Why God is the Perfect Author

 

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“None can sense more deeply than you artists, ingenious creators of beauty that you are, something of the pathos with which God at the dawn of creation looked upon the work of his hands. A glimmer of that feeling has shone so often in your eyes when—like the artists of every age—captivated by the hidden power of sounds and words, colours and shapes, you have admired the work of your inspiration, sensing in it some echo of the mystery of creation with which God, the sole creator of all things, has wished in some way to associate you.”- Saint John Paul II, Letter to Artists

Not many people know how much work goes into creating a wonderful story. Whether we are writing a novel or making a movie or a painting or a play, we are creating new worlds. This process, known as “worldbuilding,” involves a lot of research and  creativity. Whenever I work on a story I’m writing, I am basically reliving the creation from Genesis.

I realize that not everyone who reads this believes in God, but it’s hard to argue that this beautiful universe that we live in came to be by mere chance. All the stars, galaxies, and planets we see when we look at pictures of space aren’t just floating balls of gas and rock. To me, they are works of art. The vastness of space reminds us that there is more to life than just our petty squabbles and the problems in our world.

Zoom down to our tiny planet and think about what this world could’ve been. I heard it said somewhere that if our planet was placed just the tiniest bit closer or the tiniest bit further from the sun, it would be uninhabitable. We are given this beautiful world with huge oceans and all sorts of different environments and climates. Variety is the spice of life.

Which begs the first question: Why do natural disasters happen?

It’s part of the worldbuilding. Earthquakes led to creating the continents. Hurricanes, tornadoes, and fires all clear out parts of nature, but new things grow from the destruction. Climate change is definitely a factor, but we’ve been doing a lot of damage to the ozone layer since the Industrial Revolution. There is nothing new under the sun.

God doesn’t plan for these disasters to happen. He just allows them to be a “plot twist” in our lives. Some people look at the devastation and question how God could exist. The answer is found in His best creation: our fellow human beings.

In the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Rita, I have seen more good people than bad get the spotlight on the news. Disasters have a way of either bringing out the best in us or the worst in us. The good news is that God created humans with the power to choose how we feel.

Which leads to Inevitable Question #2: Why do bad people exist? Why do terrorists keep attacking? Why do we constantly hear about people acting in such atrocious ways? If God created each and every person on this planet, why are there so many bad people?

Once again, it goes back to choices. God gives everyone the power to choose and choices and the consequences of these choices shape the stories of our lives. One great example can be seen in the Marvel Netflix series Daredevil. Both Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk were people who grew up in New York City and had difficult circumstances in their childhoods. However, one chose to retaliate by doing something evil (even if it meant protecting the ones he loves) and the other was put into the care of good people (even if he did have a jerk for a mentor). Wilson Fisk’s choices led to him becoming the head of the largest crime organization in the city. Matt Murdock chose to become a lawyer to defend the helpless and later chose to be a vigilante when the law wasn’t enough to take down the bad guys.

People are raised in circumstances that shape who they become. Each person has the capacity to change and rise above whatever hardships they experienced, but some choose to stay where they are. The key here is what we choose.

It’s a bit hard to wrap your head around the idea that believing in God leads to having a life with better choices and more freedom, but that’s how a good story goes. Remember how in Star Wars when Luke chooses to trust in the Force instead of the computer that was targeting the exhaust port in the Death Star? Star Wars isn’t a perfect parallel for a faith-filled life, but I do like how being a Jedi relies on having faith and being detached from consuming emotions.

What exactly is the point of this ramble? To quote the Doctor, “we are all stories in the end.” I know this post might sound crazy, but I just want to show you that this universe, this world, and each and every single person gives evidence that there is a Creator. So much work goes into creating a story. So much work gets put into creating a world and all the characters and conflicts in a work of fiction. The world that we live in is no different.

Gratitude for God's Providence

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From Heart of Mary Women’s Fellowship

I love volunteering for Vacation Bible School at my local church. Two of the themes from Vacation Bible School centered on God’s providence. One theme was “Wilderness Escape” in which I taught the kids about the adventures of Moses and the Israelites in the desert. Through teaching the kids about God providing for the Israelites, I reminded myself that God will also provide for my needs. Every day in the week-long Bible School had a catchphrase and Wilderness Escape’s catchphrases ended with “Trust Him!” The VBS I volunteered at the following year had a similar theme. We went from the desert wilderness to the top of Mount Everest. Like the previous Bible Camp, the theme of Everest was to trust in God, this time using the catchphrase “Hold on!”

We are so used to the desire to be in control of our lives. We worry about what we’ll eat, the clothes that we wear, our work, and so many other things. Do we trust in God to provide for us? Do we hold onto him with the faith of a child? It’s not exactly easy!

Read the rest here!

Encountering Jesus: A Book Review

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When Elizabeth Scalia shared Encountering Jesus (the latest read from the Patheos Book Club) with me, I was definitely interested in reading it. The book (compiled by James Stuart Bell) is a collection of people seeing Jesus or witnessing a miracle in their lives that they attribute to Jesus’s intercession.

I’ll admit that I like this book, but I don’t love it. I completely understand the idea of encountering Jesus through prayer or through a miracle that they can’t explain, but the problem is that it lacks depth. I mean, there’s a story about the compiler of the book encountering Jesus through drugs, for crying out loud! I’m sorry that I sound skeptical, but while I believe that God can work with us through whatever bad things we experience, I highly doubt that Jesus would appear during a drug-induced haze.

I also wonder how the encounter with Jesus has affected the lives of the people who contributed to this book. It’s one thing to encounter Jesus, but if you don’t let that encounter change you, then that experience was all for nothing. I will give the people who contributed to this book the benefit of the doubt.

I definitely agree that we can encounter Jesus outside of the Church. I still remember the day that I felt that I was drowning in my anxiety and how Christ pulled me out of it one rainy afternoon. But I wish I could’ve seen stories of encountering Christ within the Church. I love hearing stories of Eucharistic miracles, especially knowing that they still happen. (Pope Francis witnessed two of them! How awesome is that!?) I love the peace that I get whenever I go to Adoration. I love teaching kids about the faith and seeing Christ in them. I love what Mother Teresa said about Christ being in distressing disguise of the poor. As much as I loved reading this book, there weren’t any wonderful stories like that.

I am definitely glad that Jesus can come into the lives of anyone who asks for his presence and that he makes miracles happen even now. It’s just that compared to the myriad of ways I encounter Christ, the book feels a bit like swimming in shallow water.