On this day in 1623 the French philosopher, mathematician and writer Blaise Pascal was born.
One of the profoundest thinkers since the Graeco Roman period, Pascal’s great work, the Pensees or ‘thoughts’ are a series of meditations on some of the eternal great questions. However it was as a mathematician that he became best known in his lifetime; he confounded Descartes with his precocious paper on conical mathematics.
Pascal’s father was for a time the chief tax collector at Rouen and Pascal designed a number of machines that would add and subtract, in order to help him in his task. Pascal is thus credited as an inventor of the calculating machine and therefore indirectly, of the computer. He wrote the Pensees in the last years of his life and they were unfinished at his death. They remain one of the greatest expositions of Christianity ever written.
Today’s poem is by Gerard Manley Hopkins, God’s Grandeur:
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! Bright wings.
To listen to this poem, click here –
Today I give thanks for the spiritual dimension in my life.