Notes on sacred time

– A friend argues that the laws of nature are symmetrical with respect to time because of the resurrection of the body. We canot find a physical sense to the arrow of all things being lost to the crashing Niagra of entropy, because all will be recovered from it again.

– One widely dispersed theory in eschatology holds that after death we wake immediately to the resurrection since only beings in space-time experience time, and so our last experience in this time must coincide with our first experience in the resurrection. Ratzinger critiques this idea from an interesting angle: it requires that the saints are no longer active in history, which seems a non-starter for anyone who would be committed to the Christian idea of resurrection in the first place. Ratzinger’s insight leaves open the question of the temporality of the saints, however, and opens up an interesting line of inquiry into how this sanctified temporality relates to the mundane time of the viators.

-I explain the Hypostatic union through the unity of self and body: I am not my hand, but in touching my hand you touch me.  And so identity: body:: Christ’s divine person : human corporality and therefore temporality. Temporality – this one we enjoy now – is God’s – not in the crude and extrinsic sense that he made it and is in control of it, but in the sense that my hands are mine.

– Charles Taylor: a Christian at a Good Friday service will feel closer to the Passion than he felt last October, even though in terms of calendar time he was closer to it last October.

-Marking out time in a linear manner requires something that counts as the first event, but we find none in physics. The birth of our own universe can only seem like it counts as one in a relative way. We no sooner find a beginning of time then we raise the possibility of a multiverse system. The linearity of time, and the fact that it is here now, cannot have physical meaning.

-While blessed angels help and fallen ones tempt, there is no opposite action of the damned souls corresponding to the intercession of the blessed souls. The damned occupy a time that is divided from causality – it is a time that just “goes on forever”, as an image of the old preacher metaphors about the bird who brushes its wing against a mountain every thousand years until the mountain is all gone. The blessed souls are caught up in an activity they love and which makes time fly by; the damned – like those sentenced to watch the bird – have nothing to do but mark off insipid and largely meaningless events forever, punctuated by vast stretches of time where nothing happens.

There’s the burning too.

-The universe burns on both ends: the seraphim and the damned.

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2 Comments

  1. September 8, 2014 at 11:48 am

    “I explain the Hypostatic union through the unity of self and body: I am not my hand, but in touching my hand you touch me. And so identity: body:: Christ’s divine person : human corporality and therefore temporality. Temporality – this one we enjoy now – is God’s – not in the crude and extrinsic sense that he made it and is in control of it, but in the sense that my hands are mine.”

    This would work as an excellent summary of St. Cyril’s christology, esp. re: why it can sound Apollinarian but is not Apollinarian. In fact (as you may know), he and other, later Chalcedonians even use the metaphor of soul : body :: divine nature : human nature in the Incarnation.

  2. Janet said,

    September 9, 2014 at 6:54 am

    I’m not sure that an immediate translation to the resurrection necessarily implies that the saints may not have the ability to affect the current world. After all, we believe that the way the saints affect the fallen world is through petitioning God for good things on our behalf– which is certainly consonant with being in the resurrection. This would assume that they somehow acquired knowledge of what was going on in the fallen world after their physical death. But given that they couldn’t obtain such knowledge through their own natural powers (i.e. the sensation of the body), we are necessarily assuming that they get the information from God (possibly via an angel or another saint) regardless of whether they are in the resurrection or in some unnatural disembodied state. (Unnatural, because our nature is an embodied spirit.)

    I think that the idea is intriguing, but a big argument against it is the fact that Jesus spent three days in the tomb. It’s hard to read that any other way than a demonstration of what our humanity must endure due to sin.


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