Networks

Visualization of the various routes through a ...

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The broader lesson… is that it doesn’t make much sense to discuss properties of network structures – such as small-world or scale-free types – without also discussing what it is you want to do on them. Different types of networks are better at different types of problems. Depending on the challenges an organization might be facing, for example, greater connectivity among workers or departments might be a good thing or a bad thing. Some organizations function best as a loose collection of tribes, each with its own specialists and experts, while others work better if they involve more collaboration. Tribal networks make it easier to differentiate one group from another, while greater connectivity makes it easier for an organization to reach consensus.

Peter Miller, Smart Swarm, p. 149.

It’s a fascinating book, pulling examples from animal swarms (ants, bees, termites, birds etc) and describing how they apply to our world’s dazzling array of networks (social, information, communication etc.). Then again, I’m an INTJ, so I love stuff like this. Patterns and networks and flowcharts – oh my!

What I find particularly fascinating is the distinction between small-world (think village) and scale-free networks (think Internet) that Miller makes. Not something that’d readily come to mind.

Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!

Rarely has poetry given me pause. This is one of those times.

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away”.

Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ozymandias (1818)

Jonathan Edwards on efficacious grace

We are not merely passive nor yet does God do some, and we do the rest. But God does all, and we do all. God produces all, and we act all. For that is what he produces, viz. our own acts. God is the only proper author and fountain; we only are the proper actors. We are, in different respects, wholly passive and wholly active.

In the Scriptures the same things are represented as from God and from us. God is said to convert (2 Tim. 2:25), and men are said to convert and turn (Acts 2:38). God makes a new heart (Ezek. 36:26) and we are commanded to make us a new heart (Ezek. 18:31). God circumcises the heart (Deut. 30:6), and we are commanded to circumcise our own hearts (Deut. 10:16); not merely because we must use the means in order to the effect, but the effect itself is our act and our duty. These things are agreeable to that text, “God worketh in you both to will and to do” (Phil. 2:13).

Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 2, Chapter IV “Concerning Efficacious Grace”, §64

What pedants might require

When the Scripture uses anthropomorphic terms with reference to God and his actions, we must interpret accordingly and not predicate of God the limitations which belong to men. When Scripture conveys truth to us by the mode of apocalyptic vision, we cannot find the truth signified in the details of the vision literalised. If Scripture uses the language of common usage and experience or observation, we are not to accuse it of error because it does not use the language of a particular science, language which few could understand and which becomes with the passing phases of scientific advancement. The Scripture does not make itself ridiculous by conforming to what pedants might require.

John Murray, The Collected Writings: Claims of Truth v. 1, p.14

Apathy

How often we can hear words like “imputation” and “justification” and “union with Christ” and not get excited.  Our spiritual stupor affects every area of our lives.  We become like the Beatles’ nowhere man, living in his nowhere land; in the same way, we’re not quite excited about the gospel but sin has lost its sweetness too.  So we muddle on, waiting for next year’s vacation.

Thus, worship becomes dry and dull.  Preaching becomes a topic of discussion, in which rhetoric is critiqued with precision and skill but our hearts left untouched by truth that may have been delivered clumsily.  Singing praise becomes glancing out the window, wondering what to wear after church.  Prayer and Bible study truly become disciplines which, while dutifully performed, have become arid and plodding.

Quoted from here.

Thus, worship becomes dry and dull.  Preaching becomes a topic of discussion, in which rhetoric is critiqued with precision and skill but our hearts left untouched by truth that may have been delievered clumsily.  Singing praise becomes glancing out the window, wondering what to wear after church.  Prayer and Bible study truly become disciplines which, while dutifully performed, have become arid and plodding.