The black hole and the cross

The black hole and the cross by J John  for Christian Today

I was fascinated by the first photograph of a black hole. No, I don’t understand the physics but it spoke to me about the grandeur of the universe and in doing so strengthened my belief that the universe is made and governed by an almighty God.

It also reminded me of the astonishing ability of the human mind to understand such things and confirmed my belief that as human beings we are made in God’s image.

Yet what I find intriguing about black holes is not what they are but their power as a symbol or a metaphor. The release of the image on the very day of the latest major twist in the seemingly endless Brexit saga meant it was inevitable that the media was full of the black hole as an image of the British predicament. Well, perhaps. But the black hole is an image that has a wider significance.

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The idea of an object so powerfully inward-focused and destructive that it draws everything into itself and then gobbles it up is something that has echoes in many areas of life. It seems that if the phenomenon of a black hole didn’t exist, it would surely have to be invented!

As I thought about black holes in this run-up to Easter, I found myself contrasting the idea of the black hole with the cross. There are comparisons: the black hole looks inward while the cross points out, takes in while the cross gives out, brings destruction while the cross brings life.

Those opposing images can be seen as principles that govern our lives. Do we take in or do we give out? Is our priority our own well-being or that of others? Do we focus on the fulfilment of our own desires or the concerns of those about us? It seems as though each of us must choose what principle we live under; to decide whether the geometry of our lives is the shape of the cross or the monstrous and ever hungry circle of the black hole.

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