Posts Tagged ‘Old Testament’

From the Editor’s Perch

January 20, 2013

Voice Workshop Matt1

Miracles Erase Themselves

If you are like me and listen to a song you love compulsively, until the glitter rubs bare to right down to the neurosis – then you might share my frustration with familiarity.

But if you are also like me and relish relaxing in your same old living room over-stuffed chair and falling to sleep in your same old bed, being around the same people, then you also might share my experience that familiarity creates a lovely affection where nullity reigned.

(What you can’t see is me taking a couple days to ponder this quandary.)

(Maybe it’s a good time to read something.  Do a little research.)

Wikipedia says that “A miracle is an event attributed to divine intervention”.

This would indicate that it’s not the event itself, no matter how remarkable (or unremarkable), which is its defining character.  Rather, it is the presence of the divine.  So, the miracle could come upon us quickly or grow upon us slowly…

But why do miracles disappear?  Even miracles which reveal themselves to us slowly (like the comforts of home and hearth) can become a loathsome burden if we were to remain frozen in them, past their prime.  (see  ) For example, even I don’t want to lie in the sack forever and snooze, or to sit in my chair all day.  What causes this dissipation of the miracle?

Most philosophers define a miracle as an ‘unnatural event’; something which ‘interrupts the Law of Nature’.  However, for my money, Baruch Spinoza’s explanation gives us the more workable insight.  Wikipedia says, “In his Theologico-Political Treatise Spinoza claims that miracles are merely law-like events whose causes we are ignorant of.  We should not treat them as having no cause or of having a cause immediately available.  Rather the miracle is for combating the ignorance it entails.”  So, it doesn’t take me long to realize the beauty of a song I love.  But I must sit in my chair a little longer to realize the pleasures of the home and hearth.

This may sound like a modern day scientific/rationalist explanation; that a miracle is simply something we don’t understand yet.  But I would interpret Spinoza’s explanation to say that we are ignorant of God’s presence in our day to day for which the miracle is a re-education.   That God is merely a law-like event whose cause we are ignorant of.

Unfortunately, as humans, our memory of the divine is really short term.  You need only read the Old Testament for a continual reminder of this affliction.  We seem to have to re-live each miracle as if born-again a thousand times.  It seems it is very difficult for our short term memory of the divine to stick.  It’s a wonder God hasn’t tossed up his hands with vexation and announced “these people just can’t learn!’  Actually, I think He does this in the Old Testament – or mutters words to this effect.

(As Moses was later recorded to have said by his biographer, “I grew just to quail, when He would begin to mutter.”  :0   )

Apparently God won’t be written down, packaged or sold.  When we try to re-create His nature through mechanical means, either through art or sloth – the miracle becomes a neurosis.   No gold bricking or lolly-gagging about the Elysian Fields for us.  It seems in this World, we must all get out of bed, take out the ear buds, and get to work if we want the New Jerusalem.

Photo by Carl Nelson

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