Month: December 2021

Rowan Williams

When I think of people in my own life that I call holy, who have really made an impact…[these] people have made me feel better rather than worse about myself. Or rather, not quite that: these are never people who make me feel complacent about myself, far from it; they make me feel that there is hope for my confused and compromised humanity…somehow, I feel a little bit more myself…I have a theory, which I started elaborating after I had met Archbishop Desmond Tutu a few times, that there are two kinds of egotists in this world. There are egotists that are so in love with themselves that they have no room for anybody else, and there are egotists that are so in love with themselves that they make it possible for everybody else to be in love with themselves…And in that sense Desmond Tutu manifestly loves being Desmond Tutu; there’s no doubt about that. But the effect of that is not to make me feel frozen or shrunk; it makes me feel that just possibly, by God’s infinite grace, I could one day love being Rowan Williams in the way that Desmond Tutu loves being Desmond Tutu.

Freeman Dyson

The technologies which have had the most profound effects on human life are usually simple. A good example of a simple technology with profound historical consequences is hay. Nobody knows who invented hay, the idea of cutting grass in the autumn and storing it in large enough quantities to keep horses and cows alive through the winter. All we know is that the technology of hay was unknown to the Roman Empire but was known to every village of medieval Europe. Like many other crucially important technologies, hay emerged anonymously during the so-called Dark Ages. According to the Hay Theory of History, the invention of hay was the decisive event which moved the center of gravity of urban civilization from the Mediterranean basin to Northern and Western Europe. The Roman Empire did not need hay because in a Mediterranean climate the grass grows well enough in winter for animals to graze. North of the Alps, great cities dependent on horses and oxen for motive power could not exist without hay. So it was hay that allowed populations to grow and civilizations to flourish among the forests of Northern Europe. Hay moved the greatness of Rome to Paris and London, and later to Berlin and Moscow and New York.

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