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I saw this paper mentioned on another mailing list and thought it's points are closely related to the power of lua's extensibility features:

"Why are Black Boxes so Hard to Reuse?"

``The extent to which ... policies are entrusted to user-level software determines in large part the degree of flexibility present in an ... system.''

"The traditional approach has been to make the mapping decisions very early because then it's easier to compile them out. And this has sort of been a long standing tension. "