Wednesday, 7 September 2016

The Universe is All Made Up

In a piece on the former Bishop of Durham and Virgin Birth denier, David Jenkins, Andrew Brown says,

"If you believe in a personal God you are, I think, compelled to read the whole universe as a work of fiction."

Well indeed, and beautifully put. The 2nd Person of the Trinity is not called "The Word" for nothing. It's quite a story, as well.

If we think of a Thomas Hardy story by comparison: there always has to be some arrival that kicks the action off. You start, as it were, from a steady state - and then something changes. The equilibrium is shattered and events unfold. The new vicar and schoolmistress wreck the calm of the Mellstock Quire; Clym Yeobright returns to his native heath; the mysterious doctor arrives at Little Hintock and starts behaving remarkably unchastely with the locals. These days he'd be struck off. Or on strike.

And so in the Christian concept of the Universe. The peace of the void -the universal quantum wave form, personified as Rahab and then demythologised into a chaos-sea - is shattered. "Let there be light" and the Universe explodes from a point.

This is the world in narrative form, as the Ainur sang the song of Middle Earth in the ages before elf or human walked its forests. It's pretty episodic, mind. And very little dialogue most of the time. Still, there's always a star exploding or a lung fish taking to the land to move things along.

And then the attention focuses down from the universal to a planet - a region - a single dysfunctional family with its child born from a servant and one from a promise.

But then something odd happens. The author appears in the story. Not just moving the narrative along but actually in the narrative. A fully rounded character, yet one who's only got a sketchy idea how the plot is going to play out. Well that's fair enough. If the author is going to appear in his own work, teasers are fine. But spoilers would be a bit much. And it's funny how the author gets written in as a hero, yet treated as the villain.

And so we characters now wander into our chapter, insert our dialogue and play out our plot lines - each big to us, but each also a tiny part of the story arc that curves towards the End. We can be heroes or villains. That's our choice.

I can't wait to see how it all ends, mind. Once we're outside the story we'll be able to see it all. I reckon it was the butler that did it.

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