It appears that post-structuralism is headed back into structuralism, but this time something more like “dynamic structure” in our thinking and organizing, rather than the system of boxes typical of the 19th and 20th centuries. Disciplines, roles, businesses, academia and genres are all having to learn to be agile and adaptive in order to survive. “Streaming” is the word.

Interestingly, I think the German thought dominance over the US in spite of WWII (or maybe because of it) is being pushed aside to make room for people from India and other Asian complexes. I see their faces and hear their accents often but electronically. They are major achievers in medicine and governance.

The human body is an excellent example of dynamic structure, but the concept is everywhere and can be highly technical.

Even in terms of written and oral language, dynamics are at work so that even the most rigid stickler for grammar rules in a Latin referencing rhetorical system, can be evaded by what seems to be formless but is in fact a kind of musical innovation of vocabulary and word order. There is a basic structure, but it must respond to time in order to be renewed as communication. Now that demographics change so much and so often via immigration and generations, this is head-spinning.

One of the most dynamic structures, if literal, is simple housing. When I inherited enough to buy a house here, I was urged to borrow against this house in order to buy and upgrade another one as an investment, because for many houses had become a source of wealth. That is in question now. One of the economic cripplers of clergy has always been the custom of housing that belonged to the church, exempting it from taxation. At retirement that accumulation of equity was not available to the clergyman.

I’m hearing that all across Europe second houses, rental houses, and vacation houses are standing empty while people are homeless. In Manhattan the skyscraper offices are emptied by Covid-19 and may not fill up again because now people know how to work from home and the dynamic structure of electronics is making that possible — even pleasant. I read that apartments in Trump Tower stand empty because they are ways to launder money. (Cohen denies this.)

It may be that the coming revolution will not be guns in the street but rather broken locks and improvised structural heat and light in empty buildings: generators and photovoltaic devices. The main problem will be septic. Sounds like a growth industry, to make a bad joke. Buildings as tall as sky-scrapers are dependent on machinery to lift water. No water-tower is tall enough to make gravity do the work as it does in a small town. Infrastructure demands cooperation and wealth to sustain as well as to build. Squatting is problematic unless the structure is functional and adaptable.

Certainly the planet — its continents and seas — is a dynamic structure that, alas, is even vulnerable to human particulate actions. I was startled to hear that the new Chinese immense dams will slightly change the tilt of the earth’s axis. But no one knows why even the magnetic north pole moves. I don’t know why they are called the “dip poles”. Seems like “wander poles” might be more accurate.

“Dynamic structure” thinking is about escaping static and confining concept boxes, both admitting and naming the change from the past, but also forecasting what will happen next. This is frightening because of being unknown, but also because we dread the breaking of attachment to what we already know and therefore “love.”

The past seen as a trajectory of now-fossil hominins is both terrifying and fascinating. Religion, when studied closely is far more fluid and adaptive than it claimed. A brain is not a box at all, but a whirling, shuttling management of the experience of the body and how to interpret what to do next. Relationships are music, each a dance.

But some things don’t change — we come back to them. After our years of corrupting and misinterpreting Christianity, the Pope calls us back to the simple advice of Jesus which is about openness and trusting the future. Terrifying! Where’s the safety? God, failing to adapt, has disappeared.

I’m beginning to explore the idea of “continuousness,” which is much supported by science, especially when thinking about the genome and how it relates through our skins and breaths, our guts and thoughts. Most of us are aware of the “butterfly theory” that a big hurricane on the American east coast can be seeded by a little flutter in Australia. Or maybe the sci-fi story by H.G. Wells about the man time-traveling who stepped on a key bug in evolving lives and changed history. We knew about these dynamic sequences all the time, but resisted living them.

It’s hard to accept the unknown, esp the “unknown unknowns”. We hate our limits, the penumbras of meaning and relationship that others can see, if we can’t. Science is a force that pushes us to find out. Humanities can help us understand our sorrow. Take this advice from a poet:

“When I read a poem, I don’t approach it with a destination in mind. The experience isn’t about getting from point A to point B in the fastest time possible. A GPS isn’t necessary because the journey is more important than the destination.”


This long-form post by Liz Rios Hall is very much worth reading to counter the idea that one can put a brain in a bucket, thinking that captures a person. Not even the scientists think that, but some technicians have lost their poetry, abandoned their experience, and leapt to control.

In an earlier post, Hall says, “Text” is a term scholars use to describe any object that can be read — from a Shakespearean sonnet to a dry cleaning receipt. Like digital communications, texts can be seen as dynamic, responsive objects that simultaneously shape and are shaped by their readers”.

I’ll bet no one in Sunday School told you that about the Bible. But neither did anyone tell you that about heavy metal rock lyrics. They should have. Or maybe they should have asked you.

Born in Portland when all was calm just before WWII. Educated formally at NU and U of Chicago Div School. Clergy for ten years. Always happy on high prairie.