Heart of the World

I’ve been reading selections from Balthasar’s poetic work “Heart of the World.” (Is it strange that every time I hear that title I think of the Kanye West/Katy Perry song “E.T”: “You’re from the heart of the world / A different dimension”?) It is much different than his other books in style, and yet his theology remains the same… the “opening” of the world to the transcendent through the beautiful, true and good, the analogy of being as a dynamic communication between the heavenly and the earthly. This passage captures something of the interplay between creativity and cultivation, chaos and order, the particularity of the world and the infinite “world” all around us… as does, perhaps, this wonderful painting from Makoto Fujimura.

The world is entrusted to man as a garden for him to cultivate and bring to never-ending progress. And yet the world is a careless chaos which ever anew spills over every enclosure, breaking tips which have been overly sharpened, forcing rising curves to descend as if by nature, making overripe forms return to the primal womb… It is a world which rounds itself off into an egg and compresses all impulses towards the heavens within its own atmosphere, and also a world which yet lies there open beyond all closing, like a dissected body, its entrails groaning for a fullness which it can never give to itself. With straining fingers the world points to God, and with every fiber of its body it thirsts for him as the most urgently needed rain…

Equivocal world, whose bi-unity and disunity is the most univocal thing about it! Middle-world, which yet brings Creator and creature into unity precisely by keeping them apart! Monster-world, that rears its head and swallows up God himself in human form. Child-world, that in the end is a suckling infant dreaming in the arms of the Virgin Mary…

Hans Urs von Balthasar, Heart of the World (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1979), 210-211.

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