“Random” prime numbers and human projections

“So just what has got mathematicians spooked? Apart from 2 and 5, all prime numbers end in 1, 3, 7 or 9 – they have to, else they would be divisible by 2 or 5 – and each of the four endings is equally likely. But while searching through the primes, the pair noticed that primes ending in 1 were less likely to be followed by another prime ending in 1. That shouldn’t happen if the primes were truly random –  consecutive primes shouldn’t care about their neighbour’s digits.”

Source: Mathematicians shocked to find pattern in “random” prime numbers | New Scientist

Math, philosophically, is spooky.

Does it “really” exist in the cosmos or is it (like most things we consider to be intrinsic to the universe) a human projection based on our finite nature?

You Are Becoming Obsolete

I was born in 1978. The C2-8P with its futuristic dual floppy drives was cutting edge tech.

My oldest child was born in 2007. This had just been released and some of the first pictures I have of her were taken with it. She will never know a world without it.

LC was born in 2010, the same year as this. It is revolutionizing how we do everything from teaching and learning to making a medical diagnosis.

And now I have a four month old son who was born the same time this went on sell. He will never know a world that doesn’t include widely available and affordable VR (or AR).

I imagine that we’ll see a similar revolution in our society in the way that iPhone has changed us since 2007 because of virtual reality devices going “mainstream.”

Similarly, things we didn’t think could change are changing rapidly.

We’re seeing our political system transform seemingly overnight. We’re teaching our children with tools such as Coursera and Khan Academy that are replacing the need for highly skilled teachers of content. Even our religious landscape looks very different than it did 10 years ago.

Churches, schools, and politicians are all clamoring to stay relevant and not show signs of aging or becoming obsolete.

However, our bodies age and decline. When we pass mirrors, we still see ourselves in our mind’s eye at the height of our physical (and maybe spiritual) beauty. The wrinkles and scars don’t always register right away. Some of us seek out surgery or vitamins or juice cleanses or yoga to delay the inevitable. Most of us want to delay death.

Yeats would remind us,

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned.
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Things fall apart. You will die. Your church will not look the same in ten years as it does today. Your child’s school will teach math differently than you learned math. Donald Trump may become our country’s president.

You will contribute some verse, however. Even after you are long gone as a corporal being, perhaps distant family will think of you or a depiction of you in some not-yet-invented VR machine will allow a great-great-grandchild to interview you for a project.

What about our churches, our schools, and our political system? What will our grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren say about them? Will they be comforting thoughts or will they react like teens in the video above reacted to Windows 95?

You are becoming obsolete. Embrace that and the decay and work for justice and peace in all that you do and with those you choose to worship, learn, or legislate with while you’re here. Worry less about the details that your obsolete brain is telling you matter.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.

The Pope Didn’t Say Donald Trump Is Not a Christian

From Dr. Thomas J. Whitley…

“The “only” is a key word in Pope Francis’ response, as is his admission that he is rather uninformed regarding Donald Trump’s immigration policy proposals. The Pope did not say “Donald Trump is not Christian.” Rather, he claimed that if a person only ever thought about building walls and not also about building bridges, that person would not be Christian. Yes, the implication is that Trump is that person and that Trump only thinks about building walls and not bridges, but that is not precisely what Francis said.”

Source: MRBlog | Donald Trump, Pope Francis, and the Death of Nuance – The Marginalia Review of Books

What Churches Can Learn from Sanders’ Campaign

** ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND DEC. 7-10 ** Susan Valadez, left, and her husband, Michael, use one of the "giving kiosks" in the atrium at the Stevens Creek Community Church in Augusta, Ga., Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2006. The kiosks allow parishioners to give money using their credit or debit card. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

Don’t get me started on “giving kiosks” in churches.

Merianna made an interesting connection between Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and the need for churches to also be aware of the the zeitgeist in the air (particularly among younger Americans):

“Bernie’s average donation is just $27. He hasn’t concentrated his efforts and energies in the megadonor, but has touted the power of every person explaining that every gift and every donation makes a difference. His message against Wall Street and giving power to the average person has made him popular among college-aged people as well as young professionals struggling to make ends meet.

Bernie’s financial message and his young followers is something churches need to pay attention to. For years churches have touted and even catered to the megadonors in their congregations who have formed the foundation of the church’s budget, but megadonors are a dying people group, and unfortunately they are leading churches to death’s door.”

Source: Why Churches Should Pay Attention to Bernie’s Win in NH – Merianna Neely Harrelson

Compare that to the way forward for Hillary’s campaign outlined in a memo today. I work with numerous churches, and I hear this sort of speak quite often (especially when it comes to fundraising and adding more donors to the rolls):

The way to win the nomination is to maximize the number of delegates we secure from each primary and caucus. Thus, the campaign is building the type of modern, data-driven operation that it will take to turn voters out and win the most possible delegates. That strategy includes:

(1) An analytics-based approach to determine which geographic portion within March states are likely to yield the highest number of net delegates for the campaign. Each congressional district will have its own data-driven plan.

(2) Paid organizers on the ground in all of the March states, running large-scale voter contact operations in areas where GOTV efforts will be most impactful towards increasing delegate margins.

(3) Targeted use of the right campaign surrogates in key communities in March states.

(4) An advertising campaign that will use a range of optimization tools to ensure that messages are reaching the right voters in the key media markets in the most cost-efficient way to the campaign.

Source: Hillary Clinton’s no-need-to-panic-everything-is-going-to-be-just-fine campaign memo, annotated – Washington Post

Of course, such marketing speak is not a bad thing in itself (it’s how I pay the bills!). It does feel cold and calculating though, doesn’t it? Perhaps that’s the reason I’m “turned off” by the approach outlined in Clinton’s memo despite it’s practicality.

But Sam, campaigns should be run like businesses. But Sam, churches should be run like businesses. Maybe. I just can’t buy into them if that’s the leading strategy.

I’m not alone in that regard. Churches too often turn their backs on young people who may not be able to write checks with multiple 0’s in favor of one or two mega-donors in areas of leadership, discipleship, and even messaging (sermons on Matthew 19:16-21 are often allegorized as a result of the Pastor recognizing the beauty of having a job).

It’s not a clear equivocation, but Merianna gave me something to think about.

Change and the Real World

More churches, small businesses, and barely surviving companies need to heed this advice…

“Those who want things always to stay the same are not living in the real world,” Ms. Wintour said in a recent interview at her office overlooking the Hudson River at Condé Nast’s new headquarters, One World Trade Center. “It’s like perfection. Doesn’t exist.”

Source: Condé Nast Adapts to New Forces, Unsettling Some Inside