“…it is the paradox of history that each generation is converted by the saint who contradicts it most.” ~G.K. Chesterton
G.K. Chesterton, 1933: “St. Thomas Aquinas has recently reappeared, in the current culture of the colleges and the salons, in a way that would have been quite startling even ten years ago. And the mood that has concentrated on him is doubtless very different from that which popularised St. Francis quite twenty years ago.
A friend recently shared this passage from Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, along with the painting it describes. Like the character in the novel, one is struck by the meaninglessness that the artist chose to depict, seemingly forever frozen on Jesus’s face.
When any of us look at death, this is what we see. We see meaninglessness, and it threatens to engulf us. We wince at the absurdity. It appears there is no hope against such a force. Our only relief is to look away.
“The Strange Music” by G.K. Chesterton (written for his wife, Frances)
Other loves may sink and settle, other loves may loose and slack,
But I wander like a minstrel with a harp upon his back,
Though the harp be on my bosom, though I finger and I fret,
Still, my hope is all before me: for I cannot play it yet.
“As a result of God’s creation of, and entry into time, He is now with us literally moment by moment as we live and breathe, sharing our every second. He is and will be always with us.” ~ William Lane Craig
Recently, I had the great pleasure of getting to take a class with Dr. William Lane Craig during my last semester of graduate school. The subject was the relationship of God to time – a subject for which Craig has pioneered some fascinating and important research. This opportunity was such a gift for me, too! I cannot express how indebted I feel to him and his ministry, Reasonable Faith, for helping me through a season of doubt in which I came very close to abandoning my belief in God. (I really wanted to give him a big hug, but Dr. Craig doesn’t seem like a hugger, so I refrained. I’ll give him one in heaven someday.)
Dr. Craig’s view of God’s relationship to time is novel, to say the least, as he rejects the classical view that God exists outside of time. I believe that he has very convincingly shown this view’s weaknesses. Craig’s conclusion is that God is timeless sans creation but temporal subsequent to the moment He created space/time.
Below are some of my reflections on the class. I hope you enjoy reading them and your curiosity is piqued to delve deeper into this very important topic.
“It is the design in Nature that strikes us first …”
“Everyone must have noticed the same thing in the fixed and almost offensive color of all unfamiliar things, tropic birds and tropic blossoms. Tropic birds look like staring toys out of a toy-shop. Tropic flowers simply look like artificial flowers, like things cut out of wax. This is a deep matter, and, I think, not unconnected with divinity; but anyhow it is the truth that when we see things for the first time we feel instantly that they are fictive creations; we feel the finger of God. It is only when we are thoroughly used to them and our five wits are wearied, that we see them as wild and objectless; like the shapeless tree-tops or the shifting cloud. It is the design in Nature that strikes us first; the sense of the crosses and confusions in that design only comes afterwards through experience and an almost eerie monotony. If a man saw the stars abruptly by accident he would think them as festive and as artificial as a firework. We talk of the folly of painting the lily; but if we saw the lily without warning we should think that it was painted.”
~G.K. Chesterton from What’s Wrong with the World
Poem 151F (61J) by Emily Dickinson
Regard a mouse
O’erpowered by the Cat!
Reserve within thy kingdom
A “Mansion” for the Rat!
Snug in seraphic Cupboards
To nibble all the day,
While unsuspecting Cycles
Wheel solemnly away.
Most of us are familiar with the famous phrase no man is an island. What many might not know is that it was penned during a time of extreme illness and suffering. Staring at his own possible death, John Donne famously wrote that “no man is an island,” that all mankind are connected in God, bound to each other like a continent. The death of one person then, like a bit of land swept out to sea, affects us all. Bioethicist Gilbert Meilaender would agree with Donne, writing that “the lives of fellow citizens may be bound together in such a way that all are aggrieved by the death of one.” He goes on to note that such sentiments might seem strange to moderns, coming across like quaint relics from a time when religion was more than merely a set of opinions to be held in private. To think that what one does in private, especially if one dies, somehow has an effect on everyone? This seems to fly in the face of our experience today. This is because we live in an age that is preoccupied with autonomy.