Thursday, June 25, 2009

Some words about marriage

Two young friends of mine are getting married this Saturday. Marriage is not properly speaking a "scientific" matter, but it is a human one as well as a universal - indeed, a cosmic one - and so poets can easily suggest scientific or philological aspects of the idea. And so perhaps it is fitting to consider some of the words of our masters.

--Dr. Thursday

Within half a year after their first meeting in the spring of 1890, Pierre Duhem and Marie-Adèle Chayet, the youngest of the five sisters, were married. The wedding took place on October 28 in St Sulpice in Paris, a ceremony with deep spiritual significance for both bride and bridegroom. They religiously kept the manuscript of the sermon preached by the officiating priest. Soon they were able to implement the exhortation in a signal way. During their honeymoon, which took them to the Flemish seacoast, they met a seminarian. On learning from him that his education to the priesthood was in jeopardy because of financial problems, they decided to give the money which Pierre gave as a wedding gift to Marie-Adèle, or Maddie as she was called in the family, to that seminarian.
[SLJ Scientist and Catholic: Pierre Duhem 48-9]

Even today science has not come even remotely close to controlling a stormy sea. Thus no “scientific” explanation should interfere with moving straight to Christ's purpose in performing that miracle, which was to prompt the Twelve to ask themselves: “Who can this be that the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mk 4:41). Any reference to antigravity (and antimatter thrown in for good measure) would be counterscientific in dealing with Christ's walking on the waters and making Peter do likewise. Most importantly, it is altogether beyond physics what the Twelve suddenly realized after Christ climbed into the boat: “Beyond doubt you are the Son of God!” (Mt 14:33). It was in order to reveal himself in that capacity that he performed his very first miracle, the transformation of six large jars of water into choice wine. The miracle had to appear very material to John, otherwise he would not have specified the amount, equivalent to over a hundred gallons. Such was indeed the quantity needed to satisfy the gusto of the several hundred guests attending a typical country wedding in Palestine in Jesus' time.
[SLJ Bible and Science 190]

Even on the purely human and sympathetic side, therefore, the Jesus of the New Testament seems to me to have in a great many ways the note of something superhuman; that is of something human and more than human. But there is another quality running through all his teachings which seems to me neglected in most modern talk about them as teachings; and that is the persistent suggestion that he has not really come to teach. If there is one incident in the record which affects me personally as grandly and gloriously human, it is the incident of giving wine for the wedding-feast. [Jn 2:1-11] That is really human in the sense in which a whole crowd of prigs, having the appearance of human beings, can hardly be described as human. It rises superior to all superior persons. It is as human as Herrick and as democratic as Dickens. But even in that story there is something else that has that note of things not fully explained; and in a way here very relevant. I mean the first hesitation, not on any ground touching the nature of the miracle, but on that of the propriety of working any miracles at all, at least at that stage, "my time is not yet come." What did that mean? At least it certainly meant a general plan or purpose in the mind, with which certain things did or did not fit in. And if we leave out that solitary strategic plan, we not only leave out the point of the story, but the story.

[GKC The Everlasting Man CW2:336-7]

No comments: