Chasing the Future

I’ve always been a bit of a chronophile (if I may invent such a term). Time, as a concept, has intrigued me for as long as I can remember. Sci-fi which included time travel was always my favorite. In middle school, I even directed a short film, starring my brothers and cousin, which was to be part IV of the Back to the Future series. This “limited” release unfortunately never made it to mainstream theaters, but it was an outlet for my fascination with time that still continues today.

Here is an interesting take from Augustine on the concept of time:

…a long time is only long because [it is] constituted of many successive movements which cannot be simultaneously extended. In the eternal, nothing is transient, but the whole is present. But no time is wholly present. [The heart] will see that all past time is driven backwards by the future, and all future time is the consequent of the past, and all past and future are created and set on their course by that which is always present.

–from Confessions, xi (13), p. 228

Augustine captures well the problem of the present. The present never arrives. when it does arrive, it is past. It’s ironic that we in Western cultures today tend to think of eternity as something occuring in the future. Augustine, however, saw the eternal in the present.

This is not unrelated to the issue of the Incarnation. How could Jesus be both God and man, both eternal and temporal? It’s interesting that the Apostle Paul uses the concept of time when writing of this event:

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

Here, that which is eternal invaded the fullness of time, a point not unlike the present—in that everything before led up to it, and everything that has followed flows from that point.