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Rhomboidology

“What’s the area of a rhombus?” asked my daughter. “Half the product of its diagonals,” I answered after consulting her textbook! Mathematically speaking, rhombi are very cool. I remembered from my uni days some of their amazing features, but I never knew that the actual word ‘rhombus’ means ‘to spin’, and our rhombus was so called by the ancient maths-whizzes by watching two connecting cones spinning, and then thinking of the cross-section.

It’s a weird and wonderful thing, to look upon a 3D object and to think of all its 2D cross-sections. I suppose butchers do it all the time in preparing their cuts. And so too artists and map-makers. But so too do some theological textbooks, who discourse about the geometry of Calvary, and measure its area – the cross as a rhombus: the outstretched hands making one diagonal, and the feet and the crime-board forming the other; and coolly calculate the price of our redemption.

But they are only half right according to the equation. Calvary was not a 2D event. It was a Person who was hanging there. One who was both God and man, connected by miracle, and full of a three-dimensional love that that made one of the apostles say: It ‘surpasses knowledge’. Two connecting cones spinning will always be far more complex and far more exciting than the 2D rhombus cross-section. And so too, will ‘the Lamb who was slain’, be far more wonderful and far more satisfying than a bare crucifix.

DM 17th May 2016

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