29 January 2007

Modern Cathedrals

Comments by Michael Griffin, NASA administrator, at the Quasar Award Dinner, Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership on 19 Jan 2007:

"To me, the irony is that when we do hard things for the right reasons – for the Real Reasons – we end up actually satisfying all the goals of the Acceptable Reasons. And we can see that, too, in the cathedrals, if we look for it.
"[The cathedral builders] gained societal advantages that were probably even more important than learning how to build walls and roofs. They learned to embrace deferred gratification, not just on an individual level where it is a crucial element of maturity, but on a societal level where it is equally vital. The people who started the cathedrals didn't live to finish them; such projects required decades. The society as a whole had to be dedicated to the completion of those projects. To be able to do that for cathedrals was to be able to do it in other areas as well. We owe Western civilization as we know it today to that kind of thinking – the ability to have a constancy of purpose across years and decades [and generations]."

It's worth a read of the entire text...

“A truly intelligent species will outlive its home star.” - Todd Brennan


WindWhisperer said...

I read in a cornball tabloid that a penal colony on the moon was going to be a fixture of the future and a solution to crowded prisons. In the same way that the church transforms lives inspirationally...I wonder if the moon would serve as just such a cathedral to inmates...what do you think...?

On another note...I never thought of it this way, but the ISS is something of a cathedral hovering in space, a cathedral we all look up to...literally and figuratively.

Tom Moore said...

That's a bit of a stretch, considering how expensive it will be to put anything on the moon, and to support human life there. It would be a bit like sending someone to Siberia, I suppose, but more like sending them to Antarctica, where it isn't just hard to live; it's impossible without the right equipment and supplies sent in from elsewhere. Not sure I get your point about churches and criminal detention. But you are certainly taking Griffin's point on the ISS and the vision for space exploration.