July 15, 2013

God at the Beach

Fascinated by Peter Kreeft's thoughts on the sea and natural wonders pointing us to God, which is personally intriguing given my own hyper occupation on reading and deciphering artificial signs, be they in books or computer programs:
Kreeft: The ability to read natural signs has decreased with the increase in the ability to read and decipher artificial signs.
Similarly, the ability of my students to do simple, natural, ordinary-language logic — Aristotelian logic — with its base in the natural signs that are concepts, has decreased proportionately to their ability to do artificial, mathematical logic, with its base in arbitrary propositions — “p” and “q” rather than “men” and “mortals.” Especially, they can no longer understand analogies. The SAT Reasoning Test had to drop the whole section on analogies; Harvard geniuses were flunking them.
This is more significant than it seems, since the whole of creation is a set of analogies, likenesses, similes or metaphors of the Creator. We understand them with right-brain intuition, not with left-brain digital analysis. The analog half of our brain is atrophying as the digital half is exercising.
There is no way to teach sign reading. You just catch the art, as you catch a baseball, or the measles, from someone who has it. Read Black Elk, or St. Bonaventure, or C.S. Lewis.
He also discusses and recusses mystery:
The how question is important only in technology: “Techne” means know-how. It's a distraction elsewhere. Who knows how divine grace works? Who cares, except the professional theologian? It works. Jesus explained nothing, especially himself. He presented everything, especially himself. He gave out meals, not cook books.
Someone said, “Life is not a puzzle to be solved but a mystery to be lived.” That's a hard truth for me as a professional philosopher to swallow, but it's true.
I was also surprised to see how "multi-cultural" Kreeft sounded on oceans:
Kreeft: I have A.D.D. and get bored easily. Yet waves are endlessly fascinating. Why? The Iroquois had a word for it, “orenda,” designating the spiritual magnetic power to draw the human spirit out of itself, a power something like the “te” of the Tao for a Taoist or the “chi” in Tai Chi. It is found especially in mountains, oceans, and forests. As to how it works, that is as mysterious to me as most of the other things in life, including why God invented the face of an ostrich. I remember a Woody Allen line from one of his later films. His son has rejected the family's Jewish faith and become an atheist, and his wife blames him because he can't answer his son's questions about the problem of evil. She tells him, “He wants to know: If there is a God, why are there Nazis?” And Woody replies: “Why are there Nazis? How should I know why there are Nazis? I don't even know how the damned can opener works.”
I remember reading about a Mafia hit man who had a experience of God's unconditional love that reduced him to his knees. A hardened man who felt the abyss of God's mercy.  I thought about how the natural world itself can be seen as a analogy of not only God's bigness but His presents to us after reading this:
We would feel at home, tiny children in our Father's big, beautiful mansion with presents and surprises coming at us like gushing geysers. And that's an exercise in realism, because that's what the world really is, and what we really are, and what God really is.

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