Book Review: Who Told You That You Were Naked?: A Refreshing Reexamination of the Garden of Eden by William Combs

Capture Who Told You

I am a non-Christian. This doesn’t mean that I do not read works that focus on the Christian faith. I do, as I believe every faith has something good to teach each one of us. That’s how I took up Who Told You That You Were Naked? as my latest read. I completed the book within a week and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this one. Honestly, there is just so much to learn and absorb in this book that renders it almost impossible to rush through any of the chapters. One thing I can tell you about this book is this: take your time to read it, take breaks in between to allow your mind to savor what was just revealed to you, and see how it applies to your personal situation in life. It really helps.


A glance through the short blurb on the back cover of the book gives us some information about the author—William E. Combs. A retired Presbyterian minister, Bill Combs holds Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from the Fuller Theological Seminary. Leveraging his knowledge and experience in this book, the author reevaluates the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The key argument that the author makes is that—all our lives—we have misunderstood everything about “The Fall” and most of the message conveyed in the Bible.  Our definition of “sin” is misplaced. No, sin isn’t a series of transgressions; rather, it is the knowledge we have inherited from Adam and Eve, which permits us to identify and analyze good and evil.


The book has just 10 chapters, each of which present a set of questions to us at the end that help us question our own understanding of the content of the chapters and also include open questions that we could discuss with a group of others interested in the subject. It is my personal opinion that asking ourselves these questions can increase our belief and our connection with God. Who knows, this might help us keep away from questioning his existence each time we encounter roadblocks in life!


Of all the sections in the book, my favorite was that which talked about the reason why God put the tree with the forbidden fruit right smack in the middle of the Garden. He could have chosen to not have that tree around in the first place and, thereby, completely uprooted (pun intended) all chanced of Adam and Eve succumbing to temptation. To top all of that, God also offered this couple the choice of path they could take in this matter—eat the fruit or continue to be his obedient creations. The author has inspired me to take some of the lessons offered in the book quite seriously and alter some of my own habits to have more faith in God every living minute of my life. It might sound easy, but I know it will be quite an uphill task. But then, I am positive.


One flaw I noticed in the grand scheme of the book is the author’s inclination to speculate. He makes some presumptions throughout some parts of the book about the biblical content that are instances of unadulterated conjecture. Most theories he presents in the book are absolutely impressive and convincing; however, these other theories have little in the form of substantiation to help us truly believe them.


Nevertheless, this book is brimming with wisdom and insight from the author. Therefore, I recommend it to all readers looking for a sound Christian faith book. In addition to the author’s point of view on the diverse aspects relating to Christianity, you will also come across some instances in the book where he describes some wonderful stories about how God communicated with him and his wife and how that transformed their lives completely. I found some minor spelling and grammar mistakes, but these issues certainly aren’t enough to stop me from rating this book 3 out of 4 stars.


Be your own work of art

Some of us on this planet are too passionate for our own good. Passionate about stuff to do, passionate about stuff to buy…You name it, we are excited! View us from any angle, we do look like normal people. Then why the ten dessert spoonfuls of overenthusiasm?! We are even excited to be excited all the time! Yes, paint me guilty with a wild pink — I AM one of them. I am someone who sees the CEO of her company walk past her and happily chirp out “Hello!!” with a goofy smile. The poor lady probably spends weeks wondering who I actually could be and why I am so enthusiastic every time I see her! But hey, I genuinely can’t contain the excitement (No, I am yet to reach stalker levels). But then again, not that bad a deal sometimes.

Enthusiasm and passion leads to the most extraordinary creations ever known to man. For many, the products of their enthusiasm leave a highly significant mark on people’s mind. These people make a difference.


The person on my mind as I write this piece is the world-renowned Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh. An artist par excellence whose work we yearn to absorb into every pore of our mind and body. He who had a dreamy, magical reflection and an unrestrained ardor for everything “life!”

Since the 1880s, Van Gogh was intent on creating on canvas the magic of “night effects,” which he believed would present a greater drama to the eyes than a typical sunny day. The thought haunted him day and night—he just had to showcase to the world the beauty of a night sky from his perspective.


The painting did get created in 1889, and what a marvel it was! Van Gogh’s La nuit étoilée, aka to those of us who call our beloved darling instead of mon cheri as “Starry Night,” was an instant hit among art connoisseurs around the globe. Sure, it was a painting he always wanted to make and he HAD to get it out of his system. But what made this particular painting the all-time favorite of all who had the privilege of seeing it? One, as the name implies, it’s all about the stars and the fantasy land it transports you to, as if on an expensive silk magic carpet. You don’t feel a bump, definitely no thud. Even those of you who don’t seem to get that HIGH after seeing the painting just can’t deny the fact that they feel themselves to be a part of that scene…looking up at the star-studded sky, feeling all warm and peaceful within. Yes, one does admire the town structures below the sky, and more so as the dark hues reflecting from them further highlight the mystery presented by the celestial bodies above. Everything about the masterpiece is an enigma and pulls you toward it as you gaze utterly spellbound.


Unfortunately, Van Gogh had already settled comfortably into a mental asylum by the time he finished perfecting the last stroke of his painting, completely oblivious to the millions of “Starry Night” replicas that were being created outside the claustrophobic prison walls. But, the Starry Night shines on!

We may never really know what led this great artist to commit suicide so early in life. But one thing is for sure, he sure lived his life fully being his overenthusiastic, passionate self. Plus, he left behind his works of art that touch and soothe the soul of millions across geographies.

So, I think it is perfectly fine to live with overenthusiasm and passion. If it makes us happy, who cares what the others think? We will just continue to live our happy lives in our own quirky little way and make people wonder what made us mutate so badly. ‘Cuz in the end, all that matters is life and the way we lived it. And who knows what little masterpieces we may create along the way!

Just eat!

I have always been a health freak. “Oh, is this unhealthy?! I am not eating it!” “Oh, donuts cause cancer? I don’t want them!” (Note: I might make an exception with the latter one on particular occasions). But there was a phase in my life when I decided I wanted a flatter tummy and that, maybe, skipping a meal might do the trick.  Of course, the meal that got picked was breakfast—an easy choice considering the rush we all are in to reach work on time every morning. This was a bit tough on poor Mr. Tummy but hey, who asked him to get bigger than he was supposed to be in the first place?!

So that’s how started a month of skipping breakfast coupled with Yoga (like a Yoda). I am proud of the fact that I could still focus on work despite an empty stomach, but then the tummy size remained the same. And to add it to it, I developed pain in the lower left side of my abdomen. No, things weren’t looking good.

So then, the brainchild of skipping a meal was discarded. For good. Now, I am an advocate of regular exercise and a balanced meal. With this combo, I have actually lost more weight than before, and Mr. Tummy has gone back to being his old, lovable self once again. And now, I know the importance of having a good breakfast. Allow me to share some basic things I learnt from my own experiences (yes, experience IS a fantastic teacher!)

For all of you who love yourselves, it is safe to start falling in love with your breakfast (and those who don’t love yourselves, you better start loving yourselves first). This is one meal that actually helps to accelerate your metabolic rate—and if you love looking fit like me, I know you love to hear the word “metabolism” too. You actually allow your body to feel pampered and happy if you chomp down on a healthy breakfast. The meal’s a mood elevator, trust me on this one. So what should you ideally treat your body with in the form of a morning meal? Something that stimulates your body and provides you with enough energy to survive the day with a smile on your face (Yes, you will need a dose of positivity for the smile bit, but maybe that could be covered in another post). My favorite breakfast picks are brown-bread peanut butter sandwiches, breakfast muffins and muesli with milk or yogurt. Choose something that suits your palate—just ensure that it’s healthy. And don’t forget to fall in love with your breakfast!

Way too stylish: The natural way to go

Style is about elan. Style is about dignity. Style is about intimacy. Style is about intenseness. Style is about allurement.

Have you visited those Egyptian museums? Well, I haven’t. But, that’s not the point. The point is, have you seen the goodies they used to bury with the bodies of the ancient Egyptians? Don’t you think they believed in being stylish, then? Style has always mattered to the human race. I have seen photographs of the kind of head dresses that got buried with some of these bodies. Man, way too stylish for us to carry off. And, probably, THAT is exactly why they decided to carry those items with them when they got transferred to the other side. Why leave it behind for us, when we would not have the guts to use it? Fair enough. The human character has a natural bent toward self embellishment. The ancient Egyptians believed in catering to the said bent.

This is a trait prominent in all of us. Yeah, don’t deny it. You have the need to be fashionable in you too. And, this internal urge to look your best and the desire to don a new look on and off  is the target of the fashion world that churns profits in jillions. Smart, aren’t they?

I know you can relate to what I am saying. I am sure you have an anecdote to share with your friends that will talk about what clamant drives you get every other month to get your hairstyle changed, revamp your wardrobe or even get shoes of another color. I got my hair straightened more than a year back as it didn’t look stylish enough when it was wavy (aah, me!) I don’t say I regret doing it, ‘cuz hey, it still looks stylish. I wake up in the morning and my hair still looks set. Like that of a celebrity. Don’t we all like to look like celebrities in our own little way?! *Cough Cough*

Another urge I am not proud of is this need to raid my favorite mall every month to spend on clothes and other “cool” stuff. I have no idea what I want to buy. I just want to.

Now, I don’t think we can altogether kill this urge to be stylish. All we can do is try and use our older stuff more fashionable and add on to our style quotient. Maybe I can talk about this in my next blog. So, till then, keep it stylish! Keep it alive! And, keep feeding the voracious style demon within you!

Thank you, Comics

We are humans. Mere mortals. Not all of us are born craving for hard-to-comprehend literature. When I was a kid, I used to crave for reading material that made complete sense to me – comics. What did I like about them then? The color and images. Isn’t it surprising that we never found it hard to focus on comics? I admit, I used to enjoy reading my textbooks…but put comics beside them and I would never look at the school stuff a second time. I thank my mom for introducing me to comics and showing me that there is more to books than just “yawn.”

Reading doesn’t always have to be something “that is approved by literature critics.” Read what gives you joy. Pick up anything that is written. Author, no bar. If you are a parent and your aim is to get your kid reading, comics are THE answer. As kids, our mind cries out for a medley of things that keep us happy and…not bored. And let’s face it, comics DID give us the potpourri that we looked for.

If someone argued that comics are impractical and are aimed to entertain just kids, I would throw them off the cliff. OK, I many not be THAT violent in real life, but I may have a mental picture of me doing so. Why, you ask, am I so passionate  about comics? Well, of the many reasons I can state, the top-most in my mind is how appropriate it is to use comics for communication. As someone who handles communication for her firm, I know the importance of communication that is taken seriously by everyone.

If you are still not convinced, allow me to draw up a few more advantages I can think of. Here goes. The complicated technology (which, I admit, is relatively simplified now) that you need to develop videos is not something you require to give birth to engaging comics. Illustrations have a humanness of their own, don’t you think? A characteristic that is profusely attractive compared to camera shots. What’s more, with comics, even if you forget to leave a bookmark where you left off, you could always easily come back to the page and take off on a wondrous journey of fun. The combo of depiction and ideas has claim to more than your attention. It is powerful enough to take charge of your imagination.

Human clans have always had a weakness for stories, haven’t they? Add a pinch of comicalness to those stories, and voila! It’s the perfect dish to cure you of boredom! Yeah, you can thank me later for sharing the recipe.

The Path to Inner Peace

What according to you constitutes a life-changing personal trip? I think it would be a trip that would lead you to inner peace. Yes, THAT inner peace that our favorite Panda (the Kung Fu one) talks about on and off. There are various methods that you could follow to find the calmness and harmony that you crave for…and trust me, the path to inner peace is an alluring one. And this era…this time period, I think, is just the perfect one to set out to find that peace and gain the kind of broad-mindedness that would be an asset to possess.

I’ve often wondered why people attempt to bypass moments of quiet – moments when they are alone with no one to disturb them – and feel uneasy in such situations. Why do they need others to make them feel happy and content? Often people try to beat being alone by turning on the television, blasting their radio loudly, or most recently, by playing their iPods and mp3 players. Being totally alone is a completely unthinkable task for most of us.

When I researched on the WWW, I found that many people report to have thought that they had found inner peace only to get disproved later on. You think you have found your comfort zone somewhere and are safe in it. But is that what you were actually born to do? Be safe? I think not. Personally, I believe that if you stick to your comfort zones now and do not feel the want to move out of it, you are fooling yourself into believing that you have found inner peace. The journey to inner peace can’t be that easy. You HAVE to have the voluntariness to step out and enjoy all the emotions ever created by God. Be the person who bites the bullet on the way sometimes and still moves ahead like a champion. For if we do not venture out, how can you get to know who you really are?

Having said that, have I found inner peace? Maybe. Because I dare to gamble in life and take on its challenges head on. There is more to be learnt, but I am sure life will teach me that “more” in the years ahead. Here’s to life and all its pains, gains, and emotions!

Why rapists should never be forgiven

Religion often tells us to forgive and forget. Mahatma Gandhi professed that if you get slapped on one cheek, you need to take it in your stride and turn your other cheek to the one who slapped you. Our folks have always encouraged us, right from when we were kids, to forgive others when they hit us or broke our possessions.  The all-famous “forgive and forget” just cannot be forgotten. If you have a bone to pick with someone for too long, then you get to be the clown who everybody talks behind in society.

But, rape… unforgivable. It’s just something that no one, ever, should be a victim of. Is it the victim’s fault that he or she got raped? There are several theories, but I continue to believe that it is never the victim’s fault. Everyone has freedom of choice in today’s society. So why was the victim not given a choice? Who gave the rapist the right to trespass, to violate somone??

Have you ever listened to a victim talk after the catastrophe? It’s tragic! They take a very long time to recover and even open up to anyone.

Just ‘cuz a rapist apologizes, does not mean that he is off the hook. Is it really that simple? You sin with your actions and your words do penance? Is that justice? Maybe the victim would have a heart that is generous enough to offer forgiveness. But is the victim obliged to do that? Not at all.

Frankly, we cannot imagine how a victim’s life turns out to be after the mishap. Does time heal what they go through? Is time really a healer in this case? It’s easy to ask or expect the victim to forgive and forget after a few years, but it remains a fact that each one of us responds differently to trauma. If what that person went through scars them mentally throughout life, I support them if they decide not to forgive the rapist.