A World of Speculation

My friend Barbara comments

Dear Jan,
I always enjoy “what if’s” especially in the Chestertonian sense of the earth having life instead of merely being the objects of scientific laws. I have had various conversations that express exclusivity between literal and abstract, reality and non-reality, fact and fiction. I get into conversations with people who are trying to process the “literal” ghosts that haunt their Christian experience. They play around with thoughts of eliminating anthropomorphic language of God as a way to “mature.” Sometimes I think they are trying to escape ther own humanity in order to understand a God who has revealed Himself as being truly human. As a reader of C.S. Lewis, I revelled in his essay “Myth Became Fact” as a way of relating the concrete and the abstract and seeing the whole rather than opposing the parts. It was the same wholeness I was attracted to in the Orthodox view of the Eucharist being both symbol and reality rather than one or the other. What if the earth fell because man fell and will rise when man is redeemed? What if as Thomas a Kempis said, “The higher does not stand without the lower”?

I think the New Pagans are responding to a real failing in post-Enlightenment society, the loss of the numinous. I disagree with the idea of manipulating the numinous, whether by making voodoo dolls or by making a “thing” of human beings, as the embryonic cloning efforts do. One difference is that at least the voodoo practitioner recognizes that he’s dealing with something holy. The white-coated technicians see only a pile of dust (albeit arranged in a highly complex form).

Still, even in the realm of manipulating the numinous, the overlap at the borders can be hard to sort. What about antibiotics, using living things to kill disease? What about acupuncture, which formerly had a bad reputation largely because the process is undocumented? To a certain extent, we accept the familiar and distrust the unfamiliar, without thinking through the issues.

But I agree with you that there doesn’t need to be enmity between physical and spiritual realities. The physical and spiritual are two poles of the same truth, with the difference that one is on earth, and the other disappears beyond the stars.