Saturday, November 14, 2009


Marc Kaufman, writing in the Washington Post, explores whether and how deeply the discovery of "intelligent, moral" extraterrestrial life would threaten our earthly faith. The article concentrates primarily on the response of the Vatican, whose spokesman, at least, seems fairly unworried about the prospect (even though Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake in 1600 for embracing just such a possibility), but Kaufman suggests that the conservative, literalist wing of the evangelical church might be the most threatened.

Although it might be a bit unsettling to hear E.T. say "Jesus? Jesus who? Never hoid of 'im," there is a lot of room in Christian and Biblical theology for the acceptance of "sheep who are not of this fold," and of a variety of manifestations of the logos. (i.e. John Cobb, Christ in a Pluralistic Age, to name one sample reference). And of course the Great Commission, and the history of Christian missions (replete with abuses -- to be avoided when spanning the cosmos?) teach us that if Grok doesn't know Christ there's nothing stopping us from telling him the story.

I have neither the space nor the inclination -- at this point -- to explore these fine points. The real reason I introduced this topic is because Kaufman's article reminded me of this simple, open-hearted, haunting poem by Alice Meynell. Christ In The Universe:

With this ambiguous earth
His dealings have been told us. These abide:
The signal to a maid, the human birth,
The lesson, and the young Man crucified.

But not a star of all
The innumerable host of stars has heard
How he administered this terrestrial ball.
Our race have kept their Lord's entrusted Word.

Of his earth-visiting feet
None knows the secret, cherished, perilous,
The terrible, shamefast, frightened, whispered, sweet,
Heart-shattering secret of His way with us.

No planet knows that this
Our wayside planet, carrying land and wave,
Love and life multiplied, and pain and bliss,
Bears, as chief treasure, one forsaken grave.

Nor, in our little day,
May his devices with the heavens be guessed,
His pilgrimage to thread the Milky Way,
Or His bestowals there be manifest.

But, in the eternities,
Doubtless we shall compare together, hear
A million alien Gospels, in what guise
He trod the Pleiades, the Lyre, the Bear.

O be prepared my soul!
To read the inconceivable, to scan
The million forms of God those stars unroll
When, in our turn, we show to them a Man.

~ Alice Meynell, 1847-1922

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And what, I wonder, if Grok wants to tell us the old, old story of his Lord and Savior Shmurg? If Grok wants to share with us one of those million alien Gospels, how will we react?