by Dante Alighieri
Paradiso Theme of Rules and Order
Christian theology claims that the universe is very strictly ordered because it reflects the mind of God, its creator. Every action and movement – from the smallest of human acts to the enormous orbits of the stars – is motivated by the desire for God. Those things nearest God, like the highest heavens and the most perfect angels, move the fastest (with proper desire) and possess a nature most similar to His. Sentient creatures differ from non-sentient objects in that they possess their own will and are created directly by God, whereas objects are created by lesser beings.
Questions About Rules and Order
- According to Paradiso, what motivates every movement in the universe? How does this motivation affect a body's nearness to or distance from God?
- Why do the angelic hierarchies seem to operate according to laws that are opposite to those governing the universe? How does Dante explain this?
- What is the difference between "powers" and "created powers"?
- How does mankind's free will fit into the order of the universe? What determines one's degree of blessedness in Heaven?
Chew on This
If the rules of the Christian universe remain constant, then humans' blessedness – like angels' – should be judged by their power. Unlike angels, however, human beings have free will and thus one measure of their power lies in the extent to which their free will concurs with God's will.