What’s At the Center?

Recently, there was all this press about the discovery of a super massive black hole at the center of the universe. Somebody, or some group of somebodies, looked at the motions of all the stars, and saw that the most efficient way to account for this was to posit an extraordinary object in the middle of everything.
Now, at this moment, it does not much matter to me if this theory is correct. Sometimes cosmology/astrophysics seems almost Hollywoodish, the way it favors this idea or that one, the way the latest fads seem all important in the moment but so quickly just fade into nothingness.
Here’s what does matter to me: people wanted to know. It was considered debate worthy. It is relevant if there is something in the middle of everything. It is relevant if there is nothing in the middle of everything. It is relevant if a black hole (which is kind-of something, and kind of nothing) is in the middle of everything.
The analogy strikes me as so obvious, it feels almost silly to draw it out.
It is a relevant question: what is in the center of everything?
There are reasons to mean this question literally: what is physically in the geographic center of the universe.
But there are also reasons to mean this figuratively: what is central to the universe?
We use these two senses of the question all the time. My current home, Worcester, Massachusetts is the physical, geographic center of the state of Massachusetts, much in the same way that the super massive black hole may be at the center of the universe.
(And there are those who might smirk and ask, “What else does Worcester have in common with the super massive black hole?… They both suck.)
We could also say that Silicon Valley is at the center of the computer (It, programming, coding, I don’t know, something like that) industry. This would not mean that we could draw a circle around silicon valley and expect that there would be some sort of correlation with closeness to the center and the computer industry. When we say that silicon valley is the center, we mean that it has some fundamental importance.
The_Urantia_Book_Word_Cloud_001_375In this sense of the word center, what lies at the heart of the universe, of the whole cosmos, is God. God is everywhere, most of the time. He sometimes appears to locate some… condensed portion of himself in places. As when he took on the role of Jesus, or met with Moses, or resided in the temple. His physical location has nothing to do with centrality to the universe, just as if we could relocate all the talent, organizations, support staff, infrastructure etc. from silicon valley to Hoboken New Jersey, suddenly Hoboken would be at the center of programming industry.
I have run longer than I wanted to. But I wanted to start with this idea that it’s important, the question “what is at the center of it all.” It’s important no matter which sense you mean to ask the question in. In the next couple days, I will be back. And then, I’ll try to work out just what it means to us, if God is in fact the center of the universe.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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