The entangled Body of God


I have a rather large folder of links in my email pile that’s titled “For Post”. It goes back several years now. It’s mostly things that I saw, thought would make an interesting post, and then never got around to posting.

I dug back into that pile this afternoon because I feel bad about being too quiet on this blog lately. My wife and I just returned from the annual conference of North American Cathedral Deans, and while we were in Denver at the conference, I was having too much fun talking to my friends to find time to post.

So, here’s a piece that I squirreled away and never managed to return to. Fr. Richard Rohr writing in Huffington Post about a year ago makes the point that the Abrahamic faith groups make much of the fact that the Holy One created everything that is, and breathed life into all of it, animating it with God’s spirit. And because it is animated by the Spirit of God, it effectively becomes a part of God’s body, a form of the Incarnation. And we Abrahamic faith types often forget that to our peril.

As Rohr writes:

“We must realize what a muddle we have got ourselves into by not taking incarnation and the body of God seriously. It is our only Christian trump card, and we have yet to actually play it! As Sally McFague states so powerfully, ‘salvation is the direction of all of creation, and creation is the very place of salvation.’ (The Body of God, p. 287) All is God’s place, which is our place, which is the only place and every place.

In the 4th century St. Augustine said that ‘the church consists in the state of communion of the whole world’ (Ecclesiam in totius orbis communione consistere). Wherever we are connected, in right relationship, you might say ‘in love,’ there is the Christ, the Body of God, and there is the church. But we whittled that Great Mystery down into something small, exclusive, and manageable too. The church became a Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant private club, and not necessarily with people who were ‘in communion’ with anything else, usually not with the natural world, animals, with non-Christians, or even with other Christians outside their own denomination. It became a very tiny salvation, hardly worthy of the name. God was not very victorious at all.

Our very suffering now, our condensed presence on this common nest that we have fouled, will soon be the one thing that we finally share in common. It might well be the one thing that will bring us together. The earth and its life systems on which we all entirely depend (just like God!) might soon become the very thing that will convert us to a simple Gospel lifestyle, to necessary community, and to an inherent and universal sense of the holy.”

More here.

I think the reason I like this idea of St. Augustine’s is that he’s basically claiming we are all entangled with one another in bounds of love. Quantum particles are entangled in some sort of non-local way that we call “spooky-action-at-a-distance”. I think it’s certainly poetically evocative that the “spooky” Holy Spirit’s love does in Augustine’s thought what quantum effects do in the EPR effect.

Rohr’s caution is well taken too. We are at our best when we keep the interconnections of creation always before us. I am my brother and sister’s keeper. I am responsible for the alien and the sojourner. I am present though God’s love in you and you in me. And I am present quantum mechanically in all things and all time.

When we try to resist that knowledge, we fail at being human because we are trying to withdraw from God. Community becomes something very different and fundamentally important if we think of it this way.

Well, or something like that.

Do read Rohr’s whole piece. It’s worth the time. Then go look at the moon or the sunset for a while. You’ll see what he means.

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...


  1. Bill Ghrist says

    “we are all entangled with one another in bounds of love.” Makes me think of a quotation from Jeremy Taylor: “God is wholly in every place; included in no place; not bound with cords, except those of love; … filling heaven and earth with his present power and with his never absent nature.”

  2. WmPaul says

    Oh dear. The Incarnation, in which Incarntion is a technical term to talk about the uncreated Word (say uncreated 1000 times slowly) enters our history of created time, ought not to be used except to refer to Christ. His presence is always in freedom. In no way, in no sense, is creation God’s body–instead, it is a genuine, created, other. Please reread Barth, for one, John’s gospel for another. The Old Testament hardly equates God and creation, in fact the. Idea of creation (as opposed to “world”) precludes the world as God’s body.

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