Wednesday, November 24, 2010

C.S. Lewis, the cold logician

However, in many cases, moral compromise wasn't the whole story. For example, one friend has had distinctly postmodern misgivings. When his father learned of his decision to leave the faith, he rushed his son a copy of Mere Christianity, hoping the book would bring him back. But C. S. Lewis's logical style left him cold. "All that rationality comes from the Western philosophical tradition," he told me. "I don't think that's the only way to find truth."

The Leavers: Young Doubters Exit the Church

He read the wrong book.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Studies have shown...

...that studies are overrated.

But this is still pretty interesting: Does living in the city age your brain?

"Kobe, Japan (CNN) -- There is a reason more than half the world's population lives in cities, with the number expected to grow. Cities have a lot to offer. Residents can walk to nearby shops and enjoy cultural attractions not available to those in more rural areas. Also, living in a city may make your commute to work much shorter.

Unfortunately, according to health officials from the World Health Organization, that convenience may come with a price -- higher levels of stress and a measurable impact on your brain.

The problem seems to be "attention," or more specifically, the lack of it. With so many different distractions -- from a flashing neon sign, to the cell phone conversation of a nearby passenger on a bus, a city dweller starts to practice something known as "controlled perception." That toggling back and forth between competing stimuli can be mentally exhausting."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


An argument for the value of art, used in the fictional work 'The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy', proceeds that, should some external force presenting imminent destruction of Earth, ask the inhabitants, of what use is humanity, what should humanity's response be? The argument continues that the only justification humanity could give for its continued existence would be the past creation and continued creation of things like a Shakespeare play, a Rembrandt painting or a Bach concerto. The suggestion is that these are the things of value which define humanity.

LINK: Wikipedia on "Aesthetics"

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Today's news::
"ARLINGTON, Texas – Manny Pacquiao was once again masterful, beating Antonio Margarito so frightfully that Margarito’s face looked as it had been pounded repeatedly by a club."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lewis Roundtable

Really enjoyed this:

Alan Jacobs, ND Wilson, and Doug Wilson in conversation | Full Edition from Canon Wired on Vimeo.

Quotable: Chesterton

“One of the strangest examples to which ordinary life is devalued is the example of popular literature, the vast mass of which we contentedly describe as vulgar. The boy’s novelette may be ignorant in a literary sense, which is only like saying that a modern novel is ignorant in the chemical sense, or the economic sense, or the astronomical sense; but it is not vulgar intrinsically — it is the actual center of a million flaming imaginations.”

- G.K. Chesterton

Making Connections

Alan Jacobs is right on here.

This from Tim Burke:
My colleague suggested to me that I had to be responsible first (and last) to my discipline and my specialization in my teaching, that there was something unseemly about the heavy admixture of literature and popular culture and journalistic reportage and anthropology that populates some of my syllabi. I’ve heard similar sentiments expressed as an overall view of higher education in some recent meetings. At a small liberal-arts college and maybe even at a large research university, this strikes me as substantially off the mark. Or at least we need some faculty who are irresponsible to their disciplines and responsible first to integrating and connecting knowledge.

Jacobs's response:
Let me repeat that for you: We need some faculty who are irresponsible to their disciplines and responsible first to integrating and connecting knowledge. This is a precise and concise summation of what I’ve tried to do for many years now. There’s a price to be paid for this kind of thing, of course: expanded interests do not yield expanded time. The day’s number of hours remain constant, and then there's the matter of sleep. So the more I explore topics, themes, books, films — whatever — outside the usual boundaries of my official specialization, the less likely it is that I will read every new article, or even every new book, in “my field.” But, to rephrase Tim’s point as a series of questions, Is the unswerving focus on a specifically bounded area of specialization the sine qua non of scholarship? Is it even intrinsic to scholarship? Is there not another model of scholarship whose primary activity is “integrating and connecting knowledge”?

Quotable: Michael Rosenberg

Michael Rosenberg:
"What I find remarkable is that, if all of this is true, the under-the-table payments are what would upset people the most. I mean, yes, it is against NCAA rules. But in any other segment of society, if a college kid found a way to use his talents to bring in money to support his father's church, he would be a hero. There would be glowing newspaper profiles and probably a few humanitarian awards. If a kid does it in college football, he's a villain."

This is asinine.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Keller, "White Paper on Creation, Evolution and Christian Laypeople"

My friend Jon Jordan posted a link to Keller's "White Paper on Creation, Evolution and Christian Laypeople" which is worth a read. Quote:

"In short, if I as a pastor want to help both believers and inquirers to relate science and faith coherently, I must read the works of scientists, exegetes, philosophers, and theologians and then interpret them for my people. Someone might counter that this is too great a burden to put on pastors, that instead they should simply refer their laypeople to the works of scholars. But if pastors are not ‘up to the job’ of distilling and understanding the writings of scholars in various disciplines, how will our laypeople do it?"

Qualitative Knowledge and the FDA

Qualitative knowledge (or qualia for short) figures on being a big part of whatever I study in the near future. I thought this article was fascinating because the FDA seems to suggest that a picture communicates more effectively what a label could not. In other words there is a fullness of knowledge which is communicated better with these pictures in spite of their lack of propositional content. Sure this isn't new news. But in the world of epistemology the status of qualitative knowledge is neglected. This is a good example of its value.

Three examples of proposed warning graphics that will appear on cigarette packaging as part of the government's new tobacco prevention efforts, seen in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Why I'm not Getting a Kindle

Quote: LINK
After emailing Amazon about [the lack of page numbers], and, like the previous poster, getting no response, I called. I could not believe the arrogance of Amazon's position on this issue. The customer service representative I spoke with was very argumentative and held firm to the position that academia should "catch up with technology" and Amazon has no responsibility to address the page number issue because page numbers are antiquated. Her response to my concern was inappropriate--I definitely touched a nerve--and also indicated that she had heard this complaint before (probably multiple times). I think Amazon knows all too well about this issue and it doesn't matter to them that they are alienating perhaps the most lucrative market (the academics) they could possible tap in to. If they want to just gear toward causal readers, that's fine I suppose, but it's unfortunate for us and ultimately for them too. I really hope they reconsider their position--the technology is amazing, but the way they are administering it just doesn't work for me.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Tozer, "To Be or To Do"

Historically the West has tended to throw its chief emphasis upon doing and the East upon being. What we are has always seemed more important to the Oriental; the Occidental has been willing to settle for what we do. One has glorified the verb to be; the other, the verb to do.

Were human nature perfect there would be no discrepancy between being and doing. The unfallen man would simply live from within, without giving it a thought. His actions would be the true expression of his inner being.

With human nature what it is, however, things are not so simple. Sin has introduced moral confusion and life has become involved and difficult. Those elements within us which were meant to work together in unconscious harmony are often isolated from each other wholly or in part and tend to become actually hostile to each other. For this reason symmetry of character is extremely difficult to achieve.

Out of deep inner confusion arises the antagonism between being and doing, and the verb upon which we throw our emphasis puts us in one of the two categories: we are be-ers or we are do-ers, one or the other. In our modem civilized society the stress falls almost wholly upon doing.

We Christians cannot escape this question. We must discover where God throws the stress and come around to the divine pattern. And this should not be too difficult since we have before us the sacred Scriptures with all their wealth of spiritual instruction, and to interpret those Scriptures we have the very Spirit which inspired them.

In spite of all our opportunity to know the truth, most of us are still slow to learn. The tendency to accept without question and follow without knowing why is very strong in us. For this reason whatever the majority of Christians hold at any given time is sure to be accepted as true and right beyond a doubt. It is easier to imitate than to originate; it is easier and, for the time being, safer to fall into step without asking too many questions about where the parade is headed. This is why being has ceased to have much appeal for people and doing engages almost everyone's attention. Modern Christians lack symmetry. They know almost nothing about the inner life. They are like a temple that is all exterior without any interior. Color, light, sound, appearance, motion - these are thy gods, 0 Israel.

"The accent in the Church today," says Leonard Ravenhill, the English evangelist, "is not on devotion, but on commotion." Religious extroversion has been carried to such an extreme in evangelical circles that hardly anyone has the desire, to say nothing of the courage, to question the soundness of it. Externalism has taken over. God now speaks by the wind and the earthquake only; the still small voice can be heard no more. The whole religious machine has become a noisemaker. The adolescent taste which loves the loud horn and the thundering exhaust has gotten into the activities of modern Christians. The old question, "What is the chief end of man?" is now answered, "To dash about the world and add to the din thereof." And all this is done in the name of Him who did not strive nor cry nor make His voice to be heard in the streets (Mat. 12:18-21).

We must begin the needed reform by challenging the spiritual validity of externalism. What a man is must be shown to be more important than what he does. While the moral quality of any act is imparted by the condition of the heart, there may be a world of religious activity which arises not from within but from without and which would seem to have little or no moral content. Such religious conduct is imitative or reflex. It stems from the current cult of commotion and possesses no sound inner life.

The message "Christ in you, the hope of glory," needs to be restored to the Church. We must show a new generation of nervous, almost frantic, Christians that power lies at the center of the life. Speed and noise are evidences of weakness, not strength. Eternity is silent; time is noisy. Our preoccupation with time is sad evidence of our basic want of faith. The desire to be dramatically active is proof of our religious infantilism; it is a type of exhibitionism common to the kindergarten.

A.W. Tozer, The Root of the Righteous

ht: Mars Hill

Artifact and Aesthetic Realism