Old-Fashioned Preface

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My title is a play on words. First, I have been promising for years to complete this collection of essays. So, in this sense, it's about time I finally got it done. Actually, it will never really be finished–there will always be refinements and additions. Second, time and my somewhat unique perspective of time comprise the starting point for most, but not all, of the insights I will share with you.

I have been told I am a big picture guy–that I try to climb to the top of the mountain to get a broad view–search for the overall pattern. (Characteristic of being left-handed?) It's true: I stink at small talk. How's the weather? Oh, OK, I guess. Deadly silence.... I would much rather speculate about cosmology–the ultimate reality–both astrophysical cosmology (the space-time continuum) and metaphysical cosmology (the supernatural universe).

How can I describe things I have not experienced? Well, Newton did not have to journey to Jupiter to develop his Law of Gravitation; and Einstein did not have to travel at the speed of light to formulate the Theory of Relativity. It is possible to extrapolate from the known to the unknown. I did this sort of thing all the time in my business career–simulate systems which did not exist so the developers would know how to build them. The operating rules were not always perfect, but it sure beat running a factory or warehouse by trial and error.

Metaphysics and astrophysics? Don't those two fields conflict with one another? No, I see them like the two phases of electromagnetic photons–two waves at 90° to each other, traveling together in synchronized manner, so that each reinforces the other. I have tried to take a scientific approach to metaphysics and apply a philosophical viewpoint to astrophysics. It remains to be seen how well I have succeeded.

So what are my credentials? Now, promise not to laugh too hard. First, I spent five years in the seminary–the minor seminary. It was during this time when I began to develop my concepts of time as they relate to metaphysics and theology. I imagine bone-fide theologians are reaching already for the heresy handbook. Second, I took one college level course in physics. I got a D, but it was a hefty four-credit course!! The professional astro-physicists are shaking the heads in disbelief about now–here comes another rank amateur with screwball ideas, who thinks he has discovered the Holy Grail.

On the other hand, sometimes amateurs can make significant contributions. For example, Olbers' Paradox was posed in 1823 by the German physician and amateur astronomer Heinrich Olbers. And how about Nicolaus Copernicus; his profession was church cannon–although he was quite the Renaissance man. What about Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (aka, Chandra)–the 19-year-old kid whose ideas about white-dwarf stars were ridiculed by the elites of the professorial establishment for a decade. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, priest and paleontologist, was silenced by the Church for his seemingly pantheistic writings. Even Thomas Aquinas was excommunicated by a couple of self-important bishops for using the pagan Aristotle.

I will offer no proofs. (How I hated calculus and geometry!) I will just try to explain how I see reality and the insights I have developed, which give me a comfort level in understanding the unknowable. If you are able to get in the grove or on my wavelength, then you just might have a greater appreciation of ultimate reality.

I approach this opus with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I have a pervasive sense of mission. Not that I am directly inspired by God. Rather, it is a moral imperative that I share my insights with my fellow man because this is the way God creates us. I have a duty and an obligation. On the other hand, I have an overwhelming sense of awe and humility. Yes, I think I have some good insights. But, maybe not. They could be a pile of pompous junk–trite erudition. Hopefully some of my nuggets will turn out to be golden. So in the end, I have confidence that the best concepts will prevail. It is the way things work–although it may take a very long time for the best ideas to be adopted or the worst ideas to be rejected–witness: slavery, sexual equality, abortion, even tax cuts and free trade.

A couple of examples will illustrate how I think concepts and ideas can percolate through society:

For many years, I have been telling anyone who would listen that Pluto is not a planet–it just does not fit. [I was not alone on this.] I indoctrinated Patrick, my oldest grandchild, when he was in first grade. Two years later, when his mother told him the nine planets had been reduced to eight, Patrick responded, Oh, yah, Pluto–it's a Trans-Neptunian Object.

Back in the good old days at Carborundum Company, I explained my theological time-line concept to one of my co-workers. He rejected it out of hand as one of the dumbest, silliest, and most inconsequential ideas he had ever heard. About six months later, completely out of the blue, he volunteered the thought that maybe my concept had some merit after all.

However, I am not naive enough to believe the old aphorism about humanity beating a path to my door if I build a better mousetrap. The Internet has opened the flood-gates of communication. There are people on Facebook reporting what happened to them on the way to the bathroom this morning. A Google search will reveal thousands–no, millions–of articles on the same topics as I am writing about. Most of these have been authored by kooks–not serious thinkers, such as myself. (Of course, no one ever thinks he or she is the kook.) I need to develop a marketing plan to gain visibility, lest my brilliant insights get washed away in the torrent of verbiage. (Wish me luck with that!)

I take my name seriously and consciously try to emulate those whose names I bear (use them as role models):

St. Christopher         St. Columba
Christopher (???:251)Columba (521:597)

My Baptismal name is Christopher. The Greek word Christophoros translates as bearer of the anointed one, i.e., the Christ. St. Christopher was a 3rd-century martyr in the Asia Minor city of Lycia. He is reputed to have been a Canaanite and a giant of a man who served God as a ferryman by carrying travelers across a treacherous river. Christopher is his nick name; his real name was probably Reprobus, or maybe Menas. The name Christopher is based on the legend that he carried the Christ Child across the swollen and raging river.

My Confirmation name is Colin. This is an Anglicized form of Gaelic Colum, derived from Latin Columba, meaning dove. St. Colum, or more commonly Columba, was a 6th-century Irish missionary who established a monastery on tiny Iona Island, off the west coast of Scotland. Iona became known throughout Europe as a center of learning. [Iona Island is part of the ancestral lands of Clan Campbell, founded by Colum the Great (aka Colin Campbell). No surprise–my middle name is Campbell. Lastly, I went to Iona College, New Rochelle, NY. I feel very connected.]

And then there was Christopher Columbus, aka Cristoforo Colombo [Italian] and Cristóbal Colón [Spanish]. (That's the name which the kids in school called me as a taunt.) He was a visionary who dared to boldly go where no man had gone before. While the great explorer was a driven man, he was apparently also quiet, self-effacing, modest, and unassuming. Columbus insisted on none of the pomp and extravagance which befitted his admiral's rank. He lived with austerity and dressed simply, like a Franciscan monk. There is no surviving contemporaneous portrait, and no record that he ever sat for one. However, he has been described as muscular and tall (about 6 ft.), with blue eyes, aquiline nose, ruddy complexion, and reddish hair. (Why, he could have been one of my close relatives.)

Christopher Columbus
Columbus (1451:1506)

It may seem to you that half my metaphysical essays are actually theological; but I am trying to address metaphysical aspects of my religion. However, these essays are written from the perspective of an unapologetic Roman Catholic. If your religious tradition is different, then much of my writing may not make sense to you. Likewise, I should caution my fellow practicing Catholics that much of my theological writing may seem to go beyond iconoclasm and plunge into heresy. (But only after a lot of prayer-full meditation.)

I recall a Sunday sermon about taking risks–exposing oneself to possible ridicule–by taking a stand and bearing witness to the truth–prophesying to one another (in the original sense of the word). Well, that's what I think I am doing here. When it comes to my conclusions, I will just call them as I see them. In the words of the immortal cliché, Let the chips fall where they may. I take comfort in a 1998 encyclical in which the Pope repeats the warning of the Catholic Church against any school of thought which fails to recognize the importance of rational knowledge and philosophical discourse for the understanding of faith.

In my view, this collection of essays is analogous to The Lives of a Cell by Lewis Thomas (1974). This is a bunch a related topics, but not a straight line development of one idea. There are many overlapping concepts–I have tried not to be redundant, but to provide cross-links for related pages. You will not find much conventional wisdom here–just a lot of rotten eggs and tomatoes thrown at the establishment.

Some-place in here, I should mention that a new section has been added to this work. Social-physics deals with the Cosmology of Social Science–economics and politics. I have been developing a sense of winning the battle but loosing the war. Contributing factors have been a stagnant economy and fear of causing a new recession, an over-reaching government (judiciary, presidency, federal reserve), an out-of-control bureaucracy which strives to regulate us into the ideal society, an overly intrusive government afraid of terrorists, an overly timid military afraid of starting a war (peace in our time and to hell with the future). Too many in our society want government to provide all nutrition, housing, education, health care, retirement, and charity. Too many are looking for the free lunch, not understanding that there is no such thing. I see a society which is stagnating and becoming increasingly ossified. It's about time to open a new front in the war of ideas.

Written feedback–corrections or questions–is welcome. I have learned that talking face-to-face is non-productive–it is easy to get off the point. Most people have their own views, which they want to explain, rather than listen to someone else's thoughts. Reading-then-writing is one-way-at-a-time communication, which works much better for controversial or complex ideas.

A few words about my humor. I try not to take myself too seriously. Any over-the-top, self-congratulatory, know-it-all comments (although no doubt true) are intended as sarcastic humor. It may take a little getting used to.

Thank you for visiting It's About Time. Come back often. You should see regular extensions and improvements to the content.

This work is dedicated to Almighty God, the Be-all and End-all. Without God, I would be nothing.

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