Finding Novelty in a Pandemic

For what do you long during this unusual year when day after day we shelter in place or refrain from non-essential travel? Words like novel or extraordinary or exciting have dropped from our vocabulary. I’m ready for anything out of the ordinary. So how do we find novelty from the vantage point of our armchair? I suggest we look to the universe, which Ilia Delio characterizes as “irreducible novelty.” She writes in The Unbearable Wholeness of Being, “The mark of emergence is irreducible novelty.” The on-going story of evolution is fantastically novel, creative, and futuristic. Just this week I read a newspaper article about the discovery of dozens more planets. (In grade school there were so few planets we memorized them!)  Our tiny Milky Way has a mere 200 billion stars and a diameter of 100,000 light years.  Delio suggests we consider the universe as one great thought whose physical structure is love. Teilhard de Chardin’s writings have shown that love is the core energy of evolution and its goal. Now if that isn’t a novel thought, what is? Put one of Chardin’s or Delio’s books on your armchair, and find a universe bulging with novelty. While sheltering in place, you can be light years away.

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