Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Entropy, Evolution, Matter and Spiritual Direction

Last week I visited a quaint little Catholic bookstore in a town just north of me. It is run as a ministry, not a business, and because of this it almost completely unknown outside of the people in it's parish.

While browsing their small but very interesting selection of books, I found one with a title that intrigued me immediately: "The Way of Spiritual Direction." So I bought it, brought it home, and began reading it immediately.

Upon reading the first few chapters, I encountered something I had never, ever read before in a Christian book of any type: a theology of spiritual direction that includes evolution, entropy, and matter! I could not believe what I was reading! I knew someone, somewhere must have done something like this, but how strange it is that I should come across this while only recently debating these things on the Free Republic web site.

Here are two short excerpts from the book I found most intriguing:


There exists two contradictory, all-pervasive forces within creation: entropy and evolution.

Entropy turns creation in upon itself and tries to reverse its spiritual development. Entropy is innately "fleshy." It is regression into matter, scatteredness, the multiple. In the human sphere, entropy is selfishness, self-centeredness, the sin of the world. (Jn 1:29) [Like a black hole! -Ronzo]

Evolution, on the other hand, is specifically the aspect of becoming within creation. It is from God and to him. God's creative activity is the very core of evolution. In the human sphere this energy is none other than love, the gift of self.

Theoretically at least, evolution could proceed in a variety of possible directions. As a matter of fact, however, there is only one direction of evolution: towards the point of ultimate consummation -- Christ, Omega. Thus, evolution is in genesis (from the Greek ginomai: to become). The Word became flesh and bestowed upon us the power to become children of God (Jn 1:14, 12), so that in him we become a new creation (2 Co 5:17).

In more technical terminology, we say that the evolution of the world--cosmogenesis--is in fact Christogenesis. For Christ himself, God, is becoming "all in all" (Col 3:11; 1Co 15:28). And since God is Spirit (Jn 4:24) we are becoming spirit, spiritual, spirified ( 1 Co 15:44). Because of Christ, therefore, evolution has only one direction: spiritual.

Evolution, or genesis, proceeds by way of a dialectical process. [Hello Hegel! -Rz] Each threshold in our personal lives as well as each threshold of evolution as a whole comprises three elements: divergence, convergence, emergence. Divergence is the expression of the inner need within genesis to search out in every possible direction those avenues which are compatible with our becoming properly the persons we are called to become. After certain experiences, however, we realize through a process of elimination [Natural selection? - Rz] that only certain avenues are in fact compatible with our development [state vector colapse? -Rz] Things begin to converge. Finally, these converging avenues reach such an intensity of concentration that we emerge through a threshold to a more mature and interiorized state of being than previously existed. At this point, the dialectic begins all over again, but always towards heightened being becoming.


Matter is the matrix of the spirit. Matter for each of us is that complex of energies, influences, persons and things which surround us inasmuch as they are palpable, sensible and "natural." Matter is the concrete milieu in which our becoming is effected and affected.

As such, matter has two faces. On the one hand, it burdens. It fetters. Matter is a prime source of pain and sin. It weighs us down. It wounds us, tempts us, makes us grow old. Who will deliver us from this body doomed to death (Rm 7:24)? But on the other hand, matter is physical exuberence, ennobling contact, virile effort, the joy of growth. It attracts, renews, unites, blossoms. In matter we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). Who will bestow on us this spiritual body (1 Co 15:44)?

Matter can be likened to the mountain up whose slope a climber scales. At any given point along the way, space is divided into two zones: the summit which lies ahead and the abyss below. Only the person moves up or down. Matter provides the support for the movement. The person is drawn irresistibly toward the goal, regardless of obstacles or difficulties.

Thus, matter for each of us has two conflicting meanings: the burden of the flesh and the matrix of the spirit. Matter is the womb out of which spirit evolves. Matter does not produce spirit. Only the Spirit can cause spiritualization. But it is produced out of matter, not just in the sense that a glass holds the water which is poured from it, but rather in the sense that matter itself is transformed by the Spirit into spirit. Spirit is the spiritual form of matter. Thus, spiritualization is not anti-matter, or extra-matter, but trans-matter.

From the book The Way of Spiritual Direction; By Fr. Francis Kelly Nemeck, O.M.I. and Marie Theresa Coombs, Hermit; A Michael Glazier Book, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN

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