I recently read Jesus Freak by Sandy Holly (2017). It is a memoir of her time living in a heavily-Mormon neighborhood in Utah and how she came to take her Christian faith more seriously. She doesn’t explicitly say it, but reading between the lines I gather that the combination of being surrounded by lost souls desperately trying to live up to an unattainable standard and being manipulated by the priesthood, being judged for her freedom in Christ in the way she lived, being surrounded by people who didn’t like crosses, being reminded of her childlessness by a culture that highly valued large families, and her discovery of new forms of worship music at the Methodist church 20 miles away all conspired to drive her deeper into the arms of Jesus.
The second half of the book really shows her bubbly personality as she gets excited about everything. You can almost feel the love in the pages. You can tell that God has done much for her. It starts on page one hundred when she meets the Mormon missionaries and explains that we must wait on the Holy Spirit’s leading and not do things merely because we are expected to. Some doors are not safe to knock on. Some strangers are not receptive to the Gospel. She also goes on to explain that we don’t need to perform because we have already been rescued by Jesus and that cleaning out our old emotional baggage isn’t just relieving; it also makes more room for more Jesus! Everything is Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, but what else would one expect from a Jesus freak?
The first half of the book is less interesting. I also wondered at times whether she was imagining persecution where there was none. She always thought she was being judged for her bare shoulders, her cross jewelry, and her coffee pots, but I never saw a clear example. However, just because she can’t remember one good example doesn’t mean there aren’t ten more half-remembered examples that can’t all be pure imagination. I’ve got the same problem with some of my writings. I also thought she was taking it completely the wrong way when she heard a religious joke I thought was pretty funny.
I learned much I did not know before. I always thought Mormons were basically Christian, in that they believed Jesus was God made flesh who rescued them from sins, but added a lot of stuff most Christians would think weird, such as prohibition of coffee, post-death baptism, people becoming Gods, and magic underwear. I was extremely surprised to find that they were offended by Easter and the cross, and had their own version of the Bible in addition to the Book of Mormon, with many books rewritten. This makes them sound distinctly non-Christian. I don’t know what to think now.
I was also intrigued by her déjà vu theory. She proposes that when we see a familiar person or place that we should not remember, that this is actually us recognizing Jesus in them. I wonder if this is what Bush saw when he looked in Putin’s eyes. I’m not convinced.
It’s a quick, light read if you like uplifting memoirs of spiritual growth.
Very few suggest that divorce should be illegal, but many recognize that a union carrying an expiration date from its inception is not a true marriage. Very few suggest that promiscuity among consenting adults should be illegal, but many recognize that a union of more than two individuals is not a true marriage either. Very few suggest that homosexual relationships should be illegal, but when it comes to whether homosexual unions are true marriages, we cannot seem to agree. It is one of the great debates of our time. Explaining the inherently heterosexual nature of romantic love to a homosexual is like explaining color to a blind man, except of course, that when insisting on the existence of color, nobody ever accuses us of being blindophobic.
Clearwater In December
French vanilla latte?
In December 2022, I visited Clearwater, Florida. I found some unusual shells and a large flock of terns flew all around me just out of reach. Here are some photos:
Something Deeply Hidden
I recently read Something Deeply Hidden by Sean Carroll (2019). The book hints at an ambitious undertaking to examine some profound ideas, including the derivation of space, time, and gravity from a proper understanding of quantum mechanics, but on this point it falls short. I suspect the real reason for the book is to lay out the case for the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. On this point, it succeeds brilliantly. I’ve always thought Everett’s approach to QM was the most intuitive and this book makes the clearest argument for it yet.
Some say that the many-worlds approach breaks Occam’s razor by positing millions of additional, parallel universes that can never be detected, but the reverse is closer to the truth. Other interpretations of QM need to posit additional, so far unseen mechanisms to “collapse” the wave function. Some believe it random. Others believe consciousness plays a role. After observation, what happens to the other parts of the wave? Many-worlds assumes only that the wave that once existed continues to exist even when parts of it no longer interact. The idea is that you and your instruments observe a particle in the quantum state you do because the part of the particle’s wave function in that state is entangled with your own, while the part of the particle’s wave function in other states are entangled with the other parts of your wave function.
Once this is thoroughly explained, Carrol moves on to speculate chaotically about where gravity might come from and be made compatible with QM. He mentions the idea that space could be emergent from an abstract sort of space where objects of similar values interact stronger than objects of dissimilar values. This would be indistinguishable from how we experience space. He subtly hints that the wave function of the universe has broken its symmetry, allowing “position” to exhibit locality in this way, but not “momentum.” These two attributes might actually be fundamentally the same, but momenta have lost their ability to interact when holding similar values. The problem is that he proposes no mechanism for this to happen, gives no reason why we have three dimensions of space, and gives no reason why this approach would be more insightful than simply assuming space as foundational.
Carrol mentions Ted Jacobson’s 1995 paper suggesting that the entropy of a region is proportional to the interactions it has with other regions (and therefore surface area), and therefore reducing entropy might reduce surface area, warping space not unlike gravity. The problem with this is that gravitational collapse actually represents an increase in entropy.
He mentions Stephen Hawking’s work and that of his successors suggesting that a black hole’s information is encoded on its event horizon, meaning that the information of a three-dimensional volume can be stored on a two-dimensional surface. The problem is that there is still a lot of debate about this.
He mentions conformal field theory and the proof that a quantum field operating in a five-dimensional spacetime with a negative cosmological constant is mathematically equivalent to a quantum field operating on the four-dimensional surface of such a spacetime. The problem is that our universe has a positive constant and only four dimensions that need to be representable by three, not five.
Finally, he points out that the more degrees of freedom a system has, the more entropy it has, and therefore the more energy it has, and therefore the more gravity it has (m=e/c^2). Because gravity does something weird to collapse three dimensions into two, the degrees of freedom of a volume of space is limited at the Plank energy. The implications are that Hilbert space is not infinite (though still enormous), and that there is a limit on how many “worlds” can exist in the wave function simultaneously. This is the same reason I have heard elsewhere for why the vacuum energy is not infinite.
He never did explain where gravity came from.
My main criticism is that too often he would take up to ten pages explaining the same simple concept over and over when I got it the first time, and then suddenly cover twenty steps in half a paragraph. It was jarring. I simultaneously felt really smart and really dumb.
My takeaway observation is that this book confirms what I have heard elsewhere of big-name scientists over the generations accusing each other of fuzzy thinking and conceptual errors when it comes to QM. It gives me hope that my ideas might be just as valid even though I’ve never had to compute an eigenvector in my life. If the scientists can’t support their models and they get attention anyways, why not me?
Pain and sex are opposites. Domination and love are opposites. They could not possibly be any more different. Whips, gags, and chains are what you use on those you dislike, not those you like. Kissing, hugging, and making babies are things you do with those you like, not those you dislike.
My name is Dan. I am an author, artist, explorer, and contemplator of subjects large and small.