October 24, 2008

Fortune and faith

El Cabrero has been thinking about luck, chance and randomness lately. In the Roman era, this was personified by the goddess Fortuna, who was about the only pagan deity to flourish in the Christian era.

This was more a matter of popular folklore than orthodox theology. It was hard to reconcile the idea of arbitrary chance with divine providence, although some managed to do it.

A case in point was Dante. In Canto 7 of the Inferno, Virgil explains to the pilgrim that God appointed Fortuna to be his agent in bringing change to the world:

He whose omniscience everything transcends
The heavens created, and gave who should guide them,
That every part to every part may shine,

Distributing the light in equal measure;
He in like manner to the mundane splendours
Ordained a general ministress and guide,

That she might change at times the empty treasures
From race to race, from one blood to another,
Beyond resistance of all human wisdom.

Therefore one people triumphs, and another
Languishes, in pursuance of her judgment,
Which hidden is, as in the grass a serpent.

Your knowledge has no counterstand against her;
She makes provision, judges, and pursues
Her governance, as theirs the other gods.

Her permutations have not any truce;
Necessity makes her precipitate,
So often cometh who his turn obtains.

And this is she who is so crucified
Even by those who ought to give her praise,
Giving her blame amiss, and bad repute.

But she is blissful, and she hears it not;
Among the other primal creatures gladsome
She turns her sphere, and blissful she rejoices.

She's still with us today and is as changeable as ever, which isn't always a bad thing.

81,312 HOMES were lost to foreclosure in September.

GETTING IT RIGHT THIS TIME. If another stimulus package is going to happen, here's how to get more bang for the buck.

MISTAKES WERE MADE. Alan Greenspan has apparently acknowledged that unregulated markets might actually not be divine. El Cabrero would like to ask, "What was your first clue?"

MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL MINING isn't very popular with the American people, as a new poll reveals.


No comments: