Still Beholding Behemoths

What is it I’ve been looking for these past two years? /

‘Idon’t understand the Behemoth,” I began this magazine by saying. More than two years and 56 issues later, I’m happy to admit: I still don’t understand the Behemoth. Not really. Not fully.

I still don’t understand fireflies, sloths, plankton, or butterflies either. I could tell you a lot more about them than I could when we started this magazine. I appreciate them much more than I did two years ago. I now also more deeply appreciate—even learned to love—awful Leviathans: hurricanes, forest fires, darkness, poisonous medicine, martyrdom. The Cross. But I’m far less likely to say that I understand them than I did when we started. And thank God for that.

Approaching awe

This magazine’s core biblical text has always been God’s reply to Job. When Job wants answers and assurances, God responds by directing Job to behold his magnificent creations, especially his wild animals. He doesn’t answer Job’s question, but he gives Job what he needs.

As befitting a publication that tries to behold those magnificent creations of God, we’re drawn to science texts, too. And there’s one science paper we’ve returned to time and again: “Approaching awe: a moral, spiritual, and aesthetic emotion,” a 2003 article from the journal Cognition and Emotion.

“Two features form the heart of prototypical cases of awe: vastness and accommodation,” wrote social psychologists Dacher Keltner and Jonathan Haidt. “Vastness refers to anything that is experienced as being much larger than the self, or the self’s ordinary level of experience or frame of reference. Vastness is often a matter of simple physical size, but it can also involve ...

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Also in this Issue

Issue 56 / September 1, 2016
  1. The Biggest Behemoth

    A giant parasite has grown quietly, in secret, in a remote Oregon forest. It’s now the world’s largest creature. /

  2. Sleeping Willows

    How a big God works through small days. /

  3. My Father’s World

    The rarely seen full 16 stanzas of the hymn that has been a theme for The Behemoth. /

  4. Wonders Never Cease

    Issue 56 and beyond: Where we'll keep finding amazing stuff.

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