purity and perfection

thursday sermon. may 16 2013.

                                 purity and perfection

what is it that we mean when we think of purity and perfection.  these things do not exist in nature.  even clean water is full of micro organisms and minerals.  a biosphere that operates perfectly, does so with many varied components and many random chance encounters, so it isn’t something that can be planned for or executed, it just happens.  of course we want everything to go our way, for things to run on schedule and to be smooth and easy.  what in nature runs as such?  things bloom and sprout when conditions are right and not before, you can try and schedule that but nature rarely obliges.  if we got used to adapting to change rather than fighting it our stress would reduce.

during ancient times when people tried to figure out smelting, they discovered that impure substances were better.  the meteorites worked by ancient smiths were harder and sharper than anything they could produce for a long time.  through understanding the make up of the metal it was realised that imperfections make it stronger and more useful.  alloys are more versatile then their pure counterparts, and easier to use at times.  even our precious metals are mixed for strength and stability.

in the mineral world, imperfections and impurities are what creates the greatest beauty. certainly the mixed minerals are more interesting.  gems are recognised when the base mineral (corundum, beryl, quartz) has elemental impurities that alter the colour to a precise degree.  a world of pure substances would be very boring.

biodiversity is the most obvious place to look for commingling of purities.  breeders understand that pure bloodlines carry with them problems.  mixing genes within a species creates specific traits and abilities better suited to one environment or other.  with the interaction of different species the system becomes a stable, manageable biome, that is perfect in its balanced imperfections.

perfection as a philosophical ideal was first written about by Aristotle.  he thought perfection was; that which is complete, which contains all the requisite parts; that which is so good that nothing of the kind could be better; that which has attained its purpose.  in this context perfection has many appearances.  by operating with purpose we are all perfect.  we are all complete within ourselves and have all parts we need or desire and access to them.  each individual is unique, there is no kind that can be better, we are all one of a kind, we are all perfect.

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