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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Theology in Space

Sister St. Aloysius hasn't been the same since she her return. Very quiet. Almostmopey. We had a period of readjustment, as Sister Nicholas was still here, moving around like a human dust bunny. I had chalked it up to that. I had to readjust when I got back. I'm sure no one even noticed, as all the air molecules were taken up by the sound waves emanating from Sister Nicholas.

I'm not one to go around asking people what's bothering them. The answers are generally beyond my abilities to respond anyhow. Especially Sister St. Aloysius, who is a genius, a deep thinker and not very articulate when she's worked up. Perhaps she's actually very articulate and I just don't understand a word of what she's trying to tell me.

With tense shoulders and clenched teeth I finally broached the subject.

"What's eating you?" I said, sweetly.

Why didn't I remind myself about some of the other theological discussions we have had? I still haven't gotten over the war in heaven.

She explained that while she was working at the think tank she was going over the odds that there is life on other planets.

"There is intelligent life on other planets," she finished. "Mathematically, there has to be."

"Not a problem!," I gushed. Indeed, Vatican insiders have been talking about this recently. "God created the universe and he loves everybody and everything in it! Nothing to worry about there!"

"What about Adam?" she posited.

"What about him?"

"Is there an alien Adam? Did each planet have it's own Eden? Perhaps one of the intelligent life forms never ate the equivalent apple and thus never fell from grace. Maybe that's why they can fly all around the universe and be so peaceful. What if they did fall from grace? How long was it between the fall of their Adam and the birth of Jesus? Are they still waiting? Maybe they have to come here to find Jesus! Maybe they are coming here to tell us about Jesus because, by the way we behave, they think we don't know! It's too much to think about!"

Well, I have to agree there. I am now left with yet another possibility, that the aliens from space had their own fall and their own Jesus (of course He would be the same Jesus) and that while we have the mosquito bite pale Jesus paintings they have this one.

Which would also mean that Jesus died for their sins on their planet? Maybe they make the sign of the ....whatever instrument of death they used. (For example there is a movie where the aliens from space die if they touch water. You only find this out at the end of the movie. Never mind that they have been running around in corn fields at night throughout the film. Last time I checked, DEW was made out of water. Someone needs to have a talk with that screenwriter. I only saw the film because our buddy, Mel Gibson, was in it. I won't be fooled again. I digress.)

Of course the Vatican thinkers who stirred up this can of worms never said word one about any of this.

I do think some good can come from this. If people think they have a difficult time now sitting at Mass and in traffic with their fellow Christians and finding love in their hearts when said Christians want to hold hands too much and honk at them all the time, think of what a stretch it's going to be to love them when they look like this.

It has to expand one's ability to embrace all God's creatures with love and compassion.

Heaven will look like the bar scene from Star Wars. (Yes, I've seen the first three. One has to stay current. Not that current, though, because I didn't see the more recent installments.) At least if the Polka Kings are wrong and in heaven there IS some beer.

Hell will look like it always has.


Anonymous said...

Hands down, the best blog that I've read!! Thank you!

Kristina said...

Thanks!! I needed a good laugh this evening! This post was great!

Anonymous said...

I think Sr. Aloysius is thinking too far ahead. I think we can leave it where the Vatican left it: that there might be intelligent life out there. We can figure out the theological implications if and when we ever make contact with them. Until then, it's all speculation.

Anonymous said...

Sr. St. Aloysius should read C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy! The stories are built on those very questions.

Anonymous said...

What would the Polititians and Movie Stars and Communists and Atheists do if Heavenly Visitors actually landed in a spaceship, and they all turned out to be Living Catholic Saints from a far away planet! What would (the singer named) madonna do? It's wunnerful to think about.

Aunty Belle said...

"there is a movie where the aliens from space die if they touch water"

Oops--that was cribbed from The Wizard of Oz--The Wicked Witch of the West (Wizard of OZ) melted if she touched water.

Tienne said...

My goodness! Those are some truly perplexing questions, all the more so because we will likely never have an answer until we can ask Jesus face to face. (I love that you put a picture of one of the aliens from Mars Attacks! in this entry.)

I've always felt that whatever happens on another planet to another life form has nothing to do with us. God created mankind in His image. He may have created something else, also in His image, but those other things have their own separate plan of salvation. What God wants from them is different than what He wants from us. God came to us as one of us, Jesus. If He came to those others, likely He came as one of them. The path they must take to heaven is likely different than ours, but it doesn't mean we can follow their path and reach heaven because we were given a different set of instructions. Jesus is the Son of Man and Son of God. That's all we need to worry about.

liturgy said...

I've just been directed here from another blog.
And what a breath of fresh air!
Please visit Liturgy
You appear not to have links.
But you might consider linking?

Anonymous said...

" ... we have the mosquito bite pale Jesus painting ... "

LOL love this phrase, Sister! I am looking for art of Jesus and/or the Holy Family that depicts them as semitic-looking. There is no end of blond/blue-eyed Jesus; and now you can get Native American and African Jesus. All to the good. But where is the Jesus who looks like a Roman-era Jew? If you have a source, please advise.

Anonymous said...

My husband was irritated with that movies because creatures intelligent enough to get here would have realized that our whole planet is largely WATER and perhaps they should find a different one to invade.

RadioPie said...

Baahhh!! Flatwoods Monster!! Run!!!

Excellent blog!

bill7tx said...

And it could just be that God has us quarantined from all those perfect worlds elsewhere. Or for that matter, maybe God has all the imperfect worlds quarantined from each other. With apologies to Jack Nicholson, maybe none of us on any world can handle the Truth all that well, so we are providentially kept separated.

Considering how distant we are from Them, and how long and difficult the trip between Here and There is, it makes more sense to me to deal with my own imperfect Here and Now while I have time, in hopes of a better future in Heaven. I'll be waiting to share a beer with you and the Polka Kings. (How would there NOT be beer in Heaven?)

Mags said...

Sister. I really chuckled at this post...thank you.....Your blog is just simply the best....

bill7tx said...

One more (late) thought. If you told Sister St. Aloysius that this is a mystery, would she understand that she should just Let It Go? If that works for genius laypeople, wouldn't it work even better for a genius nun?

Anonymous said...

I have never thought about space much. That is an interesting point to make though...I think that it would be quite scary to see those Mars Attack aliens next to me in church, but I'm sure we'd get used to it after a while.

I do have a question that has been bothering me for quite a while. As in, since middle school when I first saw a video on it. However, I could never ask because I never knew what it was called. We saw a video years ago on some kids seeing an apparition of Mary, and I now know that is is called Our Lady of Medjugorje after seeing it in your shop. I don't quite get what this all is, or if the church finds it authentic. Is it okay to believe in it then?

Sponsa Christi said...

Dear Sr. Mary Martha,

Just a thought: if each planet had its own “Jesus,” this would create some problems with the Nicene Creed.

Anonymous said...

On beer in heaven:

I would like the angels of Heaven to be among us. I would like an abundance of peace. I would like full vessels of charity. I would like rich treasures of mercy. I would like cheerfulness to preside over all. I would like Jesus to be present. I would like the three Marys of illustrious renown to be with us. I would like the friends of Heaven to be gathered around us from all parts. I would like myself to be a rent payer to the Lord; that I should suffer distress, that he would bestow a good blessing upon me. I would like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings. I would like to be watching Heaven's family drinking it through all eternity.

(st Brigid)

St Brigid was immensely keen on beer. She produced it miraculously all the time.

Anonymous said...

I'm a sci-fi nerd and I have though about this A LOT. For what they're worth, here are my thoughts on the matter:

1) Possibility of life on other planets:
I think this is very likely knowing what we do about God. Infinite love, infinite creativity, it seems an awful waste of a universe if it's just us.

2) Possibility of intelligent life on other planets:
Slightly less likely, though probable for the same reason as no 1. I say less likely because it is a matter of faith that Man is unique among God's creatures as the combination of soul and body. But the Church also teaches that what makes Man is his rationality. So other rational creatures might just expand our definition of Man rather than oppose it.

3) Possibility that they are fallen or remain in Grace:
Pretty much a toss-up. Only 1/3rd of the Angels fell. Nothing one way or another to figure out if a given species is sinful other than observation

4) Possibility that Christ died for their sins:
If they are fallen then this is a guaranteed YES. I think it's also pretty safe to say that He redeemed them when He redeemed us on the Cross on the tiny insignificant blue speck called Earth. Christ humbled Himself to become incarnated. When He was incarnated He entered Time. To suggest that there were other events in the universe where He did the same for other would be to cheapen His sacrifice.

Rev. Daren J. Zehnle, J.C.L., K.C.H.S. said...

One day at the lunch table, we jokingly posed a similar question to one of our professors. To our surprise, he had an answer.

He said that Aristotle defined a human being as a "rational animal." If aliens do indeed exist and if they are rational beings, they are therefore, according to Aristotle, humans. Therefore they would be redeemed by the death of Christ. The way he put it it seems so very simple.

Anonymous said...

Well said Matt

Anonymous said...

Who would be Bea Arthur's Patron Saint? I really got a thing for that lady as of late.

Rosebud Collection said...

I am so happy to hear that there will be beer in heaven..My mom is there now and she was Polish, we always had beer home..

Anonymous said...

Dear Sister,

What is the point of a house scapular?


Karina Fabian said...

There are a lot of us "sci-fi geeks" that have thought about this question.

I think I prefer the definition of human as "son of Adam and Eve" rather than Aristotle's "rational animal."

I also find it hard to believe that Jesus' dying on a cross on earth means salvation for the beings of Alpha Centauri. How will they know? Or, if it is true, then what's to stop the Second Coming from happening on Alpha Centauri--and then how would we know about it? Just because Jesus was bound in time while human on Earth does not mean that it's the ONLY incidence when He's taken corporeal form or that He had to take corporal form everywhere at the same time.

The Church certainly has more important things to judge upon than speculating on whether or how aliens might be saved. And the Church doesn't make definitive decisions without evidence, anyway, which is one thing I love about our faith.

However, for those who like to think about this stuff, may I recommend "Infinite Space, Infinite God?" This anthology of Catholic SF covers the gamut of topics from the soul-status of genetically engineered beings to priests in far off galaxies. It's an entertaining and thoughtful read and winner of the 2007 EPPIE for best SF. You can read more at www.isigsf.com.

Karina L. Fabian
Faith, Fiction and Fun!

Anonymous said...

house scapular??? sounds like it comes from that same faux L.L. Bean catalog I saw years ago where they sold 'building cozies' (like tea cozies, only you could order them in however many 'stories' you needed. Energy efficient!)

Arkanabar Ilarsadin said...

The movie you're thinking of is Alien Nation. And it wasn't water per se, but salt water that was corrosive to them. And they were slaves on an uncrewed slave ship with a malfunctioning autopilot. I was fortunate enough to read the novelization before I saw the movie.

Unless, of course, you're thinking of M. Night Shamalayan's Signs. Well, that IS the one with Mel Gibson in it. And yeah, that one is full of plot holes through which you could sail the USS Nimitz AND its entire carrier battle group.

I'm a giant SF fan, as those who've seen my site would better be able to guess than those who read my blog. And this post has spawned one of my own on the same subject.

Elise of Argyle Whale said...

I love how you're able to talk about such huge conundrums with a friendly ease! Great post!

Anonymous said...

I feel quite certain that all life began with us, but that the future has us evolved and time traveling.

I am a bit of a sci-fi geek too.

Anonymous said...

Dolphins are considered intelligent, perhaps those aliens the vatican are thinking about are a bit like dolphins.
Maybe they don't have eternal souls and I guess they die when too much air touches them?