Humbled by mystery

I caught this morning’s This I believe essay by Episcopal priest Richard Rohr. In his essay, Rev. Rohr explains that his “religious belief has made [him] comfortable with ambiguity.” He continues:

Whenever I think there’s a perfect pattern, further reading and study reveal an exception. Whenever I want to say “only” or “always,” someone or something proves me wrong. My scientist friends have come up with things like “principles of uncertainty” and dark holes. They’re willing to live inside imagined hypotheses and theories. But many religious folks insist on answers that are always true. We love closure, resolution and clarity, while thinking that we are people of “faith”! How strange that the very word “faith” has come to mean its exact opposite.

I read that as a more eloquent statement of what I always say: for me, faith is about the journey, not the destination.
Ironically, at the end of the essay, Rev. Rohr makes an absolute statement:

People who have really met the Holy are always humble. It’s the people who don’t know who usually pretend that they do. People who’ve had any genuine spiritual experience always know they don’t know. They are utterly humbled before mystery. They are in awe before the abyss of it all, in wonder at eternity and depth, and a Love, which is incomprehensible to the mind. It is a litmus test for authentic God experience, and is — quite sadly — absent from much of our religious conversation today. My belief and comfort is in the depths of Mystery, which should be the very task of religion.

So, according to Re. Rohr, if you think it’s about the destination, not the journey, then you just haven’t had a ‘genuine spiritual experience.” This is where my belief differs from that of Rev. Rohr. I’ve thought long and hard about how a belief in God can mean such diametrically opposed things to different people. My conclusion is that there must be some reason that I can’t comprehend. For me, that remains a mystery.

Oh, the irony

From NPR news:

A fence-building company in Southern California agrees to pay nearly $5 million in fines for hiring illegal immigrants. Two executives from the company may also serve jail time. The Golden State Fence Company’s work includes some of the border fence between San Diego and Mexico.

The $5 Coke

A New York Times Magazine article ponders why the ‘hidden fee’ economy works–why, for instance, consumers put up with hotels charging outrageous sums for items in the mini-bar.
The article summarizes the explanation theorized by some economists. But I’ve long felt that a big factor in the case of hotel fees and other travel-related fees is the expense account. Consumers are more willing to pay an unreasonable charge if the company foots the bill than if they had to pay it themselves.
The effect of expense accounts may not explain the ‘hidden fee economy’ as a whole, but it’s bound to play a big role in the travel-related sector.
As a side note, on the few business trips I’ve made over the years, I was so outraged by the fees that I refused whenever possible to incur them, even though my company paid the bills. Maybe if I traveled regularly, I wouldn’t be so diligent. Who knows.

Misunderstanding hydrogen

I’ve noted for a while a lot of misunderstanding about hydrogen fuel cells as a possible solution to our dependence on fossil fuels. This article correctly points out that since we have to manufacture hydrogen, it is really an energy storage mechanism, not a fuel.
The manufacturing process uses electricity to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen. The resulting hydrogen is collected, and distributed. Then fuel cells combine the hydrogen with oxygen again, producing water and electricity. It takes more energy to create, collect, store and distribute the hydrogen than is regained when it is used to create electricity–which makes hydrogen a very inefficient energy storage mechanism.

Living la vida Dilbert

When I walked into the office kitchen the other morning to get my coffee, several of my coworkers were huddled in front of the snack vending machine, talking excitedly. It seems that one of my coworkers, let’s call him Ray, wanted to buy a Pop Tart for breakfast, but the Pop Tart in the front had slid to the side and looked like the coiled steel thing might not push it all the way out.
The group discussed whether they thought “Ray” could shake the machine enough to make the Pop Tart fall if it didn’t come out, whether he could possibly get his arm through the slot up into the machine, etc. I thought they were going to take bets.
Finally, “Ray” deposited his coins. There was a tense silence in the room as the Pop Tart moved toward the edge but not all the way. “Ray” shook the machine a few times and it fell. The group cheered.
That drama was the highlight of our day at the office.

Little trees and little heads

These are the two vegetables that we had with dinner the other night. I’m pretty sure our kids are totally unfamiliar with their proper names. But who cares? They both taste yummy with a little cheese sauce. Fortunately, they’re both still to young to understand why I thought ‘You want a little head?’ (and variations thereof) is so funny.

Cry me a f*cking river

Every time I hear a news report about the problems of General Motors or Ford, I get pissed off. Their current problems are all their own damn fault. I heard years ago that pretty much ALL of their profits came from high-margin, cheaper-to-build, gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs. So, now that the price of gasoline has inevitably gone up and consumers are buying fewer of their profitable vehicles, these companies are in poor economic shape. Shocking! Who could have predicted such an event!
My astounding observation is corroborated by The Truth About Cars:

We’re looking at two strategies here. Toyota: build affordable transportation for the masses at a quality level that slightly exceeds expectations relative to price. GM et al: build oversized, under-engineered and fuel inefficient cars for people who don’t care about money while palming off sub-standard cars on mainstream customers. Is it any wonder that the truck-crazed domestic manufacturers lost mission critical market share to the transplants?