I have a 19 year-old son, who would probably rather watch episodes of almost any science fiction show than eat pizza (almost). He particularly loves shows about time travel. In a town like Oak Ridge, it’s possible to have serious discussions with serious people about things that I thought only young boys took seriously (we have some particle physicists in the parish (Russians) and, as I say, Oak Ridge is a town that takes its science very seriously).
I am not a scientist – I opted out for the arts a long time ago. But some questions cross boundaries, at least in home. My son likes time travel. And I wonder about time – mostly about which way does it work?
What I mean by that – is that we always presume that time works from back to front, from past to future. This is very handy and means that we can always look for causation in the past. If it exists now, then something in the past had to make it so. This is the essence of the historical worldview.
I have already shared a piece, based on St. Maximus, that places the “cause of everything” at the incarnation (which is not at all the same thing as saying that the cause is a linear, historical time-line. Maximus upsets the apple cart of our modern world-view.
As Christians, we ought to side with Maximus more easily and naturally than we do. We believe that the end of history is already a settled matter – thus it can’t be that it’s a linear, time-line thing. There are Protestant theologians, now so married to the modern world view, that they want to historicize God and leave him “open” to the future. I don’t know enough about Protestant theology to discuss that idea (particularly since this involves some fringe of Evangelicalism and my knowledge is mostly on the level of gossip). What I do know is that the End (and the Beginning) are quite the same thing for Christians. Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.
That is an extraordinary statement when you think about it (if it’s possible to actually “think” about it). We are being drawn towards the very thing that is also the cause of our very being. It is though the end to which we were are being drawn is itself our own beginning.
I only offer such thoughts because there is such an abundance of other stuff out there. This week I listened to people talk about Adam and Eve and Dinosaurs cohabiting an earth that is less than 10,000 years old. While this may be “the faith” for some people, it is even less than interesting to me. It is linear in the extreme and lacks any grasp of the mystery presented to us in Scripture.
This is Christianity that will ultimately die: either because it will not be able to meet the final challenge of the culture in which it lives, or because the culture it produces will lack the imagination to survive.
Not that I am sanguine about the triumph of the Orthodox faith in its fullness and creative wonder. I am not at all certain of its triumph in this lifetime of mine, or even in the age of this world. Indeed, Scripture would seem to say this is not going to happen. But I have no doubt of its triumph finally, because it is true, however odd or hard it may be for some to understand.
Tonight I stand at the very end of history, and thus my own beginning. From here you can see eternity as it breaks forth into this earthly realm and swallows up every created thing. Pascha is come and all things will be gathered together into one. The end into the beginning – time into eternity – created into uncreated – all things into Christ Jesus.