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Nicholas Knisely
Phoenix, Arizona
Interests: history, astronomy, communications, hiking, theology, physics, cosmology, world mission, music and theater.
Recent Activity
The story of 9/11 is still being written. And we still don't know what God is going to weave out of this mess. Perhaps it's just a coincidence that the Old Testament lesson for today is the story of Joseph's reconciliation with his brothers who sold him into slavery. It contains one of my favorite verses of the Bible: "You meant this for evil, but God has turned it to good..." Joseph's story lets us... Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2011 at Entangled States
I've decided for a couple of reasons to move this blog to a different host. I've been using Typepad for the past six years, but I've noticed in the last two years or so that the company running the service has been investing less time in adding new features. I'm particularly frustrated with the lack of support for people viewing the site on mobile devices like a smart phone or on an iPad or tablet... Continue reading
Posted Jun 23, 2011 at Entangled States
Here's another take on the experiment Peter - perhaps this will make it clearer:
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Do you have an iPhone? An iPad? Do you support the One Campaign? I spent time in Swaziland. Many of my friends are either from the Sudan or work with people in the Sudan. Here in Phoenix we have a number of cathedral members who work on the southern Mexican border with Guatemala. In all those places the situation is dire because an epidemic of preventable diseases, lack of basic infrastructure and extreme poverty. The... Continue reading
Posted Jun 4, 2011 at Entangled States
The most popular understanding of Quantum Mechanics (the Copenhagen Interpretation) argues that in quantum reality a particle exists in infinite number of possible states until someone (us?) observes the particle and causes the probability cloud to collapse to a unique observable state. This raises questions of exactly how the particle knows it's being observed... and why our observations should be effectively privileged. (Which is the weird part of the Schroedinger's Cat thought experiment. A simple... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2011 at Entangled States
You just knew that I *had* to share this. A conceptual artist is offering to bind people into wedded bliss by entangling their "fleshy" wave functions. Here's the scoop from Discovery Magazine: "A scenario might go like this, said Keats in an email correspondence with Discovery News about his project: In the simplest case, involving only two people, the couple begins by walking down a long hallway from darkness into sunlight. (The hallway is wide... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2011 at Entangled States
The BBC (among others) is reporting on some surprising news. The long quiescent Crab Nebula (a supernova remnant from the 11th century explosion) emitted a large gamma ray burst recently. "It seems to have come from a small area of the famous nebula, which is the wreckage from an exploded star. The object has long been considered a steady source of light, but the Fermi telescope hints at greater activity. The gamma-ray emission lasted for... Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2011 at Entangled States
Many of my friend and my favorite blogs have been posting their thoughts on the news that Osama bin Laden was killed by the US military on Sunday. I've not said anything because, frankly, I'm not sure what I think yet. There's a great deal to process and I'm leery of people who either start making with the cheers or tutt-tutting others because *they're* cheering. I was the rector of a parish in far eastern... Continue reading
Posted May 3, 2011 at Entangled States
The tears in the dark have not been for nought. The Universe, the cold dark vastness of Creation; the sparkling sky; the deep cataracts of the Earth have heard your cry for Justice! Easter is God’s response. MP3 File Continue reading
Posted Apr 26, 2011 at Entangled States
In Sunday's Gospel reading, there's an unexpected detail that we sometimes miss because of the length of the reading. Jesus is told that the person he loves is very sick, and that he should come to help him. Jesus doesn't. He waits until he knows that Lazarus is dead. Why does he wait? He heals other people from afar. If he can't travel to Lazarus immediately, why doesn't he heal him like he does the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2011 at Entangled States
A friend of mine, Lucas Mix, (astrobiologist and college chaplain) has a great essay on his blog about the relationship between science and religion, specifically Christianity. He starts by pointing out that people who read the Bible with an inerrantist, infallibilist hermenuetic should have at least as difficult a time with the idea of Entropy as a Universal Law as they do with Evolution. A straightforward reading of the biblical story makes one expect that... Continue reading
Posted Apr 6, 2011 at Entangled States
Thanks Anne - you must be justly proud of what they're accomplishing! I think, apropos of your point, that reality probably works just the same way your children's perception of it does. It's both classical and quantum at the same time. (The question that no one has really answered yet is how nature knows which to present to us when... Grin.)
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I'm thinking of titling Sunday's sermon "Beautiful eyes". But that's really just a hook to hang my own thoughts on as I think through what the lessons are saying to the particular congregation I serve. I'm rather taken by David's beautiful eyes in Samuel that ultimately lead him astray when he gazes upon Bathsheeba; and the contrast with the clay eyes that Jesus gives to the blind man that allow him to see the Truth.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2011 at Entangled States
Every year it's always a bit of trial to find a good book for Lenten study, but it was a little easier this year than most. Late last year I finished Jenkins book on the lost history of Eastern Christianity and was so impressed by it that I decided to take a shot on his newest book; "The Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2011 at Entangled States
The BBC reported last week that a team of physicists, including some from the University of Arizona, have created a model for religious observance that is predicting the death of religion in at least 9 countries in the near future. It's a relatively simple non-linear model apparently: "'It posits that social groups that have more members are going to be more attractive to join, and it posits that social groups have a social status or... Continue reading
Posted Mar 29, 2011 at Entangled States
I'm fascinated of late with the places where the quantum regime of reality intersects with the deterministic human scale regime. (If we're going to try to make use of "quantum mechanics" in a responsible way in thinking about spirituality then these are the sorts of places we need to look.) So there's a report published today that apparently identifies the mechanism behind the sensation of smell as being based in quantum electron state transitions: "The... Continue reading
Posted Mar 24, 2011 at Entangled States
Why is it so hard for a religious leader to imagine that one can not get to God's full presence by doing more of what has gotten one to the prestigious position one holds? It's probably because Jesus is telling us that unless we recognize that we must abandon all our preconceptions as we draw close to God, we are going to constantly fail to grow in the ways that God wants us to grow.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 23, 2011 at Entangled States
I just posted some thoughts about the Atlanta meeting led by the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music on Friday and Saturday. You can read the full post over at the Episcopal Cafe on the Lead. Here's a bit of a taste. "I want to give the leadership of the SCLM major kudos for putting together a process supported by appropriate technology and outside financial resources that I think will make this coming General Convention... Continue reading
Posted Mar 21, 2011 at Entangled States
One of the great gifts of my year has been the experience I've had teaching a class about the Old Testament to the leaders of the Sudanese American community here in Phoenix. These are a people who know what it is to fast, to suffer because of other people's anger and hatred. It was in helping them think through why God insists so strongly that we obey the Law that I worked my own way... Continue reading
Posted Mar 15, 2011 at Entangled States
There's an article in the Wall Street Journal today by a number of former Cold War leaders (including George Schultz, Sam Nunn and Henry Kissinger) that calls for the U.S. to rethink its M.A.D. nuclear weapons policy. Not a dove among the lot. While you can't access that article without a subscription, you can read the open letter at the Here are some of the key paragraphs: "Today, the Cold War is almost 20... Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2011 at Entangled States
I finally took the time to watch the movie Agora. It was recommended to me over Christmas. It's been on the top of my NetFlix queue for a month or two waiting for me to have the time to watch it. I'm also reading Phillip Jenkins' latest book "The Jesus Wars" and thus reading his description of the same time in history as is being dramatized in the movie. I suppose it's the book that's... Continue reading
Posted Mar 5, 2011 at Entangled States
One of the great imagined paradoxes of time travel is the question of what happens to you if you back in time and kill your grandfather before the date of your parent's birth. Do you remember a past that no longer exists? Do you "wink" out of existence? This sort of paradox is actually a very serious question in terms of thinking about the continuity of reality if it can be shown that there are... Continue reading
Posted Mar 1, 2011 at Entangled States
Mary - to your last point - my experience here in Phoenix working among people living in poverty is that they are much more likely to access the internet through their phones (including homeless folks). They may not have the latest and greatest but they have mobile phones and they use them. If we want to contact people in that community we tend to rely on text and twitter. Email doesn't work, because they don't have computers or phones capable of accessing it.
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As much as science fiction loves the idea of macroscopic sized wormhole as a sort of deus de machina to all interstellar or intergalactic travel, most of physicists dismiss the idea because the equations governing the wormhole's behavior are strongly unstable over time. They might exist, but if they do, they probably only exist for a fleeting moment. But today there's a news report that a couple of astrophysicists propose a stable solution for a... Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2011 at Entangled States
This past week we have seen at least two governments fall in the Middle East to crowds of non-violent demonstrators. We are also witnessing the outbreak of what might become a full blown civil war in Libya. And there are sit-ins and demonstrations occurring at state capitals around the northern midwest this weekend. Jesus' words to his disciples and his admonition that we can only bring about the Reign of God through non-violent means has... Continue reading
Posted Feb 24, 2011 at Entangled States