God Doesn’t Make Junk

We live in a material world. I like it, a lot. Quite a few folks have felt the same way.

“You adorn the year with your bounty; your paths drip with fruitful rain.
“The meadows of the wilderness also drip; the hills are robed with joy.”
(Psalms 65:1213)

Some get overly impressed. Others apparently think it’s icky.

Earnest folks have celebrated and condemned it. Not necessarily the same folks, and probably not at the same time. Not usually. That’d be a problem by itself.

Plato thought about the reality we live in, artists have been inspired by it.

That’s given us a theory of forms, George Harrison’s “Living in the Material World” and Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” albums, and the “Material World” 1990s sitcom.

Ideas

I think Plato gave my civilization quite a few good ideas.

And some that may look good on paper, not so much when applied. (October 16, 2016)

His Academy of Athens showed us what institutionalized education can do. That’s a topic or two by itself.

Two dozen centuries later, we’ve still got everything Plato wrote. Probably. And maybe a few “Plato” items he didn’t.

Scholars have seen to it that Plato’s documents get preserved. But the oldest copy we’ve still got was made more than a millennium after Plato died. There’s debate over what’s by Plato and what’s Platonic, but done by someone else.

I’d be surprised if folks are as familiar with George Harrison’s work in the early 4400s. And that’s another topic. Or maybe not so much.

Harrison’s credited with introducing the Beatles to the sitar and Hindu spiritual ideas. The good news, as I see it, is that he apparently looked at what folks who lived by Hindu ideas thought: not how upper-crust Westerners saw the ‘foreign’ ideas.

My understanding is that old-school Hinduism looks at life as a whole: wealth, desires, freedom, everything. Including what my culture calls ‘being spiritual.’ Integrating artha, kama and moksha — is yet another topic.

I think living as if what I believe matters makes sense. More than a recently-traditional Western attitude of keeping ‘real life’ and ‘being religious’ in airtight compartments.

Henry VIII’s and Thomas Huxley’s contributions didn’t help, I think. (October 28, 2016; August 14, 2016)

Plato’s Cave

Symbolism in Plato’s story about a cave is pretty obvious.

The cave is the world as we see it, ‘reality’ is outside, the wall and chains keeping prisoners from seeing reality are ignorance.

So far, so good.

I think there’s more to reality than what we can see, and that ignorance is no virtue. But I don’t think the visible world is an illusion.

My guess is that some folks realized there’s more to reality than what our senses show us long before Plato.

One of these days I’ll probably talk about Dualism: Mithraic, Gnostic, and otherwise. Not today. I’m running out of time, still a bit short on sleep, and that’s yet again another topic.

Basically, I think what our senses show us is a small fraction of physical reality. We’re developing new ‘windows’ into facets of this world. These reveal wonders that fascinate some, and apparently upset others.

Understanding

Folks have had trouble understanding our Lord since day one. I don’t think we ever will, not completely.

I certainly don’t. And I’m okay with that.

I follow the man who is God, who died and then stopped being dead: one person in the Trinity. Since I follow the Son, I follow the Trinity. They’re a package deal. Sort of.

Thoroughly understanding God isn’t possible. Wanting and trying to understand is a good idea. But God is infinite, eternal and the Almighty: “a mystery beyond words.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 27, 155, 202, 230)

We’ve been passing along what we understand and what we can’t for two millennia now. (Catechism, 7495)

There’s been no shortage of folks ardently devoted to imaginative substitutes. Their alternatives have different names and unique details. But they fall into a few categories.

One of them is dualism: the idea that everything comes in two parts. Including good and bad. There’s a little truth to it. I see dualism as a particularly persistent and perturbing wrong idea. Maybe because I also see its appeal.

Dualism with Christian paint jobs says that our Lord isn’t, or isn’t quite, God and man. Books have been written about it. I’ll do what I can with a paragraph and move along.

I’ll grant that trying to understand how infinity and eternity can fit into a material being is frustrating. I can’t, but like I’ve said: God’s God, I’m not, and I’m okay with that. I’ll settle for believing and assuming that God can handle the details.

Being Human

I suspect some ardently-supported ideas started with a distaste for physical reality.

That may, I hope, come from distorted perceptions of what’s really real.

Angels are pure spirit, which makes them more powerful than material creatures.

But ‘powerful’ and ‘good’ aren’t the same thing. Satan’s a prime example that. (Catechism, 395)

Seeing immortal and unchanging spirit as ‘better’ in some senses doesn’t make what’s material and mutable bad. Just different. And temporary. I’m also okay with that.

Even if I wasn’t, I hope I’d have the sense to think God didn’t make a horrible mistake. The first chapter of Genesis tells us that God made everything: spiritual and material reality.

Genesis 1:27 says that we’re created “in the image of God.” We’re also male and female: a distinctly material quality.

The other creation account emphasizes the point, I think. Genesis 2:7 is pretty clear. We’re made from the stuff of this world and God’s breath: spirit.

Being body and soul, matter and spirit, isn’t a problem. The mess we’ve been in is — still another topic. (Catechism, 355379)

And God Said “Oops??”

I’ll go with God’s assessment of reality: all of it, what we can see and are learning to observe; and what’s beyond.

“God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good. Evening came, and morning followed—the sixth day.”
(Genesis 1:31)

I like being a material and spiritual creature. I think the visible world is filled with marvels and wonders we’ve hardly begun to discover. And see nothing wrong with learning how this universe works.

That’s just as well, since we’re told that noticing beauty and order in this universe is a good idea. Learning its natural laws and using that knowledge wisely is part of our job. (Genesis 1:2627, 2:7; Catechism, 16, 341, 373, 1704, 17301731, 2293)

Noticing and studying the wonders and beauty surrounding us is part of what being human is. Or should be. Imagining that they’re gods doesn’t change that.

But it’s not a good idea. Putting anything where God should be in my heart and mind is a bad idea. (Catechism, 21122114)

Again, that doesn’t make the universe and natural wonders bad.

Experiencing joy in their beauty is a good thing. If we remember that God is “far more excellent:”

“Foolish by nature were all who were in ignorance of God, and who from the good things seen did not succeed in knowing the one who is, and from studying the works did not discern the artisan;
“Instead either fire, or wind, or the swift air, or the circuit of the stars, or the mighty water, or the luminaries of heaven, the governors of the world, they considered gods.
“Now if out of joy in their beauty they thought them gods, let them know how far more excellent is the Lord than these; for the original source of beauty fashioned them.”
(Wisdom 13:13)

Accepting God’s work as “very good,” and God as “more excellent” than anything we can see makes sense. To me, anyway:

About Brian H. Gill

I'm a sixty-something married guy with six kids, four surviving, in a small central Minnesota town. I mostly write and make digital art. I'm only interested in three things: that which exists within the universe; that which exists beyond; and that which might exist.
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2 Responses to God Doesn’t Make Junk

  1. As you say, Brian. God does not make junk. No rejects from his production line. We are all perfect in our own way.

    God bless.

    • Indeed.

      The trick, I strongly suspect, for each of us is seeing who and what the “me” that could be is – how we fit into the picture – and moving in that/those directions. There’s a metaphor lurking in that verbiage. I think.

      And may God’s blessings be on you, too.

Thanks for taking time to comment!