Note to a daughter in pain

The passage below comes from a “Stone” article in today’s NYTimes. I couldn’t resist sending it to you, not because I thought for a moment it would alleviate your suffering. I knew for sure that it would not. But, I thought, it would arouse at least a smile, or laugh on your part, the ‘best medicine” always, as they say. Let me know.

Evidently the angels in the beginning circled about God, then (for some reason?) became distracted, grew heavier, and fell away. Bodies then are nothing more than the heaviness acquired as one falls away from God, nothing more than lazy and sluggish spirits.

A nice image if nothing else. Perhaps if you could just convince yourself of this way of seeing, might then your terrible back pain disappear as you became once again all spirit?

OK, I know, but it is a nice image, accounting still, perhaps, for much of the appeal of religion. Also, in Father Origen’s time, the first century B.C.,  a time of little or no medical knowledge, I suppose these and other such ways of envisioning one’s own situation may have lessened, if only a bit, the pain?

Here’s the passage:

The philosophical meaning of materialism may in the final analysis be traced back to a religious view of the world. On this view, to focus on the material side of existence is to turn away from the eternal and divine. Here, the category of the material is assimilated to that of sin or evil. Thus the first-century Church Father Origen tells of how, at the beginning of time, the angels circled around God in a completely immaterial state. They were entirely focused on him, but at some point they became distracted, and they began to fall away from him. And as they fell they grew heavier and heavier, and fell faster and faster. To be a bodily thing on Origen’s view, and to mistake the world for a world of bodily things, is to be a thing that is distracted from the divine. Later, along the same lines, the 17th-century Cambridge Platonist Anne Conway would describe bodies as nothing more than “lazy” and “sluggish” spirit.

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