After 12/7/2011, this blog will no longer be updated, although content will remain. Please visit my new blog at Hidden Latitudes.

Friday, November 21, 2008

On global warming fear-mongering

Michael Crichton (1942-2008)

And one other thing. If we want to manage complexity, we must eliminate fear. Fear may draw a television audience. It may generate cash for an advocacy group. It may support the legal profession. But fear paralyzes us. It freezes us. And we need to be flexible in our responses, as we move into a new era of managing complexity. So we have to stop responding to fear.
Is this really the end of the world? Earthquakes, hurricanes, floods?
No, we simply live on an active planet. Earthquakes are continuous, a million and a half of them every year, or three every minute. A Richter 5 quake every six hours, a major quake every 3 weeks. A quake as destructive as the one in Pakistan every 8 months. It’s nothing new, it’s right on schedule.
At any moment there are 1,500 electrical storms on the planet. A tornado touches down every six hours. We have ninety hurricanes a year, or one every four days. Again, right on schedule. Violent, disruptive, chaotic activity is a constant feature of our globe.
Is this the end of the world? No: this is the world.
It’s time we knew it.
Michael Crichton, from a speech delivered at the Washington Center for Complexity and Public Policy, Washington, DC, on November 6, 2005.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Sir, I respectfully disagree.

You cannot help a nation by simply giving handouts to the poor. Growing an economy "from the bottom up" is like growing a tree from the leaves down. -- W.S.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I want what he wants

"I want God, not my idea of God; I want my neighbour, not my idea of my neighbour; I want myself, not my idea of myself -- C. S. Lewis.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

On the need for redemption

I accepted my need for a Savior on an evening in September 1969. The fact that a nation could put men on the moon, but a 15-year-old could not control his life enough to please his parents and himself--much less God--gave me perspective about just how serious the issue was. --W.S.

Monday, August 11, 2008

When we are most likely to pray

The illusion of total intelligibility, the indifference to the mystery that is everywhere, the foolishness of self-reliance are serious obstacles along the way. It is in moments of our being faced with the mystery of living and dying, of knowing and not knowing, of love and the inability to love—that we pray. —Abraham Joshua Heschel, in Man's Quest For God

Monday, August 04, 2008

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, 1918-2008

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, Russian novelist, dramatist and historian, died yesterday in Moscow. Here are two quotes from this remarkable thinker, writer and dissident. 

 It was only when I lay there on the rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the fIrst stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not between states nor between social classes nor between political parties, but right through every human heart, through all human hearts. And that is why I turn back to the years of my imprisonment and say, sometimes to the astonishment of those about me, bless you, prison, for having been a part of my life. —FromThe Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation (Volume One) 
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable.

Friday, July 18, 2008

We are unalike, me and I

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man. —Heraclitus

We are unalike, you and I

No two persons ever read the same book. — Edmund Wilson

Thursday, June 19, 2008

On Original Sin

Only with original sin can we at once pity the beggar and distrust the king. — G. K. Chesterton

On confronting pretentiousness

Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last. — from the preface to Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte.

Friday, June 13, 2008

We are all more alike than we presume

"She felt or fancied, then, that the scarlet letter had endowed her with a new sense. She shuddered to believe, yet could not help believing, that it gave her a sympathetic knowledge of the hidden sin in other hearts. She was terror-stricken by the revelations that were thus made. What were they? Could they be other than the insidious whispers of the bad angel, who would fain have persuaded the struggling woman, as yet only half his victim, that the outward guise of purity was but a lie, and that, if truth were everywhere to be shown, a scarlet letter would blaze forth on many a bosom besides Hester Prynne's?" Nathaniel Hawthorne—The Scarlet Letter

Thursday, June 12, 2008

On the idea that we can control the environment

"If the Earth came with an operating manual, the chapter on climate might begin with a caveat that the system has been adjusted at the factory for optimum comfort, so don't touch the dials." —Dr. J. W. C. White of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research of the University of Colorado. Quoted in a 1993 NYT article.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Sent to me from a friend who knows

We do not first get all the answers and then live in the light of our understanding. We must rather plunge into life--meeting what we have to meet and experiencing what we have to experience--and in the light of living try to understand. If insight comes at all, it will not be before, but only through and after experience. John Claypool, Tracks of a Fellow Struggler

Friday, May 16, 2008

On our contrary God

But we rebel against the impossible. I sense a wish in some professional religion-mongers to make God possible, to make him comprehensible to the naked intellect, domesticate him so that he's easy to believe in. Every century the Church makes a fresh attempt to make Christianity acceptable. But an acceptable Christianity is not Christian; a comprehensible God is no more than an idol. I don't want that kind of God. Madeline L'Engle.

Only if your God can say things that outrage you and make you struggle will you know that you have gotten hold of a real God and not a figment of your imagination. — Timothy Keller, The Reason for God.

Monday, May 05, 2008

On Embracing Mystery

God doesn’t reveal His plan. He reveals Himself. – Frederick Buechner

On the Hardness of the Human Heart

We know now that a man can read Goethe or Rilke in the evening, that he can play Bach and Schubert, and go to his day's work at Auschwitz in the morning. George Steiner, professor and writer.

Karl Friedrich Höcker (center), adjutant to the commandant of the Auschwitz/Birkenau extermination camp, enjoying a moment with fellow workers. The picture was snapped at Solahütte, a Nazi retreat center only 30 kilometers from the horrors of Auschwitz. Höcker served at Auschwitz during the most deadly time period, from June to December 1944. During this time, over 320,000 Hungarians—Jews, gypsies and others—were gassed, so many that the crematoriums could not keep up, and bodies were burned in gasoline-fueled piles in a nearby forest. (For more about The Höcker Album, go here.)

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

On diverse paths

We can all follow God 
But He will not lead us all 
to the same place— 
there is no place big enough. 
Nor will He lead us all 
in the same direction— 
there is no road wide enough. 
Nor will He lead us all 
at the same pace— 
there is no faith consistently strong enough.
We can all follow God 
    to the place of His choosing, 
      whether crowded or no; 
    by the way of His choosing, 
      whether well-worn or no; 
    at the pace of His choosing, 
      whether fast or slow. 
     W. S.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

On Embracing Inconsistency

The ordinary man has always been sane because the ordinary man has always been a mystic. He has permitted the twilight, the grey area. He has always had one foot in earth and the other in fairy-land. He has always cared more for truth than consistency. If he saw two truths that seemed to contradict each other, he would take the two truths and contradictions along with them. His spiritual sight is stereoscopic, like his physical sight. He sees two different pictures at once, and yet sees all the better for that. Thus he has always believed there was such a thing as faith, but such a thing as free will also. He admired youth because it was young, and age because it was not. It is exactly this balance of apparent contradictions that has been the whole buoyancy of a healthy man. -- G. K. Chesterton

Monday, March 31, 2008

Al on Truth

If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor. –-Albert Einstein

Sunday, March 30, 2008

On God, On Me

God is everything I am not
Yet I am not nothing  
Just nothing without Him. 

W. S.

Friday, March 28, 2008

On our Glory and Our Hope

There are moments when we are sure that everything does make sense because everything is in the hands of God, one of whose names is forgiveness, another is love … [Our source of joy is Jesus] because Jesus was the love of God alive among us, and not all the cruelty and blindness of men could kill him . . .. This is our glory and our only hope. And the sound that it makes is the sound of excitement and gladness and laughter that floats through the night air from a great banquet. –Frederick Buechner

Thursday, March 27, 2008

On Scars

Children show scars like medals. Lovers use them as secrets to reveal. A scar is what happens when the word is made flesh. It is easy to display a wound, the proud scars of combat. Leonard Cohen--The Favorite Game

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

On Seeing

We pass through the present with our eyes blindfolded. We are permitted merely to sense and guess at what we are actually experiencing. Only later when the cloth is untied can we glance at the past and find out what we have experienced and what meaning it has.

Milan Kundera -- Laughable Loves

Monday, March 24, 2008

On learning truth

I once thought that when you understood something, it was with you forever. I know now that this isn't so, that most truths are inherently unretainable, that we have to work hard all of our lives to remember the most basic things. -Lucy Grealy