A Theory of Everything

Quantum mechanics and classical physics have long been in search of a unifying theory of everything – hoping to discover the thread that ties the forces of the microscopic with the forces that govern the astronomic. String Theory is the predominant model being explored currently — and even though it hasn’t actually yielded any real evidence yet, it has offered up a fascinating field of scientific investigation. Makes me wonder what a unified theory of me would look like? What thread could I pull through all the disparate parts of me that always seems to get lost in the cognitive white noise of my own self-serving explanation of who I am?

On some level we all experience a fragmentation of identity – everything from our conflicted inner most person, keeping all the secrets of our unspoken words, to our contrived convivial small talking persona we offer to strangers . . . and every version of ourselves in between. But to be aware of yourself as splintered doesn’t mean you have a psychological disorder – it’s just an honest confession that our lives can be pulled in so many directions, we can begin to feel scattered and frayed . . . as if who we really are, is somehow being lost in translation.

Now this might not even be something that has ever hit your radar – because most people experience their lives so sped up, tracking at such a dizzying pace, that they seldom get a chance to take personal inventory or self-reflect . . . so they haven’t a clue just how absently present they come off to others. So often we ration out, and partition off, our availability – because we’ve convinced ourselves that there are only so many slices of us to go around. And this is just one of many ways our lives seem to get away from us . . . parceled out a piece at a time.

Intuitively we know there should be some kind of harmony, some measure of balance at work subduing the cacophony of life into a symphonic whole — a belief that arises from the notion that life has purpose, meaning, and a cohesive design. In other words, an ontological theory of everything – all things held together, not by some dispassionate force of nature, but rather as an elegant ballet, choreographed as an invitation to join in the dance . . . and we spend our whole lives learning to step in time with the whole of creation.

It is the confession of my faith that Jesus is the thread that pulls the whole thing together. He is the Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:8). “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” ~ Colossians 1:15-17. So when Paul says “. . . to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21) he’s actually declaring a profound ontological truth. So in the disarray and confusion of my life, it is Jesus who brings meaning and significance to my life – where chaos seeks to bind me, the preeminence of Christ is perpetually setting me free.

“. . . still there is a place in your heart for me.”

All Other Ground . . .

In Juvenal’s 1st century critique of culture, the Roman poet suggests that one need only offer the people bread and circuses to keep them appeased – observing that a people so superficial and banal need only be feed and entertained . . . and they will easily be controlled. Nineteen centuries later, you might be tempted to think this may have been true of a largely uninformed uneducated ancient culture, but not us – until it occurs to you that we live in the age of information, awash in opportunities to be informed and educated . . . yet, our culture appears to be no less superficial or banal.

Does this not dispel the modern presupposition that a more educated culture inevitably becomes a better culture? Such a premise presupposes that any culture can be reeducated to have a more evolved understanding and engagement of the world – regardless of the native foundational ethos of that culture. Which is to say, the preexisting sub-structure of the culture would somehow be inconsequential to what gets built on top of it. No doubt, you can already see where the flaw is in this premise.

When you start out believing that the human race is not much more than highly processing thinking things, requiring only a bit of reprograming and a reboot – is it any wonder that you would end up placing so much faith in the power of our cognitive formation? But what if cognition played a much smaller role in what it meant for us to be human? What do you imagine such a foundational shift in self-perception, would look like? Remember, one must always know what constitutes the foundation, before they can ever hope to build anything of lasting value upon it.

QuicksandIn Luke 6:46-49 Jesus starts off by basically asking “You’re calling me Lord, but then you act as if I’m not Lord?” then Jesus, the carpenter, uses a building metaphor to make his ontological point. Here’s the point: We can’t ever hope to understand the words of Jesus — unless we are willing to make knowing Jesus our foundational desire . . . these two things are inseparable. For the words of Jesus parsed as if they were theoretical propositions intended for our intellectual evaluation – is a house that will not stand! Jesus is Lord! If this is not your ontological cornerstone – then not only will you fail to understand his words, but will also fail to understand the true significance of your own existence.

Ultimately, we are creatures of desire, who by design, are meant to desire God above all else. This is the very sub-structure of reality . . . and everything else is a fiction of our own vain imaginations. All other desires are meant to be calibrated by this preeminent desire – that in knowing God we might know the fullness of life, a deeper immersion into what it means to be alive.  But in the absence of this preeminent desire – every other desire rushes into that void, becoming reckless desire, endlessly seeking to be sated . . . which is what makes all other ground the sinking sand of banality.

Thought this was a nice rendition of this old hymn . . .