Be a good sport, Cain

When I thought I might have to reinstall the operating system on my computer in order to get the printer to work, I started thinking about what stuff I would want to save and what to get rid of. I managed to get the printer going just by reinstalling the USB controls, but I might do the operating system anyway — it would be sort of nice to have a fresh start.

Point being, I’m going through my folders and sorting stuff, and today I found this piece from June 18, 2003.

So I’m a farmer, right? I grow stuff. Plow the fields, sow the seeds, water it all, make sure everything has room to breathe and stretch and feel the good earth between its roots. It’s peaceful work, and peace-giving — the earth and the plants smell so good, and the work is slow enough that you can think and observe and feel the little breezes change direction.

Now my brother’s work is peaceful, too, in its own way. He’s got sheep and goats. They don’t stay put like my crops. He spends as much time chasing and herding as he does just sitting and watching them graze.

Anyway, the weather just started getting cooler and all my crops are tall and ripe. I decide I’ll take some of it and offer it to God. After all, he’s the one that put all this stuff here, he’s the one that makes the sun shine on it and the rain fall. So I take some ears of corn and some other vegetables and roast them real nice over a little fire.

But not too far off I see a bigger column of smoke. Turns out my brother is making an offering, too. Sure smells awful strong, those thighs and blobs of fat burning over there.

My stuff smells all delicate and earthy.

But then, would you believe this? God likes his offering and not mine.

Now why not? What’s wrong with my offering? Did God ever say he only liked meat and fat? You’d think he’d like veggies better — after all, before that snake stuff my mom and dad were only allowed to eat plants anyhow.

So I’m all upset and confused, because none of this makes sense. Abel’s not better than me. And I’m the older one, too. I should be first.

Then God comes over and tells me to be a good sport. “Be a good sport, Cain. If you do well, you’ll be approved. But if not, then sin is after you and you’ve got to master it.”

Be a good sport! I didn’t even know there was a game on. No one told me the rules. No one said “you’ve got to burn fat to get a goal in this game.” No one has told me what exactly it takes to “do well.”

What, does God want me to buy meat and fat from my own brother? My work isn’t good enough, I‘ve got to depend on Abel, my kid brother?

Be a good sport! If there’s no rules, I’ll play however I want.

So the next day I see Abel in my field, and I’ve just got to kill him. It’s not fair God likes him better. If he’s gone, God will have to like me instead. I start talking to him to get him closer, and then bam! on the head. Down he goes.

Good sport.

I shake his dead hand and tell him, “Good game.”


3 thoughts on “Be a good sport, Cain

  1. I came over here to read that after your FB mention.

    Wow. Did you write it? Really amazing. Not sure I’d write Cain as being all that innocent (at first, anyway). But it was powerful. Reminds me of Flannery O’Connor’s writing…

  2. Thank you — I don’t see any reason to think ill of Cain until after God rejects him and his sacrifice… which could be a clue that there’s more to the story, and that God did have good and reasonable reason for the rejection. I just wish it was made clear.

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