Archive for April, 2010

Homo Fabulous

Today in Biology (I don’t teach biology, fyi) John was asked to name some early human ancestor.  The answer that Tom was looking for was ‘homohablis.’  John made a small mistake that will haunt him the rest of the year.  He answered, “Homo… Fabulis?”  In spite of himself he received high marks on the subsequent quiz, on which Tom wrote, “Great job.  You did HomoFabulous!”

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Missing Big Beer

Last night I missed big-beer.  Over the past couple of weeks I’ve really been able to determine what actions I most desire, why I desire them and why it is I can only experience a handful in my current situation.  One experience I don’t really have very often is that of sitting for a long period of time over beers and having a discussion about something worthwhile.  e.g. not just about other people in my social circle/ sports / entertainment.  Usually I find my topics of discussion shunned in a social atmosphere because, well, I don’t know why.  But I remember at big beer that was never a problem.

Possibly my favorite night of the week senior year, most of my friends would gather in downtown Annapolis at a bar called McGarvey’s.  The beers were ¼ gallon, delicious and fairly cheap.  We regularly drank three and quickly found out that there were no even numbered nights of big – beer.  Two would impose upon our desires three and four would lead us inevitably to five.  Those could be some rough Thursday mornings.  But the point is that quite often I would sit four hours on end engaged in discussions that challenged me and in which I got to challenge others – we thought together.

If I could replace the regular Saturday night routine with this I think I would be a complete person.

Croquet made me realize how much I missed a lot of things from St. John’s.  That’s one reason why I’m so excited about going to Dallas next year. (Oh Yea, by the way, I got into Dallas’ Braniff Graduate School of Liberal Arts and will be going to Dallas for year beginning in September!) I won’t have my friends from St. John’s but I’m hoping for an academic atmosphere where the people love conversation as much as I do.

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Pascal Invoked Thoughts

Sin is what distracts us from our fallen state, our wretchedness.  That wretchedness is evidenced by our depression in boredom, in unwarranted rest.  We must be in motion to forget our wretched state; yet the motion itself is not our sin either.  Different types of motion are conducive to different types of results; some bring about a productive member of The City and The Body of Christ while others weaken us and prepare us for destruction, that is, depression; a destruction which comes naturally to any being that does not continually work at being itself.  By thinking well, with probity and insight we comprehend our state, that of two natures, and seek the higher through labor.

Democracy is the rule of the mob tempered by the propaganda more powerful and hopefully more thoughtful men.

The rich man will doubtfully enter heaven because his accumulation is in itself a great distraction and upon gaining wealth he has at his disposal the greatest means for wasteful self-forgetfulness.

The poor also find themselves hindered by lacking the appropriate leisure time in which to think and consider themselves.  They must work.  Yet, devoting one’s entire life to humble labor creates a nobler disposition than the bloated disposition of a foolish rich man.  All communities need labor, even mindless laborers; the poor cannot be faulted for their position.  Their souls, unlike a bloated wealthy man, become accustomed to work and therefore to a healthy activity of motion.

Richard Dawkins is already in Hell; he need not visit it.

Plato touched the divine in his thought and labor, if any man touched Heaven in this life, he did.  I’m sure he had little trouble in finding it.

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Christian Timidity

Numerous Christians, even our theologians, are too much afraid.  Rather than think well, we worry that encountering certain compelling ideas will damage our orthodoxy and thus endanger our salvation.  But what a weak orthodoxy we claim to have if we huddle behind enthusiastic rhetoric.  Today I listened to podcast where a Christian man claim to discuss Kant.  In the end he concluded either Kant is right, and we cannot know God through reason or Paul is correct and God is made manifest by the nature around us.  He gave no reason for the correctness of Paul’s assertion, nor did he see the possible synthesis between Pauline and Kantian thought.  He simply denied Kant’s arguments and conclusions.  What was more surprising was the audience’s response, they generally seemed to feel rejuvenated by this man’s speech.  They feel rejuvenated because the speaker, a reputably learned and intelligent man, held scripture over against Kant.  He maintained scripture’s authority against one of the greatest minds of all time; at least they thought this.  The tension that had built up in their hearts while our speaker explained Kant’s ideas and Kant’s prowess was put at ease because their speaker, aligned with such ‘giants’ as Aquinas and Anselm, disagreed with Kant.  And if those intelligent men disagreed with Kant then what Kant said doesn’t have to bother them, the congregation.  In a short 12 minutes time one man made thousands deaf to the wisdom available to us in Kant’s works and this in the name of Christian Apologetics, Christian thinking and Christian philosophy.  The Body of Christ suffered a wound and not only because he made those people opposed to Kant but because he has set them up for failure.  Made confident by their speaker’s assertions, mainly because of the weight his name carries, they may well go out and engage someone who knows a thing or two about old Immanuel.  This engagement could occur through a book or conversation. Let us imagine the more potent of the two, a conversation.  Feeling confident in their Christian philosophizing jam-session a member of the congregation would quickly feel fear grip him when he was asked by our intelligent person, “Well, why accept Paul’s assertion over Kant’s?”  Up until that point our unreflective listener will have thought the speaker had just given him solid reasons for answering that exact question; but he will quickly realize that he has nothing to say and no defense.  He won’t be able to articulate anything potent and will most likely resort to arguing from authority, which is never comforting for anyone.  He will succeed in one or more of the following: if he is not completely unreflective he will go away admitting defeat in his heart and experience a shrinking in his intellectual courage.  If he is brash and unreflective he will succeed in completely pissing of his questioner and sending him away with the all-to-common thought, “Christianity is for stupid people.  Or at least makes them stupid.”  Our brash speaker has literally made a thousand potential “stumbling blocks” for the faith of others because every time one of his listeners engages in conversation he will alienate those who disagree.

We Christians are not called to intellectual timidity.  Yet our speaker acted timidly when he simply denied Kant any real consideration; but he must have done so for a reason.  I mean our speaker wasn’t stupid, and he could explain Kant quite well.  In the end though, he was afraid of making Paul’s teaching something other than what he had originally thought them to be.  Paul claims that we can know the existence of God but our speaker wants Paul to claim that we can prove the existence of God through reason.  He feels that if he were to break with this opinion he breaks with his orthodoxy and thus sins.  But for goodness’ sake, what can be more orthodox (for a protestant, which our speaker is) than making scripture the final authority?

And now we find ourselves faced with the answer.  Our speaker is not a reader.  He has learned through speeches and can only read in light of those speeches.  He is not truly educated.  This being the case, scripture is truly dead to him and he will forever fear ideas that oppose what he was taught by men, rather than what he learned through scripture.

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Michael’s Big Day

Michael is the moodiest little kid I’ve ever met.  Honestly, he comes in pouty every morning but with one well placed compliment he perks up and seems as happy as can be.  But one seemingly harsh criticism or reprimand and he turns on you as if you’re diametrically opposed to his happiness.  He is, in a word, spoiled.  But today he’s finished the Iliad and you can tell his confidence is in full swing.  He came in this morning smiling because he was so excited to tell us all the news.

I consider Michael’s passion, at least temporary passion, for reading to be my greatest achievement this year.  He’s come to view reading as something he can do, and similarly something ‘smart’ people do.  Incidentally he’s improved in many subject because he thinks that he should be doing well. It’s not that he’s turned into a good student but he is a better one and hopefully he carries this attitude into next year. Whatever emotional issues he has can only be fixed by him turning his eye inward and beginning the process of self-examination but hopefully reading is a step in that direction.  It was for me, in any case.

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A Funny Analogy

I had a hilarious interaction with my boss this morning.  I knew he had done an interview with DC Public Schools last Friday so I asked how they went.  After talking a little bit about the interview process and why he thinks he did well he explains how stupid the interview was then sums it up with a poignant analogy, “It was like sleeping with an ugly girl.  You know, you put in all that time and effort, then afterwards you think to yourself, ‘damn! That was a waste.’”

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Music has definitely gone down-hill

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