Grace Builds on Nature

grace and nature

Fundamental to our thesis is the notion that the One (God, the Creator, whatever you want to name Being-as-such) has placed in nature all the good things that we need in order to be happy, healthy, and live a noble life. The problem we encounter is how to live in alignment with the nature that the One has given us.

Our experience, moreover, is that it’s hard to live a life that is truly faithful to the best instincts we have. Here’s where we need grace: the help of the One. No matter your religious or spiritual background, I think this word is appropriate and for our purposes it simply means any help that the One gives us. Grace is fundamental to the thesis of the Dynamic.

Many Christians will tell you that there’s a specific formula for asking for God’s help. While I don’t deny that some formulae are better than others in this regard, it’s important from the outset to say that my experience shows only two things necessary for asking the One’s help. I’ve seen it transform lives and know it works: Internal receptivity to Grace and asking for it.

Put another way, two acts of the human will can open the floodgates of Grace from the One: An internal disposition to receive the One’s help and engaging the will to request it. Since the Dynamic is experiential, I invite you to try this along with me. Join me whether you are at home, in the car, at the bus station, sitting in class waiting for your teacher, in the place where you are reading this now, all you need is to say:

“Oh, Divine Essence, I am receptive to your grace. Help me in my life and manifest your will to me.”

“Oh One, Being-as-Such, give me your Grace.”

If you’ve been raised in the Christian tradition, try this:

“Most Holy and Blessed Trinity, I am receptive to your Grace. Grant that I may know you better and do your Will.”

Make up your own words. The essential thing is that when we show ourselves open to the One’s grace. We will receive it. It’s good to ask for the One’s help frequently during the day. In the end, you will find a continual disposition of receptivity to Grace is the most effective way of implementing the help that the One gives you.

Purpose in Nature

A proper understanding of nature is important in the Dynamic. Christians can visit St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans to see how the One has placed purpose in nature that is intelligible to man’s eye. It’s important to recognize that, whatever your religious tradition, the fact that there is purpose in nature is paramount. When we recognize that there is purpose in nature, we can respond appropriately to nature, i.e. we can treat things according to their own proper sense of what they are, not just what we can do with them.

If you’re not a Christian, I invite you to appeal to the spiritual doctrine found in many cultures who were able to maintain contact with nature without worshiping it. The Native Americans had a deep sense of their being united to nature and fulfilling a proper role within nature that is very close to authentic Christian stewardship. I contend that Native Americans had a very good natural religion, not pantheism. My sense is that those who call Native American spirituality pantheistic have missed the boat. They come from a perspective of Modernity where there are no natural “hidden” causes within things discernible to the human mind.

Aristotle, too, was not a pantheist. I’ve seen Evangelical Christian writers who condemn Aristotle for “worshiping” nature. See the A Beka curriculum published by Pensacola Christian College for an amazing diatribe against the “noble pagans” who found meaning in nature without worshiping nature. But I digress…

If we are able to separate ourselves from the Modern propensity to want to control nature and, instead, see that within the natures of things themselves proper ends do exist, we can find a place within nature to fulfill our own role that honors other things and does not seek to merely use them.

I loved James Cameron’s movie Avatar (2009). (Not the anime Airbender, but the science fiction movie.) In this movie, an indigenous people on an alien world struggles against Modernity as people from Earth try to rape their planet. When the main character, Jake, a man from Earth has his consciousness placed into a fabricated facsimile of a native (the Na’vi) of the planet, he is castigated by one of the local Na’vi after Jake kills an animal.

In this movie, the local doesn’t condemn the killing as such, but rather the manner in which the animal is killed and the attitude of Jake. In my understanding, Jake acts as the dominating conqueror who uses his power for the sake of subjugation. He is coming from the Earth mindset as one who is not a steward of nature, but a thug.

The female of the humanoid Na’vi, Neytiri, explains to Jake that the animal he killed had no need to die. It was Jake’s own stupidity and selfishness that caused him to disturb the animal’s habitat. In a later scene, when it is considered by the Na’vi necessary to kill an animal for food (to my recollection), Neytiri spends some time with the beast thanking it for providing them with food and placing the context of her actions within the full experience of what she sees as her “place” in the world.

We’ll talk about Modernity again in the context of the Dialetic, but I’d like to invite you to consider that we’ve neglected or lost a decent sense of Nature as a good in and of itself. We forgotten our place within the world as stewards, guardians, servant leaders. The notion of dominion over nature has been perverted to mean power over things. If my sense about mental illness is right, those of us having psychotic episodes are reacting to the terrible evils that have been brought about by denying purpose in nature.

So, then, if Grace builds on Nature, we have an obligation to perfect our natures within Nature. My contention is that insofar as we fail to become a part of the natural order, we frustrate the flow of Grace. If this is true, then, insofar as we have a humble submission to the notion of nature and our place within the Cosmic Dance, we will be able to revel in the splendor of the generosity and mercy of the One, who holds us in being by a dynamic act of love, within Nature.

This is why the graphic on our prior post has a quote from St. Irenaeus: “The glory of God is man fully alive.” We are missing out on the fullness of life. Our endeavor is to discover that. Please ask the Grace of the One on this writer and on all of those who struggle to make sense of their own sufferings. Peace and blessings in your Work!

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