Parallax

Today is Christ the King Sunday. It’s the last Sunday on the Christian calendar, which is always three weeks past Halloween (All Soul’s Day), and kicks off Thanksgiving week. Next Sunday is Advent, the start of a new Christian year.

Aihvlín, I’m trying to find the name of a hymn. It has a triumphant type of theme with 4 trumpet blasts at the start of each verse. You play the trumpets on the organ though. It’s the sort of hymn that makes you wonder if you need to cry.”

She responded immediately, “I think you’re looking for God of our Fathers. In our blue hymnal it’s listed as God of the Ages (PC Language).

“Aha, it’s No. 262, I’m gonna play it on my YouTube to see if it sounds right.”

(pause)

“Ohh Yeah, that’s it! It always reminds me of the last scene from Star Wars. Youtube says National Hymn too, wow!”

It does. The dramatic opening ALWAYS reminds me of the Throne Room scene from Star Wars, which makes my tear ducts kinda sweaty – allergies you know.

Our church sings it on Christ the King Sunday, which often triggers a personal reflection on time, starting with: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, January, life, and eventually the bigger picture. Some dates are,

  • Muharram, is the first month of the Isamic calendar, is set by the new moon in Libra, starting Oct-3rd
  • Rosh Hashanah, the Feast of Trumpets, starts the Jewish year on the first new moon after the autumnal equinox, on Oct-4th
  • Winter Solstice, is the shortest day of the tropical (solar) year, on Dec-21st
  • Chinese New Year, is the first new moon after the winter solstice, on Jan-27th, and
  • New Year’s Eve on our civic calendars is determined when Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, reaches its peak height for the year at midnight on Dec-31st

The disparity between observances is dumbfounding AND somehow reassuring too. Efficiency would seemingly improve if we could just synchronize all these systems, but each calendar makes sense too, after lending ear to reason. That’s how people record the passage of time, by observing lunar phases, solar shadows (the sun dial), star position (the ecliptic), height of the sun (the analemma), modified by slight mathematical correction (the equation of time). The main reasons for differences are geography, motivation, and perspective. And some of the biggest shifts in timekeeping were motivated by,

  • Society: passing days and nights, phases of the moon, and buds on fruit-bearing trees were the most tangible markers of time for our earliest family groups; which were eventually categorized using stars as we became agriculturally advanced (like Egypt, Babylon, Newgrange, and Tenochtitlan); the importance of special feast days finally motivated us to develop even more sophisticated calendars; and personally, my family recognizes the arrival of Thanksgiving at the appearance of my grandmother’s ambrosia salad, affectionately called “green stuff”
  • Our Concept of Space: was a Ptolomaic flat-earth perspective “under the dome of the heavens” before the days of the Julian Calendar (46 BC) even, though some imagined otherwise; which transformed to a heliocentric “sun as the middle of things” perspective after Copernicus published On Revolutions in 1543
  • Our Concept of Time: some view as cyclical, others insist it’s linear, and physicists say it’s all relative, ha! The Gregorian Calendar, developed in 1582, was finally adopted in the American colonies 170 years later; whose improvements added a leap year, fixed the date of Easter, and moved New Years from March to January

I find the disparity comforting: various human narratives on reality.

Michael Stevens, founder of Vsauce, describes the Earth’s path through the celestial heavens this way,

  • Looking from above the equator, the earth spins counter-clockwise at roughly 1670 km/hr, and relative to the sun, orbits at 108,000 km/hr
  • Within our local neighborhood of stars, our entire solar system is drifting at 70,000 km/hr toward the bright star Vega, in the constellation of Lyra
  • Our entire solar system is part of a giant galaxy called the Milky Way; tilted at 60-degrees, like a car’s windshield, we have a front seat view as our solar system races clockwise around the galactic center at 792,000 km/hr
  • Our galaxy is moving through the universe too; we’re riding along in the Milky Way, in the same direction the constellations Leo and Virgo are to us, at a speed of 2.1 million km/hr – toward a thing we don’t fully understand yet – simply called the Great Attractor

The movement’s a mesmerizing double-helix, like a graceful ribbon dance, about which Michael adds, “This is the path you’ll take through the universe during your lifetime. You didn’t buy a ticket for this ride. Your parents signed you up without asking, but nonetheless, it’s quite literally the ride of your life.”

Ancient Greeks had more than one word to describe time,

  • Chronos, is the quantitative passage of sequential time, described here perhaps, and
  • Kairos, as an indeterminate moment when a qualitative event of significance happens, the perfect, delicate, crucial moment

It’s one of those divine comedies that made Kairos sound so strikingly similar to Chi Rho; Chi (X) and Rho (P) being the first two letters of the Greek word Khristos (Christ), which is used as a Christian symbol, ☧. Where do you think Christ shows up in this story? What about your story?

“you’ll be with me in Paradise” – Luke 23:43

Title: God of the Ages (after the SW Throne Room scene)
Artist: Daniel Crane Roberts, arr. MTC (2015)

“Someone is sitting in the shade today
because someone planted a tree a long time ago”
– Warren Buffett

* xb is not affiliated with auralnauts®

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