Thursday, 11 August 2011

Hawking for God

I saw a documentary on TVO last week that dealt with Stephen Hawking's 'proof' that there was no God. His argument, as I was able to understand it is based on the physics of black holes and the origin of the universe. Very simply put (I hope not simplistically), according to the theory of black holes, as you approach them time slows down. At the beginning of the universe, all matter was compressed into an unimaginably dense black hole which was infinitesimally small.

In this ultimate black hole time has stopped completely i.e. there is no time. Therefore God could not have operated before the creation of the universe by the big bang. What is surprising to me is that Hawking who is incredibly intelligent and sophisticated in respect to physics can have such a simplistic view of God. Why would Hawking restrict his concept of God in such a way that God could not operate outside of time. God as the creator of the universe must also create time. God's time is not the time that operates in the universe. God operates in eternity which is not a 'long time' but is outside time as we know it.

Hawking who contends he does not intend to upset people with his proof of the non-existance of God need not be worried as his proof is no proof.

Friday, 5 August 2011

An Eye for Life

I have just experienced a wonderful juxtaposition of art expressing life. On Wednesday evening Lorna and I saw the production of Titus Andronicus at Stratford. Then last night (Thursday) we took in Terrance Mallick's film 'The Tree of Life'. This happenstance - perhaps a bit of synchronicity at work - was an exploration of the ways in which grace and redemption that are possible but by no means guaranteed in life.

Titus is an exploration of revenge and the complete destruction that can occur when the god of revenge is unleashed. The destruction is almost complete with all the characters except one falling to the god by the time the violence and mayhem end in the closing scene.

It reminded me of the fact that 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth' is found in the bible (Matt 5: 38) as part of the beatitudes . Jesus is telling us to move beyond that form of Justice. However, we need to be reminded that originally the concept of an eye for an eye (Deuteronomy 19:21) was part of the Mosaic Law and was a step forward in justice. Before that vengeance was the norm in which there were no constraints on actions in response to a wrong. These consequences of this are so well demonstrated in Titus.

The Tree of Life shows us the other way. In the movie Mallick gives us a picture of creation from Genesis to Revelation. He gives us the vision of how the ruling principle of life - God's love can bring redemption and reconciliation for the wrongs and missteps that we humans are heir to. It is a wonderfully comedy in the Shakespearean sense in which all is restored to its proper relationship as God intended it.

That is the true mystery and grace of God’s world. Thanks be to Blog and God.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

A World Out of Joint

A week before Christmas I was visiting a parishioner.  In the process I slipped on some ice and fell and dislocated my shoulder.  There is no good time for that to happen by for a priest or pastor but Christmas time is one of the least convenient times to be inconvenienced in this manner.  I must give accolades to the medical system which receives less than stellar reviews at times as well as others involved.  The assistance of the tow truck driver (yes I also got stuck in the parishioner’s laneway), the ambulance personnel, the emergency staff at Strathroy Hospital and the Clinic at St. Joe’s in London all did a great job.   

Well I did manage to get through all the Christmas activities without it being an insurmountable task.  To say that I was experiencing the troubles of Job would be an outrageous exaggeration.  However, I found that many of the things which I did naturally and took for granted were no longer easy for me to do.  Of course it would have to by my right shoulder which made it all the more difficult being right handed.  Being the Christmas season assisted me in reflecting on my situation and how there was a relationship between having my arm out of joint and the season we were celebrating.  Actually this was pointed out to me by my wife and I was skeptical when she first mentioned it but on reflection realized the truth of what she was saying. 

You may be wondering what could be the relationship between a shoulder dislocation and Christmas.  Well I believe that Christmas was necessary because the world was out of joint.  God had created the world and all that was in it and declared it good.  However, it didn’t take too long until things were not going the way they were intended to go.  The world was out of joint.  The way the world was working was like dealing with a dislocated shoulder.  You can no longer do things the way you naturally would do them.  Things no longer worked that way so you had to find other ways to do them which are unnatural, more difficult and awkward. 

For the world, the Old Covenant was not working.  God gave the covenant with the law and people could not live up to it.  God’s intention was not being fulfilled by His people.  A new way was needed.  God decided that what was required was for God to become one of us – still fully divine but also fully human.  God was born as a small helpless baby in a stable in Bethlehem.  Well you know the rest of the story which we have just finished reliving for the 2010th time.

We are now in the in-between time of the new covenant in which God’s Kingdom has not yet come to fruition.  We Christians are still in this world as a covenantal people.  The world still is not working as God intended just as my shoulder is still feeling the after effects of that dislocation.   Both those things will happen in God’s good time.  My shoulder will hopefully be back to normal before too long.  I have no doubt that it will take longer for the world to come fully to the state where it is working as God intended it.  However, I have faith that it will one day – in God’s time.

Monday, 1 August 2011

A Land of Fools

First I must apologize to all Fools as I am not using the word in the positive sense i.e. being a fool for Christ is a good thing and the fool archetype is a positive one in my experience - although it is rather hard on the ego.

I have just returned from attending a preaching workshop at Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids Michigan. It was a wonderful experience which should help my preaching greatly - that of course remains to be seen with the proof being in the sermon puddings. That is a topic for another post.

This was during the great debt ceiling crisis that has been consuming our friends to the south. That seems to have been resolved as I write this (Civic Holiday Monday ). However, it is quite likely not for the better and only temporarily. The U.S. seems to be a land of silos with different groups talking with only the people in their own silo and lobbing grenades at the other silos.

The new channels such as Fox, CNN, and MSNBC were all hunkering down and talking the party line with little concern for other points of views or even facts. The position taken by each silo was predictable and laboured and did not change regardless of the developments in the crisis. It pains me to say that this was as true for MSNBC as it was for Fox. There seemed to be no effort to consider the other side(s) of the issue. They were talking to the converted and everyone was signing form the same songbook which was based primarily on the impending Armageddon that would occur if each side didn't get their own way. Unfortunately I didn't have access to PBS to see their take on the crisis.

I must confess that my view from the outside is slanted towards to Democratic Party position and I can't see why Americans do not want to pay for the services that are provided by their government(s). I don't see how the country can climb out of their current debt cavern using only reduced spending. That being said the futrue of of the U.S. does not look good unless that can build a bridge between the silos and come to the realization that compromise is not a dirty word.

I hope Leonard Cohen was correct when he wrote "democracy is coming to the U.S.A." because it doesn't seem to be a working democracy at the moment. As Leonard says it is the land of the best and the worst. This past week has been for worse and not for better.