In his book, The Mind of God, physicist Paul Davies reminds us that one of the abiding mysteries of the universe is why the physical world can be accurately described by mathematics. When I was in research, it always amazed me that I could model a physical system with the most abstract set of mathematical symbols scribbled on a sheet of paper and observe that it would accurately predict how that system would function in time and space. What is it that connects such seemingly dissimilar things?
We read Shakespeare’s “all the world’s a stage” without objection that a “world” and a “stage” are two very different things. Our minds admit analogies of all kinds that connect apparently dissimilar things in a way that one actually gives insight into the other. We admit “love is a many splendored thing” as if love were a “thing” like a table or chair. Why do we do this?
There seems to be some Master Analogy at work in the universe that connects dissimilar things in ways that give insight into both. For Christians, that Master Analogy is the incarnation. The incarnation affirms that there is no fundamental contradiction between divinity and humanity that would preclude them existing in one person. There is something divine enough about humanity, and something human enough about divinity that they can be connected through analogy, metaphor, and poetry. The power of every parable to reveal God rests on this connection.
If this is true, all of creation is sacramental. It points to a deeper reality underlying this reality that is good, beautiful and loving.
Why does OI “work”? How is it that a bunch of symbols on a page can tell a story that helps a body of people feel known and, through a gracious interpreter, feel loved and hopeful? Beneath all the technology and mechanics, the answer is more mysterious than we may realize. OI “works” because this Master Analogy is connecting up the universe in a way that is nothing short of magical and has been revealed to us in the wonder of Christmas.
Happy New Year!
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