before it became wearying, because I realized that the Baby Boomer producers had created this dramatically overly-simplified hagiography in which the Beatles had brought light and sunshine into a boring, war-torn world, while slowly being torn into pieces by their own personal demons. In short, I gradually discerned that I wasn’t watching actual history, but a particular presentation of history from an appallingly naïve point of view.

That was a shock. But then, the very final time I watched it, I was met with a second shock. My grandmother actually thought this was how it had actually happened. And not just in a metaphorical sense. When the Singing Nuns were replaced at the top of the Billboard Pop chart by the song “Love Me Do,” she thought a rainbow actually wrapped itself around the sky and color infiltrated everything. When the hippies moved to San Francisco during the Summer of Love in 1967, she actually thought there were five men playing hacky sack in a park, immediately followed by George Harrison traveling to India. In other words, it wasn’t just a thirty-minute depiction of a hugely-complicated history; it was actual history.

This is how I’ve always read the Bible.


[1] Please note: not actually my grandmother

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One thought on “So Long Ago the Garden, Part 2

  1. Pingback: Archives | thetalkingllama

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