I have scruples against calling myself a Writer, capitalized, but I echo Augustine in “profess[ing] to be one of those who, by profiting, write, and by writing profit.” Never especially disciplined or consistent in my writing efforts, never attempting any grand projects, yet over the years I have accumulated piles of notebooks, loose papers, and flash drives full of words I felt compelled to write when met by beauty too strong to forget or thoughts too tangled to untie.
Like Matthew, John begins his gospel at the beginning. Matthew’s gospel opens with the genealogy or the “genesis” of Jesus Christ and John opens with an even more direct reference to Genesis – “In the beginning…” John then adds that the Word was the Creator. The Word “was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (1:1-5).
Christ is the New Creation, the One in whom all things are made new. Verse 4 echoes this – “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
Chiaroscuro is a term from art that means “light-dark”—a technique of using strong tonal contrasts to represent forms in painting. Think about Rembrandt’s works and his use of distinctive areas of darkness and radiant light. The light appears all the brighter because of its juxtaposition with darkness.
Here we are in January. Winter is fully underway. Trees have passed from green to red to bare. Flowers are gone. Birds and animals have retreated. Even children stay inside.
The Winter—in theology, in liturgy, in poetry—has always represented Death. Every year the Creation itself plays out the story of our own lives. Fresh new life sprouts forth in Spring, followed by a vigorous, green, lively Summer. In the Autumn, things slow down and the green fades, finally giving up its life to the barren Winter.
Genesis chapter one is all about purpose.
“And God said, ‘Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that above the expanse. And it was so.”
So God says the expanse – the sky – is necessary to separate the waters. That’s its purpose, its job, and it’s a job fundamental to its essence.
What about the trees and the plants? They have a unique and essential purpose too:
IV. Mastery, Meaning and Mystery
III. Basil and the Hexaemeron
Now let us turn to S. Basil and his Hexaemeron.
II. Are we talking science or philosophy?
Now, this argument will not impress the non-Christian or “secularized Christian” for whom science, not Holy Scripture, is the final authority and for whom Nobel prize winners, not Church Fathers, offer the best answers to the cosmogonic questions. So it is not enough for us to have a good grasp of Scripture and the way the Fathers interpret it. We must also understand science and the built-in limitations of its methods and the knowledge it affords.