Thursday, May 19, 2011

An Endoplasmic Reticulum-y God

When I was littler than I am now, I used to use cell organelles as insults.  I have no idea why.  "Get off my lawn, you endoplasmic reticulum nucleus golgi body!" I don't even know what that means.

Endoplasmic reticulum is pretty cool, actually.  I've learned a lot about it recently that I didn't know.  Everyone knows, I think, that endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is the series of tubes in your cells that carry stuff all around the cell, like a high way system, they told us back in middle school.  They told us that two kinds of "highway" swerve through our cells--the smooth ER, and the rough ER, covered in those protein-producing ribosomes.  They never told us anything special about the smooth ER--after all, it didn't have ribosomes on it.  Did you know, however, that the smooth ER also does lipid synthesis, calcium ion storage, and drug detoxification?  And that the smooth and rough ER are actually all part of the same long, windy, twisted series of long bent sacks?  There actually aren't separate ERs--hence the name Endoplasmic Reticulum instead of reticulae.

I posit, in my wild insanity, that ER also represents God, a god of paradoxes whose thoughts, as I read today in Isaiah, are infinitely above ours and complex, weaving through all of the universe and the Bible in ways we cannot always put together.  Sometimes we see a God of vengeance, sometimes of mercy, sometimes of death, sometimes of life, sometimes of air, sometimes of earth, a consuming fire and a satisfying water.  What does this have to do with ER?  Only that the two different pieces, which I once thought separate, actually constitute one and the same being.  I simply never saw the connection points--and amidst the winding mess, finding connections between two different substances can seem nearly impossible, much like with God.  I also never saw much use for smooth ER, just as many people do not see much use for God's wrath or justice or jealousy.

Yet God's thoughts, in all his complex paradox and all the winding impenetrability of his nature, carry our very existence forward, moving around all the substances that make up the fabric of our lives.  Often the parts of him that don't seem to make much sense or have much purpose become the most precious and important attributes of his being.  If He lives within us, his thoughts store our potential for action--just as ER stores calcium that makes physical action possible.  His more complex attributes rid our hearts of poison and provide an anchor for our living plans and daily bread and all the other "ribosomes" that create our lives on the most basic level.

So I suppose it would be a little odd to say "next time you think of ER, think of God," since you probably don't think about ER very much.  So instead, I ask that next time you think of God, you think of ER; next time God confuses you or does something in the Bible that you don't think he would do, remember that the connection points between the "rough" and the "smooth" God may be difficult to understand, but that no matter what, in his "rough" and "smooth" actions, God is serving His people.  Just as rough and smooth ER are one and the same, God in his rough and smooth is the same God who pulls together all the important processes of your life.

All scientific information in this blog post from Professor Guilford's Cell and Molec Bio for Engineers, UVA

No comments:

Post a Comment