Wolfhart Pannenberg–Theologian of God’s History

8 Sep

Wolfhart Pannenberg: Theologian of God’s History

Theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg died at age 85 on September 4, 2014, in Munich, where he had taught for thirty years before his retirement in the mid-1990s. For those who were familiar with the man and his work recognize his death as the passing of a monumentally significant Christian theologian.

This is a personal reflection, brief and not intended to be comprehensive. It grows out of my study and interaction with the man, which began in 1960, when I was a graduate student at the University of Chicago. Our contact ebbed and flowed over the years. He and his wife, Hilke, visited with us in the States, we visited them in Germany. He lectured several times at my school, I lectured twice at his. I am writing out of my interaction with him and his thinking. I will say at the outset that I was always awed by the man, always aware that I was in the presence of an extraordinary man. I will not focus on my personal relationship with him. Rather, I describe what I consider to be the basic ideas that he contributed to us. This the most fitting tribute I can offer–appropriate, since he considered thinking and reason to be central to his theological work. I hope my enduring affection and esteem for Wolfhart Pannenberg shines through.

Pannenberg proposed an original idea of revelation as history. I will describe that idea itself and then show how he applied that idea to the interpretation of Christian tradition–our understanding of Jesus Christ–and to his dialogue with secular science.

In the late 50s, I was writing my dissertation about the idea of history and the role it played in 19th and 20th century German theology. My final constructive chapter appropriated that understanding of history for my own theological work (published in 1966 as Faith and the Vitalities of History). The source for me then was the early work entitled Revelation As History (published in Germany in 1961), in which Pannenberg and a group of colleagues–who came to be known as “the Pannenberg circle” –proposed an alternative to Karl Barth’s theology of the word. It hit the theological scene with great impact, and became a breakthrough publication for Pannenberg himself.

The idea of history presented in this work was fleshed out over the years: (1) History is a continuum, a narrative, with a beginning and an end. (2) The meaning and purpose of this narrative becomes clear only at its end; the end, therefore, becomes the hermeneutic for interpreting the whole–history is what it is by referring it to its end, the end reveals the meaning. (3) The continuum is made up of contingent moments in time, to which the term “historicity” is sometimes applied. The book’s title states the proposal that revelation is constituted by this history. To say that meaning and purpose is revealed at the end is also to say that it lies in the future. Other theologians used the term future, including many liberation theologians. The power of the future is God; so that the concept of history reveals the purposes of God.

It would turn out, by the time Pannenberg wrote his great work on Christology, that Christ is the appearance, in proleptic fashion, of the end of history–that is, Christ is the foretaste or first fruits of the end. To be in unity with Christ is therefore to be in touch with the meaning and purpose of history, which turns out also to be the will and purpose of God.

Jesus–God and Man (1964 in Germany) is a powerful interpretive tour de force. It has two major components. (1) The first is Pannenberg’s use of the apocalyptic framework. He argues that the apostolic witness presents Jesus as the key figure in the apocalyptic world view. Apocalypticism presents an interpretation of cosmic history that takes place in the hand of God, in which the turning point, the revelatory axis, is the coming of the Son of Man. All that history aims at is present in this figure. This worldview is not credible in the 20th century, but it can be translated into a viable framework, and Pannenberg does exactly that–by asserting that the idea of history that I elaborated above is in fact what the first century apocalyptic intended to convey. Thus he presents the apostolic witness in contemporary thought forms. (2) The second component is an argument concerning the resurrection as historical fact. Pannenberg will have nothing to do with a resurrection that is available only to the eyes of faith. On the contrary, the resurrection is public historic fact. An event is considered to be historical fact if the entire network of events that comes afterwards requires it. The network of events that is relevant here is the emergence and ongoing persistence of the church. There is no explanation for the appearance of the church and its history without the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection is evidence that Jesus is the proleptic presence of the end of history–the foretaste of its meaning and purpose.

The book on Jesus demonstrates how the idea of history that Pannenberg set forth early in his career throws light on a central piece of Christian tradition. The same idea of history was employed in dialogue with the sciences. He argues that both science and Christian faith are concerned with empirical fact. Science presents a secular rational interpretation of this empirical reality. By scientists’ own admission, their theories are provisional representations, occurring in a deeper matrix which is continually revealing itself in new and surprising ways. Scientific theories of quantum physics, as well as those of evolution, exemplify this description. As it approaches science theology attempts to explore that deeper matrix and reach a less provisional understanding. In his words, “theology seeks to take the measure of science.” While science assumes that events of nature are contingent events within a larger continuum, theology suggests that this larger continuum is the continuum of history unfolding towards its end. The events of of nature occur within the field that is in fact God. Some scientists consider Pannenberg’s thinking at this point to be credible and provocative (Frank Tipler, for example), while others considered it to be a mistake from the outset (John Polkinghorne).

Pannenberg insisted that reason is part and parcel of faith, faith is not something that is understood only in an enclave of pious believers–rather, it is open, public affirmation to the world and in the world. It is an affirmation the world should be able to understand, an affirmation that can be elaborated and defended in the public square. Traditionally, we have spoken of the content of faith, the creed (fides quae), and the energy of faith or trust which relies on God (fides qua). Pannenberg held firmly to this traditional bipolar understanding of faith. He devoted his brilliant and profound theology to understanding and clarifying the content of faith–in order to make the believers’ trust in God a more viable and public witness.

This is what justifies the claim that he is great, a monumental thinker: the brilliance and comprehensiveness of this framework, and the freedom it gives to Christian faith and its witness in the world.

Philip Hefner

Not a bang but a whimper

26 Jun

Not a bang but a whimper

If you have been reading my blog, you know that I have been living through a sort of medical adventure these past seven months. Many tests – imaging of several types – and examination by nine doctors really became something of a medical thriller for me. Complication after complication came to light. At one point an exotic term was used to name my disease. The big question was whether some kind of surgery would be undertaken, to set the complications right and to relieve pain. This amounted to a kind of cartography – mapping out the terrain of my body, highlighting the bones, nerves, and muscles. As a neurologist said, we are peeling the onion all the way down, to see what’s there. That same doctor concluded, after that process was completed, that he had a good understanding of what was wrong with me, but really no idea as to what caused it all. Finally the doctors judged that in one way or another the problems are consequences of my birth condition – spina bifida.

I received two opinions, from two top-flight surgeons. Both came out at the same place, that the surgery would be too risky, that it might give rise to problems worse than I am presently experiencing. A third surgeon said to me that when a doctor, highly trained to practice the craft of surgery and accustomed to seeing the gratifying benefits that can be brought to the patient–when that doctor concludes that surgery should not take place, the decision must be taken very seriously.

All those doctors, all those weeks taken up with high tech, miraculous examination procedures, the exotic character of the disease–I felt that it was an exciting adventure, and that it was leading up to a big bang. But with the surgeons’ final decision, things took another turn, leading directly to what is called a “boot camp” for pain management and physical therapy. This will be time-consuming, challenging grunt work. The payoff is less pain and more mobility. It will be very satisfying in its own way, as I know from several years of experience in physical therapy programs. But, to use T. S. Eliot’s phrase, it will be more of a whimper than a bang.

However, there is much to be said for the whimper. In my case, the surgeons decided that not operating was a much safer course. My present condition, you might say, is the condition that is known, and even though the future results of physical therapy are not fully known, they are well winnowed procedures that we understand very well. The condition that might emerge after surgery is an unknown; it could be even more complicated, more difficult to deal with, and even less likely to have a successful outcome.

The difference between a bang and a whimper can be exaggerated. The bang may indeed describe a intervention that enables a new direction, while low-key whimper-like measures are required to make that new direction a concrete reality. In 2007, I underwent an amazing operation, that surely qualifies as a big bang event. I was the oldest person at the time ever to undergo surgery to untether the tethered cord that accompanied my spina bifida. This surgery , never performed until 15 years ago, is a regular procedure now for newborns and young children who suffer from the birth defect of spina bifida. Since a precise diagnosis of spina bifida was impossible until the late 1970s, when MRI scans became available, people in my age group mostly simply suffer with the consequences or consider what is basically a pediatric surgery. It was a seven hour operation, with my body in a “V” position, which put life-risking pressure on my lungs and eyes. Fortunately, I had access to one of the most brilliant pediatric neurosurgeons in the world, at the University of Chicago medical center.

What followed that big bang surgical intervention? Low-key whimper-like measures for the next four years. Hundreds of hours of physical therapy, exercises and fitness training. The results were wonderful. Not only did I reach the point where I could walk a mile without any assistance whatsoever, but I was in better physical condition than I have ever been in my life. I owe an enormous debt to one of the finest rehabilitation centers in existence, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. The doctors, therapists, and trainers that worked with me for those years are still vivid in my mind for their competence, understanding, and a gentle persistence that drove me as hard as a Marine drill sergeant. Their guiding rule seemed to be: “If you are not today surpassing yesterday’s performance, you’re not progressing; you’re not doing well enough.”

I have been away from that environment for four years now, and even though I have reservations, I know that it is high time for me to get back to it.

Whether that stunning surgical intervention was really necessary, is still an unanswered question. My personal opinion is that while the therapy and fitness training might well have brought some good results even without the surgery, other spina bifida symptoms were ameliorated only because of that operation.

Months of examination and consultation by the finest doctors available have brought me this considered opinion: it may seem like a whimper, but it is the best course, and at age 81, it may bring at least moderate results. In my situation, “moderate” is good. I won’t be walking a mile, but walking in my apartment and using the wheelchair only when I go out, will be a big bang–let me tell you.

Those of you who read this are not in my situation, to be sure. But there may be a wider validity to this understanding of how big bang and whimper are related. If you have never yearned for a big bang, you are well acquainted with living a lower-keyed existence. Others of you may have considered a whimper to be too little; my advice to you is to remain open to the possibilities that may only exist at that level of living.

NOTE: This imagery of bang and whimper comes, of course, from T. S. Eliot’s poem “The Hollow Men.” For Eliot, the whimper is an image of emptiness, superficiality, the bitter frustration of life’s desires and ambitions. Eliot’s poem stands as one of the most vivid pictures of the empty life in all of literature. You may say that I am taking Eliot’s images out of context and severely re-interpreting, even mis-interpreting them. Indeed, I am doing just that. I admire Eliot’s poem more than words can say, but I do not think that the images of the big bang and whimper are bound inevitably to the poem, nor are their meanings limited to those of the poem. At the same time, there may aspects of aging and disability that Eliot’s poem captures for some people. There is ago deal of syrupy, cheerful talk of aging that seems to me to be simply denial. I am not writing out of Eliot’s despair, however, but rather out of a realism that abhors denial and tries to be open to possibilities. I am trying to be true to this blog’s title, “Liftthescreen.”

(C) Phil Hefner. 6/25/2014

 

 

In Our Age of Shape-shifting, Where Is Wisdom?

16 Jun

In Our Age of Shape-shifting, Where Is Wisdom?

I began this day engaging three ideas that are still bouncing around in my head. One of the ideas is ancient, from the tradition of Scripture. The other two are as current as you can imagine–although I describe one as a word from tomorrow, the other as a word from yesterday.

The first, which I read early in the morning, is from the apocryphal Book of Wisdom.

“God of my ancestors, Lord of mercy, you who have made all things by your word and in your wisdom have established humans to rule the creatures produced by you, to govern the world in holiness and justice and to render judgment and integrity of heart, give me wisdom. Send her forth from your holy heavens and from your glorious throne dispatch her that she may be with me and work with me. For she knows and understands all things and will guide me and safeguard me.”

A short time later I flipped on C-Span to catch my favorite weekend book discussions. I was just in time for Susan Wojcicki’s (CEO of YouTube) commencement address at Johns Hopkins University. Her message: the times are a’changing so fast that the graduates must be prepared for the ground they are standing on to take on significant new shapes right under their feet. A few of her admonitions: make your plans in pencil, not ink, so you can change them quickly; the job you should seek may not even exist today. Most of all, remember: “You can be the crazy kid who changes the world.” I might add that at age 45, Wojcicki ranks high on several lists of Most Powerful Women, with a net worth of more than $300 million.

C-Span also furnished the third idea: Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings’ address to the graduates of Southern Methodist University. Rawlings, who was CEO of Pizza Hut prior to becoming mayor, was much more conventional and preacherly than Woicicki, and he dispensed solid advice about learning, leadership, and love. He began his remarks: “I’m still on my long journey and it’s been a wonderful one,” and ended with “Travel well my friends on your journey and never forget, have fun while you are doing it.”

Wojcicki is clearly tomorrow’s child, as refreshing as anyone I have heard lately–be prepared, she says, that everything will be different from what you expected. The mayor of Dallas is an achiever, too, but he sounds like the very best of yesterday’s children. Things may be tough on your journey, he says, but basic values like leadership, learning, and love will get you through. A much safer world, even comfortable in its way. Tough I might be able handle, totally unpredictable shape-shifting is something else.

Now the words from Wisdom. It’s addressed to God: “You have called us humans to be responsible for what you created, to govern the world in holiness and justice. Frankly, we’re not up to it, because we lack wisdom–no lack of technical skill or motivation–but comprehension and judgment. Send wisdom to me that she may be with me and work with me.”

There’s no attempt to turn back the future–it’s God’s creation. There’s no attempt to tame the spinning, shape shifting of the world. There is also no exhortation to tough it out and “have fun.” The Wisdom writer recognizes that there is more at stake here than toughing it out and more than keeping up with the spin so that we can change the world. There’s the recognition that we are responsible for governing this world–and to do so with holiness and justice.

The two commencement addresses are devoted mainly to encouraging the graduates to get into the game, run in the competition–something the grads are probably eager to do anyway. They are not calling for modesty and wisdom. Yet wisdom is so clearly needed. What is technology for? Or business or government? How are we to chart our future in the midst of the mind-boggling plurality of our society?

Here, I’m just raising the issue. Where is wisdom in our public discussion? Perhaps enigmatically, In a prayer, I also offered this praise to God–”You add days and years to our lives, in order to bring us to wisdom.”

Phil Hefner

Something Bigger than Myself

19 May

“The weird thing with being a veteran, at least for me, is that you do feel better than most people. You risked your life for something bigger than yourself. How many people can say that?”

These are the words of an Iraq war vet in Phil Klay’s book of short stories from the war, entitled, Redeployment (Penguin, 2014). As I read those words, I am confined to a wheelchair, still waiting, after eight months of examination and consultation, for a team of doctors to come up with a diagnosis for what has turned out to be a complicated hip problem. Let me tell you that this situation does a marvelous job of focusing my attention–on myself, on me. Narcissism is a constant reality. It prompted this poem a couple of months ago:

Cars and Snakes

Cars used to have floorboards.
You could pull back the mat,
Part the panels,
See the road beneath.

Narcissism lurks in my soul,
Like a snake slithering
In through those floorboards.

Cars don’t have floorboards any more,
But the snakes are there–
Still slithering in.

Narcissism can be comfortable–that’s the worry. At the same time, it is tedious. It’s not only that focusing on yourself can be very boring, it’s also demoralizing to think that there’s not something bigger in your life, to lead your thinking to a higher level.

For most of you that may be a strange thing to say, because you’re serving something bigger everyday–working in the church, working for the betterment of society, for the common good, for your families, for the company. The handicapped, particularly those who are severely so, have more temptation of narcissism. For one thing, we’re focused on our limitations and our inability to get up, get out, and be physically active. We’re frustrated, and frustration is powerfully self-focussing. We also have to ask for help, we’re more dependent than “normal” people–that’s another pressure to put ourselves at front and center, especially when the helper has to put out a lot of time and effort to meet our needs.

The handicapped person is an epitome of all people–one doesn’t have to be disabled to be prey to an obsessive focus on self. Our society fosters narcissism in all of us, often driven by the engine of consumerism. The market looses a barrage of products and techniques for massaging our bodies and our psyches–to combat illness, sexual inactivity, boredom–and also offers to satisfy our envy, greed, lust, and desire to impress those around us. Our manhood and our womanhood are laid before us, for us to grasp. Christopher Lasch’s book, Culture of Narcissism (1979), goes to the heart of this situation–that’s why it has become a classic. Pleasure-seeking is a part of what afflicts us, but even deeper is the demand that unless we meet certain norms, conform to certain images, our selves will not be affirmed. The pleasures on offer match us to these images of self. Our search for self and for affirmation come together–enticed by pleasure, consumption, and the quest to be the beautiful people that society fosters. I’ve always thought that the ads in the Sunday New York Times Weekly Magazine offer a handbook of consumerist-based narcissism.

However, the needs of our fellow humans are also reported to us–the poor, the sick, the persecuted, the marginalized. How to get involved in the larger communities?–that is the question. Phil Klay’s soldier enlisted to fight a war in Iraq for freedom, to improve human lives, to root out terrorists, really big causes. Most of us, especially we handicapped, cannot sign up for a larger cause as easily as these vets did. But when they return, Klay’s vets find civilian life boring–the mall shopping, for example, a symbol of our ceaseless efforts to satisfy our narcissisms. No image is inculcated more vigorously today than the Good Consumer. From Thanksgiving to Christmas, for example, we receive daily reports on how much we are buying and how that will revive our economy. In Germany, “Black Friday” designates the day on which Jesus was crucified (Good Friday in the U.S.). In our society, it refers to the opening day of the Christmas shopping season, on which we try our best to put American business “in the black.” The average American can do nothing greater to help our country than to buy–and buy as much as possible.

Making ourselves physically beautiful is a key image that is set before us. In 2012, Americans spent $10.4 billion on a total of 14 .6 million cosmetic surgery procedures. 13 million of these were devoted to re-shaping our bodies to be more “beautiful.”

For some, retirement brings out the serpent narcissism, because we are no longer working for a “career”–in church, education, public service, or business. Previously, the realities bigger than ourselves were always present. Our society pictures successful retirement as the quintessence of gratifying our endless desires–it’s the culmination of “happiness.” The cover of the AARP monthly magazine sets the image of the happy retiree before us–glossy, glamorous, and in full color. If the New York Times gives us a Bible for upscale consuming, our retirement association sends us a monthly poster to tape to our mirror.

The recitation of this particular cultural landscape, by itself, with no further elaboration, voices the tedium and shallowness, the rock-bottom emptiness, which is a starting-point that circles back upon itself to become end-point, as well. Narcissism has no redeeming value whatsoever.

It may be that my handicapped condition poses in sharp relief the struggle that many able-bodied people face in more subtle ways–to admit that narcissism, the ever-present snake under the floor boards, is boring–and to find ways to relate to the something bigger that calls to us.

Several of you readers have told me that my postings and poems are opening a, window to the condition of the handicapped. This piece does that, too. However, I continue to believe the boundary between the handicapped and the normal is a blurred one, and I continue to understand myself, not on the fringe of the human community, but rather an epitome of men and women in general.

Any responses to this idea?

 

 

 

My Grandma Neanderthal

31 Mar

 

My Grandma Neanderthal

If you thought the previous version needs some gender-bending, you may prefer this one. In any case, I hope you find a mixture of seriousness and fun in it all. Stereotypes abound, of course–not only gender stereotypes, but also those that picture Neanderthals as brutes dragging women by the hair. Provocative that the stereotypes all end up being about us–who we are today. The Gee Whiz (which is how this all got started) brings with it a fundamental revision of stereotypes.

My Grandma, Neanderthal

Thanks to you
i survived god-knows-what
my lungs hollowed out
from outdoor living
sleeping
in the dank
and cold

In my ignorance
i knew not what
seeds to plant
nor what
herbs served as
prehistoric
meds

i surpassed you
to be sure
but when
great great great
grandpa met you
you held the cards

You had the genes
i lacked
to fight those
unseen bugs
that well may have
struck me down

You possessed
the knowledge
nay wisdom of
daily life
what to plant
how to hunt
and build

No one would say
you were the great
communicator
your group life
was well
primitive

We moderns
like to think we
were the cutting edge
most diggers
into the past
would agree

But you broke
the mold
god be praised
that night
in a cold
siberian cave

You caught
great great
great grandpa’s
eye
the rest is
prehistory

(C) Phil Hefner
3/31/2014 #1

 

My Grandpa Neanderthal

29 Mar

Those of you who have read my most recent blog installment will see the connection with this poem. Let me add that some researchers believe that the Neanderthals’ extinction has to do with their relatively poorer communication skills, which made it more difficult for them to form community and share with modern humans. (Note that Modern  Humans is a recent term that refers to the species that is also known as Cro-Magnon.)

Enjoy!

My Grandpa Neanderthal

Thanks to you
i survived god-knows-what
my lungs hollowed out
from outdoor living
sleeping
in the dank
and cold

In my ignorance
i knew not what
seeds to plant
nor what
herbs served as
prehistoric
meds

i surpassed you
to be sure
but when
great great great
grandma met you
you held the cards

You had the genes
i lacked
to fight those
unseen bugs
that  may well have
struck me down

You possessed
the knowledge
nay wisdom of
daily life
what to plant
how to hunt
and build

No one would say
you were the great
communicator
your group life
was well
primitive

We moderns
like to think we
were the cutting edge
most diggers
into the past
would agree

But you broke
the mold
god be praised
that night
in a cold
siberian cave

You caught
great great
great grandma’s
eye
the rest is
prehistory

(C) Phil Hefner
3/28/2014 #1

Gee Whiz–and more

27 Mar

 

Every so often, I get hit hard by the Gee Whiz. What’s the Gee Whiz? It’s some awareness that the world around me simply defies my understanding, blows apart my previous ways looking at things. In a piece of current slang, we say “It blows my mind!” Blows out some older ways of seeing things and blows in the new. Blowing one’s mind is a pretty violent image–it has to be. That slang is used so often, however, that it’s old hat; the blowing is no longer explosive dynamite, but more a gentle breeze. The name of my blog puts it another way: lift the screen to see what I may not have seen before.

Two mind-blowing items came together for me in the past weeks, in conversation and emailing with friends. Thanks to God, I have some pretty terrific conversation partners. It was with them–not from TV or in scholarly tomes–that our talk ranged into mind-blowing realms.

Number One–Interstellar. Seldom has there been so much in the news about the discovery of new planets, some of it stemming from the space probe Kepler. With the discovery of planets, there come careful studies of the factors that would allow life to flourish. Millions of these new planets in our universe seem to have shown up in recent probes. A new field of science–astrobiology–is emerging in response to these discoveries. Many questions arise, demanding attention: Is there actually life on any of these planets? Is it intelligent life? Is it sentient life? Sentience is a hot word these days. It goes beyond intelligence, including awareness of oneself as an individual with a past and a future, as well as the ability to behave as such a person. The decades ahead will unfold answers to these questions.

These are not new thoughts or questions. They are “Star Trek” ideas, circulating for millennia– in some respects these are shadowy areas; we wonder whether creatures on other planets would be like us and whether we can communicate with them. For those of us who believe in God, “What does God have in mind for these other worlds?” “What does it all have to do with us?”

Old or new, the idea of other worlds among the billions of stars in our universe stretches–even blows–our minds.

Number Two–Interspecies. For a year or more, the research of Svante Paabo (at Germany’s Max Planck Institute) on the genetic intermixing of Neanderthals and Modern Humans (sometimes called Cro-Magnon) has captured headlines. DNA taken from bones found in a Siberian cave indicates such intermixing. It is estimated that perhaps five per cent of the human genome of non-Africans is Neanderthal. That is the equivalent of having a Neanderthal as a great-great-great grandparent.

A bit of pre-history is in order here. Neanderthals arrived in Asia and Europe about 150,000 years earlier than Modern Humans, who migrated from Africa. Paabo’s hypothesis is that about 50,000 years ago, a group of moderns left Africa and interbred with Neanderthals in the Middle East. Since they had lived in the area, a significantly longer time, Neanderthals were more fully adapted to their environment than the Moderns, including their immune systems that were adapted to resist disease. One of the most significant aspects of our intermixing is that the five percent DNA we share with Neanderthals includes immune system material–very important material that definitely could make pre-historical moderns more viable than we otherwise would have been.

In other words, what we inherited from the Neanderthals is fundamental to our continued existence up to this moment.

My initial response to all this was “Gee whiz!” But there is more to it–it prods us to deeper reflection. First all, all of this is about us, about who we are as human beings, about who we are as children of God. We are part of the life that may also exist on hundreds of other planets; the nurturing of our species that brought us to where we are today includes sharing the very Iife-stuff of species that came before us–including Neanderthals.

These reflections raise the question, “Who Am I?”, from quite a different angle than I did in my blog with that title a month ago. For me, they add immeasurable mystery to the human story. And since I believe that God created me, that mystery is deepened–Why did God do it this way? Why life on hundreds of planets–how are they all connected?Why through our evolutionary companions, the Neanderthals–and many other predecessors in the chain of evolution?

That prefix, “inter,” says a lot. The dictionary says it can mean “among,” ” between,” or “together.” As humans, we are the creatures of inter, creatures of among, between, and together. Among the stars, together with other species. We were not solitary in our beginnings, nor are we such in our everyday living. This all adds wonder to Psalm 138, as I contemplate that God knitted together every part of me, watched every bone take shape. This is not my grandma’s knitting!

I will let it go at this for the moment: the wonder, the mystery of it all–just in being human! In the words of Psalm 8, “what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?”

Phil Hefner (c)

 

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