The biblical story of the exile of the Israelites into Babylon and their eventual return to the Promised Land has always been close to my heart. Why? Because as Paul told Timothy, all the stories written in this Bible were put there for us, as examples, as warnings, for lessons of what happens in our lives… because those people long ago were, really, just like us. Have you ever been in exile? In a way, being in jail is like that. Is there hope?
Children have no problem believing in all that Christmas represents: joy, surprises, love, hope. But as we get older, we realize that this world doesn’t just bring those good things; it also brings us plenty of hard days, disappointments, and hurts; both done to us and done by us. Which is the real world? Which one should we believe in?
Ages ago, when I was working on my Bachelor’s degree in Physics, there was this friend at the university that every so often would ask me “Rudy, what do you know for certain?” If you know a Physics major, you know most of them love to engage in philosophical debates. Therefore, many discussions were spawned from that question. Back then I never thought that that question would become a central theme in my life.
In his book, The Abolition of Man, C. S. Lewis argues, from the historical evidence, that there is a moral code held in common by all humanity. He calls it the Tao of humanity (also known as the Natural Law or Traditional Morality) and it has existed since antiquity. If there is such a moral code, intrinsic to the human psyche, then any claims that we can invent our own moral code are moot. Even if I argued that I did invent my code, isn’t it just as likely that I picked and chose from the maxims already existing within me? Then, the real interesting question is where did the Tao come from?
“We can see this far because we are standing on the shoulders of giants.” It’s a maxim I have tried to teach my students. So, even though our work has dealt with technologies James Clerk Maxwell hadn’t dreamed of (the interaction of light with molecules and nanostructures, the full physics modeling of the scattering of Radar from kilometers of sea surface, the design of antennas that radiate using magnetic currents) we still go back to the masters to learn what they had to say, in their own words.Read More about Appreciating C. S. Lewis
Last week’s memories of Stan Lee reminded me again of my favorite comic book artist: Jack Kirby. I got to meet him once. It must have been 1986 or 1987. Jack Kirby was autographing comics at a Comic Book store in Hawaiian Gardens, California. There was a young lady there that had come to the event to interview him. So, I got to stand by and listen.
About 28 years ago a co-worker of mine at Hexcel Corporation came to see me after returning from a business trip. On the flight back, the gentleman sitting next to him struck up a conversation (that probably lasted the whole flight.) It eventually ended up being about Jesus. My co-worker told him “I know someone who believes just like you”. And so, he handed me the business card the gentleman had given him. I called the number and that was the beginning of a marvelous friendship with Charlie Olsen.
Read More about What you have is enough (in the hands of the Lord)
Thankful for family and friends, for the good seen and unseen, and hoping to always remember it all comes from the King.
A poem from J. C. Maxwell, 1858
Alone on a hillside of heather,
I lay with dark thoughts in my mind,
In the midst of the beautiful weather
I was deaf, I was dumb, I was blind.
I knew not the glories around me,
I thought of the world as it seems,
Till a spirit of melody found me,
And taught me in visions and dreams.
Saw the sad news this week: Stan Lee passed away. My brother and I grew up reading and collecting Marvel Comics in the early 1960s. We loved the artwork, we copied the artwork; and, I can definitely say, the stories had an impact on me. It was not just adventure and entertainment, and it was not just about good vs. evil. There was always this message, this touch of reality, that making that choice (good vs. evil) had consequences; and that to stand for good, for love, for fairness, for what is right – more often than not – requires sacrifice. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby: I must have been 7 or 8 when I learned those names, and I’ll never forget them.
I actually met Stan Lee once.
On the stories and writing in general
This week I have posted the original written version of “Who argued for my soul?”. The podcast version will be up on the Untold Podcast through the end of the month. Given that they are two different art forms I am interested in finding out if you think there are things that come through in one differently from the way they come through in the other. Both reading and listening to an audio drama exercise our imagination, but the result in the reader and audience can certainly be different. Just curious… if you want to comment.