The Point

The Point: What Centers Your Worldview?


John Stonestreet

It’s time to re-center.

Normally, Mars moves through the night sky from east to west. But every couple years, it seems to reverse direction. This summer, Mars’ “retrograde motion” started in June and will continue into August.

It’s no mystery today, but this backward motion puzzled ancient astronomers. Believing the earth was the center of the universe, they were unable to find an intelligible pattern to the red planet’s movement.

They had it wrong. Once they realized that the sun is at the center of the solar system (thank you, Copernicus) astronomers understood Mars’s apparent backward motion was just an illusion caused by the different-sized orbits of Mars and the earth.

It took a shift of perspective—something we could use again today, not astronomically, but morally. With human desires at the center of our universe, things like chastity and self-control seem as strange as Mars moving backwards. Those ancients may have been wrong about the planets, but it’s our moral universe that’s off-center these days.

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