Friday, October 19, 2007

A Blog is a Gumball

Chicago, late 1940s early '50s, St. Margaret Mary's, the wooden desks. I can still see the dark scratches on the surface, the narrow groove for pencils, the hole about the size of a silver dollar in the upper right hand corner. That was the ink well, but in eight years I never saw a drop of ink.

Several times a year we played musical desks and everybody ended up in a new one. The first thing you did, without looking, was stuff your workbooks into the space beneath the surface. Then you looked for a smooth spot somewhere on top. Good luck. Eventually you checked out the underside, and there they were. The lumps. Gumballs. Most were hard, with a sort of dusty covering. You could pry them off, but you learned real fast that you didn't want to. It was the yuch factor. The better course was to add to their number.

Which I did. Who knows, I may have planted a couple next to one of my dad's.

Blogs are gumballs without the yuch. You chew something over, roll it into a ball, post it on the internet, and see what sticks. That's the fun, seeing what sticks:

My understanding of "Let There Be Light" suggests that the light has as much of a spiritual quality as a physical.

Let's say a police office enters a crime scene in total darkness. . . .

Your premise that "if you poke it and it wiggles, it's alive" leaves me staring at my bowl of Jello.

I'd like to think that when the next animal pulls up and Adam says,"I name him giraffe" that God kind of does a spit-take or laughs milk through his nose and says, "Where the hell did that name come from!"

Spirit, natural as any miracle,
Great matter's second stage,
Provoked, shaped with clay,
Coaxed, warmed, fired to Self.

At some point it reduces to an article of faith, and isn't it deliciously ironic that even science must ultimately rely on faith?

It all adds up to an education--mine. On my terms, no less. I ask the questions and pick the brains. In return I get opinions, photos, poems, and a few accounts of journeys. I get leads. Have I been to Slate's Blogging the Bible web page? The one for FaithBooking? For the Jet Propulsion Laboratory? Have I read John Polkinghorne, Tom Wolfe, Loren Eiseley, Thomas Merton, Mario Beauregard, Teilhard de Chardin (if not, here's a DVD summarizing The Phenomemon of Man)?

I also get new perspectives, like that of an artist who looked--in both directions--at the sequence of Matter, Life, and Spirit in her creative process. And I get to hear from people I haven't heard from in a long while, several of them for over forty years.

I like to think in gumballs. They're essences. They're what you put in a nutshell. They're templates. Stick 'em somewhere and see what accrues, what fits. "Old Story" and "New Story" are gumballs, one a mirror image (almost) of the other. Spirit in the first position vs. Spirit in the last position. Are there actually cosmologies out there that fit the Old template? Chapter One of the Book of Genesis comes close, but there's too much Matter up front. Are there any that fit the New? Many come to mind, but none is a perfect fit.

But that's where the action is, the education--where something doesn't fit the template. Poor fits offer the promise of something new, something fresh, something to keep an eye on.

In the weeks ahead I'll be looking at three cosmologies that fit the "New" template. On a whim, I chose ones that had the word "everything" in their titles: Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything, Harold Morowitz's The Emergence of Everything, and Ken Wilber's A Brief History of Everything. Getting each down to a gumball will be hard. I'll have to stick to it--and so will you.





Ritergal said...

Wow, this is the most lyrical piece you've posted and the beginning made an irresistible teaser in your announcement.

I love this concept of gumballs. It sticks, and it reminds me of the old song, "Does Chewing Gum Lose It's Flavor On the Bedpost Overnight?" Makes me wonder about gum balls... Okay. I don't want to gag anyone out here, but I'm gonna chew that old gumball and see where else it might stick. I predict the flavor improves with age.

Anyone with the stamina to finish Ken Wilbur earns a hero medal in my book. So does Ken Wilbur. But I have yet to finish one of his books. I look forward to your gumball on him.

Anonymous said...

Very nice comparison. What I find amazing is that just like the school kids who stick gum under their desks, those of us who search for answers (religiously and scientifically) are often grouped into one catergory or another by other groups who wish to get us on their team. "Gee, I thought you believed in God, why are you studying evolution?"

Some religious groups ban all talk about science in an effort to show "faith." Some science groups ban all talk about religion because religious beliefs can not be proven.

If my gumball was to be examined, it would reveal that science and religion work together-even if we do not have all of the details just yet.