Thursday, January 10, 2008

I was always lousy in math, but lately I've been collecting some humorous definitions that can be expressed as mathematical equations. Here's how it works.  Anytime you hear the word "with" it can be translated "plus" and the word "without" can be translated "minus". Here are some examples. If you can come up with any more, feel free to contribute!

  • Communism = Fascism - the ability to make the trains run on time
I came across this one in Robert Kaplan's book Balkan Ghosts. The original quote was something to the effect that in the end Communism was exposed for what it was: Fascism without the ability to make the trains run on time. Having lived mostly in the Balkans since '95, this one really hits home.
  • Singapore = Disneyland + the death penalty
I wish I could remember where I heard this one.

  • Emergent Christians = Calvinists + tattoos

If I remember right I came across this one on a blog post by Earl Creps. The point is that the Emergent movement/conversation/or whatever may not be as radical/innovative/heretical as everyone usually supposes, i.e. that the differences may be more stylistic than substantive.

  • Missouri Synod Lutherans = fundamentalists + cigars
I think I heard this one from a professor at Vanguard U. who was married to a lady from a Missourri Synod background. I doubt his wife smoked cigars though. She's an opera singer, so it would probably have messed up her voice.

As I was thinking about all this, it occurred to me that part of the famous poem about love in 1 Corinthians 13 could be made into a series of equations.  I know, it's really ugly to reduce poetry to mere math.  But in this case, I wonder whether we're so familiar with the poetry that we've be've built up immunity.  Maybe we could better appreciate the power of the poetry if we came at it for once from a little different angle.  So here goes:  (Quotes are from NIV.)

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal."
tongues of men  + tongues of angels - love = noise

"If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing."
prophecy + total insight + knowledge + faith to the tenth power - love = 0, 
or (spiritual gifts * infinity) - love = 0

"If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing."
(act of charity * 1,000,000) + (act of self sacrifice * 1,000,000) - love = 0


Craig Mathison said...

Hey, Mark, Ritalin helps cure math obsessions.


P.S. Super photo. Mam, you got an eye.

Rachel said...

The formula for emergent Christians sounds about right.

I'm glad you've started blogging. I look forward to reading more.

Josh said...

cool pic mark!