Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Miracles and Fatima - and a challenge

In commemoration of Our Lady of Fatima, I posted an excerpt from Jaki's God and the Sun at Fatima, a wonderful book which considers the science behind the miracle of the sun.

In writing a short addendum to my excerpt I made the mistake - a good and worthy mistake - of consulting AMBER for GKC's use of the term "miracle" - which occurs over 600 times. It urges the writing of a book "Chesterton on Miracles" - with perhaps a healthy dose of Jaki to keep a sound hold on science as well. Perhaps someone will do it. (Perhaps even I might do it, if I had time.) But I found this interesting bit, and I wish you to consider it, and perhaps undertake a challenge:
It is indeed difficult to account for the clinging curse of ugliness which blights everything brought forth by the most prosperous of centuries. In all created nature there is not, perhaps, anything so completely ugly as a pillar-box. [In America we call this a "mailbox".] Its shape is the most unmeaning of shapes, its height and thickness just neutralising each other; its colour is the most repulsive of colours - a fat and soulless red, a red without a touch of blood or fire, like the scarlet of dead men's sins. Yet there is no reason whatever why such hideousness should possess an object full of civic dignity, the treasure-house of a thousand secrets, the fortress of a thousand souls. If the old Greeks had had such an institution, we may be sure that it would have been surmounted by the severe, but graceful, figure of the god of letter-writing. If the mediaeval Christians has possessed it, it would have had a niche filled with the golden aureole of St. Rowland of the Postage Stamps. As it is, there it stands at all our street-corners, disguising one of the most beautiful of ideas under one of the most preposterous of forms. It is useless to deny that the miracles of science have not been such an incentive to art and imagination as were the miracles of religion. If men in the twelfth century had been told that the lightning had been driven for leagues underground, and had dragged at its destroying tail loads of laughing human beings, and if they had then been told that the people alluded to this pulverising portent chirpily as "The Twopenny Tube," they would have called down the fire of Heaven on us as a race of half-witted atheists. Probably they would have been quite right.
[GKC "Charlotte Brontë" in Varied Types]
What, you are wondering, is the challenge? To explain miracles? To argue for them - or against them?

Nothing that simple.

No; to contrive an artistic rendering of a mailbox, which would appeal to GKC - or at least to the Greeks - or the Medieval Christians.

Or, if a "mailbox" be too antiquated for you, then do the same for a personal computer!

Here's a sketch of my own design, arranged as a diptych...

On the left panel we see St. Joseph teaching the Boy Jesus to read while Mary works on some clothing. In the right, St. Thomas Aquinas, with the great word Ens (Being) in his library - I almost wrote laboratory. In the over-piece is Jesus Christ the King, the Everlasting Man, being adored by angels who are carrying messages; the motto reads "Not the smallest letter of the law" [Mt 5:18]. (Yes, it's not very well drawn, it was not one of the art department's better days.)

But why not see what you can come up with... it will be a good change from your usual struggles, and may help to restore your sense of what really matters.


At 22 May, 2009 07:49, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm - neat idea...

Unlike our Creator's creations, beauty & practicality are rarely found fused together in those manufactured by the created.


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