Finding the Art in Everything

09 November, 2008

A New Model

I've been thinking about three things a lot lately:

  1. Time vs. Eternity
  2. Predestination vs. pre-determination
  3. Garfield Minus Garfield
The time and eternity contemplation comes from reading Dillard.

The predestination vs. pre-determination comes from my entertaining a pentecostal perspective on prayer in a book study group.

And Garfield Minus Garfield is the only comic strip I read with any regularity (which should illuminate everything)

With all of this, I think I have a new model for how divine direction and free will go together.

Picture a comic strip--a series of boxes in which a narrative unfolds, frame by frame, to a humorous end. As the reader of the comic strip, you can follow the narrtive from left to right until you run out of boxes, with maybe resolution to the joke in the last box. You can also view the first box and the last box at the same time--viewing the beginning and the end all at once.

Picture another parallel comic strip underneath the first on the paper. The first box is the same, but the second one isn't--it starts in the same place but follows a different narrative to a different, but equally funny punchline.

Put another one underneath that - with the first two boxes the same, only the third one is different, with a quick turn to a totally different, but equally funny punchline with a different irony found in the same situation.

Say there are ten parallel comic strips made out o f 5 boxes each. And all the strips have one central character but different sets of others. All the strips end in good, funny punchline.

God sees the beginning and the end all at once--in his Eternal nature hovering over linear time--like we can see the whole strip. God can see all ten strips with five boxes on the same page all at once--so we can say He knows or sees all the beginnings and all the ends. Say in fact, He wrote all of the comic strips.

Why does it matter that there are ten parallel strips? Because the characters in them have the power to move between them. They can follow one narrative and then individually, freely decide to follow the narrative of a different strip. They climb from the first box to the second box of the second strip, maybe down the the third box of the third, back up to the fourth box of the second, and so on. And maybe sometimes prayer causes the boxes to move between strips like the characters can choose to move themselves.

So what if there were an infinite number of parallel strips with an infinite number of boxes with 6 billion characters and an infinite number of possible groupings?

And the very fact that the characters can move between the strips means they are "in them but not of them" and that they sense there is something bigger than the narrative to the right of them.

And what if, at the end of their days, the 2-dimensional strip and paper-bound characters find their true form (of which they had just been an outline), stand up, and step out of the strips and off the paper altogether?

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