The Sarabite: Towards an Aesthetic Christianity

There is a continuous attraction, beginning with God, going to the world, and ending at last with God, an attraction which returns to the same place where it began as though in a kind of circle. -Marsilio Ficino

Monday, May 15, 2006

On the Divine Splendor

Most of the time, I will not comment on a book until I am done reading it. When a quote like this jumps up at me, though, I have no choice but to share it.

The quote is from Pierre Hadot's The Inner Citadel, which is a masterful explication of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. When explaining the intricacies of Stoic philosophy, however, he resorts to making a parallel with the philosophy of Blaise Pascal. Here is the quote from Pascal's Pensees:

"One little thought could not be made to arise from all bodies taken together, for this is impossible and they are of different orders. One single movement of true charity could not be derived from all bodies and all spirits; for that is impossible. It is of another order, and is supernatural."

Hadot goes on to comment:

In Pascal, this idea is intended to allow us to understand that Jesus Christ has neither the splendor of physical grandeur, nor that of intellectual genius. There is nothing more simple than He, and yet more hidden. His grandeur is of another order. (p. 124)

We would do well to note this in our overly rationalized, overly quantified intellectual age. There is no way to measure the Divine Order. God chooses not to manifest Himself on this field, but rather on the field of charity. The Cross is the greatest revelation of God's power, not the wonders of the cosmos or the everyday functioning of the smallest atom.

In this sense, we can see that the whole "intelligent design" argument might be missing the point. Again, His grandeur is of another order.


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