Posted by: Peadar Ban | May 10, 2016

The Creation Game

I am slowly reading a fascinating book by Fr. James V. Schall, S.J. titled THE MIND THAT IS CATHOLIC: Philosophical and Political Essays.  I would willingly share it with anyone, but shyness prevents me from doing that.  You see, I’ve filled it with notes and highlights and stuff like that.  It would destroy for the next reader what is really a delightful time with a wonderful thinker.  It’s probably not in Barnes and Noble, but you can get it from Amazon.  Isn’t anything that ever was available from Amazon?

You see, the reading of it is slow for me because of what he writes about, and the way he writes about it.  It’s a book, as are a number of other books, that I tell myself I should have read fifty years ago.  Then, I hadn’t the time.  Now, though, is the time for me, for most folks, to be reading it. Now I can, at last, understand the point(s) he’s interested in making, the argument he presents.

And, every once in a while he’ll give his reader some little delight to think about. Call it soul candy; an idea he presents, a question he asks, a view he points out that, were we together walking along some quiet path, meandering beside a river,  would require a pause, a long look, a smile of recognition and deep understanding.  Sometimes, I think, it really requires a fist pump and a loud shout!  But, that’s not for books, eh?  I’ll stick with the understanding, the smile

I’ve been smiling all morning, all day after reading this paragraph not too long after waking:

“Is what happens to the universe closer to games than it is to the working of machines?  What would this similarity between game and universe imply?  C.S. Lewis used the happy image of the “Great Dance” to describe what goes on the universe when it finally reaches its purpose.  It is a “beatific vision,” but is also an overflow in being, in human being.  What seems to be necessity may be closer to “doing something again” just for the delight of it.  This latter experience was the great image that Chesterton used of the sun rising each morning.  We may think that it is necessary and therefore uninteresting.  Chesterton remarked that natural laws may well be more like a child wanting to be thrown into the air again and again simply because it was delightful.”

This is from page 242 in the book, well into an essay entitled “Mysticism, Political Philosophy and Play”. “How lovely, this, ” I said aloud to the empty room, just as the sun was streaming through the window; just as one of its beams was turning fully a third of the green glass vase which held the flowers I bought my wife, just as it was turning it gold.

And, as I ran for my camera to take a photo, I thought no machine, no random series of events, no mindless pattern of accidents (can there be such a thing as a “pattern” of accidents?) does something like that.  My thinking has continued all day like this.  Surely if it is a game there must be rules.  We, the only rational beings must have some way of knowing them; a teacher, a coach, a rule book? Surely a game cannot make itself.  And on and on, until the end, the victory party.

Schall’s next paragraph is just as much fun:

“Behind such images is the great theological truth that the world need not be, but is (emphasis added).  This unnecessity brings us to the further question of the reason we have finite, intelligent being in a vast but finite universe.  Is what is (emphasis in the original) ultimately there to be beheld?  “Celebrations,” Aristotle said, “are for successful achievement, either of body or soul.”  That is to say celebrations are left to be begun when all else is done, when we have won.  Is it not remarkable that the fascination of the game, when we do not know its conclusion, ends in celebration when we do know how it turns out?  This is the arena of the “Great Dance.”  The definition of God is “I am who am.”  Only this existence can explain the “Great Dance.”

He made the Game.  He made the Rules.  He IS the celebration when the Game is over.  The one that never, never ends.

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony



%d bloggers like this: