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Home > Interpreter Magazine > Contact Interpreter > Archives Wholly Bible > Spiritual geography reminds us of constants

Spiritual geography reminds us of constants

By Ray Waddle

At the beach, the Book of Genesis comes to mind – all that sky, sea and horizon, the basic colors and elements of creation.

Visiting Kansas I think of the Book of Ecclesiastes – the stark wind, silent beauty and farmer humility in the face of vast forces of weather.

New York City feels like a re-staging of the Book of Acts – the global tongues, the secret spiritual yearnings amid the epic strivings, the Gospel message jostling with material distractions and other unknown gods.

The habit of responding to spiritual geography – the religious clues and moods embedded in creation – is fast falling out of favor.

Technology cheerfully directs our attention elsewhere. Traveling by train recently, I noticed the strange modern silence: everyone around me looking intently down at their screens, everyone in an internet world of their own, doing work, chasing data, sharing or retailing their online personalities. The created earth outside was a matter of indifference.

The era of the smart phone crackles with confidence and speed. So do the latest dispatches from the world of neuroscience, which is pleased to report that God is just a God gene, and free will is just a fictional term for the blind ignitions of the brains.

The dramas of the tech revolution leave the impression that we can impose a narrative on the cosmos. We make the facts; we control the outcome and results.

Whenever I start feeling that sense of secular triumph, I go outside and take a walk (and leave my cell phone behind). What strikes me on these strolls, whatever the weather, is how patient creation is. It absorbs our violent fevers and misunderstandings and still offers itself as a steady refuge, evidence of a silent Creator who put it in place and sustains it.

Science and technology keep changing. Today’s confident discovery in physics is tomorrow’s discredited false conclusion. What always remains is the mysterious fact of the earth itself, its beauty and fierceness, the signal and work of an invisible God, holding firm.

Ray Waddle is a columnist, author and the editor of Reflections magazine, published by Yale Divinity School.

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