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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Interlude: Where Wisdom Is Found

Here is Job 28, I find it interesting to substitute "Miners" for "Scientists" in this passage.

    1 There is a mine for silver

       and a place where gold is refined.
    2 Iron is taken from the earth,

       and copper is smelted from ore.
    3 Miners put an end to the darkness;

       they search out the farthest recesses

       for ore in the blackest darkness.
    4 Far from human dwellings they cut a shaft,

       in places untouched by human feet;

       far from other people they dangle and sway.
    5 The earth, from which food comes,

       is transformed below as by fire;
    6 lapis lazuli comes from its rocks,

       and its dust contains nuggets of gold.
    7 No bird of prey knows that hidden path,

       no falcon's eye has seen it.
    8 Proud beasts do not set foot on it,

       and no lion prowls there.
    9 The miners' hands assault the flinty rock

       and lay bare the roots of the mountains.
    10 They tunnel through the rock;

       their eyes see all its treasures.
    11 They search the sources of the rivers

       and bring hidden things to light.
    12 But where can wisdom be found?

       Where does understanding dwell?
    13 No mortal comprehends its worth;

       it cannot be found in the land of the living.
    14 The deep says, "It is not in me";

       the sea says, "It is not with me."
    15 It cannot be bought with the finest gold,

       nor can its price be weighed out in silver.
    16 It cannot be bought with the gold of Ophir,

       with precious onyx or lapis lazuli.
    17 Neither gold nor crystal can compare with it,

       nor can it be had for jewels of gold.
    18 Coral and jasper are not worthy of mention;

       the price of wisdom is beyond rubies.
    19 The topaz of Cush cannot compare with it;

       it cannot be bought with pure gold.
    20 Where then does wisdom come from?

       Where does understanding dwell?
    21 It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing,

       concealed even from the birds in the sky.
    22 Destruction and Death say,

       "Only a rumor of it has reached our ears."
    23 God understands the way to it

       and he alone knows where it dwells,
    24 for he views the ends of the earth

       and sees everything under the heavens.
    25 When he established the force of the wind

       and measured out the waters,
    26 when he made a decree for the rain

       and a path for the thunderstorm,
    27 then he looked at wisdom and appraised it;

       he confirmed it and tested it.
    28 And he said to the human race,

       "The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom,

       and to shun evil is understanding."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Thirty years ago ... and counting

Excerpt from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Harvard commencement address, June 8, 1978.

I am not examining the case of a disaster brought on by a world war and the changes which it would produce in society. But as long as we wake up every morning under a peaceful sun, we must lead an everyday life. Yet there is a disaster which is already very much with us. I am referring to the calamity of an autonomous, irreligious humanistic consciousness.

It has made man the measure of all things on earth - imperfect man who is never free of pride, self-interest, envy, vanity, and dozens of other defects. We are now paying for the mistakes which were not properly appraised at the beginning of the journey. On the way from the Renaissance to our days we have enriched our experience, but we have lost the concept of a Supreme Complete Entity which used to restrain our passions and our irresponsibility.

We have placed too much hope in politics and social reforms, only to find out that we were being deprived of our most precious possession: our spiritual life. It is trampled by the party mob in the East, by the commercial one in the West. This is the essence of the crisis: the split in the world is less terrifying than the similarity of the disease afflicting its main sections.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Those who can't follow a straight line

How many of us need to be told what to do, and how many of us want to be told what to do, and how many of us do what we are told to do, and how many of us do what we need to do, and how many of us don't do what we are told to do, and how many of us don't do what we know we need to do but don't know how to do it, and how many of us know how to do what we need to do but won't do it, for whatever reason, and how many of us can't think of a good reason to do anything, and so do anything, or nothing, and how many of us can't think a straight thought, while others draw straight lines with arrows for us to follow, yet our crooked thoughts seem to prevent us from following a simple straight line or a very long and winding sentence. We want things to be better, for you, for me, for everyone, yet far too often life is stuck in wants. And the irony is that sometimes living a living hell seems to be easier than trying to make sense of a straight line and following it. And they shake their heads. Blessed are they who think straight thoughts and but can't follow straight lines and live unsteady lives.

Global change

Instead of global "warming" I think I'll stick to the ever was and ever will be global "change" ... and aren't we an ornery bunch that forever wants change AND preservation. As well, tradition AND fresh and new and innovative and novel. I suppose we just want it ALL.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Why do we continue to look for God in anthropomorphic stories...

I suppose because we find ourselves here and now, humans, with ready-made minds that think abstract thoughts and all the rest, and want, or need, to communicate with that which brings "religious awe." And "communicate" as in, "Hello, glad to meet you, I'm sure you have a mighty tale to tell me, so I will listen, really intently, to what you have to say." And then the Psalmist whispers in our ear, "from thousands of years ago" and says, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handwork." And yes! We are struck dumb by the "universe of the galaxies and the DNA" and all in between and not in between. Yet, "I want a dialogue!" the human mind cries out (and how many deadly sins make for this arrogant challenge? Pride? Avarice? Anger? Envy?). "Yet You made us this way!" the mind of logic and reason continues (or I should say, those that cannot accept a logic-less and reasonless universe). So Christians embrace Jesus as the substitute, the substitute for the unknown, that who makes the unknown known (in human terms), who provides an answer to the human cry, "You God, Invisible and Almighty and Unknown, don't You know my hurts and pains and suffering? for how could you? You are God!" Yet the one we call Jesus knows all about hurts and pains and suffering, as well as our wonder and awe and joy, and for some this satisfies this hunger to communicate, in human terms, in human ways, with the One that makes galaxies and DNA and evolution and all that in between.