Mark O. Archives

Things Heard: edition 12v4

  • Blogging from Iran.
  • If the blog landscape is an echo chamber, why is it that you have to listen so carefully to hear echos of things like this?
  • I wonder if a title as the Inconvenient Myth was considered to controversial, but the film the Great Global Warming Swindle is discussed here. Mr Gore certainly has profited nicely.
  • A Christian notes his favorite atheistic quotes.
  • Awwww. With ORaGE JuSE.
  • Is Oprah a heretic?

Things Heard: edition 12v3

There and Back Again

I have not tried anything remotely like this on this blog yet. Likely I won’t do it often. Let me know waddya think. So, with a little trepidation …

Once upon a time, a young man was selected from those in his parish to go on a mission. He was excited and had some nervousness in the months prior to leaving, and used every waking moment to prepare for his departure. He read some on the customs and languages of the place he was to go. But, as he was assured that he would have excellent guides he mostly worried about his studies and his faith. When he was at worship he tried to remember all of the parts of worship and liturgy. He tried to imagine for everything that he saw, did and observed, that if he was asked he might be called to remember why a thing was done and why it was so. Therefore he asked questions of everyone incessantly and constantly trying to make sure he had it all right. Then came the momentous day.

He was to leave. Departure and his journey passed in a confusing frantic blur, mixed with delay, and dark quiet airline seats and awareness that the sounds and smells and people around him were becoming less and less like those which he was familiar.

For the land in which he was going, people of his faith were rare and unknown. He would indeed be a stranger in a land of strange and unknown customs, patterns and practices. Accordingly, at all times he regarded himself as an ambassador of his faith. That his every fleeting contact, every action would be a chance to connect with these strangers, to show by his love, his charity, his presence what sort of faith and people he represented. At first every act he performed, he did somewhat self-consciously reflecting that each act would be observed, perhaps critically, by strange unloving, judgmental eyes. Those eyes, trying to discern by his actions what sort of man he was … and thereby what sort of a people those of his faith were. Eventually, the self-consciousness faded somewhat as many of his actions and responses became more habitual. But that didn’t help at all. For it really didn’t get easier, those things which became habit exposed all the other things which he was forgetting or didn’t learn as well as he should have during his prior frantic, inadequate, and continuing, but now more careful, study.

Then came the time to return.

How was he changed by his trip? Why did he even have to leave for that change to take place? Why don’t we all always treat our every action as if we are that man representing Christ and his Church here in this strange land here on the hard lonely side of the eschaton?

Things Heard: edition 12v2

  • The “end of the pro-life” doctor?
  • An argument for higher pay for educators.
  •  Ikon and Orthodoxy a small lesson, in which we learn what reverse perspective means.
  • If you have questions about the theology of Mr Obama, his pastor, and Mr Cone read this and be troubled.
  • Putin and Bush … does the Left (specifically their Presidential candidates) oppose Mr Bush’s policy such as that expressed in this post?

Things Heard: edition 12v1

  • Something to oppose. Question is how? How forcefully?
  • I think the problem is more one of point of view, we should never celebrate the sufferings of others and indeed should work to diminish it, but perhaps should not shy away from it for oneself, i.e., ascetic labors are a good thing for the soul.
  • Sunday’s gospel reading … and … a trenchant observation.
  • Hmm. That’s good.
  • Modern technology … a tour.

On Healthcare

Henry Neufeld has been having a conversation, some of which is with me, on Healthcare and how being Christian touches on that. He has two more posts to draw attention to, one on a visit to emergency room, and another on fear. I’m going to comment on the first (and hope to on the second later), but before I do, I want to make two things clear. As Mr Neufeld also writes, I share the notion that I am thinking these things through “out loud” on the blog to elicit comments. All these ideas and notions I put forth are not fully thought out. What we’re seeing is more the process as I try to work out some of these issues, a process I’d enjoin others to join in.

The second and more important point, in discussing Mr Neufeld’s emergency post, I’m going to be critical. I want to make it clear I don’t mean this criticism personally, and that all the criticism I offer, applies equally to me, that is, I’d probably respond and fall prey to the things I’m criticizing at least as much if not more than Mr Neufeld. To re-iterate that last point, I offer these criticisms in a generic fashion more as a thing which all of us do, but they may seem as a criticism of Henry but that is only because I am using his example. Read the rest of this entry

The Hard Men of the Northern Classics

The NCAA basketball tournament is winding down (or coming to its climax depending on your point of view), which means April is here and the real racing season is getting under way … that is cycling’s one day spring Classics season. Five one day “classics”, major races which unlike the Grand Tours, which take 3 weeks are under way. In a grand tour, recovery is key for the riders. There’s always tomorrow, you can’t dig too deep, go too hard, because you have to recover to race and ride hard tomorrow. On the one day classics, that’s not the case. You can ride easy, sleep in, tomorrow. But today, there’s a race to ride.

The first of the classics has already run, in Italy (Milan-San Remo). Tomorrow the first of the somewhat more grueling races in Northern Europe are about to commence. The Tour of Flanders is a 260 km (~160 mile) race over short sharp hills mixed with cobbles. The weather tomorrow promises wind, rain, and cold. Tomorrows race includes the Koppe:

Then it is on to the Koppe, the Koppenberg. This climb was made famous by Jesper Skibby when he almost got crushed by the race director’s car in 1987. It has been in and out of the race the last few years. The initial route announcement earlier in the year had not made space for the monster, which rises at a maximum gradient of 22%. Eventually, though, it was put back in – to the delight of the protagonists.

A 22% grade is difficult to walk up, much ride a bike up it, much less race that bike up that hill. Additionally, it turns out, the road isn’t just on a rediculous 22% grade, it’s narrow and uneven. Which means if you want to not lose minutes you have to be in the front and not behind any riders who have trouble. But … remember it’s not just one person that wants/needs to be at the front to have a chance to win … there are 25 teams of 8 riders each in the race. They all want their rider and hopefully one or two support riders to help in in the “break” at the front. That means in the miles coming up to each of the obstacles like the Koppe the pressure at the front as every team tries to position its riders to the front to the race means … well the pace will be murderous.  Read here for more.

Things Heard: edition 11v5

Things Heard: edition 11v4

Things Heard: edition 11v3

A Modest Proposal: The Charlemagne Gambit

Charlemagne spread his rule by a combination of military force and evangelism. The religious network of churches, monasteries, and ecclesiastic hierarchy served as a fundamental building block of the pacification and spread of his control.

Today’s multicultural sensitivities insist that we respect the religious practices of the Middle East and other countries as we interact with them. This might be wrong, or at the very least, not the best approach in the long run. We believe and practice religious freedom. Perhaps the best way to push religious freedom on those parts of the world that don’t think that is a good thing, is not to respect their religion but to push our religion into their region.

The proposal at hand is the following: We believe in our government in a separation of church and state. However, if we admit internally that the Middle East and other regions might be better off with more Christian influence, might it not be a bad secular idea to figure out what ‘denomination’ gets the most traction/success at conversion of Muslims and assist/push them into extensive evangelism in those troubled regions?

Two notes: See the prior post … and recall what “A Modest Proposal” means, i.e., that the suggestion is less than serious.

Things Heard: edition 11v2

Things Heard: edition 11v1

Things Heard: edition 10v5

  • Marine. Three Wars. Elderly. Don’t attempt to mug. Duh.
  • The arrogance of the liberal left on display, uhm, I travel quite a bit and I find the TSA for the most part respectful and polite. What they aren’t is wealthy highly educated. The remark I refer to is, “What I do know is that I fly quite frequently. I don’t consider the majority of TSA screeners to be well-trained or respectful. Sorry if any of you work for the TSA, but I consider many of them to be fat, lazy benefactors of one of the most useless “feel good” bureaucracies ever created. When I hear stories like this, it just confirms it for me.” Remarks like that say more about Mr D than the TSA.
  • Secular iconography. Which also brings up a question, this year was the biggest global temperature shift on record (I think) to the colder. How many years does it have to shift colder or stay cold for the global warming thing to die out? Do you have to wait until the “experts” say it’s ok to say so?
  • Start’n young. Pretty too.
  • Stuff White People Like has Christian competition.
  • The rise of science and religion.

Religion, Meaning, and Science

John Polkinghorne has an interesting new book out Quantum Physics and Theology: An Unexpected Kinship, which I highly recommend even if I’ve only read the first chapter. Mr Polkinghorne has had a distinguished career in theoretical physics involved in the development of the Standard Model, and is now retired from that and has subsequently been ordained as a Anglican priest and has been thinking theology. His view is that Theology and Science, especially Physics are not opponents, but more like cousins. In his words:

The basic reason is simply that science and theology are both concerned with the search for truth. In consequence, they complement each other rather than contrast each other. Of course, the two disciplines focus on different dimensions of truth, but they share a common conviction that there is truth to be sought. Although in both kinds of enquiry this truth will never be grasped totally and exhaustively, it can be approximated to in an intellectually satisfying manner that deserves the adjective ‘versimilitundinous’, even if it does not qualify to be described in an absolute sense as complete.


… The thesis of underlying turth-seeking connection between science and theology appeals strongly to someone like myself, who spent half a lifetime working as a theoretical physicist and then, feeling that I had done my little bit for science, was ordained to the Anglican priesthood and so began a serious, if necessarily amateur, engagement with theology. I do not discern a sharp rational discontinuity between these two halves of my adult life. Rather, I believe that both ahve been concerned with searching for truth through the pursuit of well-motivated beliefs, carefully evaluated.

[note: emphasis mine]

Mr Polkinghorne notes that this stands in contrast to the post-modernist currents which hold that there is no truth to be sought, that truths are constructed things. And I for one, applaud that.

This book attempts to trace in detail 5 events in Physics and Chrsitian theology and seeks to find parallels and to compare and contrast them. These are:

  1. A moment of enforced radical revision — for Physics, the photo-electric effect and the emergence of Quantum physics, for theology the realization that Jesus was God.
  2. A period of unresolved confusion — for Physics again, the period of 1900 to 1925 had held a growing number of experiments which had no resolution in the theory of the day. Again, for theology the period in the first centuries after Jesus as they attempted to formulate ways of talking about it.
  3. A new synthesis — 1925-1926 when Heisenberg and Schroedinger came up with a way to explain what was being seen and the Creedal periods of the 4th and 5th century when the Patristic fathers resolved the tensions between Jewish, Greek, and Christian ways of seeing the world and truth.
  4. Continued wrestling with unresolved issues — The measurement problem in Physics and understanding the divine, e.g., terms which are unclear “begetting” and “procession”.
  5. And deeper implications — the theories that resolve the problems (see above) have further implications which deepen our understaning of a wide variety of other matters.

This short book will as I mentioned investigate and explore similarities and differences of these matters in more depth. I look forward to reading on … and I encourage y’all to do so too.

For further reading of how science finds its meaning and its method of enquiry Mr Polkinghorne suggests this book: Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post- Critical Philosophy by Michael Polyani.

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