Monday, October 29, 2007

Progress means movement in a desired direction, and we do not all desire the same thing for our species....Now I care far more how humanity lives than how long. Progress, for me, means increasing goodness and happiness of individual lives....

As a result, classical political theory, with its Stoical, Christian and juristic key-conceptions (natural law, the value of the individual, the rights of man), has died. The modern State exists not to protect our rights but to do us good or make us good -- anyway to do something to us or to make us something. Hence the new name "leaders" for those who were once "rulers". We are less their subjects than their wards, pupils, or domestic animals. There is nothing left of which we can say to them, "Mind your own business." Our whole lives are their business....

In every age the men who want us under their thumb, if they have any sense, will put forward the particular pretnesion which hopes and fears of that age render most potent....

Are these not the ideal opportunity for enslavement? This is how it has entered before: a desperate need (real or apparent) in the one party, a power (real or apparent) to relieeve it in the other. In the ancient world individuals have sold themselves as slaves, in order to eat.

C.S. Lewis. "Willing Slaves of the Welfare State." in COMPELLING REASON: ESSAYS ON ETHICS AND THEOLOGY.

Friday, October 26, 2007


More and more the desire grows in me simply to walk around, greet people, enter their homes, sit on their doorsteps, play ball, throw water, and be known as someone who wants to live with them. It is a privilege to have the time to practices this simple ministry of presence. Still this is not as simple as it seems. My own desire to be useful, to do something significant or to part of some impressive project is so strong that soon my time is taken up by meetings, conferences, study groups, and workshops that prevent me from walking the streets. It is difficult not to have plans, not to organize people around an urgent cause, and not to feel that you are working directly for social progress. But I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn't be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own, and to let them know with words, handshakes and hugs that you do not simply like them, but you truly love them.

Henri Nowen. (Thank you Robert Murchison for this quote)

Thursday, October 25, 2007


I propose to call the magnitude S [energy unavailable for work] the entropy of the body, from the Greek word [trope], transformation....The energy of the universe is constant--the entropy of the universe tends toward a maximum.
Rudolph J.E. Clausius, paper of 1865

The concept traces to nineteenth-century advances in thermo-dynamics, the study of the relationships between heat (thus thermo-) and work or motion (thus dynamics)....

The First Law of Thermodynamics: Energy can neither be created nor destroyed; it can only change form --say from potential energy to work to heat and back again.

The Second Law: Heat can never spontaneously pass from a colder body to a warmer one.

....from Carnot's experiments, Clausius knew that work happens when energy
(in the form of heat) passes from a state of greater excitement to a state of lesser--that is from warmer to cooler. So heat can only be harnessed once to do work before it is spent--that is dissipated into a cooler body from which it can't be retrieved without adding more energy to the system.

In fact you'd have to add more energy to the system than there was heat to begin with. [Because] there is always waste in any transfer of heat....Even though energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it tends to dissipate, or pass from a more useful form ito a less useful one....

Entropy is Carnot's word for the amount of useless energy in a system--the amount of "dissipate," disordered, or constant-temperature energy, which cannot be converted into work....

Kelvin and Carnot assumed that the universe is a closed system...

And anyway, even if the universe as a whole is heading toward chaos, it's always possible to decrease entropy locally. Every time you clean up the mess in your office, you're producing order and decreasing entropy...Such order may come at the expense of disorder somewhere else, and of course useful energy is expended in the process. But as the sun isn't going to burn out anytime soon, you may as well cheer up and take what you can get.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The church as grown more and more isolated over the years as it has withdrawn More and more into itself. If postmodernity can be partially defined as a resignation to the limitations of one's own perspective, if the church does not have genuine communication wth the rest of the the world (outsiders), if Christians are suspicious that the very people God sends to help are enemies, then aren't we insane?

My position is simple: Songs to run by do not need to be hip and cool and cutting edge. For me, running songs have one purpose and one purpose only: to distract. They need to take my mind off [my run] three minutes at a time.

Rob Burnett. "Defending my Playlist"