This was a sustaining vision.

I have picked up The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness and Bliss again, and it is still as satisfying. It demands a lot, and because it had been several months since I’d opened the book I thought I better go back and at least read what I had underlined. But I found that in order to fully refresh my mind I had to start from the beginning and read every word over. Just today I caught up to where I had left off, in the middle of the chapter, “Pictures of the World,” in which the author explains the development of modern assumptions about existence, and compares them with previous worldviews.

Hubble Interacting Galaxy

For the philosophers and scientists of premodern times, stretching back to the beginning of philosophical and scientific thought in the West, no absolute division could be drawn between physical and metaphysical explanations of the cosmos, or at least between material and “spiritual” causes. The universe was shaped and sustained by an intricate interweaving of immanent and transcendent agencies and powers.
In the [premodern] model, the whole cosmos — its splendor, its magnificent order, its ever vaster profundities — had been a kind of theophany, a manifestation of the transcendent God within the very depths and heights of creation. All of reality participated in those transcendental perfections that had their infinite consummation in God and that came to utterance in us, in our rational contemplation and coherent articulation and artistic celebration of the beauty and grandeur of existence. The human wakefulness to the mystery of being was thus also already an openness to the divine, because the world was an image of and participation in the God who is the wellspring of all being. Again, and emphatically, this was a vision of creation’s rational order immeasurably remote from the Deist’s or Intelligent Design theorist’s notion of the world as a wonderful machine, designed and fabricated by a particularly enterprising superhuman intellect.

— David Bentley Hart

columbine church 5-15
columbine at church


7 thoughts on “This was a sustaining vision.

  1. Hi Gretchen! From what I can grasp of Hart’s description, my inner YES! wants to reach out! This is why I believe that all people should stay connected to what keeps them open to the mystery and splendor of it, undefined and infinite! Like gardening, playing music, painting — anything to keep our senses tuned into that. Perhaps this is why we are to honor the Sabbath??


  2. This sounds like a wonderful book. I’m adding it to my wish list. It might be helpful in shoring myself up against the scientific rationalism coming in from various quarters of my extended family.


  3. I find it, at the least, startling that some scientists and philosophers can observe the very same thing and not see the Divine’s hand in it all. Only through The Spirit’s eyes can we see Him.


  4. Wow, I need to get this book I think. The passages you shared fit so nicely with today’s verses in Romans (Creation speaks to us of God). And Fr. Stephen in his post on Beauty the other day said something about all living creatures are drawn to Christ because they are a reflection of His being (my inaccurate paraphrase of what I remember of his words). This is all so beautiful and, indeed, sustaining. Thank you for sharing.


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