Macs Musings: Robert Farrar Capon

Published on Mar 16th, 2012 by admin | 0

From time to time all of us think about the mysteries of life that surround our every-day living. What is a “black hole” and why should we know or care about it? How does that bumble bee stay in the air while it defies the known laws of aerodynamics? If climate warming is real how will it affect us in the future? How does that mess of chips inside the cell phone work to let us talk to each other?

The list is endless, and for the most part we comfort ourselves with the thought that even if we don’t know the answers, someone does. Thus we don’t want to waste any of our energies trying to learn about things we won’t understand, particularly if we know that it is unlikely that we could change anything by that greater knowledge. In short, a mystery is, (and for us can remain) a mystery.

Sometimes, when we have unraveled a mystery, we lose track of the fact that mystery is the norm of our lives in this universe. Moreover, we should be able to understand the concept that most, if not all, of God’s great creation is founded on concepts we cannot ever fully understand.

Someone who captured our response to mystery is Robert Farrar Capon (born 1925) who is an American Episcopal priest and author. A lifelong New Yorker, for almost thirty years, Capon was a full-time parish priest in Port Jefferson, New York. He has authored a total of twenty books, including Between Noon and Three, The Supper of the Lamb, Genesis: The Movie, and a trilogy on Jesus’ parables: The Parables of Grace, The Parables of the Kingdom, and The Parables of Judgment.

Capon opines that, “We are so impressed by scientific clank that we feel we ought not to say that the sunflower turns because it knows where the sun is. It is almost second nature to us to prefer explanations . . . with a large vocabulary. We are much more comfortable when we are assured that the sunflower turns because it is heliotropic. The trouble with that kind of talk is that it tempts us to think that we know what the sunflower is up to. But we don’t. The sunflower is a mystery, just as every single thing in the universe is”. Perhaps, one day in the great beyond, we may begin to better understand more of God’s mysteries!

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