Sunday, November 20, 2005

Christus Rex and Thanksgiving - and finite math

Almost the end of another year, and a time to be thankful - and the funny thing is that for the Church, we have a very computational - ah, perhaps I should say "discrete math" way of dealing with time. (Discrete math is the branch which deals with finite collections of numbers, like on a clock, where 3 plus 10 equals 1.) Ahem! In order to "represent" infinity during our lifetimes, the Church does what automobile makers do with their odometers, and computer hardware designers with their registers (you know, 32 bits, 64 bits, etc.) - they just "wrap around" when we get to the "biggest number". Like on a clock! That is why the Feast of Christ the King comes at the "end" of the year - it stands for the Last Judgement! and then there are another six days until we start all over with the first Sunday of Advent, and think (again) about preparing for the Coming. It's all about planning ahead.

My mother had this curious little button she would wear. It showed an angel pushing on (or holding back?) the hands of a clock, nearly at midnight. It read:

To have a nice Eternity: Plan Ahead!

And so, with these very profound thoughts as we contemplate the last leaves falling, up here in the Northern Hemisphere, let us look at a very reassuring comment from our Uncle Gilbert. When I asked AMBER about this quote, I was rather startled to find that it comes up in TWO places, for I do not recall that I knew there was more. And, as you will see, they are both very rich.

First, the one I had been contemplating:

Great men may make despotisms; but democracies make great men. The other main factory of heroes besides a revolution is a religion. And a religion again, is a thing which, by its nature, does not think of men as more or less valuable, but of men as all intensely and painfully valuable, a democracy of eternal danger. For religion all men are equal, as all pennies are equal, because the only value in any of them is that they bear the image of the King.
[GKC, Charles Dickens CW15:44, emnphasis added.]

Then, the one which AMBER also found, which adds a special depth to that thought:

when we say that all pennies are equal, we do not mean that they all look exactly the same. We mean that they are absolutely equal in their one absolute character, in the most important thing about them. It may be put practically by saying that they are coins of a certain value, twelve of which go to a shilling. It may be put symbolically, and even mystically, by saying that they all bear the image of the King. And, though the most mystical, it is also the most practical summary of equality that all men bear the image of the King of Kings.
[GKC, A Short History of England CW20:563, emphasis added.]

An observation: CD was written in 1906. SHE in 1917. In his 1922 WISIA he elaborates on this last point in a very important way:
America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed. That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence; perhaps the only piece of practical politics that is also theoretical politics and also great literature.
[GKC What I Saw in America CW21:41]

It is most wise, then, that America's great solemnity of thanksgiving comes during this end-of-time celebration. For that is what (as Chesterton says) is the "highest form of thought."


At 24 November, 2005 07:38, Blogger rhapsody said...

God bless you & yours, Dr. Thursday!!!

Have the Happiest Thanksgiving!


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