Thursday, April 14, 2016

Being and Self: Disclosed Not By Instrumental Reason but Poetry, Music ..Art

Another fascinating post at Jack's After the Future blog.  It is titled "The Meaning of History in 25 Theses." The theses could easily generate a book length commentary.  Among the very many things that could be discussed, the first to jump out at me is a snippet from his second comment to his post which is below, (I chose to bold).  
"............... Language and culture provide a kind of raft on which the self floats on the abyss. Language and culture filter the reality of Being as well as disclose it. Some language is more disclosive some more rigid in its filtering. Poetry, music, and other artistic forms are more disclosive, and abstract instrumental reason more controlling and rigidly filtering. 
Modernity especially in the period after the Industrial Revolution has become dominated by an ethos of instrumental reason that has created a group mind for which the depths of Being have been largely filtered out. Even religious language and poetry has lost its capability to disclose depths of the Being of the World that were accessible to our ancestors. Most poets and religious thinkers don't even try to disclose it because it has become so inaccessible. The ones who do go unread because nobody knows (or cares about) what they're talking about. 

This is a theme that Jack often expresses.  It is that the modern project is coming to an end.  In the late modern era as he says, we have lost our ability to express and perceive the depths of being.  Instrumental reason has overcome and bulldozed all in its path.  In its place it is a good thing in my opinion.  (Ironically, I say this as a Fellow of a technical society with the former title of the Instrumentation Society of America.)  I wrestled with this for many years until the postmodernists, as crazy as they sometimes are and write, were able to explain to me that the age of Enlightenment was not all encompassing and the final explanation for everything.  The age of print brought about the Reformation, the rise of Science, Capitalism, and the Industrial Age.  In my lifetime we've gone from the age of print to the age of Radio and Television broadcast, to the Digital Age.  The Visual is or will overcome the flatland of dry linear flatland Enlightenment.  Beauty, Music, Art, and Poetry with digital help should aid us for the next step.  The visual proves the error of the logical, sometimes.

What do the images in this post mean?  It is difficult for me to express but someting attracted me to them..

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Narrative of Evolution, Consciousness, and the Christ

Life from its origins is hardwired for the emergence
            of some kind of reflective consciousness.

That is a quotation lifted from an article in Christian Century Headed Toward Christ: The Grand Narrative of Evolution.  In the article, Ian Curran reviews a new book by Simon Conway Morris, The Runes of Evolution. Curran relates that 

Evolution, to be sure, proceeds by fits and starts. Species arise and then disappear, and the history of life on earth is marked by far more failures than successes. Species can be destroyed by predators, disease, climate change, or, as in the case of the dinosaurs, a wandering comet. But despite the elements of chance and contingency in evolution, Conway Morris perceives an intelligent, law-like process at work, a deep structure unfolding in the emergence of living beings who eventually come to apprehend the very mathematical forms which made possible their evolution. The dawn of self-awareness in the universe, manifest in human intellectual reflection, moral action, and spiritual experience, is a promise woven into the fabric of life from the beginning.

I am satisfied that this is true.  Conway Morris worked on the Burgess Shale with Stephen Jay Gould.  Gould was convinced that evolution was random.  There is no direction to evolution and that humans and the development of consciousness an accident.  Morris believes differently from this.  As do I, now.  

For many years, the trial and error approach of evolution depressed me and produced skepticism that meaning could be found in it.  Of course, being from a very conservative religious background, I had been taught that if evolution is true, we are an accident.  No different from an animal.  It is one reason many, no doubt, hang on to their anti-Darwinism.  They and I, for a while, thought that if evolution is true, then there can be no meaning to the universe.  Now I'm happy to learn this need not be the case.  Books by Morris, John Haught, and others are teaching me a more optimistic view of evolution.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Northrup Frye and the Nature of Man Quote

Thought I'd grab something to read in bed last night before dropping off.  At random picked from long ago The Great Code:  The Bible and Literature by Northrup Frye.  To my surprise it turns out I'd signed it exactly twenty years ago to the day.  In the introduction I came across this pithy quotation:

Man lives, not directly or nakedly in nature like the animals, but within a mythological universe, a body of assumptions and beliefs developed from his existential concerns.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

I'm A Total Failure? And It's A Good Thing Too!

I'm a fan of Deborah Cox and her book, Wife Material.  Was checking out her blog today and found this post to be beneficial.

She asserts that we can inherit guilt, shame, and other emotions from previous generations.  She recommends an exercise to identify specifically these issues as a means for overcoming them.   I'll quote the end of the post as a teaser.  I hope it compels the reader to visit her blog.

You already know I’m a proponent of misbehavior. Breaking the rules and failing helps us become who we truly are. So, It’s My Fault can become, I Learned From It. And, I Should Have Known Better can become, I Did The Best I Could….And Look Where I Am Now!"

That is great advice.!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Big Bang or The Great Swelling?

My parents bought the Book of Knowledge Children's Encyclopedia, the edition published in 1952.  I enjoyed many hours with the 20 volumes while growing up.  Even before I could read, the pictures had a great effect on me.  I have them and will occasionally pick one at random to read.  The other day I was looking at an article "The Men Who Mapped the Skies."  Evidently this was before the term "Big Bang" was the standard phrase for describing the expanding universe.  On page 3860 below is reference to Edwin Hubble and Milton Humason and how they showed the it is "as though the whole universe were swelling up."
I wonder, how would our thinking about the origin of the universe change if instead of calling it the Big Bang, our name for it were "The Great Swelling?".

Full View of the Page.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Books Read in 2015

Perhaps a little late but here's a list of what I read last year:

Except for the first, which I consider to be very important, no particular order, just as they came to mind.

On Care for Our Common - Home Laudato Si'     Pope Francis

On the Mystery:  Discerning Divinity in Process     Catherine Keller

Embracing a Beautiful God     Patricia Adams Farmer

The Authenticity of Faith:  The Varieties and Illusions of Religious Experience     Richard Beck

Saving Appearances: A Study in Idolatry     Owen Barfield

Re-Weaving the Rainbow:  The Thought of Owen Barfield     David Lavery editor

23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism     Ha-Joon Chang

The Unvanquished    William Faulkner

Don't Be Such A Scientist     Randy Olson

From Teilhard to Omega: Co-Creating an Unfinished Universe     Ilia Delio editor

The Jesus Driven Life:  Reconnecting Humanity with Jesus     Michael Hardin with contributions by Brad Jersak and Tony Bartlett

Process Theology:  Embracing Adventure with God     Bruce G. Epperly

Re-Designing God:  Nuts and Bolts of the Emerging Religion     Jeremiah Cox

A Twin Mystery     Michael R. Cates

Whose Community?  Which Interpretation?:  Philosophical Hermeneutics for the Church    Merold Westphal

How (Not) To Be Secular:  Reading Charles Taylor     James K. A. Smith

Autobiography:  Truth and Fiction Relating to My Life     Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Wife Material:  A Novel of Misbehavior and Freedom     Deborah Cox

Code:  The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software     Charles Petzold

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Universe Really Is "Inspirited Matter" - Richard Rohr

I was reviewing some of the many pithy passages in Richard Rohr's book, Falling Upward, this morning.  Read it back in 2012.  So many concise, thoughtful insights that get me in the gut.  Here's one sample lifted from my Kindle:

Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life (Richard Rohr)
- Highlight Loc. 1564-71 | Added on Friday, May 04, 2012, 08:07 AM

The gift of living in our time, however, is that we are more and more discovering that the sciences, particularly physics, astrophysics, anthropology, and biology, are confirming many of the deep intuitions of religion, and at a rather quick pace in recent years. The universe really is “inspirited matter,” we now know, and is not merely inert. Now we might call it instinct, evolution, nuclear fusion, DNA, hardwiring, the motherboard, healing, growth, or just springtime, but nature clearly continues to renew itself from within. God seems to have created things that continue to create and recreate themselves from the inside out. It is no longer God's one-time creation or evolution; rather, God's form of creation precisely is evolution. Finally God is allowed to be fully incarnate, which was supposed to be Christianity's big trump card from the beginning! 

For many years I could not perceive how this could be.  The beginning of my breakthrough was reading The Marriage of Sense and Soul by Ken Wilber in the fall of 1999.  Another important step was reading A New Kind of Christian by Brian McLaren followed by his other books.  And also thanks to Teilhard du Chardin with help from his interpreters John Haught (eg. Deeper Than Darwin) and Ilia Delio (The Emergent Christ and Christ in Evolution), as well as Philip Clayton (The Re-Emergence of Emergence), Harold Morowitz (The Emergence of Everything), The Language of God by Francis Collins and the Biologos Website and many others,  it makes sense to me.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

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Sunday, January 10, 2016

Why Are There Athiests?

Have been reviewing my Kindle bookmarks just now.  Don't remember underlining this but in a short booklet on Thomas Aquinas this jumped out at me.

Thomas Aquinas in 50 Pages: A Layman's Quick Guide to Thomism (Taylor Marshall)
- Highlight Loc. 484-85 | Added on Friday, October 30, 2015, 12:15 PM

Usually, atheists or heretics are what they are because of scandal and moral scruples, not because of logical failures.

Have forgotten the context for this.  I recall in the early part of one of Brian McLaren's books, I think Generous Orthodoxy, he says that many of the liberal christians he has met are former fundamentalists or conservatives who've been through bad experiences.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Owen Barfield, C. S. Lewis and the Purpose of Argument

Somewhere I've read that C. S. Lewis is the closest thing that Evangelical Christians have to a Saint. In the past year I've been studying an interesting person who was a very close friend of his by the name of Owen Barfield.  They were so very close that Lewis mentioned Barfield in the dedication to his book, The Allegory of Love (1936) as the 'wisest and best of my unofficial teachers'.  Later Lewis dedicated the first Narnian chronicle to Lucy, Barfield's adopted daughter.  A short web search can easily be found describing this, such as here.

I first read Barfield's Saving Appearances: A Study in Idolatry earlier in the year.  It was difficult to understand.  I even read it again a few months later.  In order to proceed, I decided upon Re-Weaving the Rainbow:  The Thought of Owen Barfield.  This collection of essays has been a help.  A variety of topics are discussed.  Yesterday the thought below jumped out at me.  It is lifted from my Kindle.

Re-Weaving the Rainbow: The Thought of Owen Barfield (David Lavery)
- Highlight Loc. 7447-48 | Added on Saturday, January 02, 2016, 11:27 PM

Barfield doubts that he changed Lewis more than Lewis changed him. But of one thing he is certain and on this he and Lewis would be in agreement: "In our arguments we always, both of us, were arguing for truth not for victory, and arguing for truth, not for comfort."

If I understand properly, this quote originally comes from the book "Owen Barfield on C. S. Lewis".  

Sunday, November 29, 2015

My Thoughts on the End of Protestantism Articles

A response to Jay's post on the End of Protestantism which was inspired by a First Things Article that suggests a  move to Reformational Catholicism.

I think it is a good thing to acknowledge and learn from the wealth of Christian history prior to the Reformation.  The recently deceased Phyllis Tickle was of the opinion that Christendom undergoes a big change every 500 years.  The Reformation commenced about 500 years ago, The previous period began with the Great Schism between Catholic and Orthodox.  And roughly 500 years before that was the time of Pope Gregory the Great whose actions and import she describes in her books.  Of course this all began 500 years earlier with the life of Christ.  These periods are accompanied by changes in society.  In Pope Gregory's time it was the fall of the Roman Empire and changes in travel and communication and other structural changes of life then.  Of course, the Reformation was made possible by the invention of the printing press.  When the form of communication changes, the nature of human consciousness changes.  We live in such a time.  We are transitioning from a print culture to digital culture.  With this change comes new ways of looking at the Bible and religion.  It is good and necessary that we mine riches from the past.  And thanks to easy digital access to the writings of earlier Christian thinkers and contemporary students of them, we can.  But we should also look to the future and the changes that are in process and coming.  Our younger cohorts are not convinced by the word formulas lifted from a seemingly common sense reading of the Bible.  I say seemingly because one cannot read the Bible text by oneself.  One's community is sitting on the shoulder guiding the effort.  It is an exciting time to see all of this unfolding and the new styles of Christianity being born.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Don't Be Such A Scientist

I recently finished Randy Olson's book, Don't Be Such A Scientist.  After establishing himself as a scientist by teaching, doing field research, and publishing;  he decided to change his calling and make films.  Quite an odd progression it seems to me.  He desired to make documentaries that called on his science expertise. In order to pursue his new career he took acting classes.  The experience helped convey to him what stirs an audience.   He claims some of the very personality characteristics that help a person be a good scientist are a hindrance to science communication.  It is one reason much of the public has problems with understanding and being convinced by scientists in regard to climate change.

He says scientists are typically "handicapped by a blind obsession with truth."  They do not care much how something is said or by whom it is said as long as it meets scientific rigor.  However, the public is more likely to believe someone if they are likeable and good at telling a story.  They much show passion, emotion, and humor.

It is a difficult problem.  When I've read or see in the news about research and developments with which I'm familiar, I find simplifications and minor inaccuracies.  It has been awhile and specifics have left me, so I cannot think of an example.

I saw myself in his characterizations.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Do other planets have their own Christ?

Came across this post this evening an an Anglican web site:  Do other planets have their own Christ?

I've been thinking about this for many years.  Thought I'd blogged on it earlier but cannot find which post.  I recall one day in late 1998 when at a gymnastics event in Colorado telling my son's coach that I thought it was quite possible that other planets with sentient life may have their own version of the Christ.  They may have their own versions of Buddhism, Zen, and Mohammed too.  Perhaps not identical in every way but similar in function and characteristics.  Why do I feel this way?

Somewhere I read that the ability to fly had evolved at least three times on this planet.  First it was some insects that developed this capability.  Next, it was certain dinosaurs that did so and we now know them as birds.  Lastly, bats, which are mammals, were able to take to the sky.  Thus, it seems that any environment with animal creatures will have the potential for some of them to develop flight capability.

Judging from evolutionary history on our planet, certain things are inevitable.  Evolutionary nitches will be filled.  Pack animals develop societies.  This leads to development of tribes for the especially sentient ones.

If intelligent beings exist on other planets, why would not they develop language?  If so, then why would they not develop religions?  Would they not eventually develop agriculture?  Would they not also have world empires?  Oppression of smaller nations and peoples?  Rich and Poor?  Would they not do so many of the things that we do?  Would their religions not also be similar to ours, broadly speaking?

I think so and that is why I believe there must be a Cosmic Christ archetype.

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