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Religion

On T.S. Eliot

Customer
East Coker

T.S. Eliot died over 50 years ago now. His legacy remains profound and his poetry moves me deeply.

In August 2016 I had the privilege of visiting his final resting place, East Coker.

I listen to the peerless Little Gidding at least once a quarter, sometimes more often, and almost every line entrances, as if peering through a veil at something once known, but half-forgotten because not looked-for.

On Joseph Campbell

Customer
JC

Joseph Campbell's The Masks of God have been a constant companion to me for more than 25 years, while his The Hero with a Thousand Faces outlines the common journey of the archetypal hero across a wealth of ancient myths from around the world. Now a short animation from TED Ed presents a synthesis of Campbell’s foundational framework for the eleven stages of the hero’s quest - from the call to adventure to the crisis to the moment of return and transformation.

On Leonard Cohen

Customer
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"So come, my friends, be not afraid.
We are so lightly here.
It is in love that we are made;
In love we disappear."

You tried, in your way, to be free. Thank you. Now go join that great gig in the sky. 

'We Love Leonard Cohen' celebrated his 81st Birthday, and then, for his 82nd and final birthday, Leonard gave us a present. "You Want It Darker" is the title track to last album, his 14th studio album in his 49-year recording career. (See also Leonard Cohen Makes it Darker.)

"Leonard Cohen offers the possibility of living with grace, dignity, and integrity, without submitting to illusions, without succumbing to indifference, and without indulging in denial of our own failures and flaws, in a world that is too often corrupt and malevolent" - Allan Showalter

What's Happening? - Presence
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Halcyon Inspired 1 November 2016

A favourite concept of mine is the 200-year present, a way of thinking about change. The 200-year present began 100 years ago with the year of birth of the people who have reach their hundredth birthday today. The other boundary of the 200-year present, 100 years from now, is the hundredth birthday of the babies born today. If you take that span, you and I will have had contact with a lot of people from different parts of that span. So think in terms of events over that span and realise how long change takes. You can see how difficult it has been to create these bodies and new ways and how in many ways we are slipping backward; but in other ways we are not. I take comfort to know that super-power hegemony has a very limited lifespan (decline and fall of Rome, the Ottoman Empire) -  Elise Boulding

On Kaleidoscopes

Customer

The kaleidoscope is perhaps Halcyon's prime metaphor for personal, organisational and societal development, allowing us all to consider problems and solutions through a wide and changing set of lenses.

History of kaleidoscopes

On Scientific Progress

Customer
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Imagining scientific concepts that could improve everyone's cognitive abilities. This is the challenge that some of the world's leading scientific thinkers tackled in answer to the 2011 Edge question.

The responses were various and imaginative. One good example came from author Michael Shermer, who wished we would understand that almost everything important in nature and society...

"...happens from the bottom up, not the top down. Water is a bottom-up, self-organised emergent property of hydrogen and oxygen. Life is a bottom-up, self-organised emergent property of organic molecules."

Adding this to their cognitive toolkit might e.g. let religious conservatives recognise the reality of evolution, says Shermer, and let political liberals see that "too much top-down design can interfere with market efficiency".

On the Singularity

Customer

Many are imagining, some even planning for, the coming of the "singularity". Some are for, some against, many others sceptical that it could ever arrive.

Ray Kurzweil, who inter alia works on Google's machine learning project, predicts that by 2029, humans will be extending their lives considerably or even indefinitely. He also believes the human brain could be enhanced by tiny robotic implants that connect to cloud-based computer networks to give us 'God-like' abilities.

On Confession

Customer
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As Good Friday rolls around again, I recall how, as a "good little Catholic" boy I went regularly to confession. However, I'm not sure I committed many of the 48 sins that 19-year-old Isaac Newton self-admittedly “committed” before Whitsunday.  I am intrigued by no.7 (did they have supersoakers in the 17th century?) and nos.26 and 44 (poor old Dorothy Rose and Arthur Storer), although on reflection I may have been guilty of 24, 28, 31 and 32, and I couldn't possibly comment on 16...