Posts Tagged ‘Einstein’

Rolling dice

August 4, 2013

God may not roll dice in some respects, but when I hear other people’s life stories and I see common patterns with mine, I do think about the different variations on a common theme as different rolls of the dice.

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The moral equivalent

November 15, 2012

I think by this Willy meant the thing equivalent to the point of reference in terms of some essence of the point of reference — Willy used the phrase a lot, to find an analogy that would explain a problem at hand.

Someone once explained to me that in Judaism men find their spiritual lives through prayer, women through applying the rules of kashrut in their daily lives.  These could be seen as moral equivalents, at least according to the perspective of the speaker.

I’m looking for the moral equivalent of the female “oracle” of ancient times.  We have Moses the guy who brings his community the Ten Commandments; is he the moral equivalent of someone like the Delphic Oracle?  And if not, what should a man be doing if he takes up the role of being a mouthpiece for God, for expression of Platonic forms, for understanding of the forces of the universe?  Maybe he’s a physicist or mathematician like Albert Einstein.

Any way, this is a question I’m pondering.

Abraham and Sarah (and Hagar)

October 9, 2012

Abraham may be the founder of a religion but he is portrayed as being very rooted in the earthly concerns of progeny.  How he handled some of these concerns did not redound to his credit.

On the other hand, perhaps Isaac can be taken metaphorically, perhaps the banishment of Ishmael can be taken as an indication of an attempt to put away such personal and earthly concerns.

In any case, I don’t see it as the final version of the story, and I don’t see the story of Jesus’s birth as the final revision either.  I do see human society putting the dice back in the cup and shaking them up again, over and over again, until the elements play out in a way that is most helpful and allows for stasis.

But unlike true dice-rolling, the dynamic of the retelling and reconfiguration includes feedback from the previous iterations; they are like the previous layers of spackle in a plastering repair.  (And Einstein’s comment about God and dice can rest in peace.)

It certainly helps to be able to view this storytelling from the perspective of an outsider, but going in as a re-enactor I don’t think is easy to do even when they have such perspective.  They can trace what is going on but not necessarily affect the iteration in which they are involved, and it takes a greater sort of patience to do one’s part without sharing in the fruits or without bending one’s role in an effort to do so prematurely — or without stepping out of one’s role prematurely for whatever reason.

Renconciling with science

December 21, 2011

I think a lot about how to resolve what many people experience as a divide between viewing the world through science and viewing it through a spiritual lens.  I’ve had people in my life terrified I would succumb to the family pressure to become a scientist, and others who campaigned to dissuade me from the liberal arts, or at least from my teachers there who clearly wanted my participation in their magisterium, if not their lives.

So, it amused me to remember this picture, which Willy kept in his office:

I was visiting my sister, who was working in Washington, D.C. at the time, and my cousin Gail was visiting at the same time, as I recall.  I’m pretty sure Gail took the picture.  I’m not entirely sure what the picture meant to Willy, who hadn’t come with me on that trip.  I think he seemed to get a kick out of it as something I had done when I had gone off “on a frolic and a detour” without him.

The way I would like to interpret the picture is as illustrating part of the on-going “ping-pong match,” or mirroring back and forth, between spiritual partners:  I am reading someone else’s understanding of the universe, in their own, scientific language, and I will sing back that understanding as accurately as possible in my own language.  How I have been able to understand what I am “reading” in that language I suspect has something to do with Willy as some sort of interpreter, whose understanding I could absorb through some other means; he certainly had the physics and math for the scientific understanding, and I suspect, in retrospect, he had other kinds of understandings in other languages, as well.