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The retrograde life

What a colorful collection of cosmic cousins surround the planet Neptune. Fourteen of them, and all with their own shapes and sizes, and all in orbit around our solar system’s eighth planet. And yet one of them stands out from the others. Triton. The other thirteen move in the same direction as Neptune’s rotation, but Triton’s orbit is retrograde. In fact it is the only moon in our whole solar system whose orbit is opposite to the rotational direction of its host planet.

That word ‘retrograde’ is a good descriptor of the Christian life. The old Christians used to put it this way: “To be in the world, but not of the world”. That is, having to engage the world every day and breathe in its air, but to deliberately and intentionally move in an opposite direction to its moods and opinions. Not by way of being unreasonably contrary, nor by way of cold indifference, nor by having a ‘holier-than-thou’ detachment. But simply by virtue of giving one’s higher loyalty to the Son and not to the planet.

The character Daniel in the Bible is a good example of the retrograde life. As a young man Daniel was exiled to Babylon, and schooled in Babylonian ways, and served the Babylonian administration with great honesty and faithfulness, but would never he give his loyalty to their gods. He was retrograde, but not disrespectful. Retrograde, but not culturally backward. Retrograde, but not disengaged. Courageously and courteously retrograde. And never did the kingdom of Babylon have a better man.

DM 2nd October 2018


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