Friday, November 30, 2012

Trapped by Time (That Dastardly Fiend)

Eva tells her friends to stop fighting with her brother.
She doesn't know how, but they do.
Gold Coast, Australia.

Beast falls out of his chair and onto the ground in agony.
The Jean Grey School for Higher Learning.

The Original (1963) X-Men have found themselves
at a strange, but familiar place.
Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters.

What do these three things have in common?
One of Gollum's riddles might be able to help us out:

"This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
and beats high mountain down."

"Time! Time!"

(Asked to and answered by Bilbo

Time connects all of these stories.

There is no mistaking it. We are slaves to time. It flows from us like sand through our grasp never to return. We pour it out like a vat of water. And, it tends to change who we are with no remorse. It is with us always and everywhere. We cannot escape from spending it. In fact, it's taking time for me to write this. And, time for you to read it.

When someone is born we think of the time they have left. When we reunite with someone, we think of the time that we will have together.When someone is dying we think of the time they will lose or the time that was lost between us.

Many times we are like Eva (depicted above), things happen and we want time to stop. We want more control of it. This power that effects our mind and body and everything that we care about needs a leash. But, unlike Eva (who can pause time) we are helpless against it.

Where is our salvation?

In the first All-New X-Men, Hank (Beast) knows that he is at the end of his rope. Unlike most of the other X-Men, his mutations drastically effect him physically. He does not know if his brain or his heart can keep up with the rest of his body. He's a brilliant man. And, he knows he might die. He is a master of science and medicine, especially in the realm of mutant mutations. But, do you think that he tries to tackle this problem all alone? In a way, he does.

"I find myself the victim of another next-generation mutation. Another. This has happened to me before and my physiology was able to withstand the pressures. But this time--This time I fear that my heart will rupture under the stress. Or my brain will seize. I don't know how much time I have left. I will not take my own life. I will fight to the end. But being that I am the leading expert in mutation and mutant physiology, I am going to have to fight this alone. The others have too much to handle anyhow. What good will them worrying or tittering on about me do?"

But, although he doesn't want to bother or trouble another mutant, seeing no point to, he does turn to someone else:

He knows that he may be running out of time. But, he knows that he has not yet accomplished what he has been charged to do. He needs more time. And, he turns to the one Being who can grant it. Then, he follows through. He acts.

A conversation with Iceman jogs his memory and he remembers a time of hope. Although the X-Men have become divided, he remembers a time where they worked together. He remembers better days with better people. He remembers his current enemy (Cyclops) as his friend. And, he goes back in time to get him.

Beast ends up bringing the whole 1963 team of X-Men (his younger self, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, and Angel) to the present (All-New #2). He brings a glimmer of bravery, courage, and hope to his hopeless present (their future).

To save the present from an inevitable "mutant genocide," time itself must change.

God, who is eternal, did quite a similar thing when becoming temporal. "The Word became man and dwelt among us." Christ put up with time, like us. And, he did it at just the right time. The Provider saved his best work in Jesus. Although, most would suspect that in creating the world and making the universe, God would have outdone himself, his real completion and perfection came through Christ.

Because we had fallen, we needed him to bring us back up, to fix the whole we ripped within our own hearts and breach the void we created between us and God.

Yet, because Christ was/is God ("I and the father are one.") his mortal existence changed all of time itself (providentially). Our calendars began at his birth. Even our language in itself changed from reading right-to-left to left-to-right (with Christ arriving in the center, pointing to him). Much of our own culture, thoughts, and ideas have been derived from knowing Him.

Without the infinite, we wouldn't even be able to understand the finite (let alone repair and complete it through Jesus Christ).

"The Bible tells us, we must look to the dimension of eternity. We make our decisions  and our judgments not on the basis of the temporal, but on the basis of the eternal. If you take the dimension of eternity away, think of two or three things and the wholeness of them as a result. If there's no eternal perspective, think of two or three things alone and see how meaningless life becomes.

Think of the dimension of love. What happens to love? What happens to the relationships you have so cherished and enjoyed?


They [Dawkin and attackers of theism] leave the biggest questions of life unanswered. The biggest questions of life are unanswered. What happens to love if there's no eternal perspective? What happens to justice? ... Is that all there is to it [Hitler and Stalin's horrific behavior]?


'In the beginning, God.' [A quote for the Apollo 8 astronauts who had landed on the moon] No science textbook or primordial slime could explain that for the moment. It was only the vastness and the intelligibility of a great designer. 'In the beginning, God.' The whole dimension of eternity is wrapped up in that first uncaused, uncreated, absolute Being who is above time, for whom there is no beginning and no end.

Think of how you and I also relate to this question of time. We react to things that are common as if they are surprises. I am indebted to C.S. Lewis for this idea. Lewis, for example, makes the comment, we look at a young man and say 'My, he's grown.' Or, 'My, how time flies.' ... Lewis says this, 'It would be as ridiculous as a fish, as a fish, constantly expressing its surprise at the wetness of water. Unless of course, he says, it was intended one day to live on dry land.

Get the point? Be as ridiculous as a fish being surprised at the wetness of water, unless of course, it intended to one day live on dry land. And, I suggest to you, it's this haunting reality of eternity that peers out of your eyes when you see the enormity and intelligibility of this universe. Or, when you recognize the surprising speed at which time actually goes. And, then you say to yourself, 'Maybe I'm really designed for eternity. That's why the surprising movement of time catches me off-guard.


Eternity helps you define existence."

Inevitably, this Sunday is the beginning of a new church year, the first Sunday in Advent. We temporally remain a slave to the villain of time. But, our souls reach for more. We know where our home is. It is with God, outside of time. And, we recognize that in the coming of Christ we will be freed from time. This is only the beginning; Heaven is our home.

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