Coalescence, Criticality, & Christ

Some thoughts on recent happenings, and happenings yet to come.

an interesting complex system

There are occasions when a complex dynamical system reaches a critical point, shifting to a new kind of order and structure. I’ve been studying this in a physics/biology crossover paper recently, but make no pretences to having understood it. I’ve also been thinking a little about ‘the coalescent’ in biology – a model for understanding the evolutionary relationship between individuals. Dynamical systems is where the action is.

It may seem unrelated, but a very influential book for me (which I am yet to finish – perhaps I will set aside a day for that soon) has been Christian sociologist James Davison Hunter’s “To Change the World” [see chapter abstracts here], which discusses the role of  networks of influential people in the maintenance and evolution of culture, whilst critiquing a number of popular models of Christian cultural engagement. Its lessons are worth taking to heart by any who want to see positive change in society.

I am slowly but increasingly, I think, learning to see where God is acting in the world. In recent days I have seen a few things come together from multiple directions in the area of Christian academics at uni, international students, and world mission. I expect to see some influential consequences to come out of the mishmashed networks that are developing, but the thing that fascinates me is how stuff is happening quite beyond my control or intention, while also making use of connections that I and others have quite deliberately planned. God acts, and He often does so through ordinary means. The interplay of the once-independent plans of a number of different people from across Auckland (and NZ) is looking like it will be fruitful – where it will all go is going to be interesting. It’s not just something that we’re sitting back and marvelling at, mind you – God does indeed move, but if we conclude that we are called to laziness as a result we have clearly misunderstood! It is deeply concerning that so many Christians have missed this boat. There is so much more to be done in proclaiming in word and deed that God is indeed King; there are large fields to harvest and there is room for many many more workers. I pray that I remain willing to contribute; sometimes, in the words of yesterday evening’s sermon at St P’s, it “feels like death”, but unlike the vain busyness of the world that so many are caught up in, it also “leads to life”. Rumours of the death of God continue to circulate, but He continues to breathe life into those who will listen, and from the dust of everyday stuff creates dynamic networks with complex and unpredictable behaviour.

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ploughing in hope

“God is turning the world upside down that it may be right side up when Jesus comes. He that plougheth should plough in hope. We may not be able to see a harvest yet in this country but, furrow after furrow, the soil is getting ready for the seed.”
Samuel Zwemer