I remember the very moment I feel in love with binary thinking. I was at Marsh High School, taking a BASIC programming class. The teacher showed a filmstrip on Grace Hopper, then read from one of her books about bugs on punch cards. The idea that logic could be simplified to 0s and 1s captivated me. Imagine if I had taken Greek or Home Ec as my elective instead of Geek 101.
Since this epiphany, I have lazily looked for heroes & villians, dads and step-dads, rights and wrongs. The media drun beat helps me here greatly - I can click quickly into the grid that FOX or the NYT or NPR or FREE REPUBLIC offer and - BOOM - I immediately know who is on my team and who is on the other team, what is good & what is bad.
Then I remember a favorite Anne Lamott Quote:
You know you are screwed when God hates all the same things & people you do.
There it is.
God is complexity theory, God is the black space that encompasses a world filled with Falwell & Wallis, Romero & Coulter, Bono & Toby Keith, God is a a relational database, rather than a flashing red or green light. There is truth - oh yes - there is truth, with skin and bones, with pierced flesh and blood and tears, trembling, holding creation as we struggle and flail about. Sci-fi has nothing on a anti-hero who rises from the dead, lets us place our fingers in his wounds, invites us to heal and bleed right along him.
That said, my wiring is still for binary thinking. I tend to be a bit overly enthuiastic - an understatment - hoping for a 1, rather than a zed. Years of looking for external navigation is awfully hard to unisntall. So I listen to the SAVAGE NATION, even when it scares me - I read folks like Colson & Novak even when they make me shudder.
And still.....and still.....
What scares me the most is not Big Daddy God in the sky or Buddy Jesus - those juxtapositions are comfy. What terrifies is the Spirit of God - the feral God - the un-imagianle or uncatorizable God. Neither 0 or 1.
That God scares me.
Nothing is so beautiful as spring
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.
What is all this juice and all this joy?
A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden.
—Have, get, before it cloy,
Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.
Spring Gerard Manley Hopkins
Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells' dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.
It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His Flesh: ours.
The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that — pierced — died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.
Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.
The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.
And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck's quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.
Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.
Telephone Poles and Other Poems © 1961 by John Updike. Reprinted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House Inc.
They came so quickly - in the middle of the night - took him away. We all scattered - I've covered my trails, criss-crossed my journey. Here I am - shivering, laone - and alive.
They say he is dead. Nailed to a piece of wood. Hung along with all the other law breakers. They cut him, stripped him, mocked him.
I don't think I can make it.
I have no where to go.
He ruined me - and now he is gone.
I am going to a dinner party tonight - I'm dreading it.
We are all getting together - it feels like the last time, like our band of friends is about to be broken up. There's a party outside us, but it feels like I am going to a wake.
There'll be a person on life support there - it makes my head spin and my body shudder to even think about sitting at a table with this person. It's hard to eat when you can smell the stench of death.
I am scared. I want my old life back - I want to go back to the shore, where safety and routine planted me, where what I did defined me.
The dead person has ruined me - now I must eat with them. My feet are dirty & sore from travel, yet all I want to do is run.
Tommorrow a journey begins, a trip trough a desert to a tomb - a tomb lived in and then found empty.
To take this journey, I need to suspend so many things:
I am not a person prone to giving myself over, to allowing myself to be supported or kept from falling without apparent attachment, as by buoyancy. Nope - I am like th drowning man, flailing about to distract myself from the truths.
Pray for me to be suspended, to give myself over, to journey..................
Pack nothing. Bring only your determination to serve and your willingness to be free. Don’t wait for the bread to rise. Take nourishment for the journey, but eat standing, be ready to move at a moment’s notice.
Do not hesitate to leave your old ways behind fear, silence, submission. Only surrender to the need of the time to love justice and walk humbly with your God.
Begin quickly, before you have time to sink back into old slavery. Set out in the dark. I will send fire to warm and encourage you. I will be with you in the fire and I will be with you in the cloud.
I will give you dreams in the desert to guide you safely home to that place you have not yet seen….I am sending you into the wilderness to make a new way and to learn my ways more deeply.
Some of you will be so changed by weathers and wanderings that even your closest friends will have to learn your features as though for the first time. Some of you will not change at all.
Some will be abandoned by your dearest loves and misunderstood by those who have known you since birth and feel abandoned by you. Some will find new friendship in unlikely faces, and old friends as faithful, and true as the pillar of God’s flame.
Sing songs as you go, and hold close together. You may at times grow confused and lose your way….touch each other and keep telling the stories….Make maps as you go, remembering the way back from before you were born….
So you will be only the first of many waves of deliverance on these desert seas. It is the first of many beginnings your Paschaltide.
Remain true to this mystery. Pass on the whole story….Do not go back. I am with you now and I am waiting for you.
"Passover Remembered" by Alla Renee Bozarth
The latest issue of The Economist has an article on user-driven innovation. It's well worth a read, as it brings together a couple of important themes-- user reinvention, the economics of open source, and technologies of cooperation and collective action:
How does innovation happen? The familiar story involves boffins in academic institutes and R&D labs. But lately, corporate practice has begun to challenge this old-fashioned notion. Open-source software development is already well-known. Less so is the fact that Bell, an American bicycle-helmet maker, has collected hundreds of ideas for new products from its customers, and is putting several of them into production. Or that Electronic Arts (EA), a maker of computer games, ships programming tools to its customers, posts their modifications online and works their creations into new games. And so on. Not only is the customer king: now he is market-research head, R&D chief and product-development manager, too....
[T]he rise of online communities, together with the development of powerful and easy-to-use design tools, seems to be boosting the phenomenon, as well as bringing it to the attention of a wider audience, says Eric Von Hippel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who is about to publish a book, “Democratising Innovation” (MIT Press). “User innovation has always been around,” he says. “The difference is that people can no longer deny that it is happening.” Indeed, it is “very likely that the majority of innovation happens this way,” says Mr Von Hippel. Such innovation, he says, has a “much higher rate of success”....
At the heart of most thinking about innovation is the belief that people expect to be paid for their creative work: hence the need to protect and reward the creation of intellectual property. One really exciting thing about user-led innovation is that customers seem willing to donate their creativity freely, says Mr Von Hippel. This may be because it is their only practical option: patents are costly to get and often provide only weak protection. Some people may value the enhanced reputation and network effects of freely revealing their work more than any money they could make by patenting it. Either way, some firms are starting to believe that there really is such a thing as a free lunch.