Sunday, August 30, 2009


There is a special pleasure in making something oneself, something that works. For someone with my avaricious tendencies, a part of that pleasure is the pleasure of getting something for next to nothing. However, that is not everything, because a significant component in the pleasure is also there when one makes something for someone else. Moreover, some of the pleasure (though to me, a pleasure mixed with pain) would be present when one makes something even when one had to purchase tools and supplies that are more expensive than a commercial version of the item one is making.

There is also a special pleasure in using something one had made oneself. For instance, this summer I made myself a small blue 68mm refractor (for the pleasing price of about $17—$12 for a chipped lens, the chip being easily blacked out, $5 for miscellaneous hardware, and the rest being scrap like old cardboard tubes), which I normally use as a finder scope on my 13" Coulter (which I did not make), but which I also took along while visiting family, and put on my father's photo tripod. Even though the views through the small telescope weren't particularly impressive (though the dark skies of the B.C. Gulf Island where I was mainly using it helped!), there was a special pleasure in seeing distant galaxies through something I had made myself, a pleasure that would have been greater had I ground the objective lens myself and had I made the eyepieces myself.

The best explanation I know of these special pleasures of making and using something one had oneself made is that in both cases one is taking relish in a particular way in which we are in the image of God who is both creator and the self-sufficient one. (Another argument for the existence of God?)

Currently I am working on an 7.4" effective aperture Newtonian travel scope made from a cracked 8" mirror (some of it is duct-taped off) that I acquired for very little. So far I made the primary and secondary cells.

Of course the non-moral perfections involved—production and independence—are ones that are rather dangerous to us humans, especially independence which in fallen humans can be in tension with community and dependence on God, but of course as found in the blessed Trinity is in no tension with anything. There is the danger of vanity or even pride. (In the telescope-making, it helps to know that other people have done much better, and that my design has benefited from other people's experience and much advice from friends. Plus borrowing other people's tools--thanks, Trent!--makes it more of a communal project.)


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Skeptical said...

Alex doesn't want to drive all that traffic to his site! He wants to Do It Himself!

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.