David Berlinski writes poetically a breathtaking overture to his book, A Tour of the Calculus. I am no mathematician nor a physicist, but Berlinski’s devotion to his subject is that of a priest at an altar. He has seen across the threshold into and through the mechanics of the universe and its symmetry astounds him. He relays his awe not through numbers–though he would likely argue that he could have done so by numbers alone–but through brilliant, often poetic, English. Which is to say, he relies as much on symbol and poetic nuance as any preacher trying to decipher scripture. His awe revolves around the fundamental revelation to which he is a witness: “the real world may be understood in terms of real numbers.” You should take a moment to enjoy his brief prologue (easily enough to accomplish by looking inside the book on Amazon or having a sample of the book sent to you). This revelation is simply the notion that the world is comprehensible. Einstein said as much, “The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is at all comprehensible.” I prefer St. Augustine’s paean to the mystery of being, “And yet it is neither the heaven of heavens, nor the measure of the stars, nor the scope of sea and land, nor the nethermost hell; it is our own selves that we are incapable of comprehending; it is our own selves, who, in our too great height and strength, transcend the humble limits of our own knowledge; it is our own selves, whom we are incapable of embracing…” (“The Soul and Its Origin”).
As you tour the calculus of your life; fumbling with change and counting it; responding to the grumbling in your stomach by eating food; quenching your thirst; catching a glimpse of the moon carved in space in a pale blue sky; singing along with a song; communicating by way of words what is inside your mind to another living, breathing, sentient being; as you do these things and thus trace the symmetry and order of your life, you may step into the mystery (ah, thanks to brother Van Morrison!). I look forward to seeing you in the holy space of our sanctuary on Sunday. We’ll celebrate and sing the mystery. ~See you Sunday