“It is a source of constant vexation to me, as I am sure it must be to all of us,” David Bentley Hart whimsically remarks, “that philosophical theology pays such scant attention to root vegetables.”1 I confess that until I read this opening sentence of his essay “Waking the Gods,” I had never noticed this universal failure to attend to root vegetables. But of course Hart is right. Search the library databanks. I daresay you will not find a single journal article by a Christian theologian that is devoted to the resplendent glory of potatoes, carrots, onions, or garlic. The neglect is inexplicable. Did not the Lord God Almighty ordain the potato to accompany a savory rib eye steak? Can we imagine a liverwurst sandwich without a slice of Bermuda onion? And without the tang of garlic (there can never be too much garlic), Italian tomato sauces would taste far too insipid to adorn our spaghetti dishes.
And then there is the turnip. Not one of my favorite root vegetables, which makes it perfect for a thought experiment. You place your pet rabbit on a table. Dressed in full sorcerer’s garb, Harticus Maximus waves his wand and casts the ancient spell, “Abracadabra!” The rabbit becomes a turnip! He then asks the crucial question:
Have I actually transformed a rabbit into a turnip—is that logically possible—or have I instead merely annihilated the poor bunny and then recombined its material ingredients into something else altogether?2
The latter, he tell us, is the obvious logical answer. Why obvious? Because rabbits lack the potentiality to become turnips. The transformation is too radical and discontinuous. An acorn may be thought as containing an oak tree within itself, but under no conditions can a rabbit be thought as a turnip in nuce. Leporids do not become root vegetables.
The goetic transmutation may be distinguished (I think) from the attempts of ancient alchemists to change base metals, such as lead, into gold. Alchemists believed that metals were alive and existed in a spiritual spectrum, with the base metals, such as lead and copper, representing the immature forms of matter and the precious metals the mature forms, with gold at the apex. Given the unity of matter, all metals possess the potential to become gold. Through various techniques of manipulation, alchemists sought to achieve the desired transmutation. It all made sense according to their science: “One nature rejoices in another nature; one nature triumphs over another nature; one nature masters another nature.” Their experiments, of course, failed. What they did not know is that they needed to change the number of protons that constitutes lead, and for that they needed either a particle accelerator or the philosopher’s stone.
Now imagine the experiment a second time. Our archmage waves his wand and and in a solemn voice speaks the magical command over the rabbit: “Angelificamini!”3 The rabbit disappears and in its place now stands a glorious but terrifying angel. Once we recover from the shock, we are forced to conclude that the unfortunate rabbit has again been obliterated. Harticus Maximus explains:
If there is no latent angelism in rabbits, even of the most purely potential kind, then again no real metamorphosis has occurred at the level of discrete substances or identities. . . . At the level of actual forms and natures and determinate properties, however, nothing can ever truly become anything other than what it already is, at least potentially. A discrete substance can pass through various states proper to itself, achieve diverse stages of natural development, acquire or shed modalities or accidents implicit in its own nature. But it can never become something truly extrinsic to itself without ceasing to be what it was.4
So how are these sorcerous transmutations germane to the waking of the gods? Recall the question posed in the first article: Is the appetence for God intrinsic to what it means to be a human being, or could he have created human beings who would have been satisfied with a purely natural beatitude? In disagreement with Henri de Lubac, the advocates of the natura pura claim that the desire for the beatific vision is accidental to human nature; it does not constitute what it means to belong to the species Homo sapiens. Hypothetically, God might have created another world in which human beings are not divinely summoned to transcendence and therefore do not suffer the disquietude of incompletion. In this other possible world, no one would ever pray “My heart is restless until it rests in thee.” Is such a human being still a human being, or are we in fact talking about a different species altogether?
In his book Surnaturel and later writings, Henri de Lubac argues that all rational and spiritual beings (angels and human beings), precisely because of their engraced rational natures, possess an absolute desire for the beatific vision. It is ineradicably imprinted upon them. To be rational is to continuously hunger for transcendence in their divine Creator. By the gift of existence, humanity is teleologically ordered to theosis:
In me, a real and personal human being, in my concrete nature—that nature I have in common with all real men, to judge by what my faith teaches me, and regardless of what is or is not revealed to me either by reflective analysis or by reasoning—the “desire to see God” cannot be permanently frustrated without an essential suffering. To deny this is to undermine my entire Credo. For is not this, in effect, the definition of the “pain of the damned”? And consequently—at least in appearance—a good and just God could hardly frustrate me, unless I, through my own fault, turn away from him by choice. The infinite importance of the desire implanted in me by my Creator is what constitutes the infinite importance of the drama of human existence. It matters little that, in the actual circumstances of that existence, immersed as I am in material things, and unaware of myself, this desire is not objectively recognized in its full reality and force: It will inevitably be so the day I at last see my nature as what it fundamentally is—if it is ever to appear to me in this way. . . . For this desire is not some “accident” in me. It does not result from some peculiarity, possibly alterable, of my individual being, or from some historical contingency whose effects are more or less transitory. A fortiori it does not in any sense depend upon my deliberate will. It is in me as a result of my belonging to humanity as it is, that humanity which is, as we say, “called.” For God’s call is constitutive. My finality, which is expressed by this desire, is inscribed upon my very being as it has been put into this universe by God. And, by God’s will, I now have no other genuine end, no end really assigned to my nature or presented for my free acceptance under any guise, except that of “seeing God.”5
At the same time, de Lubac paradoxically insists, union with the divine always lies beyond our finite capacities and powers. We cannot realize our supernatural end apart from divine grace:
We can say then, that the supernatural is this divine element, inaccessible to human effort (there is no self-divinization!), but which unites itself to man, raising him up . . . becoming part of him so as to divinize him, in this way becoming like an attribute of the New Man such as Saint Paul describes.6
The desire is absolute, indeed “the most absolute of all desires” (not a mere wish or velleity), yet a desire that bespeaks the gratuitousness of divine grace:
If there is in our nature a desire to see God, it can only be that God wants this supernatural end for us which involves seeing him. It is because, willing it and not ceasing to will it, he has put it and doesn’t cease to put the desire for it in our nature, in such a way that this desire is nothing other than his call. . . . This desire is in us, yes, but it is not of us, since it only satisfies itself in mortifying us. Or rather, it is so much in us that it is ourselves, but it is we who do not belong to us: we are not ourselves: non sumus nostri.7
In us but not of us, a natural, unconditioned desire which only God himself can graciously satisfy—this is the paradox of the desiderium naturale. Or as John Milbank expresses it: “a gift of a gift to a gift.”8
We return to the rabbit and turnip. When God awakens the gods, will it be an annihilation or natural transformation? Recall Hart’s fourth premise: “God became human so that humans should become God. Only the God who is always already human can become human. Only a humanity that is always already divine can become God.”9
 David Bentley Hart, You Are Gods (2022), p. 1.
 Ibid., p. 2.
 I owe the formulation of this command to Luke Togni. I have consulted with Albus Dumbledore, and he has approved the formula and added it to the Hogwart’s Book of Spells for Advanced Warlocks and Witches.
 Ibid., pp. 2-3.
 Henri de Lubac, The Mystery of the Supernatural (1998), pp. 54-55.
 Quoted by Noel O’Sullivan, “Henri de Lubac’s Surnaturel: An Emerging Christology,” Irish Theological Quarterly, 72 (2007): 8.
 Ibid, p. 13.
 John Milbank, The Suspended Middle, 2nd ed. (2014), p. 96.
 Hart, p. xviii.