Tuesday, May 12, 2009


From Theology For Beginners by Frank Sheed, and shared with us by Caitanya Mangala Prabhu from a great class he just gave.

If we omit God, we do not see anything as it is but everything as it is not - which is the very definition of insanity.

God is the explanation of everything. Leave out God, then, and you leave out the explanation of everything, you leave everything unexplainable. Science studies the constitution of matter - what things are made of. But no science can study the two far more vital questions - by whom were they made, for what were they made.

I have called these more vital, and so they are. Consider one thing only. You cannot use anything intelligently until you know what it is made for. Science cannot tell you what the universe was made for; only it Maker can do that - because he knows what he had in mind when he made it.

And it is not only the whole universe that we see wrong if we leave out God. We do not see any single thing right. God is at the center of the being of each individual thing, giving it the existence it has, keeping it in existence. To see anything - yourself, for instance - without in the same act seeing God holding it in existence is to be living in a world of fantasy, not the real world.

You see a coat hanging on a wall; with the eyes of your body you do not see the hook, because the hook is under the coat; but with the eyes of your mind you see the hook, all right. Supposing you did not; it would mean that you thought the coat was hanging on the wall by its own power. You would be wrong about the nature of coats, the nature of walls, the law of gravity. You would be living in wonderland. If the failure to see so small a thing as a hook means a deranged universe, how much more the failure to see God - on whom everything depends, including the hook.

God is not just a sublime extra. It is not that we see the same things as other people, plus God. Even the things we and they both see do not look the same, and in fact are not the same. Think of a physical landscape at sunrise; it is not that you see the same hills and trees and houses as before, and now you see the sun as well. The sun is not just one more item; you see everything sun-bathed. God is not just one more item; we must see everything God-bathed. Only then are we seeing everything as it is.

Of course it is not only a question of seeing; this truth affects our actions too. Sin, for instance, is an effort to gain something against the will of God; but the will of God is all that holds us in existence; when we sin, we are hacking away at our only support. What could be more idiotic? The realization may not prevent us from sinning; but it ensures that we shall feel fools while doing it. God's will is the only law for sane people.


We have here something like the difference between an artist painting a picture - of a landscape, say, or a friend - and painting a self-portrait. The material universe is God's work of art, but spiritual beings are his self-portraiture. Our own soul is a spirit, so every man bears a portrait of God, for every soul is a new creation, made by God in his image; but in most of us the likeness of God is sadly defaced by sin.

Man's soul, of course, as we have already seen, is not the highest of created spirits; it is the lowest. Over it tower the angels. They are pure spirits - that is, they have no bodily element at all - simply minds and wills, minds knowing, wills loving, both at an intensity of power beyond our conception because no part of it has to be devoted to the animating of a body.

Frank Sheed

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