The Place For Space in a Catholic Sensibility

I’d like to thank Randolph Nichols for his kind comment on the Full Moon post below.

As I learned during childhood staring into the Kansas night, the heavenly bodies induce a sense of wonderment as nothing else. It doesn’t surprise me that several prominent theologians came from small mid-Western towns (the Niebuhr brothers, Gordon Kaufman, etc.) where the vast expanse of space could be experienced by simply looking up. Unfortunately, living in the urban East as I now do diminishes such encounters.

I think many believers treat such encounters with disdain. When I became active in a parish during my graduate school days, I found a few people focused on their particular brand of religion. Sadly, they seemed one-dimensional to me. It wasn’t that I was disinterested in their activism, for I shared many of the social justice values promoted there. I was disliked and misunderstood by a few people for the same reason I find dislike and mistrust among self-styled Catholics at St Blog’s. I didn’t possess adequate cred because I demurred from parroting the party line.

I think it’s a great thing to be tenacious and purposeful in pursuing one’s calling. But it is the mark of imbalance to suggest that one’s own calling is the single solitary path for everyone. I think the current rage against so-called relativism is in part an immature attempt to associate one’s own comfort zone with the required alignment of others.

That said, I’m convinced that play is at least as important as work for a healthy human being. God made us this way, after all. I can “work” as a musician, but I can also “play.” I might find that prayer and the spiritual life is “work” at times. It does take effort to concentrate, stay awake, attend to discipline, and other values. But it is also prayer to sit in wonder at the created wonders of the natural world. To play, if you will.

michigancatholic’s remarks on the Full Moon thread might betray a certain narcissistic streak in neocatholicism. Traditionalist web pages are full of human-made things: architecture, design, vestments especially. We can celebrate human talent in these things. But I prefer to look at Tethys, Mars, globular star clusters, and other things made by the hand of God.

Sure, there is no profound theological truth embodied in ice geysers, neutron stars, or platinum rain as there might be in Gothic architecture. But sometimes it seems enough to just sit back and contemplate something beyond the ordinary human imagination. And see God in the making of it all.

I no more worship the moon than traditionalists worship silk, gold, and marble. But if God is to be found through the agency and interpretation of the physical world, then let God be seen and known.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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