Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Eternal Present

We are enveloped in both our public and private lives by a pervasive time-ordering which has no place for the higher times of earlier ages. (Charles Taylor, A Secular Age, p. 714)

We must be wary of our metaphors. Talk of “higher” and “lower” belong to another time when hierarchies ruled everyday life. “Higher time” already unreflectively prejudices thought in favor of a whole host of value judgments. Is one alternative always “better” than any other? Is the higher better than the lower? Are there only two times? What else is higher? God is higher. Higher time is God’s time. Does eternity require “higher” and “lower” times? And the implications of one word go on and on. Does transcendence leave us with no recourse? Can this so-called “higher time” be described without recourse to outdated metaphors?

The modern world in its understanding of time finds nothing to distinguish one moment of time from any other. It is part of Christian orthodoxy that the Incarnation was (is?) a unique event in history and time. The Incarnation will not to be repeated. The modern view of time denies the uniqueness of the Incarnation. It also denies Christianity’s propensity to look to the future whether to heaven or the Millennial Age. More generally, any belief or ideology that looks forward to a better time is denied as well. As are dreams of a golden age in the past.

If moments are indistinguishable from one another, then it follows that the world is as perfect (or imperfect) as it will ever be. The present moment is the completion of life, the universe, and existence. The world is consummated and perfect as it is in each and every moment. Time as experienced allows for timelessness. If this is not eternity, then nothing is.

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