2019 December 29: Logos
The metaphor of ‘left brain vs. right brain’ is oversimplified, of course, but does have its uses. You know, the idea that the left hemisphere of the brain is concerned with reason and logic, and the right with poetry and imagination. In that sense I think it is safe to say that our culture has been dominated by the ‘left brain’ — trying to reduce everything to some tidy answer in the back of the book. For example, we hear "more math and less art!" in our collective discussions of educating our children. But I would submit that while the left brain may be sufficient to apply existing science and math, we need the right brain to create the new. Einstein had a persistent ‘daydream’ if you will of "what would the world look like if I could ride a beam of light", and relentlessly following the Star of that vision changed the world. The German chemist Kekulé wrestled with deciphering the molecular structure of benzene for years, until he had dreams of snakes biting their own tails, and his insight of the Benzene Ring became an important milestone in chemistry.
I am reminded of the verse "Love the Lord your God ... with all your mind" — both hemispheres!
With that in mind, let’s consider the famous opening verse of John’s Gospel: "In the beginning was the Word..." The Greek word translated as ’Word’ is LOGOS, and the English word ‘word’ doesn’t begin to do the Greek concept justice. So... one way of thinking about a ‘word’ is that it helps us conceptually organize the world. To a new-born baby the world is an overwhelming flood of chaotic experience, but in time she learns "mommy" and "banana" and so forth. Words amount to symbols we use to make sense of our world. So, is it possible to even think or reason without language? Good question! But let’s go further: is it possible to do Science without the symbolic language of mathematics? I don’t see how! So then, is something like E=MC^2 only in physicists heads, or is it somehow "out there" in the world? It has to be ‘out there’ somehow, because mass and energy have been doing their thing long before Einstein discovered/invented (?) his famous equation. So with this line of questioning in mind, and the assertion that to the Greeks the LOGOS is the ’organizing pricinciple of the cosmos’, we are beginning to approach what LOGOS meant to the ancient thinkers. And with all THAT in mind, the opening phrase "In the beginning was the organizing-principle-of-the-Cosmos... that became flesh..." is to faceplant into Fathomless Mystery.
So let’s press on to the next phrase: "and the Logos was WITH God". Curiously, the preposition here ‘with’ is not the usual one (META), it’s PROS. In math/science there is the concept of a ‘scalar’ – something with just a numeric value (like temperature), and a ‘vector’ – something that has direction (like ‘north’). META has the ordinary sense of ‘next to’, ’alongside’, but PROS has the sense of being oriented towards something — it’s a vector.For example: "Come toward [PROS] me, all you who are exhausted and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matt 11:28). (Does the use of PROS here suggest that coming TOWARD Jesus is sufficient for rest, that ’arrival’ so to speak is not necessary? Hmm...) And we see this in the life of the Logos made flesh: He was born essentially a Zero by the world’s standards, but the entire direction, the vector of His life was ever toward the Father. And when I am following Him I too am oriented towards the Father.
So as an imaginative meditation I suggest: "what would my life look like if I could ride on a beam of the Light of the World towards the Father?"