George Berkeley’s Grandfather

The angel of the Lord also said to her:
“You are now pregnant
    and you will give birth to a son.
You shall name him Ishmael,
    for the Lord has heard of your misery.
He will be a wild donkey of a man;
    his hand will be against everyone
    and everyone’s hand against him,
and he will live in hostility
    toward all his brothers.”
She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”  That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.

  • Genesis 16:11-14

I suppose that I am the next George Berkeley’s grandfather.  George Berkeley was so into Empiricism (the philosophy of empirical observation, using the senses to prove something exists) that he felt that his office ceased to exist if he was not observing it in the that moment.  Berkeley was questioned on two points of his philosophy: 1) He was always surprised that his office was exactly as he left it when returned, as it truly ceased to exist in his absence. And 2) Berkeley was a bishop in the Anglican church and his philosophy provided no room for the existence of an unseen God.

Berkeley then modified his philosophy to allow for God as the Guarantor.  God, some type of unseen force, guaranteed that George Berkeley’s office was recreated as it had been when Berkeley left the office and the office ceased to exist.  Although unseen, God was sensed in the repetition of things remaining in place.  Clumsy, and a shame that a bishop of the church would include God as an afterthought in his philosophy, but that is the set-up of this story.

We are now back home from our vacation, but while in Tennessee, we went to a smoothie shop.  Since the smoothies were expensive and over-sized, the two youngest grandchildren split a smoothie, each getting their own smaller cup.

Our younger son has three children: a son going into the eighth grade (Yikes! A teen-ager!), a princess going into the fourth grade (upon arriving at the smoothie shop, I performed my coachman duties by opening the door for her), and another son going into the first grade.

Everyone had their smoothies in a Styrofoam cup with a lid and a straw.  After drinking most of mine, I looked across the table at my two grandsons – the others were all at another table.  Being alone with the two grandsons prompted me to tell the others at the other table that we were the “cool table.”

Then I noticed that the soon-to-be first grader had purple blackberry juice from his chin to his nose.

I asked how anyone with a sealed cup and drinking through a straw could get smoothie all over their face.

His big brother observed that he had been removing the lid to see inside, and thus painting his face with the smoothie laden straw as he peeked inside the cup, that and licking his lips.

Then his younger brother said something very strange.  “I was drinking my smoothie and suddenly, my smoothie failed to exist.  So, I looked inside and found that there was smoothie in the cup!  How else should I have done that?!”

To which I replied, “How else, indeed, George Berkeley?!”

Being a first grader, he had no interest in a philosophical discussion.  Besides, he ran the risk of being banished from the ‘cool table’ with smoothie all over his face.  He went to the other table to have his mother try to clean his face with a disinfecting wipe, emphasis on try.

But his older brother was fascinated in learning about the giant of the field of British Empiricist Philosophy, asking a lot of questions.

But we know the mechanics of what was going on with our grandson’s smoothie.  With a drink that is fruit juice, fruit, and ice, you can drink the liquid too quickly, leaving nothing but deliciously flavored ice.  But as you draw the ice from one spot with the straw, you empty that spot, and you must move the straw around or shake the cup to even out the ice level.

Any explanation other than the way he said it, we would have known what he meant, but he said that his smoothie had failed to exist, but upon taking the lid off, and seeing inside, it existed again…  Pure Berkeley.

Sometimes the experience, that would be praised by the Empiricists, is more priceless that a shelf filled with fictional stories.

And as for the Scripture, Hagar saw an angel, yet she named the place words meaning that she had seen God.  Sometimes our senses think they see something where they really saw something else.  It is all in how it gets interpreted.

And as for the princess, she daintily drank her smoothie slowly so that it retained enough liquid to never fail to exist.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

4 Comments

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  1. lessons that begin with a smoothie—touché Mark!!

    Liked by 1 person

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