Friday, December 16, 2011

"Self-Organized . . . in Unlikely Ways"

For those of you who thought I might talk about the writings of Christopher Hitchens, who died yesterday, you'll need to go over to this post on my theology blog.  Actually, it's not so much a post as a few thoughts and then a posting of a book review of God Is Not Great that I did for an offline newsletter. 

I always admired the pieces that Hitchens wrote, even when I didn't agree with him.  I almost always found him to have a fascinating mind, and I can't say that about many op-ed writers.  I'll miss him, even though his tone was too angry for me to want any more than the occasional piece to read from him.

If you want more about Christopher Hitchens, the Slate website has lots of remembrances and lots of links to past pieces by Hitchens.  You'll mourn a brilliant mind gone too soon--but what a prolific mind!

For those of you who need a dose of wonder today, try Michael Gerson's piece in The Washington Post, a piece that talks about God and physics and various mysteries of our planet and the universe:  "Not only does the universe unexpectedly correspond to mathematical theories, it is self-organizing — from biology to astrophysics — in unlikely ways. The physical constants of the universe seem finely tuned for the emergence of complexity and life. Slightly modify the strength of gravity, or the chemistry of carbon, or the ratio of the mass of protons and electrons, and biological systems become impossible. The universe-ending Big Crunch comes too soon, or carbon isn’t produced, or suns explode."

And so I sit in my office and wait for the students who are likely to show up to complain about failing a class.  They will say things like, "I don't understand.  I turned in everything but that last project.  And that thing that was due week 3.  But I came to every class.  Surely there's something you can do."

I will try to look on them with gentleness and compassion.  I will remember that the universe is self-organizing in unlikely ways.  I will hope for epiphanies to come to these students.

And maybe I'll go to the holiday luncheon.  I always worry it will be like the worst of high school, where there's no place to sit, and I don't see anyone I know anyway.  Maybe it will be like the best of high school, where I have friends who seem to understand me, even though I have self-organized in unlikely ways.


Kathleen said...

Love this!

And my verification word is "winsph" which seems like a winsome whisper from the self-organizing universe!

John Guzlowski said...

Thanks for writing about Hitchens with balance and kindness. Too many people write about him in anger.

PS--hope you didn't have too many complaining students.

Kristin said...

Thank you both for commenting.