To celebrate the release of Paradise Lust in paperback, I wanted to give you guys a guided tour of the story by way of the articles and excerpts I’ve been fortunate to write online in the past year since the hardcover publication. Here goes!
In the beginning, of Paradise Lust that is, there was William Fairfield Warren, first president of Boston University, who made it safe for serious 19th and 20th century thinkers to continue the medieval search for the Garden of Eden by telling the world that the Garden of Eden had been….wait for it…at the North Pole! To find out how he pulled that theory off, read my reconsideration of his 1881 book Paradise Found at The Public Domain Review. Warren was not impressed by his contemporary Eden seekers, like German Assyriologist Friedrich Delitzsch, who did not view the Bible as the word of God, but as a text possibly inherited from Sumerian and Babylonian mythology.
Science didn’t sit well with Reverend Landon West either. He ran a small church in Ohio near the giant Native American earthwork known as Serpent Mound, and he insisted in 1901 that the soil snake marked the exact spot of the Garden of Eden. Find out what I saw there today on the blog of The Common magazine. Meanwhile, back in Iraq, political intrigue between the Ottoman and British Empires sparked a whole lot of Biblical justifications for everything, including the building of dams across what irrigation engineer Sir William Willcocks said were the two…yes, two…sites of the Garden of Eden there. Exquisite Corpse can tell you more about that. Meanwhile, in a tiny town at the junction of the Tigris and Euphrates–mentioned in the Bible as two of the four Rivers of Paradise–there’s a forlorn tree that’s said to be the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the one that Eve ate from. See pictures from its storied, century-long history at Triple Canopy.
The story of the search for Eden tends to see-saw between the Middle East, where all the actual Biblical stories lead back to archaeologically speaking, to America, which has always had the feeling that it was special, destiny manifested and all. One of my American seekers is Elvy Edison Callaway, a feisty Southern libertarian of the postwar era, who in the 1950s founded a Garden of Eden Park in the Florida Panhandle, based on a numerological reading of the numbers of needles in a particular type of tree. It’s a crazy story, which you can read about at the new journal Religion and Politics. And see great pictures of the park–not in the book!–here. Another Garden of Eden you can see in your Chevrolet is Adam-ondi-Ahman, Missouri, the spot where Joseph Smith, founding prophet of Mormonism, declared that Adam and Eve found shelter after being kicked out of Eden. I went there, and wrote about just how surprisingly normal the place is for The Huffington Post. I also revealed why the apple just may be the best option for the Forbidden Fruit after all, at Huffington Post; and why the story of Eden may be less a story than a cycle, for Killing the Buddha. There’s much, much more inside the (newly paperback!) covers of Paradise Lust, and I hope you’ll check it out!