Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Where Is Heaven? Disruption!
Where is Heaven? Disruption! On Sunday evening, October 28th, I felt the muscles in my shoulder blades become more tense. This tightness slowly went from my shoulder blades, to my shoulders, to the back of my neck. The end result, a "Skuller." A skuller is what my mother in law would call a bad headache. Stretching my neck muscles, using a heating pad (which made me feel quite geriatric), and Advil did not solve the problem. Only after I awoke two mornings later, Tuesday morning, when my family had come through Hurricane Sandy unscathed, did I notice the tension wash away. No trees had come down. The electricity stayed on. With eletricity, the sump pump continued to work, so no flooded basement like during Irene and Lee--with 3 feet of water in my basement. So, while the shoulder and neck pain may have been due in part to the last minute clearing of the gutters on my house, more than likely it was related to the anticipated disruption of Hurricane Sandy. I trust in a world that is orderly and a world that has integrity. In its order, the world can be described in scientific terms, classified, understood at smaller and smaller levels. Ecosystems, at their ideal, allow all parts of the system to be fruitful. In integrity, there is the point where one life form ends and another begins; there is the point where water and land separate; there is a point where membrane separates one cell from another. Yet, this orderly world, in all its integrity, finds itself at times disrupted. Chaos exerts itself over order. The integrity of one form--body, land, cell--is violated by another. Hurricance Sandy was such a disruption. We can certainly turn to our remarkable human capacity to weather the storm. I am thankful to our local television stations, WGAL, for their outstanding warnings, coverage, and follow-up from the storm. I am thankful for government officials and first responders, leaving care of home to a spouse, to watch over others. I am thankful to colleagues who open their buildings for emergency shelter. We have the capacity as humans to be prepared through anticiaption. We have the capacity as humans to ride out the storm. We have the capacity as humans to recover from the storm. As people of faith, with this remarkable human capacity, we have a metaphysics that is laid over these disruptions. To grasp this metaphysics, we go to the stories of our people as recorded in Scripture. These stories call to light many thoughts, but this week, I want to focus on the following: First, in this world, while we believe God reigns supreme, there is a force--Karl Barth calls is the force of nothingness--that brings about chaos from order, an undoing of creation. Our relationship with God is shaped by the power of this force. I will take a look at this in Tuesday's blog. Second, much harder for us to hear, Scripture shows us that at times, God, Himself, in the source of the undoing and move toward nothingness. This very much challenges our modern mindset which clouds the difference between being guilty and being ashamed. I will take a look at this in Wednesday's blog. Third, our metaphysics is commonly expressed through what we call heaven. The questions quickly becomes, "Where is heaven?" I want to consider the possiblity that heaven is not only a place, but also a time--an eternal age, if you will--and how that may impact our response to the disruptions of order and integrity in our lives. I will write about this in Thursday's blog. Fourth, if heaven is a time, as well as a place, then there are new avenues opened for our understanding of the present moment in our lives. I will take a look at three possilible avenues in my Friday blog--1. The final outcome of the world, 2. Looking far enough into the future, 3. A connecting point for theology and science.