Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Plutarch, on Patrons and Clients

By this more imposing title he distinguished the senate from the populace; and in other ways separated the nobles and the commons,--calling them patrons, and these their clients,--by which means he created wonderful love and amity betwixt them, productive of great justice in their dealings. For they were always their clients' counsellors in law cases, their advocates in courts of justice; in fine, their advisers and supporters in all affairs whatever. These again faithfully served their patrons, not only paying them all respect and deference, but also, in case of poverty, helping them to portion their daughters and pay off their debts; and for a patron to witness against his client, or a client against his patron, was what no law nor magistrate could enforce.
Plutarch, "Romulus"

This quote could be very interesting in light of the situation in 1 Corinthians.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Piper on Lewis

"Lewis’s pursuit of Joy by means of rational defenses of objective truth has had liberating effect on me. He freed me from false dichotomies. He demonstrated for me and convinced me that rigorous, precise, penetrating logic is not inimical to deep, soul-stirring feeling and vivid, lively imagination. He was a “romantic rationalist.” He combined what almost everybody today assumes are mutually exclusive: rationalism and poetry, cool logic and warm feeling, disciplined prose and free imagination. In shattering these old stereotypes for me, he freed me to think hard and to write poetry, to argue for the resurrection and compose hymns to Christ, to smash an argument and hug a friend, to demand a definition and use a metaphor. It is a wonderful thing when a great man shows a struggler how to be himself."
- John Piper

Monday, December 12, 2011

Quotable: Oresteia

So against Paris's guilty boast
Zeus, witness between guest and host,
Sends Atreus' sons for stern redress
Of his and Helen's wantonness.
Now Greece and Troy both pay their equal debt
Of aching limbs and wounds and sweat,
While knees sink low in gory dust,
And spears are shivered at first thrust.
Aeschylus, Agamemnon, 60-67

You now speak more in wisdom,
Naming the thrice-gorged Fury
That hates and haunts our race.
Hers is the thirst of slaughter,
Still slaked with feud and vengeance,
Till, with each wrong requited,
A new thirst takes its place.
Aeschylus, Agamemnon, 1475-81

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Little Morning Gloom: Morning at the Window, by T.S. Eliot

Morning at the Window

by T S Eliot 

They are rattling breakfast plates in basement kitchens, 
 And along the trampled edges of the street 
I am aware of the damp souls of housemaids 
Sprouting despondently at area gates. 
The brown waves of fog toss up to me 
Twisted faces from the bottom of the street, 
And tear from a passer-by with muddy skirts 
An aimless smile that hovers in the air 
And vanishes along the level of the roofs. 

It's 'depressing' in the sense that it has no explicit positive message to put forth. Yet, the poem, as all laments are, is a cry for something lost. This world--a very modern world--he describes is one where time has become oppressive, dishes are done in stacks. Streets are trampled rather than trodden; they are used not traveled. Life for housemaids is despair and meaninglessness; they sprout despondently. People are noticed rather than known; he is aware of these maids and nameless passer-byers. And cheer, meaning, and prayers, where they exist, never get beyond the level of the roofs; we have shut out God. May God grant us the grace to embody faith, hope, and love in this world.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Generalists and Interdisciplinary Work

The following from Zachary Ernst is highly illuminating in terms of recognizing the assumptions of modern academia:

While I was still an assistant professor, I had published in several different areas – I had papers in ethics, action theory, game theory, logic, and philosophy of science. The chair of my department was unhappy about this, and he told me so. He said, quite explicitly, that it would be very difficult for me to get tenure with such research breadth. This may sound unbelievable to someone outside of academia, but his reasoning was quite sound. Tenure decisions were made largely based on whether the faculty member had developed a reputation in the field. And it is easier to do that if you repeatedly publish in the same narrow subset of the academic literature. Spreading myself around too much, I was told, might result in my having failed to achieve a reputation. At the time I had this conversation, I had two distinct feelings. On the one hand, I felt that this was totally absurd – how can the ability to publish in several distinct areas be considered a liability? But on the other hand, I had to admit that he was right, and that this was good advice.

Notice how the assumption of modern academia is to collect data, not to produce people. A generalist might be the best sort of person for producing people, but certainly wouldn't be the best sort for advancing the mystical progress of the data machine we call the modern project. This tempts me to say, tenure be damned, I want to be a Christian educator.

ht: Discover Magazine Blog; Caleb Gates