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Archive for the ‘ponderous’ Category

When I was very young, I believed in ghosts. I don’t remember what I thought they were or why they were scary, but I was scared of them. When I would have a bad dream in the middle of the night, I wanted to run to my parents’ bed for comfort. I made it only a little past my bedroom door. Then I stopped. Because between me and the door of my parents’ room was the hallway. I had to pass across the hallway to get to their room. And down that hallway was a ghost. I just knew it. There was a ghost hiding in the dark just a little past my view, and if I ran across and exposed myself for even the short second it would take to get to mom and dad’s bedroom door, it would get me. I don’t remember what I thought it would do to me if it got me, but it would get me and that was a frightening prospect. Many a night, I teetered at the edge of the hallway wall, trying to force myself to run across. Many a night I sadly turned around and went back to bed alone. I was not brave enough to go anywhere near a ghost.

There were other places in the house a ghost would hide. My parents’ bathroom, with the only shower in the house, was at the end of their long closet in their bedroom. Guess what was on the other side of the closet? A wall. Guess what that created? A very very short hallway. Ghosts like hallways.

The door to the bathroom was a sliding wood door. I would close the door to take my shower at night. I would open the small window in the bathroom to vent the steam. When I got into the shower, the ghost would rattle the door. I was terrified. I was completely vulnerable, alone in the shower.  There was nothing I could do. The next time I took a shower, I tried locking the door. The ghost rattled the door. The next time I took a shower, I pushed that sliding door as hard as I could, pushed with all my might to close it tight, and I locked the door. The ghost still rattled the door. The door rattled at some point in the middle of my shower when I was just starting to get comfortable and feeling a little bit brave, scaring me out of the shower, with or without shampoo in my hair, to grab my towel and yell at it that I was there and I knew it was there and I was leaving now so it could get across the bathroom and out the window. Because that is what I figured out it wanted to do. Go out the window.

This routine went on for a little bit. It made me scared and sad. But you know what? You can only be scared and super sad for so long. It’s exhausting. It makes you want to change your behavior to avoid the thing that is making you scared and sad. But what could I do? Whether or not I explained the ghost, my parents were still going to insist I take a shower at night. And, except for the part about being so scared my flight instinct kicked in, I wanted to take a shower. But really, I didn’t want to take a shower. I was too scared. I was in a quandary. I had to shower. The ghost was not going away. But there had to be another solution besides long-term angst. So, I thought of one.

I took my towel into the bathroom. I opened the window. I went to the sliding door. I closed it most of way. I left a small space between the door and the door jamb. And I tried to make friends with my ghost.

I told the ghost we could make a deal. Instead of trying to keep the door shut tight to close it out completely, I would leave the door open a little to let the ghost in. But if I did this, then the ghost must just race across the bathroom, leave me alone, and go straight out the window. The ghost could go about its business. I could finish my shower. It would stop rattling the door. I would be able to relax and rinse shampoo out of my hair. And it worked. The ghost was still a ghost and it was still there, but we had a tenuous friendship. The door stopped rattling. I showered in relative peace.

There are some ghosts that will not go away. There are some scars that will not heal. There are things that cannot be avoided, things that cannot be forgotten, things that cannot be done, and things that cannot be undone. These are our ghosts. If we are to continue to live with them and still live our own lives to the fullest, it would serve us best to make friends with our ghosts. Or, at the very least, make a deal with them to allow them to coexist with us and pass by us, but not rattle us. Not scare us. Not hurt us, not cause us to alter our own course of life to avoid them. There are ways to do this. Sometimes, ghosts are more accommodating than we give them credit for. Sometimes, if we stop trying to close the door on them and shut them out completely, thereby causing them to rattle more loudly than we ever imagined, we can learn to acknowledge them and give them what they really want. Not us. They don’t want us. They want to go along their own path. They want their own freedom. And none of us can help it that our paths just happen to cross. We don’t have to best friends. But we can learn to be peaceful friends.

What are your ghosts? Can you find a path of peaceful coexistence?

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…..but what do you do when it makes someone else miserable?

How much do you compromise your own ambitions when it conflicts with shared ambitions? 

On the other side of the coin, what do you do if your shared ambitions are stymied by one person’s personal setbacks?  Do you fret and ask that person to focus on your shared goal?  Or do you support that personal goal because, as part of a couple, you should support each other individually in all things?  Do you support that stalled personal goal to the detriment of your shared goal?  For how long? 

Ponderous, man.  Really ponderous.

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So, this is a crazy idea that popped into my head. Bear with me here.

In their September 4, 2006 issue, Time magazine printed an article by Michael D. Lemonick about the Big Bang. (Let There be Light: 400,000 years after the Big Bang, the cosmos went black. Here’s what happened next.)

Very interesting stuff there. It talks about the period of time between 13.7 billion years ago (the Big Bang) up to the first 200 millions years. It has been labeled The Dark Ages of the universe. According to the article, the cosmos went dark half a million years after the Big Bang.

The Dark Ages of the Cosmos were also dark because those huge hydrogen-gas clouds were nearly opaque to visible light and no ordinary telescope would be able to see what happened afterward.

Then, two hundred million years later, baby galaxies began to shine. What happened in between laid the foundations for the modern universe. Somehow, during the Dark Ages the primordial hydrogen and helium produced carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and other elements we know today. How? Who knows. One idea is that the first cluster of hydrogen clouds became too dense and ignited. The nuclear fusion reaction “spiked” the surrounding gas clouds with elements like oxygen and carbon, which had never existed before. Those first big dense hydrogen clouds were at least 25 times as big as our Sun, but also much more short-lived. They lived to be only about a million years, whereas our Sun is about 5 billion years old.

Seems to me, there is a consistency there with many objects living today on Earth. Within a specific species – the bigger you are, the shorter your lifespan. Look at the average age of a St. Bernard (5 to 9) versus a Toy Poodle (15+). I won’t comment too much on humans, but there is a reason why the obesity issue is a concern for doctors.

But I digress. How did light, and the elements that provide life today, come to be in the Universe?

Some say the ultraviolet radiation from hot, newly formed stars reionized the remaining hydrogen. Some think the process may have been powered by black holes spewing out X-rays and ultraviolet light. Or it may have been a combination of hot stars and black holes (quoting from the article here).

And my random brain started to twirl.

I think about how frustrating it must be to researchers to not know about those missing years in between. And how they are searching for those answers. And I wonder how long it will take them. And if they figure it out, what would it mean for astronomy research. And then I think, how much does it matter? Even if answering the question of the Universe’s beginnings helps us to answer questions about how it will end, does that really affect whether or not I get up in the morning and feed myself, kiss my loved ones, and do my work? Science for the sake of science can be a worthwhile pursuit, but does the lack of this one answer affect how *I* interact with the universe, right here and now? Would my actions change when these questions are answered? Probably not.

So, I’m reading this article, thinking what a cool bunch of theories these are, and wondering if they will be solved conclusively in my lifetime. And I read this quote from Avi Loeb, a theoretical astrophysicist at Harvard University. He says “We have a photo album of the universe, but it”s missing pages – as though you had pictures of a child as an infant and then as a teenager with nothing in between.”

And I read that quote, and I thought……..good analogy…….but what does that remind me of??

Well, Jesus Christ, of course.

Much has been made, in books and in movies, about the “lost years” of Jesus. There are narratives about his life up to about age 12. Then, there is a leap in the narrative to about age 30. The Bible pretty much leaves out what happened in between. If you watch Dogma, read The Da Vinci Code, or any of a million other books, you’ll hear people speculate about those missing years. What happened? Where did he go? Did he go to India? Did he join the Essenes? Did that prove he was celibate and never fathered children? Or did he have children, and the missing years is a giant religious conspiracy to hide these actions from the rest of the world?

My first thoughts were this:

It sounds vaguely similar. The Dark Ages of the cosmos are the lost years where lots of things happened but no light came out. The narratives of Jesus’ life includes a blank period where, perhaps, important things happened but there is no written history (that we know of). Then I thought, is that just a coincidence? Or is there a coincidence by design? Or just a coincidence that isn’t even a coincidence because the two objects in question are so fundamentally different. Or are they?

So, I thought, wouldn’t it be bizarre if researchers unraveled the mystery of our Universe’s missing time at the same time that historians were able to piece together the missing years of Jesus’ life? What if both discoveries revealed something that fundamentally change the way we look at these events? And of course, I got around to thinking – What if we’re not really meant to know these things? What if some mysteries are destined to remain mysteries?

And in thinking about it today, I wonder: What does it really matter? Ultimately, how would the unraveling of either mystery change who or what we are today? Now don’t get me wrong, as a curious person, and as a Christian, these mysteries probably hold some important information that it would be good for me to know. But would it change the way I live my life? If I learn that the beginnings of space show that our universe will collapse in 3 billion years, instead of 8 billion years – – – will I sell everything I own and run to Rio to party all day and night? Ummm…….no.

Knowing the details of Jesus’ missing years should not change the message of his life, and death. If I learn that Jesus Christ married, fathered children, and studied Hinduism – – – will it change the fact that I believe in his teachings and feel that humankind can live better if they tried a little harder to emulate them? Ummm…..no. Would it contradict the divinity of his life? If his life on earth was one way for God to experience what it feels like to be a human, wouldn’t that experience be richer for having included a spouse and children? But if so, or if not, how does that change his teachings?


Of course, in the endless pursuit of knowledge, you can’t tell historians and scientists to stop looking merely because of any absence of practicality. They may have nothing more to gain than to claim the spot as Discoverer. But to seek answers to unanswered questions is the true mindset of a scientist, and possibly of a theologian also.

To endlessly ask random questions with no possible good answer seems to be the mindset of me. I don’t expect an answer. I sometimes just like posing the question.

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