east of eden & the choices we possess

the past few days over the Thanksgiving holiday i’ve been reading an incredible novel that has captivated my imagination and deep desire to understand the human condition. John Steinbeck’s East of Eden is a remarkable work of art intertwining stories of humanities greatest conundrum, “free will.” i’m over half-way through the novel and can attest to the power of the Biblical story of Cain and Abel being lifted into the common man’s story. how we struggle with where we are placed, what choices we make in life and how we find ourselves in the circumstances we are in. is it divine will? is it coincidence? do we have a choice? below is a great quote from the novel showing the revelation from one of the characters in the novel that yes we do have a choice in all things and that at the heart of the translation in the religious text is, “Thou mayest.” Thou mayest choose whatever thou wills to be ones life. God has endowed us with the power of choice and for that i give my utmost thanks to the Creator for such freedom…such a gift of love….

From East of Eden: “After two years we felt that we could approach your sixteen verses of the fourth chapter of Genesis. My old gentlemen felt that these words were very important too – ‘Thou shalt’ and ‘Do thou.’ And this was the gold from our mining: ‘Thou mayest.’ ‘Thou mayest rule over sin.’…The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in ‘Thou shalt,’ meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word timshel – ‘Thou mayest’ – that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man.”

“If there is a magic in story writing, and I am convinced there is, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another. The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of the writer to convey something he feels important to the reader.” – John Steinbeck

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