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Incapable of doubt, incapable of faithThe majority of mankind is lazy-minded, incurious, absorbed in vanities, and tepid in emotion, and is therefore incapable of either much doubt or much faith. -- T.S. Eliot, Introduction (1931), Pascal's "Pensees"
The Anguished QuestionIf you really enquire about God, not with mere curiosity, not, as it were, like a spiritual stamp collector, but as an anxious seeker, distressed in heart, anguished by the possibility that God might not exist and hence all life be vanity and one great madness -- if you ask in such a mood as the man who asks the doctor, "Tell me, will my wife live or will she die?"-- if you ask thus about God, then you know already that God exists; the anguished question bears witness that you know. -- Emil Brunner, "Our Faith"
Problem or Mystery?A problem is something which I meet, which I find completely before me, but which I can therefore lay siege to and reduce. But a mystery is something in which I am myself involved, and it can therefore only be thought of as a sphere where the distinction between what is in me and what is before me loses its meaning and initial validity. -- Gabriel Marcel
- Sherman Alexie explains the value of Independent Bookstores December 1, 2013Keep your edge with The Latest News from indie bookstores, record stores, and short-film creators, only at BooksAndVinyl.com.In less than a minute, Sherman Alexie explains the supreme, ongoing value of independent bookstores. […]The post Sherman Alexie explains the value of Independent Bookstores appeared first on Books And Vinyl.
- Oh crap: Animal behavior might predict natural disasters & that’s scary considering recent events November 30, 2013Keep your edge with The Latest News from indie bookstores, record stores, and short-film creators, only at BooksAndVinyl.com.Is Southern California screwed? Yahoo News reports: “Last month, two oarfish washed up on the […]The post Oh crap: Animal behavior might predict natural disasters & that’s scary considering recent events appeared first on Books And […]
- Back-handed gratitude from William S. Burroughs — perfect for Thanksgiving Day November 28, 2013Keep your edge with The Latest News from indie bookstores, record stores, and short-film creators, only at BooksAndVinyl.com.Ouch! William S. Burroughs didn’t spare any understated sarcasm in this reading of his poem, […]The post Back-handed gratitude from William S. Burroughs — perfect for Thanksgiving Day appeared first on Books And Vinyl.
- Sherman Alexie explains the value of Independent Bookstores December 1, 2013
- largesse: Dictionary.com Word of the Day December 4, 2013largesse: generous bestowal of gifts.
- largesse: Dictionary.com Word of the Day December 4, 2013
- Poem of the Day: Return to Rome December 4, 2013Today in Rome, heading down Michelangelo's Spanish Steps, under an unchanging moon, I held on to the balustrade, grateful for his giving me a hand. All for love, I stumbled over the past as if it were my own feet. Here, in my twenties, I was lost in love and poetry. Along the Tiber, I made up Cubist Shakespearean games. (In writing, even […]Stanley Moss
- Poem of the Day: Return to Rome December 4, 2013
- Little Map By Jean Valentine December 4, 2013By Jean Valentine
- Little Map By Jean Valentine December 4, 2013
- Teen Builds Gateway to the Brain for Girls November 6, 2013 Ingrid Wickelgren
- Repent for Your Sins—or Turn Them into Something Good October 24, 2013 Ingrid Wickelgren
- Paralyzed Woman Walks Again, with the Aid of a Robot September 24, 2013 Ingrid Wickelgren
- Moral Cognitivism vs. Non-Cognitivism December 5, 2013[Revised entry by Mark van Roojen on December 4, 2013. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, agent-centered-teleology.html, assertion-conditions.html, embedding-problem-responses.html] Non-cognitivism is a variety of irrealism about ethics with a number of influential variants. Non-cognitivists agree with error theorists that there are no moral properties or […]Mark van Roojen
- Russell's Paradox December 4, 2013[Revised entry by Andrew David Irvine and Harry Deutsch on December 3, 2013. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Russell's paradox is the most famous of the logical or set-theoretical paradoxes. Also known as the Russell-Zermelo paradox, the paradox arises within naive set theory by considering the set of all sets that are not members of themselves. Su […]Andrew David Irvine and Harry Deutsch
- Principia Mathematica December 4, 2013[Revised entry by Andrew David Irvine on December 3, 2013. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Principia Mathematica, the landmark work in formal logic written by Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell, was first published in three volumes in 1910, 1912 and 1913. A second edition appeared in 1925 (Volume 1) and 1927 (Volumes 2 and 3). In 1962 an abbrev […]Andrew David Irvine
- Moral Cognitivism vs. Non-Cognitivism December 5, 2013
- Phenomenal Conservatism October 20, 2013Phenomenal Conservatism Phenomenal Conservatism is a theory in epistemology that seeks, roughly, to ground justified beliefs in the way things “appear” or “seem” to the subject who holds a belief. The theory fits with an internalistic form of foundationalism—that is, the view that some beliefs are justified non-inferentially (not on the basis of other belief […]
- Hutcheson, Francis October 12, 2013Francis Hutcheson (1694-1745) Francis Hutcheson was an eighteenth-century Scottish philosopher whose meticulous writings and activities influenced life in Scotland, Great Britain, Europe, and even the newly formed North American colonies. For historians and political scientists, the emphasis has been on his theories of liberalism and political rights; for ph […]
- Emergence October 5, 2013Emergence If we were pressed to give a definition of emergence, we could say that a property is emergent if it is a novel property of a system or an entity that arises when that system or entity has reached a certain level of complexity and that, even though it exists only insofar as the […]
- Phenomenal Conservatism October 20, 2013
- Men, Women, and Big PNAS Papers December 3, 2013This morning, the world woke up to the news that Scientists discover the difference between male and female brains Britain’s Independent today actually made that their front page. They went on to discuss “the hardwired difference that could explain why men are ‘better at map reading’”. The rest of the world’s media were no less […]The post Men, Women, and Bi […]
- A Tangled Ethical Web: “PIE”, Part 3 December 2, 2013In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, I looked into the new organization Publication Integrity and Ethics (PIE), who offer guidelines on best practice and misconduct for academics and journal editors. Since then, some 30 journals have signed up to PIE – but do they know what they’re getting themselves in for? PIE […]The post A Tangled Ethical Web: “PIE”, Part […]
- Strange “PIE”, Part 2: The Case of the Missing Publisher November 28, 2013In the last post, I examined Publication Integrity and Ethics (PIE), a new organization who wrote the rules on plagiarism… or at least borrowed them. The director of PIE, Waseem Jerjes, is also an Editor-in-Chief of a journal published by Open Access Publishing London (OAPL). Another Jerjes, a relative of Waseem, is a director of […]The post Strange “PIE”, P […]
- Men, Women, and Big PNAS Papers December 3, 2013
- Science and Faith issues in Ancient and Medieval Christianity, Part 3“...many modern authors supposed that most Ancient and Medieval Christians were anti-scientific flat-earthers, while they were neither. On the other hand, the frequent (but by no means uniform) denial of the antipodes/antipodeans during the Medieval times was neither anti-scientific nor connected with a flat earth belief.”
- Science and Faith issues in Ancient and Medieval Christianity, Part 2“Antiochene scholars argued that a text could not say more than could be connected to its literal and historical context … This hermeneutic, when pressed consistently, leads to a cosmology that includes a flat earth.”
- Science and Faith Issues in Ancient and Medieval Christianity, Part 1“When asking questions about the relationship between the Bible and science it is important to understand and respect the approach the biblical writers take toward the natural world. It is very easy, especially in our scientifically-minded world, to ask questions of the biblical text that the biblical writers would have little or no interest in answering.” […]
- Science and Faith issues in Ancient and Medieval Christianity, Part 3
- An Interview with Michel Gondry December 4, 2013New Inquiry film columnist Brandon Harris interviewed French director Michel Gondry about his new movie: Is The Man Who Is Tall Happy?: An Animated Conversation with Noam ChomskyBrandon Harris
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- The Voice of Ireland June 15, 2013An Interview with Author Kevin Barry The Voice of Ireland My wife tossed The New Yorker on to the tabletop, You have to read this short story, she said. I did. And the rhythm of the language and the force of the story led me on the rampant search for more. The author was an Irish writer named Kevin Barry whose work consists of two short story collectio […]
- Brooklyn, Sweden October 16, 2012Brooklyn Brewery's First Music Festival Brooklyn, SwedenBrooklyn Brewery's First Music Festival When A.J. Liebling nicknamed Chicago "the Second City," he was referring not so much to an inherent inferiority to New York, but to a mindset. Chicagoans, he claimed, were quick to assert their city's superiority in a way that bespoke not […]
- The End of the Line? September 26, 2013
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Liturgy For The PeopleThe liturgy is essentially not the religion of the cultured, but the religion of the people. If the people are rightly instructed, and the liturgy is properly carried out, they display a simple and profound understanding of it. For the people do not analyze concepts, but contemplate. The people possess that inner integrity of being which corresponds perfectly with the symbolism of the liturgical language, imagery, action and ornaments. The cultured man has first of all to accustom himself to this attitude; but to the people it has always been inconceivable that religion should express itself by abstract ideas and logical developments, and not by being and action, by imagery and ritual. --Romano Guardini, "The Awakening of the Church in the Soul"
- Don W. King on Ruth Pitter, poet and friend of C.S. Lewis
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Arts and humansArt is the signature of man. -G.K. Chesterton
Posts I Like
Wittgenstein on Kierkegaard
"Kierkegaard was by far the most profound thinker of the[nineteenth] century. Kierkegaard was a saint." - Ludwig Wittgenstein, to his friend Maurice Drury.
Read Wittgenstein and Kierkegaard: Religion, Individuality, and Philosophical Method by Charles L. Creegan free online.
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Persuasion Consultant for Executives and Candidates
"I make your speeches stronger. I make your letters more persuasive."
Lecturer in English at Coastal Carolina University
Recipient of a scholarship to the 2006 C.S. Lewis Foundation Summer Institute
Winner of awards from the N.C. Press Association and the S.C. Press Association
Graduate of the Knight Ridder Assigning Editors Seminar
Graduate of the Leadership Institute's Broadcast Journalism School
Completed the Committee of Concerned Journalists Newsroom Workshop
Semi-Finalist, the 1996 Phillips Foundation Journalism Fellowship
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Monthly Archives: September 2008
The things — the beauty, the memory of our own past — are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited. -C.S. Lewis, in “The Weight of Glory”
Following Lewis’s formulation and speaking for myself, my heart has been broken many, many times.
At the beginning of my Major American Writers class on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I open with a quote that I hope will help the students understand why we bother with literature and why literature matters.
I usually tap an American literary figure, but last week, a line by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow had me thinking about something C.S. Lewis wrote.
Tell me if I’m off-base here.
In “A Psalm of Life,” Longfellow wrote, “Art is long, but life is fleeting”.
In “On Stories,” Lewis wrote, “In life and art both, as it seems to me, we are always trying to capture in our net of successive moments something that is not successive.”
I think I was fairly responsible with the comparison and contrast. I made it clear that I did not think there was a perfect critical fit between the two quotes. Even so, I wanted to use the quotes to draw attention to a couple of thoughts. One, while life moves along, in its chronological sequence, we still value certain things that seem eternal, that stand outside of ourselves and our time. Two, that art can sometimes open us up to a sense, feeling, or impression of something eternal, something beyond us.
A powerful example of that sense or impression was related by the poet (and Lewis friend) Ruth Pitter in one of her BBC broadcasts, entitled “Hunting the Unicorn,” which was aired decades ago now. Pitter said:
I was sitting in front of a cottage door one day in spring long ago, a few bushes and flowers round me, bird gathering nesting material, trees of the forest at a little distance. A poor place, nothing glamorous about it. And suddenly, everything assumed a different aspect, its true aspect. For a moment it seemed to me that truth appeared in its overwhelming splendor. The secret was out, the explanation given, something that had seemed like total freedom, total power, total bliss – good with no bad as its opposite, an absolute that had no opposite. This thing, so unlike our feeble nature, had suddenly cut across one’s life and vanished. What is this thing? Is it, could it be, after all, a hint of something more real than this life? A message from reality, perhaps a particle of reality itself? If so, no wonder we hunt it so unceasingly, and never stop desiring it and pining for it.
I did not include the above Pitter quote in our class discussion. While I was trying to explain the Lewis quote, however, I noticed some of the students were moved and surprised by what I was saying. My explanation probably had more in common with Platonism than Christianity, and yet just expressing the possibility of an impression from something beyond our material framework was stirring for me, and it felt counter-cultural to talk about such things.
-Colin Foote Burch
From the New York Times article about the Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to France and his meeting with President Nicolas Sarkozy:
In an interview in fluent French with reporters traveling with him on an Alitalia airplane from Rome, the pope was asked what his message was and replied that it “seemed evident to me that secularism in itself is not in contradiction with faith.”
Religion and politics, he said, “should be open to each other.”
Speaking before the pope at the Élysée palace, Mr. Sarkozy renewed his appeal for a “positive secularism” saying it was “legitimate for democracy and respectful of secularism to have a dialogue with religions.”
Earlier in the article, reporters Rachel Donadio and Alan Cowell also wrote:
In a private meeting with French Jews on Friday, the pope spoke vehemently about the church’s opposition to “every form of anti-Semitism, which can never be theologically justified,” according to a text of his remarks.
In reaching out to the community he also discussed the holocaust, saying, “God does not forget.”
NPR reported that France has the highest number of European Jews, as well as a growing number of Muslims.
Following the recent death of the great Nobel Laureate Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, I have been listening to David Aikman’s essay “One Word of Truth: A Portrait of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn” on a special MP3 edition of Mars Hill Audio.
Mars Hill Audio also has a 74-minute download entitled The Christian Humanism of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (also available for purchase on CD) featuring scholar Edward E. Ericson, Jr. Here’s a fantastic quote from Ericson’s 2006 book, The Solzhenitsyn Reader: New and Essential Writings, 1947-2005:
“Solzhenitsyn’s work and witness teach us that the true alternative to revolutionary utopianism is not postmodern nihilism but gratitude for the givenness of the world and a determined but patient effort to correct injustices within it.”
“And although you were dead because of your sins and because you were morally uncircumcised, he has made you alive with Christ.”
This image and many more images from historical anatomical atlases are available at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/historicalanatomies/home.html.
“[I]f the New Testament is right, Christ did not come to pluck souls from an evil and worthless creation and transport them to an angelic existence; instead he came to announce the beginning of the world’s renewal.”
- from The Passionate Intellect: Incarnational Humanism and the Future of University Education by Norman Klassen of St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ontario, and Jens Zimmerman of Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia