Archive for February 7th, 2011

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1563) French
Martin Luther was the lightening of the Protestant Reformation and Calvin provided its thunder.
Born as John Cauvin few theologians have had more influence on Western Christian thought and culture than he. He was only eight when Luther nailed the 95 theses upon a Wittenburg church door. Within 30 years he would come to spearhead the reformation. Born to a Roman Catholic family of means, Calvin was schooled in Latin, Hebrew, Greek, philosophy, and law in Paris, Orleans and Bourges. When John went to Paris the reformation was very much in the air and his conversion was anathema to Church and state. He took refuge in Switzerland from where he became the voice for a new moral order. He was at first expelled from Geneva but the city was fated to have him for better or worse. Fiercely doctrinaire he was God’s ‘angry man who spoke harshly on every lapse he found there.

Around 1533 he had what he later described as “conversion,” and by 1534 religion had become foremost in his writing and work. In Basel in 1536 Calvin published Institutes of the Christian Religion, a six-chapter catechism that grew to 80 chapters by its final edition in 1559. It is widely regarded as the clearest, most systematic treatise of the Reformation. Calvin’s is the most famous presentation of the much debated doctrine of predestination: that God decided, before creating the world, who will and will not be saved. After years as a minister, writer and leader in Geneva and then Strasbourg, Calvin returned to Geneva and resumed efforts to make the city a model Christian community, in part through tight restrictions on individual and social behavior and by the scrutiny (and punishment) of citizens by church and civil authorities. Thus Calvin’s name is often connected with grim moral austerity and denial of pleasure, though this is probably an unfair oversimplification of his theology. Calvin’s influence went as far as Scotland via John Knox and also to the New Word where Jonathan Edwards was America was his follower.
In 1559 Calvin founded what is now the University of Geneva… A prolific writer, Calvin differed from Luther on key theological points, including the nature of the Lord’s Supper. The two were a generation apart and never met… Some scholars attribute capitalism to Calvinism’s influence. Among the first was Max Weber in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904) Hi teachings seemed to assure a richman that wealth was part of God’s plan and a virtue rather than a sin. ‘In God we trust’is on every cent that for GOP come to mean ‘In God and Mammon we trust.’

Calvin married Idelette de Bure in 1540; she died in 1549. Their only child, Jacques (1542), died as an infant.
One blot on his otherwise austere life was the 1553 trial, conviction and death by burning of Michael Servetus for heresy.


Read Full Post »

Nations are like a snow pack and individual, to continue with the analogy, is the snowflake. The snowflake when settled down loses its shape. The crystals of ice are bonded even as community of men can behave uncharacteristically. Mob it is often said have no head. How come then that such a rabble carry so much impact to overthrow regimes? If one can understand what causes avalanche it will be also give a clue to what power the mass movements pack in little things, as a slight change in the temperature does to a snow pack. Perhaps the sun heats up after a very cold night and the bonded crystals beneath can become unstable. A slight tremor,a footfall or even a bird momentarily landing for a breather over the snow and taking off could act as a trigger. It makes the entire snow pack slide down carrying everything else in its path. If such a trifle as a change in a couple of degrees can cause great avalanche a mass of disgruntled individuals may set off revolutions. The Mubarak regime is at the moment assuring the people some concessions that seem too late and suspect. ‘A stitch in time saves nine’ seems still valid.
Mob has enough power to throw off an oppressive regime but have no wisdom to fashion a government out of the old that shall fulfill their aspirations. In Iran the downfall of Shah Pahlevi didn’t make the voice of the people heard. Instead came another repressive regime in an altogether different form. The mass movements only supply muscle but not the essential quality of good governance. ‘The Brotherhood did not organize or lead the protests currently under way. It ordered its supporters to take part a few days after they began, sensing that the protesters, mostly young men and women using social networks on the Internet to mobilize, were able to sustain their momentum. Now the Brotherhood’s followers appear to be growing in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the uprising’(AP News6 Feb.’11). When the regime is toppled moderates, fundamentalists and the army are some of the elements that shall play a leading role as always the case, and certainly not the man on the street.
The great events are set rolling by small incidents. Our universe itself became as it is now over anomalous nature of matter. Such anomalies of matter when compounded and magnified to the size of earth shall be manifest in its slight tilt. This in turn causes the seasons. Seasons determine the way of life of species living in any ecosystem.
Take amphibians for an example. In the rainforests frogs tend to live above and lay eggs than on the ground. The reason? Broad leaves above are wet and warm to incubate their eggs. Similarly every life form would fill in the particular niche taking every opportunity to further its agenda: Survive or perish.

(Note: On account of the tilt the earth travels in a loop around the sun each year. Summer happens in the hemisphere tilted towards the sun, and winter happens in the hemisphere tilted away from the sun. The hemisphere that is tilted towards the sun is warmer because it is closer.
At the equator there are no seasons because each day the sun strikes at about the same angle. Every day of the year the equator receives about 12 hours of sunlight. During midwinter, when a pole is tilted away from the Sun, there is no daylight at all. The sun never rises! However, during the summer, a pole receives sunlight all the time and there is no night!ack:windows2universe.org)
Anomalies may be slight but when it is worked into innumerable events or over a long distance can be imponderable. It affects calculations of man as to the significance of events as well as the very existence of the planet.
A meteor hurtling down from outer space has to run the gauntlet of planets gravity of which can affect its path. Think of that slight deflection could do over millions of light years? The earth is saved from a cosmic impact precisely for this reason. The earth is set up like a moving doll in a shooting gallery and given the laws of probability the odds of a meteor hitting the earth is in our favor.
We all have a place under the sun but we need to provide for our comforts. Such differences must decide the manner each one tries to overcome his or her disadvantages. If such a discontent blows out of proportion, as President Mubarak would realize now ‘we have a revolution on our hands.’
Uncertainty principle
At a time Antarctica was largely unexplored Captain Robert F.Scott and Roald Amundsen both competed in a much publicly acclaimed race in 1911 for the honor to be the first to reach the South Pole; The intrepid English man did reach the Pole on Jan 17 1912 but was beaten by his Norwegian rival by a margin of five weeks. Both men were experienced and driven to excel against all odds and their test of endurance was conducted in treacherous conditions. There were many imponderables that had to be taken into account. In such a pile of unknown components, known personal qualities of the players or dogs, quality of equipments explained only in part. Success owed to something else.
Consider these: ice behaves differently under -20° than under -40°C: when a dog sled with steel blades run over at higher temperatures friction melts the ice to give lubrication to the sled. Whereas at lower temperatures ice acts like dry sandpaper impeding the run of the sled. Against this the nature of dogs plays a part. Dogs love to run faster and work longer when the temperature dips lower.
At extreme conditions the body requires very high calorific food intake. But optimum food amount you carry along will affect your man hauling capacity. Stashing reserve foods in depots might lighten the load but it has its own downside.
The Uncertainty principle explains play-off in any transaction between the known and the unknown factors in any given situation in cosmos.
( selected from Capsule History/ch.3-anomalous nature of matter-benny thomas)

Read Full Post »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,381 other followers