Category Archives: culture

On ‘Some Practical Thoughts on Suicide’ from The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss


Tim Ferriss is one of the most interesting guys out there. In this long and worthwhile post, he talks about a time of depression and suicidal ideation.

I’m linking to and excerpting the post not merely as a public service announcement, although that aspect is certainly critical.

Ferriss’s post fits with the overall purpose of my blog. Unfortunately, the research is consistent and clear: for many who have suffered religious authoritarianism, spiritual abuse, or cult dynamics, suicide can be a real, substantial temptation.

Ferriss doesn’t seem to be a religious man in any traditional sense of the word, but he makes an interesting observation:

I personally believe that consciousness persists after physical death, and it dawned on me that I literally had zero evidence that my death would improve things. It’s a terrible bet. At least here, in this life, we have known variables we can tweak and change. The unknown void could be Dante’s Inferno or far worse. When we just “want the pain to stop,” it’s easy to forget this. You simply don’t know what’s behind door #3.  — via Some Practical Thoughts on Suicide | The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss.

Read the entire post: Some Practical Thoughts on Suicide | The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss.

Some Christian beliefs make matters worse, insisting that God ordains each sin (and suicide is considered a sin).

However logically and systematically consistent some theological thinkers might be, the idea of God ordaining horrible things is abhorrent.

At very least we could acknowledge that an impassible God becoming incarnate to die in place of his creatures is anything but logical. Perhaps loving, but not logical.

Here one of G.K. Chesterton’s quotes pops into mind: “The mad man is not the man who has lost his reason. The mad man is the man who has lost everything except his reason.”

Maybe some theological thinkers have been orthodox and mad.

Logical and insane.

Logic and analysis are good. Problems come along when a mind becomes so focused on and so obsessed with the parts that it can no longer see the connections and the wholes. No one can live while seeing only fragments and pieces.

Which reminds me of a thought that, I think, came from C.S. Lewis: for the modernistic scientist, a real bird is a bird opened on the dissection table, pinned down and pulled apart. In an earlier time, a real bird was a bird on the wing, with its song.

Everyone knows the bird has guts. But even in a natural order sparked by a blind watchmaker, who would think the bird exists merely in relation to the functioning of its internal organs? The bird exists in relation to the rest of the natural order — bugs, fish, soil, water, and trees, as well as humans and human culture. We appreciate these relationships — they’ve been there as long as we can remember, as far back as we can see in art and literature.

Endless dissection is useful, even helpful, but discoveries made through analysis are never for themselves, but for better understandings of wholes.

Over-analysis of a single situation leads into a singular focus, a mental microscope on a single cell, with no context for its wider circumstances, its situations and connections. The suicidal person might feel like this one bad circumstance is all there is. But there is so much more.

So for some scientists and some theologians, reasoning has been a force for good, for making connections and seeing wholes, for continuing to live in spite of extraordinary difficulties.

They use reasoning to see the connections and the wholes — in other words, the meaningfulness of everything that exists.

Also see:

Walker Percy’s passage on “the ex-suicide” from his book Lost in the Cosmos.

On Soren Kierkegaard’s 202nd birthday


“I need the enchantment of creative work to help me forget life’s mean pettinesses.” — from Kierkegaard’s diaries

Via Kierkegaard on Popular Opinion, the Petty Jealousies of Criticism, and the Only Cure for Embitterment in Creative Work | Brain Pickings.

 

From an interview with Michael Ruse on ‘What is it Like to be a Philosopher?’


From Cliff Sosis’s interview with Florida State University philosopher Michael Ruse (born in Britain to a Quaker family) on the blog “What is it Like to be a Philosopher?”

You recently became a citizen, correct? Do you think religious fundamentalism will always have a place in American politics?

Yes, I feel that if I am going to live here and teach students, I should make a commitment. Also by being a US citizen I can criticize without being a hypocrite. In my lifetime yes, I think these things will always be around so long as we are still fighting the Civil War – perhaps as the Hispanic vote and other immigrants get more sizable we shall see a shift – but not in a hurry.

Do you think creationism is ever going to go away? Where do you think the new atheists get things right?

Creationism isn’t going to go away in my lifetime! I don’t think a fondness for pseudoscience or irrational religion will ever go. Well, I think the New Atheists are right that Christianity is false! I think they are wrong to say that all religious believers are charlatans and fools.

You’ve worked a bit with the intelligent design guy, Bill Dembski. How did that come about?

Just meeting him at conferences or when we were on the same platform – if I were a scientist, I would hesitate about collaborating, but I think as a philosopher one ought to be open to debate – that is our job.

What are your political views?

Left wing – socialist but not Marxist – very much in the British Fabian tradition – Mill, the Webbs, that sort of thing. That said, there are days when I have a bit of a libertarian streak. I wish universities would stop being therapy units and get on with teaching and research.

Read the entire interview at what is it like to be a philosopher?

via what is it like to be a philosopher?

‘Former Bayside Church & Mars Hill Church Attender Protests Mark Driscoll’s Return to the Stage at Thrive Leadership Conference’


Discernment is dead and the wolves run freely among the sheep.

From Warren Throckmorton’s blog:

“Van Rue once served at Bayside Church where Mark Driscoll returned to the stage yesterday at the Thrive 2015 Leadership Conference. Rue also attended Mars Hill Church when he moved to Seattle in 2004. Rue was one of many former Mars Hill Church members who was saddened by reports of Driscoll’s speech at Thrive. He wrote this open letter to Bayside’s pastor Ray Johnson and the conference organizers and sent it along to me.

“I have heard from numerous former Mars Hill members who feel betrayed by church leaders who have not checked out the full story of Mars Hill’s history before offering to stand in the place of Mars Hill’s elders.”

via Former Bayside Church and Mars Hill Church Attender Protests Mark Driscoll’s Return to the Stage at Thrive Leadership Conference

Please read the rest of Warren Throckmorton’s post at Former Bayside Church and Mars Hill Church Attender Protests Mark Driscoll’s Return to the Stage at Thrive Leadership Conference.

What Purpose Do the Humanities Serve? | The New Republic


Bernie Machen, former president of the University of Florida:

“Critical thinking, appreciation of the arts and humanities and understanding how to relate to society and the natural world are essential characteristics of the educated person.

“Historically, the liberal arts and humanities have contributed to developing such a person. But there is real concern over how this is occurring in today’s universities.”

via What Purpose Do the Humanities Serve? | The New Republic

This Is How Fast America Changes Its Mind | Bloomberg Business – Business, Financial & Economic News, Stock Quotes


“Eleven years after Massachusetts became the first state to allow same-sex couples to marry, the Supreme Court on April 28 will hear arguments about whether to extend that right nationwide. The case comes amid a wave of gay marriage legalization: 28 states since 2013, and 36 overall. Such widespread acceptance in a short amount of time isn’t a phenomenon unique to gay marriage. Social change in the U.S. appears to follow a pattern: A few pioneer states get out front before the others, and then a key event—often a court decision or a grassroots campaign reaching maturity—triggers a rush of state activity that ultimately leads to a change in federal law.” (emphasis added)

via This Is How Fast America Changes Its Mind | Bloomberg Business – Business, Financial & Economic News, Stock Quotes

*Follow the link for animated charts illustrating the pace of social change on hot-button issues in America.

Princeton Students Debate Limits of Free Expression – FIRE


‘Last Monday, the Princeton faculty voted to approve a statement on free expression to be published in the university’s “Rights, Rules, Responsibilities” document, which governs student conduct on campus. Math professor Sergiu Klainerman, who was born and raised in communist Romania, brought the motion. He told The Daily Princetonian that he appreciated the need for free speech in part due to his experience living under a dictatorship:

‘“I learned how easy it is to pervert seemingly good intentions into a repressive system in which free speech is banned,” Klainerman said. “No other impression was more powerful to me than the sense of freedom I experienced during my first weeks and months in U.S.”’

via Princeton Students Debate Limits of Free Expression – FIRE