Monday, October 11, 2004

The God of the Infinitesimal

An inchoate thought is forming in my head now, after having read Psalms 1, 2, and 3 today as part of Morning Prayer. I will have to think it out further, but the basic idea is that the Scriptural point of view - and I mean "point of view" literally in this case - is all wrong for our lives in the 21st Century. It's too much in the large visible world.

Today we know that not sin but bacteria and viruses cause disease. We know about T-cells - lymphocytes which recognize and destroy foreign cells. We know about neurons and synapses; we know about the possible connection between the corpus callosum and autism; we know that the brain scans of schizophrenics look different than those of others. We know what dust mites look like magnified 400X; they look like dragons, in fact, like prehistoric monsters. We even know something about top quarks and spin, and possible curled-up physical dimensions too tiny to ever be seen.

But the Psalmist knows none of this. He (she?) knows about armies and vengeance and cattle and wheat and chaff and sea-monsters and all deeps and multitudes. Scripture is silent about so much of what we know and take for granted. It is gross and crude and, as a result, simplistic. It is a history lesson, instead of being a point of departure into the realm of the mystical.

This is why the voices of Hildegard of Bingen and the other mystics are today growing louder; they speak of this inner world of the unseen:
O Holy Fire which soothes the spirit
life force of all creation
holiness you are in living form
You are a holy ointment
for perilous injuries
You are holy in cleansing
the fetid wound.

O breath of holiness
o fire of loving
o sweet taste in the breast
you fill the heart
with the good aroma of virtues.

The solution is to write more stuff like the above for use in approaching the Mysterium Tremendum of God - which, while still Tremendum, belongs also to the realm of the invisibly tiny.

And let's not forget, while we're at it, that the Psalmist thought heaven was about 100 feet up, and that there were "waters above the heavens" - that is, above God's throne where angels circled Him and sang praises. And that the fact of the still-expanding universe was discovered less than 100 years ago. The Psalmist's world was much, much smaller - and also much larger - than the wolrd we know.

1 comment:

claypot said...

One famous theologican said God lisps
when He talks to us. He meant God talks baby talk.
Isa 55:6 "Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;
Isa 55:7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
Isa 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
Isa 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

The famous Rabbi Hillel was asked to summarize the law while standing on one foot. He said, "What you would not have done to you, do not do to others. NOW, GO AND STUDY." You have not yet achieved all you are capable of. If you keep yourself open to what is true, you can still learn.