Under the Mercy- the Piercing Joy of Embracing All of Reality

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A mind and a body . . .

To embrace all of reality, metaphysical and physical, is to find beauty, but as any sage knew from Plato to CS Lewis, beauty is piercing and brings pain as well as pleasure. Christianity is great and good (whatever is true of other views), because it is unafraid of reality.

There are some Christians I am told who retreat from reality and plaster the supernatural where it does not belong so they can no longer see the glory of the natural that God made. We do not need to create devils in the glen to make the glen meaningful or see angels in the flock to enjoy the dumb jolliness of sheep. We should enjoy the glen as a glen and the sheep as sheep.

Stripping away mental confusion, where each one of us lives in a weird religious apocalypse novel (see Perretti, Frank) is a great improvement, not because there are no angels or devils, there are, but because putting them where they are not is to miss what is there. If in the grip of mental confusion, any clarity is welcome and an improvement!

If one only sees Mind, then we miss the beauty of matter, though perhaps strong clarity about Mind (without reducing it to matter and energy) will be beautiful. Similarly, if we see matter as it is, purging ourself of religiously based confusions (“Is that rock a devil?”), we at least get the God-given beauty of nature. Sad, however, to lose the world of numbers, ideas, consciousness, and Mind in the process!

The stars are to be seen first as stars and not as gods, even if gods came to associate themselves with a star or planet! The entire distinction between “natural” and “supernatural” is simply confusing talk. The natural is what is and includes personality and it is personality we often mislabel supernatural. When I kiss Hope goodbye, there is the physical pleasure, but also knowing a free and independent person. Her consent, so critical to real love, is not reducible to matter and energy, but to consciousness. . . Mind.

You cannot solve a physical problem in marriage with personal answers, but then you cannot solve a personal problem with mere physicality. We need all of reality: the mind and matter and should avoid confusing the two. Christianity gives us a world where the assumption by mathematicians that numbers are real works, but also the beauty of chemistry and physics as a method to describe stuff and the interaction of stuff with the world.

We are stuff and mind.

Reason and experiences brings us into confrontation with Mind, God Himself, and (perhaps) at times other minds. We can enjoy the wonder of a waterful and work with our psychologist to gain mental health and our pastor to gain full mental freedom. Why?

We aspire to something more: eternity is in our hearts. We can and must enjoy finitude: life is good and life will pass. Yet seeing the beauty of ending does not prevent us from also enjoying the possibilities of life without end in the age to come. We embrace both without confusion and so enjoy all of life while denying nothing that reality shows us. We fall short, all of us, and there are no gurus who are perfect. Instead, we journey in a dialectic between what is and what Mind tells us ought to be.

This is the Mercy: matter and energy in Mindful motion, an arc of history in which we are allowed to participate as Mind bends matter to better ends.

Thank God.


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