Tripping On The Forbidden Fruit

In an excerpt from his new memoir, My Mother’s BibleWalter Kirn comes to a realization – “the story of the Fall is about a drug bust and its aftermath”:

It begins by discussing the prohibition of a potent psychedelic substance: a plant or a fruit that grants those who ingest it personal access to divine capacities. … Rather than live for all eternity in frustrating look-but-don’t-touch proximity to the alluring, magical botanical, the humans decide to go ahead and take the stuff. Like God himself, whom they supposedly resemble, they’re restless creatures, unable to keep still, so it’s hard to fault them for their choice.

His takeaway:

How strange, how unexpected and how strange, that the establishing myth or narrative of Jewish and Christian morality deals not with murder, deceit, or theft but with expanded consciousness, with tripping. How strange to learn that our original sin—at least in the minds of those who wrote the Bible—was closer to taking mushrooms than taking a life. Was the appetite there all along? I’m guessing it was. I’m guessing Eve’s choice to get high was not a choice for her.

Kirn elaborated in an interview with Jennifer Vineyard:

The Bible has been through millions of rounds of exegesis and interpretation, but it hasn’t been until quite recently that it’s been taken as the absolute truth, to the point where people expect it to inform ideas about biology and life on this planet. So I went at it like the Bible hadn’t been softened up by metaphor, and when you think about the Fall, and a plant that gave us knowledge of good and evil, I can only think of a few plants that can do that, and they were all taken by Timothy Leary. You’d think Cain and Abel would be the first atrocity — that’s a killing; that I understand. But what’s all this fuzzy business about eating a piece of prohibited fruit? So the only parallel that I can find that makes sense is taking some kind of drug.