Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The New Religion Haiku

Obfuscate one's presuppositions
Dictate terms
for what reason might consider. This is how science has been lost.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Presumption of Shared Goals...Or, the Ridiculous-ness of an Auto-reply From an Elected Official Who Knows That You Know That He Knows He is Full of it...

Ah yes, the bureaucratic auto-reply of thoughtlessness and double-speak.
I believe Hannah Arendt referred to it as the "banality of evil." 
It's cool though because Mr. Senator respects the deeply held beliefs of...blah, blah, blah. 

Dear Mr. Malcolm:
Thank you for contacting me to share your views on abortion.  I do appreciate hearing from you.

Illiberal Liberalism

Or, "Why the Totalitarians of Thought are Blind to Their Own Illiberalism and Why Their Tactics Will Cultivate an Increasing Atmosphere of Violence Which is the Very Problem They Purport to Avoid."

George Will describes the campus atmosphere of in which suppression of free inquiry and open expression is the norm...fostered by both faculty and students but apparently a trait practiced more openly on behalf of liberalism, (ironically).

Combox replies as usual are useless and demoralizing...consisting only of either disagreement based on ad hominem or denial that suppression is problematic. Lord have mercy if we actually have to consider the issue. The reader is trained to obsfucate first.

However I think Will's article doesn't go quite far enough...it superficially blames the left, yet neglects to reach the substance of the problem. It is merely an anecdotal commentary that comes off as moralistic to the people he would seek to correct.

The problem is philosophical...and it is a philosophical error that is taught..explicitly. We have here a problem of education.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

A Brief Theology of History, (or History as the Event of Love)

          The whole of history is salvation history. To look at the span of time with the eyes of Christian faith is to have a sense of the unfolding of God’s self-revelatory act in the reality of the cosmos.
Caldecott's work was close at hand while I was working on this one.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The New Old Radicals...

I blazed through “Runaway Radical” last weekend. I knocked it out in a few hours which I don't often do. It’s the story of a kid who buys into the gospel message 100% and sets out to throw himself entirely into the call of the Great Commission, (as it is conceived by Evangelicalism anyway). He proceeded to slam directly into a wall of disappointment, letdown and personal betrayal.
In a lot of ways, this kid’s story and my own story overlap quite a bit. In fact, I had to put the book down at one point and go look up an old journal entry from over ten years ago. There are a couple of scenes in which Jonathan Hollingsworth, the young protagonist  of the story, has a series of conversations dealing with various people regarding a mission to Africa gone badly. The words in my journal entry were nearly identical to some of these exchanges that he relates. I also had a very similar conversation with my old pastor after a ministry experience that… did not meet expectations. In fact, some of the lines in the book...verbatim. Still, I don't think I got steamrolled in quite the same way. I actually never had any real hard feelings anyway. I knew the score and wasn't caught by surprise in quite the same way. In any case, reading the book was a bit of a flash back from ten years ago. 

The story also details a post-letdown encounter with another young zealous ministry-man who is fired up and ready to turn the screws of conviction on any one within reach. This was the one part of the book that was actually kind of a disappointment for me. It is told in the manner of Chaucer satirizing his debtors complete with details of glassy eyed sneering taking place. I felt kind of bad for the young dumb drunk youth pastor who was the designated bad-guy in this narrative. Was he an ass? Of course. Still, it was sort of harsh to frame the moment in print as a permanent memorial of how to over-shoot your zeal. To anyone in this youth pastor's circle of friends,  the identity of the prime offender is not going to be a real mystery. Whatever. We've all said dumb stuff in our 20s. Who am I to cast stones? To that young dummy, let me tell you kid, I've done worse friend. Anyway, what the Hollingsworths do illustrate is that at some point it is pretty apparent that the narrative of a particularly Americanized Christian witness gets played out to the point that it is actually a bit of a cliché. Real men love Jesus. Hmmm...

But why? Why does this nonsense go on? Legalism is the answer offered up by the young protagonist. That is a word only used by a particular set of Christians so it may or may not make sense to the reader, (depending on your background). But yes, perhaps legalism is part of it. But there is something deeper going on here. It can’t happen that so many people share a common pathology without having some implicit central idea in common. There is some philosophy or theology at work here. People have all sorts of variables in their wrongdoing.  Missions oriented evangelical churches often talk in great deal about how their theology is not central to who they are as a people of faith, (which makes no sense really). Rather, they assert that their theology is merely a peripheral accessory that is employed only insofar as it is helpful. I’m not buying. They do have a theology and it is solidly fixed. Furthermore, it is operative in every aspect of their lives. Heck, not having a theology is a theological position. 

So...we love Jesus. We want to give Him everything. The evangelical missions endeavor seems so noble. What could go wrong? Why is this not enough? I can even say that in my case, I think my former pastor had the best intentions, (at least in our particular encounter). In fact, I know he did. But what was he seeing in the mission that I was missing? Or, what was I seeing about the mission that he was missing? Or is it that the theology of mission that he taught wasn’t big enough?

Friday, January 2, 2015

Educating in STEM Towards the Transcendentals.

The Washington Post has an essay that considers the heavy emphasis on STEM in education and poses the following question:
"What was the purpose of everything if it all came down to mechanical interactions of particles and cells - what was the point of living, of doing anything at all?"
"Ah, my soul...Meaning, Existence and forming young shepherds of Being"
Eckart has gone right to the heart of it.

We go about breaking things down into mere quantities, jamming them into quantifiable categories and simultaneously we annihilate any sense of wholeness or holistic quality.  Under the terms of this sort of pseudo-scientific dogma, no one can say what anything is. She is right…why do science in the first place?
Modern science needs the humanities in order to recover itself. 

I would suggest three sources for recovering a sense in which education in STEM and otherwise is rooted in something truer and deeper.

1.) Move out from within the heart of the Church. Education of the whole person, inquiry, fullness of realization and revelation is of course, (and always has been), the objective of the Christian endeavor...helping to reveal the world and particularly, revealing man. We need to read and re-read Guadium et Spes.

"The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. For Adam, the first man, was a figure of Him Who was to come,(20) namely Christ the Lord. Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear. It is not surprising, then, that in Him all the aforementioned truths find their root and attain their crown." - GS 22
Guadium et Spes is huge!!! We cannot read and re-read this one to much. Christ reveals man to himself. This is where education begins and where it aims.

2.) We need to educate so as to form people who are lovers of wisdom. This effort has been taken up elsewhere. New times call for new measures. We don't need to repeat or duplicate exactly what has come before. That would never work anyway. However, we can certainly glean some good ideas and recover some of the same sensibilities that have preceded us. Anthony Ensolen has a terrific essay on acollege program that taught the humanities with a sense of wonder and spurredyoung people to an untold number of vocations, (religious and otherwise). 

3.) We would do well to read Wendell Berry and his thoughts on modern education. He is sometimes a bit polemic but I think his clarity of vision and his ability to articulate a sense of love for the world, and education as oriented towards the beautiful, the true and the good is vital. His short book, "Life is a Miracle" is a great place to start.

None of this…I REPEAT…NONE OF THIS….IS TO REJECT SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY and MATH. What we want instead is to recover STEM, not as a means towards further consolidation of wealth, advancement of oligarchy and the reduction of vocation as a joyless existence of slogging it out in the technocracy. Instead we would want to elevate science as being the discovery of what is. Technology as properly oriented towards the common good of families and societies. Math as a pursuit of the great depths of being.

Hopefully, this provides at lease a brief insight into the Christian sense of how and why we educate and work in the world while living for the Kingdom of Heaven. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Sometimes the Comments Section in Internet Stories are Totally Worth it

Usually, the stuff you read in comment sections is totally useless. Emotional venting and/or the lowest type of antagonism..."trolling," I think they call it.

DNA's survival of space travel hit the news this week.

DNA in Spaaaaaaaaaace!
My initial thoughts were sort of, "so DNA can survive entry into Earth's atmosphere...its totally feasible I suppose that life on earth originated from aliens from another galaxy, just like Battlestar Galactica.
Of course that still leaves the problem of origin with regards to that life, but I guess this at least kicks the can down the road a bit, huh?" 

Not even.

"sonofEinstein" has a great reply to Scientific American's story on "DNA Surviving Entry from Space.

"What a piece of nonsense "science". This from a mere 13 minutes in flight?? The problem is that 98% of all of the meteors that have hit Earth, according to NASA have originated in the asteroid belt and are of the original materials that built the Earth. At the average speed of a meteor, it would take about a year to reach Earth. This would mean traveling through space where the temperature is about 10 degrees Kelvin. Since all life has to have carbon and oxygen to survive, this would mean it would be frozen before it reached the atmosphere of Earth. That is when it hits the Van Allen Belts where the temperatures rise rapidly to 1,923 degrees Kelvin. So could DNA have survived THESE temperatures? Not like! Finally it would have had to survive the impact of actually crashing onto the surface of Earth, whether land or sea doesn't make a difference to the impact. Finally, we have NEVER found ANY evidence of life anywhere on any of the asteroids, including Vesta from which most of the meteors have come, and has been visited by the Dawn space probe in July 2011. For Life to have come on a comet, it would have to have been from the asteroid belt, which means that there would have to have been Life there some 4.54 billion years ago when they were formed at the same time as Earth. That leaves the prospect of DNA or some form of Life coming on board a meteor from further away, meaning somewhere else in our solar system - though we have no evidence of it from Voyager and other space probes, and since Life has been on Earth since 3.6 billion years, it would have LONGER to develop on one of those planets/moons - yet no sign yet either. That means if Life was a hitchhiker, it would have come from even further away, and only 2% of meteors on Earth came from this far away. But that would mean "life" would have had to travel 1,000 years before reaching Earth, all through dark space where the temperature is a mere 2.7 degrees Kelvin. So this "experiment" replicates NOTHING and is scientifically useless in the reality of our solar system!"

Good job Son of Einstein!