instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Once upon a time

One of my pet theories is this:
Man is a creature designed to glorify God through story.
That is, by telling the story of God's glory.

Man is to glorify God not only through story, I hasten to add, before the poets all leave in a huff.*

But we are creatures bound by time; by our very nature, things happen to us, followed by other things. We experience everything sequentially. If our nature is to be perfected rather than replaced by grace, even God's self-revelation must be sequential.

The old joke that time is nature's way of making sure everything doesn't happen at once contains the seed of what I suspect is great wisdom: Time is not an accident of creation, an optional feature. It's essential to it; talk of it as the "fourth dimension" suggests it's as essential as depth.

It just so happens that time -- thought of, perhaps, as the process of substantial change (i.e., matter that changes from one substantial form to another, in the old hylomorphic sense) -- is also a dimension that can manifest God's glory, in the unfolding of creation as described in Genesis 1, or in the undoing of Adam's fault as described in Genesis 4 onward.

We, creatures of matter and of reason, are ideally suited to observe and relate this dimension of God's glory. And how is a process of substantial change, of unfolding and undoing, related? You tell a story.

*. The gardeners, being more phlegmatic, would all leave in a minute and a huff.