Tuesday, 1 September 2015

An Offer You Must Refuse!

I am currently reading Surely You're Joking, Mr Feynman!, a collection of autobiographical sketches by the great physicist Richard Feynman.

There are many lovely anecdotes, including the one where two Universities are in a Dutch auction for him, and he decides simply to stay put at Caltech. Later, a third tries to bribe him away, and he won't even let them tell them how much salary they want to offer him. 

A week later, he gets a letter, quoting a huge salary, and he replies: 'After reading the salary, I've decided I must refuse. The reason I have to refuse a salary like that is I would be able to do what I've always wanted to do - get a wonderful mistress, put her up in an apartment, buy her nice things... With the salary you have offered me, I could actually do that, and I know what would happen to me. I'd worry about her, what she's doing; I'd get into arguments when I came home, and so on. All this bother would make me uncomfortable and unhappy. I wouldn't be able to do physics well, and it would be a big mess! What I've always wanted to do would be bad for me, so I've decided I can't accept your offer.'


You can see why he was a great mind!

1 comment:

Ben Trovato said...

A priest friend writes:

Perhaps we should call this “Feynman’s Law” – or the Law of Unintended Consequences.

It really sounds like he believed in concupiscence.

As a Physicist, he would also have known about entropy, the tendency for all matter and energy in the universe to evolve toward a state of inert uniformity – which seems like a physical manifestation of the spiritual disorder of concupiscence.

It’s much easier to shatter a window than put together all the broken bits of glass from a window that has been shattered.

The Law of Unintended Consequences can be applied to any event.

I was thinking about one or two theoretically possible events following the Synod on the Family.

Now (just as a Thought Experiment) let’s imagine that Cardinal Kasper gets his way – and divorce and “remarriage” become permitted by the Catholic Church.

And also let’s also imagine that some retired Bishops get their wish too – and priestly celibacy becomes optional.

Presumably priests and bishops could also get divorced and remarried.

Now apply the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Any unmarried priest or bishop could in future be looking for a wife – or, if he were already married, for a new wife!

Suddenly there would be a completely new dynamic between a priest and more than half of his parishioners – but especially with widows or wives whose husbands have abandoned them.

You would have to implement something like the old Salvation Army rule about officers not being allowed to marry “other ranks”. And even applying the Orthodox or Eastern Catholic rule about priests only being allowed to get married before ordination would still have some people crying “unfair to priests”.