It's an interesting thing when your day accidentally has one theme running through all it's activities. I went to church this morning and heard a hymn written Catherine Cameron in 1967: God, Who Stretched the Spangled Heavens. I posted the lyrics to tumblr when I got home:
God, who stretched the spangled heavens, infinite in time and place,
flung the suns in burning radiance through the silent fields of space,
we your children, in your likeness, share inventive powers with you.
Proudly rise our modern cities, stately buildings, row on row;
yet their windows, blank, unfeeling, stare on canyoned streets below,
where the lonely drift unnoticed in the city’s ebb and flow.
We have ventured worlds undreamed of since the childhood of our race;
known the ecstasy of winging through untraveled realms of space;
probed the secrets of the atom, yielding unimagined power.
As each far horizon beckons, may it challenge us anew,
children of creative purpose, serving others, honoring you.
May our dreams prove rich with promise, each endeavor well begun.
Mrs. Cameron was a social psychologist, wanting us to remember that as we press on in science we are drawing a deeper understanding of the God who ordered and created it. As I shared in the song this morning I was reminded of a scene from the opening animation from Civilization: Beyond Earth of a Russian Orthodox Bishop blessing one of the rockets carrying Earth's refugees to their new world. It as an image that, for better or worse, has absolutely no bearing in the actual gameplay, but the problems with Beyond Earth are manifest and not the point of this article. Though I still enjoy the game, and played a bit this afternoon before giving up on trying to win a round on hard. I quit just in time to go see Interstellar, Chris Nolan's latest (and best) film that echoes many of the themes of the latest Civ game.
Interstellar is by no means a religious film. Well, perhaps by some means. It is not explicitly atheistic, either; the question of God does not come up. That is not to say that a certain sort of supernatural/metaphysical action doesn't takes place -- the power of love may make time travel possible, but it's also made clear that the beings behind this power are not "God". But by it's nature, the "power of love" and a desire for humanity to reach beyond itself very much play into the Christian view of God, even if many of us are rather bad at it.
I've been reading Leo Tolstoy's The Kingdom of God is Within You, which approaches the teachings of Jesus, particularly the Sermon on the Mount, from a philosophical standpoint to argue that Christianity's rather off the path, and that the ideas their Christ espoused of holistic love for all and non-violence are the way to be, and where we must, as a species, inevitably end up. In arguing this Tolstoy divides human interaction into three "Theories of Life":
In the first theory of life a man's life is limited to his one individuality; the aim of life is the satisfaction of the will of this individuality. In the second theory of life a man's life is limited not to his own individuality, but to certain societies and classes of individuals: to the tribe, the family, the clan, the nation; the aim of life is limited to the satisfaction of the will of those associations of individuals. In the third theory of life a man's life is limited not to societies and classes of individuals, but extends to the principle and source of life--to God.
He goes on to expound that the third theory -- the Divine theory, the theory that Jesus was pushing us toward all those years ago -- is the point to which all of history is marching: the transcendence of tribalism and the acceptance of all of humanity as equal and worthy of love under God and only answerable to God. In that regard, the book's also a pretty strong advocate of anarchism. It's also a bit rambly and repetitive. I'm still loving it.
It is that love of God and neighbor that should push us to seek the best for humanity, even if that best is generations beyond us. After all, Jesus wanted us to bring the Kingdom of God to Earth. Perhaps someday we'll bring it to some new planet instead.
In Interstellar humanity eventually gets it's act together, solves it's problems, and gets off of the crumbling Earth. There's talk of previous war, evens some signs of it, but the characters we meet are for the bulk of the film divided between trying to solve the problem and trying to work together to survive. The people who hold onto the Social and Individual theories are clearly painted as in the wrong.
It is a film that offers hope, even if that hope is in unrealistic interpretation of science. But hey, anything's possible probably?
I walked out of the theater and was struck by the song playing in the lobby, which I wish I could remember but SoundHound grossly misidentified it. A nice poppy something about working together to feed the poor and end war and pressing on for the common good with a refrain of "Too bad we won't."