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Posts tagged creation

from "Reclaiming a Sense of the Sacred," by Marilynne Robinson, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 12 February 2012 :: via more than 95 theses

We live in a time when many religious people feel fiercely threatened by science. O ye of little faith. Let them subscribe to Scientific American for a year and then tell me if their sense of the grandeur of God is not greatly enlarged by what they have learned from it. Of course many of the articles reflect the assumption at the root of many problems, that an account, however tentative, of some structure of the cosmos or some transaction of the nervous system successfully claims that part of reality for secularism. Those who encourage a fear of science are actually saying the same thing. If the old, untenable dualism is put aside, we are instructed in the endless brilliance of creation. Surely to do this is a privilege of modern life for which we should all be grateful.

from "Patent US690236 - COW-TAIL HOLDER," awarded to C. W. Colwell of Delhi, New York, United States Patent Office, 31 December 1901 :: via Tweets of Old
by Andy Crouch for Culture Making

Timothy Dalrymple has a typically thought-provoking post up at Patheos today about his upcoming World Magazine article on COURAGEOUS, the new movie from Sherwood Baptist Church, producers of FIREPROOF and other movies. A lot of folks have asked me what I think of what they’re doing, and Tim kindly includes a couple quotes from me about the real importance of these movies. Understandably, he couldn’t include my whole reply when he asked for my comments, but with his permission, here it is.

I’ve seen neither FIREPROOF nor COURAGEOUS. My friends who know movies are pretty skeptical of their artistic merits (to say the least). For my part, I suspect they are pretty thin artistic efforts (like an awful lot of stuff that passes for cultural creativity from Hollywood itself). But I celebrate them, for two simple reasons.

First, it is better to create something worth criticizing than to criticize and create nothing.

Second, one or two Christian kids with real talent somewhere in this vast land are going to see these movies, get the sacred-secular dichotomy knocked out of them at an early age, move to LA, work their tails off, dream, fail, and try again . . . and one day make truly great movies. These movies are significant not for their own excellence but for the door they open to cultural creativity that the church never should have lost.


[Advent Conspiracy’s] slogan was “Spend Less, Give More,” and the idea is to give gifts of time, things that you make yourself, things that require a little more thought but often less money. And maybe Advent, and Christmas, will be a little less miserable. Start some traditions that don’t make the holidays simply something that adds to the stress, and leave behind the lesson that the best thing to ask a kid about Christmas is “What do you want?

I know, not all of our readers are Christians or celebrate Christmas: on behalf of those of us who have been in-your-face with our “Reason-for-the-Season” buttons (while elbowing you aside for the cheap foreign-made crap at the big box stores), I apologize, and I hope that this year maybe a small percentage of people will start a new holiday tradition for their families, making Christmas just a little more enjoyable for everyone—especially those who can’t stand it.

from "The Ruins of Memory," by Rebecca Solnit, in After the Ruins, 1906 and 2006: Rephotographing the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, by Mark Klett with Michael Lundgren, 2006

In another sense, everything is the ruin of what came before. A table is the ruin of a tree, as is the paper you hold in your hands; a carved figure is the ruin of the block from which it emerged, a block whose removal scarred the mountainside from which it was hacked; and anything made of metal requires earth upheaval and ore extraction on a scale of extraordinary disproportion to the resultant product. To imagine the metamorphoses that are life on earth at is grandest scale is to imagine both creation and destruction, and to imagine them together is to see their kinship in the common ground of change, abrupt and gradual, beautiful and disastrous, to see the generative richness of ruins and the ruinous nature of all change. “The child is the father to the man,” declared Wordsworth, but the man is also the ruin of the child, as much as the butterfly is the ruin of the caterpillar. Corpses feed flowers; flowers eat corpses. San Francisco has been ruined again and again, only most spectacularly in 1906, and those ruins too have been erased and forgotten and repeated and erased again.

from "The Cardinal's First Tale," by Isak Dinasen (Karen Blixen), Last Tales, 1957

“Mistake me not,” said the Cardinal, “the literature of which we are speaking—the literature of individuals, if we may call it so—is a noble art, a great, earnest and ambitious human product. But it is a human product. The divine art is the story. In the beginning was the story. At the end we shall be privileged to view, and review, it—and that is what is named the day of judgment.

“But you will remember,” he remarked, as in a parenthesis and with a smile, “that the human characters in the book do come forth on the sixth day only—by that time they were bound to come, for where the story is, the characters will gather!”

from "Fiction Rule of Thumb," xxcd - A Webcomic :: via Ethan C.'s pertinent comment on Alan Jacobs's review of Neal Stephenson's new book Anathem at Culture11
from "Intuition + Money - An Aha Moment," by John Markoff,, 11 October 2008

Black silicon was discovered because [Eric] Mazur started thinking outside the boundaries of the research he was doing in the late 1990s. His research group had been financed by the Army Research Organization to explore catalytic reactions on metallic surfaces.

“I got tired of metals and was worrying that my Army funding would dry up,” he said. “I wrote the new direction into a research proposal without thinking much about it — I just wrote it in; I don’t know why.” And even though there wasn’t an immediate practical application, he received the financing.

It was several years before he directed a graduate student to pursue his idea, which involved shining an exceptionally powerful laser light — briefly matching the energy produced by the sun falling on the surface of the entire earth — on a silicon wafer. On a hunch, the researcher also applied sulfur hexafluoride, a gas used by the semiconductor industry to make etchings for circuits.

The silicon wafer looked black to the naked eye. But when Dr. Mazur and his researchers examined the material with an electron microscope, they discovered that the surface was covered with a forest of ultra-tiny spikes.

At first, the researchers had no idea what they had stumbled onto, and that is typical of the way many scientific discoveries emerge. Cellophane, Teflon, Scotchgard and aspartame are among the many inventions that have emerged through some form of fortunate accident or intuition.

“In science, the most exciting expression isn’t ‘Eureka!’ It’s ‘Huh?’” said Michael Hawley, a computer scientist based in Cambridge, Mass., and a board member and investor in SiOnyx.

Black silicon has since been found to have extreme sensitivity to light. It is now on the verge of commercialization, most likely first in night vision systems.


To its proponents, the A-11 [offense] represents the logical and inevitable evolution of a game that is becoming faster and more spread out at all levels. The alignment diminishes, or eliminates, the need for a traditional offensive line, where players can weigh 300 pounds even in high school. And, coaches say, it reduces injury because it involves glancing blows more than smash-mouth collisions.

To its detractors, the A-11 is a gimmick that cleverly but unfairly takes advantage of a loophole in the rules. To these critics, the offense places an inequitable burden on defenses to determine who is eligible for passes and makes the sport nearly impossible to referee.

Whatever one thinks of the offense, it complies with the current statutes of the National Federation of State High School Associations. And it is as entertaining to watch as it is radical in design.

“My wife says it looks like basketball on grass,” said Coach Johnny Poynter, who has installed the A-11 at Trimble High in Bedford, Ky., fearing injuries would leave his team unable to finish the season in a more conventional offense.

from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, by Annie Dillard, 1974

At the time of Lewis and Clark, setting the prairies on fire was a well-known signal that meant, “Come down to the water.” It was an extravagant gesture, but we can’t do less. If the landscape reveals one certainty, it is that the extravagant gesture is the very stuff of creation. After one extravagant gesture of creation in the first place, the universe has continued to deal exclusively in extravagances, flinging intricacies and colossi down aeons of emptiness, heaping profusions on profligacies with ever-fresh vigor. The whole show has been on fire from the word go. I come down to the water to cool my eyes. But everywhere I look I see fire; that which isn’t flint is tinder, and the whole world sparks and flames.


What’s equally tough, of course, is getting talented people to work effectively with one another. That takes trust and respect, which we as managers can’t mandate; they must be earned over time. What we can do is construct an environment that nurtures trusting and respectful relationships and unleashes everyone’s creativity. If we get that right, the result is a vibrant community where talented people are loyal to one another and their collective work, everyone feels that they are part of something extraordinary, and their passion and accomplishments make the community a magnet for talented people coming out of schools or working at other places. I know what I’m describing is the antithesis of the free-agency practices that prevail in the movie industry, but that’s the point: I believe that community matters. . . .

After Toy Story 2 we changed the mission of our development department. Instead of coming up with new ideas for movies (its role at most studios), the department’s job is to assemble small incubation teams to help directors refine their own ideas to a point where they can convince John and our other senior filmmakers that those ideas have the potential to be great films. Each team typically consists of a director, a writer, some artists, and some storyboard people. The development department’s goal is to find individuals who will work effectively together. During this incubation stage, you can’t judge teams by the material they’re producing because it’s so rough—there are many problems and open questions. But you can assess whether the teams’ social dynamics are healthy and whether the teams are solving problems and making progress. Both the senior management and the development department are responsible for seeing to it that the teams function well.

detail from The Lacemaker, by Johannes Vermeer (oil on canvas, c.1670), The Louvre, Paris