God the center of gravity

gravityRecently I’ve been thinking about what it means to say God is the “end of all desire,” the transcendental ground from which all desire rises and to which it naturally tends, even if not always consciously. The analogy of gravity came to mind.

Gravity exerts a force of attraction upon all physical bodies. We live and move within the force of its attraction. Even our “weight” is just a measure of this force of attraction. We often think of gravity as a force to escape or overcome, say, when we send ourselves skyward in rockets. But it’s as true (though less appreciated) that this force of attraction also makes all our movements possible. All the every-day movements by which we engage and enjoy the world are made without our calculating the force of gravity vis-a-vis the mass of all the bodies that occupy our world. We don’t go about our days consciously thinking about this, but we also couldn’t go about anything at all without the universal force of attraction which makes all movements possible and relates them to each other predictably.

We might think of the universal force God has upon us (upon our desiring, our meaning-making) in a similar way. God is the center of all existential gravity – the one ‘end’ (telos, purpose, ultimate object of desire) which makes possible the intentions we form upon any object of desire as such. Even when the immediate desire we settle upon tends to some selfish end, seeking to escape the force of gravity leaves us nonetheless having to deal with it, living within the possibilities its inescapable attraction makes possible. Of course, no analogy explains everything one might want to say by comparison. There are differences between the force of gravity’s attraction upon physical bodies and the force of attraction which God is to all desire. But I find the analogy helpful. God is that transcendental orientation, that universal attraction of the Good, the True, the Beautiful upon and within all the rational movements of the mind and will, making possible and fulfilling every desire (as well as defining the consequences of unfulfilled desire), for desire just is the force of divine attraction. Our existential “weight,” consequently, is just the measure of our “meaning-making” (our “desiring”) in light of God’s being our final end and highest good. Just as the force of gravity operates from some center of gravity, making possible all the movements of our bodies, so God (the Good, the True, the Beautiful) is always present as the center of attraction to which we give the name ‘desire’, making possible and fulfilling all the movements of the will.

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