Thursday, October 11, 2012

It was Heraclitus, I think

...who said in the fifth century B.C., “The only permanent thing is change,” only he said it in Greek, of course, unless he didn’t say it at all, which is also a possibility. And if he didn’t say it at all, he said something very much like it: “No man steps in the same river twice” -- except it turns out he didn’t say that either. But “The only permanent thing is change” is a fair summation of what he is supposed to have said or not said, if you get my drift. So much for my exhaustive research.

I have been thinking of Heraclitus the last few mornings when I have taken Jethro out for his daily constitutionals around dawn. Dawn itself changes every day, being a little later each morning as our Earth moves around in its orbit, imperceptibly, and the direct rays of the sun at its zenith get a little farther south each day toward the Tropic of Capricorn because of the 23-and-a-half degree tilt of Earth’s axis. And when the direct rays of the sun at its zenith reach the Tropic of Capricorn, they will reverse themselves and start to move northward and dawn will become a little earlier each morning once again until the Earth is on the opposite side of its orbit and the direct rays of the sun at its zenith reach the Tropic of Cancer, when the whole 365-and-one-quarter-days cycle begins again.

I know too much astronomical trivia for my own good.

Anyway, as I was saying, I’ve been taking Jethro out around dawn and gazing up into the sky at a time when it isn’t night any more but it really isn’t day yet either. And do you know what I see?

Four lights.

The waning moon, the planet Venus, the dog star Sirius, and -- high overhead -- the planet Jupiter.

I know, to quote Carl Sagan, that there are “billions and billions” of stars out there, some of which, if I had ventured outdoors an hour earlier, I could have seen plainly. And even though they were all still there, I couldn’t see them at all. And had I waited another hour, even the four lights I did see would have been obscured in the light of old Sol.

You just know I’m going to make a Christian comment here.

Here goes:

In a universe where everything is changing constantly, where even rivers change in the length of time it takes to put your foot in, take it out, and put it in again, where one day Angelina Jolie is going to marry Brad Pitt and the next day she’s not, I’m so glad that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8) and that every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variation or shadow of turning (James 1:17).

Yes, I am.

(Image from


  1. "The Bible" was so earthcentric. Its starry skies were but decoration on the ceiling. In my ever so humble opinion, modern appreciation of just how vast the universe is and how innumerable the stars are only goes to prove how micro-cosmically narrow "The Bible" really was. To me it's extra proof that there really is no God. And as for Jesus not changing - well I would say there have been many different versions of Jesus through the centuries and according to which ever theologian you are studying at the time. Now I'm waiting for a thunderbolt to strike...still waiting....still.... zzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

  2. I notice that both you and Yorkshire Pudding are quoting Heraclitus in your posts today. Makes my little sewing effort seem a little mundane.

  3. Like today, those Greek philosophers were all over the place with some saying that change was the only constant and others saying that nothing ever changes in the slightest and that the perception of change was an illusion.

    I'm fond of the stars myself and used to be able to name quite a few stars and constellations, although I don't get out as much to stargaze as I once did.

    You can say what you want about Jesus not changing, yet Jesus of the Methodists doesn't much resemble the Jesus of the Mormons, nor does the Jesus of Pope John XXIII much resemble that of the current Benedict. There are thousands of Christian denominations with most of them saying that Jesus stays the same, yet all of them believing in a more or less different Jesus.