MOST RECENT POSTS

In this column you will find the most recent posts unless you have selected a specific poem, meditation or collection/index in which case that single item will appear here.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Science. Faith and Inner Stillness

Text of the opening remarks at the pre-exhibition reception, showing the original craft work, poems and art used on this website, held at Michaelhouse Centre, Trinity Street, Cambridge UK on Tuesday 19th June 2012. 

Science, Faith and Inner Stillness


For me – and I hope as you hear/ read this, for you too, these seemingly quite disparate ‘projects’, ‘The Jesus Prayer Illustrated’ and ‘The Cross and the Cosmos’ will feel linked together to challenge you/me  to think of widely different aspects of God’s personhood – and of our faith in an age of wonders.

The very ancient Jesus Prayer (possibly 2nd or 3rd century AD but certainly in use by the 4th century) is an aid to draw us intimately into the deep presence of Christ. It is traditionally repeated over and over, sometimes with the help of a knotted prayer rope, and before a traditional style icon to settle us for prayer focused on the Lordship, compassion and eternality of Christ. Read more on this blog about The Jesus Prayer by clicking here

The use of contemporary icons – images that invite the imagination to 'take off into space' in the company of the cosmic God – sits, at one level, in dramatic contrast to the striving to attain the profound inner peace that can come through use of the Jesus Prayer – but at another level sits absolutely comfortably alongside it.

Well, I say comfortably – but that is a word that will not resonate with everyone in this context. 

We are children of an age in which new knowledge in a myriad of fields streams towards us daily, if not hourly or minute by minute. New understandings emerge one after the other, tumbling over each other as they bid for our attention – or somewhat dangerously – for us to dismiss them as irrelevant. And if we, as Christians, are seen to dismiss the wonders of science, then we perhaps deserve to be dismissed by those who are at the cutting edge of Astronomy, Cosmology, Palaentology, Quantum physics, Neurosciences, Nanoscopy (the study of the sub-microscopic), oceanography – and many many more exciting fields of exploration. And all these fields are uncovering marvels at a pace never experienced until this, our present age. As one of the poems in the collection says

                  Little by little, step by step/ We know more about everything.
                  Click here to read the whole poem

That is true – but the poem does not even begin to reflect the dizzy paciness of the uncovering of knowledge in this our present age.

Of course, there are many experts engaged in these fields of research and exploration who are brilliant communicators of their topics and can excite those who want to be excited by the depth of their understandings.

But, with notable, and comparatively few exceptions, these women and men are primarily rationalists so can only go so far in their expressions of awe and wonder. As the sign-off phrase for the European Space Agency/ Hubble podcasts says, ‘Once again, nature surprises us – beyond our wildest dreams.

And for the Christian; we can hopefully see all of this incredible surge of knowledge as the handiwork of a God – who in essence, proves himself God yet furher and further by the astonishing ways in which the Universe, his creation, ‘works’ (a word, surely, far too limited and mechanistic to describe the wonder of it all, for our vocabulary is perhaps, unsurprisingly too limited for this purpose. We are, after all, mere humans attempting to describe the work of God).

So, can we, Christ’s people, celebrate all of this – and hold firm to our understandings of a loving Creator, Saviour and Redeemer who in the cosmic vastness of this startling universe loves every one of us – to the point of dying for us.

That is the aim of this work – to offer these ideas on the internet and to encourage fellow Christians and seekers to celebrate the awe and wonder of it all whilst striving for the intimacy and the inner stillness that ‘The Jesus Prayer’ invites us to participate in.

I hope you are willing to engage with this challenge – at whatever level you feel God calls you to.

Amen

One area which might illuminate these ideas is in the amazing sphere of Nanotechnology - the science of working with materials at a sub-microscopic level, a science that may radically transform the worlds of computers and electronics. What a thought that our sleek laptops and tablets may seem bulky and slow in a couple of decades time! And there is now a whole collection of poems with a science theme which you can access HERE

Ten thousand billion suns - A scintilla of God’s Universe

Ten thousand billion suns - A scintilla of God’s Universe
It is currently thought that the Universe has at least 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars! Hence the use of the word ‘scintilla’ for a mere ten thousand billion.

Cross and Particle Accelerator (CGI)

Cross and Particle Accelerator (CGI)
Cross and Particle Accelerator. The words of 'A Prayer for Understanding' can be viewed by clicking on this image

Nebula (Embroidery)

Nebula (Embroidery)
Nebula (Embroidery) to accompany the poem 'Invitation' which can be found by clicking on the image.

Orange Galaxy

Orange Galaxy
'Orange Galaxy' posted to accompany 'Bounded and Boundless'. Go to the poem by clicking on the image.

Cosmic Icon 7 Summerflower

Cosmic Icon 7 Summerflower
Cosmic Icon 7 - Summerflower Nebula (Acrylic)

Cosmic Ikon 8 Moth

Cosmic Ikon 8 Moth
Cosmic Ikon 8: Moth Nebula(imagined-acrylic) The Gold field of deep space is intended to convey the Lordship of Christ over the whole of the Cosmos

Surprise garden rose (Photo)

Surprise garden rose (Photo)
This beautiful head of roses in our garden, which are giving off a delightful perfume in the morning sun, seems a fitting picture to link to the sonnet 'Evolution and Beauty'. Let the picture take you there. It is a surprise because it is growing high on a bush of otherwise pure yellow roses: amazing!

Cross and Vortex

Cross and Vortex
'Cross and Vortex' to accompany 'Stars and Planets Sing Your Glory'. Click on the image to go to the poem/hymn.

Gaseous Cosmic Threads (Mixed media)

Gaseous Cosmic Threads (Mixed media)
Gaseous Cosmic Threads: Mixed media - acrylics and painted threads

St Francis’ Sky (Photo)

St Francis’ Sky (Photo)
Warm Umbrian Hills: Click image to take you to the poem St Francis' Sky

Cosmic Labyrinth (CGI)

Cosmic Labyrinth (CGI)
'Cosmic Labyrinth' - This icon is a symbol of the path through the near reaches of the Cosmos with its 'Havens' where current advances in science (2012/13) are celebrated. By clicking on the picture you will be taken to the latest version of the poem of the same name.

Cross of Autumn Leaves (cropped Photo)

Cross of Autumn Leaves (cropped Photo)
Time, perhaps to consider a restorative break before the approach of Advent/ Christmas. Let this image take you to 'On Drawing Apart'.

IONA: The Marble Quarry (Photo)

IONA: The Marble Quarry (Photo)
On the South shore of Iona is a bay which shows the industrial scarring of a beautiful place. Read of it by clicking on the picture

Butterfly Nebula (CGI)

Butterfly Nebula (CGI)
The Imaginary Butterfly Nebula . Anything like this would be a real Curiosity! The image will link you to the reflection titled 'Curiosity' which is actually a celebration of the achievement of landing the Mars Rover of that name

Light of the World amidst stars (CGI)

Light of the World amidst stars (CGI)
'Light of the world' posted to accompany 'To Light'. Find the poem by clicking on the image.

Iona from Fionnphort (Watercolour)

Iona from Fionnphort (Watercolour)
Iona from Fionnphort. At this point of the Isle of Mull, the end of a pilgrimage or trip to Iona is in sight. Click on this picture to take you to the poem 'IONA - The Pilgrim Way'

Cross and simple Prayer rope (Photo)

Cross and simple Prayer rope (Photo)
Cross and simple prayer rope: make one like this to use as an aid to using ‘The Jesus Prayer'