Friday, March 15, 2013

Marvelling at Forsaken Cornfields

The Father said, 'That is a stone.' The Son would not say, 'That is a loaf.' No one creative fiat shall contradict another. TheFather and the Son are of one mind. The Lord could hunger, could starve, but would not change into another thing what His Father had made one thing.
 There was no such change in the feeding of the multitudes. The fish and the bread were fish and bread before... there was in these miracles, and I think in all, only a hastening of appearances: the doing of that in a day which may ordinarily take a thousand years, for with God times in not what it is with us.
He makes it... Nor does it render the process one whit more miraculous. Indeed, the wonder of the growing corn is to me greater than the wonder of feeding the thousands. It is easier to understand the creative power going forth at once - immediately - than throught he countless, the lovely, the seemingly forsaken wonders of the cornfield.
George MacDonald,  Unspoken Sermons, Vol 1
Reflection - Well, after all the papal excitement of recent days, let's settle back into something different. I just plucked the above book, or rather an anthology of selections from it, off the shelf of the MH England library. I had read MacDonald's fairy tales, which are delightful, and knew of his influence on C.S. Lewis, which was profound, but had never experienced his prose style.

It seems to me that this sermon from the late 19th century could have been given in the year 2013 without much need for change. The whole modern world is dedicated to turning stones into bread - to making something God made one thing into something quite other.

For example, human beings are persons, not medicine. So embryos can not be harvested for stem cell research. A person is one thing; medicine is another. This is roughly the same argument used for why cannibalism is wrong - my brother is my life, not my lunch. I suppose in time, having pursued the use of embryos for medical research, we will come around to using them as appetizers.

Sorry to be distasteful, but the distastefulness is not mine, after all. Underneath this modern attitude which is so prevalent, this rejection of God's created order, this utter incapacity to distinguish between one thing-making something injured or ill well-and another-making something to be what it is not-is a fundamental rejection of God the Creator, God the Father, and a terminal inability or refusal to trust Him as such.

Meanwhile, besides holding out the Son's total acceptance of the will of the Father as our model, MacDonald calls us to a whole-hearted delight in the actual force of life and wholeness that is inherent in creation itself. The cornfield does burgeon and blossom and produce the full ear, the mature plant heavy with nourishment and life. There are, in fact, medical advances with adult stem cell therapies, which simply use the potentialities of the patient's own body to speed or strengthen the healing process, something our bodies are designed to do by their own created power.

God's created order is good, and the deep solutions to our difficulties and sorrows lie within a joyful acceptance of it and embrace of its true goodness and life. And even though death is inevitable, and suffering may proceed it, even there God comes to meet his creature and lead us into a fuller yet reception of life and beauty. The passage through suffering and death, when it comes to us and cannot be withstood by our godly use of intellect and will, is a passage into Christ's own life, death, and resurrection.

I like this MacDonald fellow, and will be adding him to my rogue's gallery on the side when I get back to Combermere, along with that new pope fellow in Rome whassisname. Meantime, let us spend the day marvelling at the forsaken cornfields and their lovely, miraculous fecundity.

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