Monday, December 26, 2005

Singin in the Rain

My son took a course on film this past semester. He came home one day saying that his favorite of all the movies he'd seen was Singin in the Rain. We bought him the DVD for Christmas and watched it yesterday.

It was great!

It has been very many years since I'd last seen a singing and dancing show. Never had much interest in them...well yes I enjoyed the Sound of Music, Oklahoma, the Music Man, and the Student Prince. Come to think of it I did have some affection for the musicals. But I never had the slightest interest in the dance part of things. It has been many years since seeing any song and dance musical. Such things were on TV a lot when I was growing up, but I never paid much attention. Now after these years and finally seeing Singin in the Rain, I am really impressed. Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor were great athletes. They had rhythm. They could sing. They were upbeat and happy. It was a joy to watch. What a Blessing!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Books Read in 2005

Dakota: A Spiritual Geography
by Kathleen Norris

This is a book to be savoured slowly. It starts out kind of like a geography lesson/travelogue but meanders and transforms to an account of a spiritual journey. Kathleen grew up all over but had family roots in South Dakota. She and her husband were writers in the the writers' center of the universe, New York City, when she inherited a house back in Dakota. They did not intend to stay in that small town but they did. We receive a most interesting account of the people who live there and how the land affects who they are and how they feel about themselves and how they live. Her religious/spiritual orientation changes are described where she goes through various stages beginning with childhood to a secular period in the 70's to becoming, rather reluctantly, a minister. Interesting how she handles the influences of her background. This included a fundamentalist grandmother and a devout but less, shall we say, intense grandmother. She weaves into the story lessons and activities involving monasteries and the brothers there with whom she becomes spiritually intimate. This is a book I'll be going back to.


The Next Reformation: Why Evangelicals Must Embrace Postmodernity by Carl A. Raschke

I used to think postmodernists were purely irrational. I came by that opinion honestly because of my occupation as an R&D applied physicist, my background in the Churches of Christ, a place where common sense reasonong is ostensibly given the highest role in establishing normative religion, and because of my innate personality (I'm a geek oblivious to things you more normal folks perceive). Given that, during my adult life up until recently, I perceived there are two alternatives: Fundamentalism or Modernism. Not much of a choice. With fundamentalism and conservative Christianity, you make a mistake and fry on the griddle forever. With modernism, the world is a mechanism and when you die, you are gone forever. But works like the above by Raschke and the one by Nancey Murphey below, show us, intellectually at least, the way to move beyond this.

It is a friendly universe after all!


Anglo-American Postmodernity: Philosophical Perspective on Science, Religion, and Ethics by Nancey Murphy

Am understanding a fraction of this. Am particularly interested in the phenomenon of emergence. The origin of consciousness and free will must have something to do with this.

Big Bang: The Origin Of The Universe
by Simon Singh

My son loaned me this. It is a great account of the history of astronomy and the folks who made the discoveries leading up to and including the big bang. Amazing to me and I think instructive is the recognition that up until about the time of Galileo, the earth-centered view of our cosmos actually had as much data and sound reasoning behind it as the sun-centered. That should inspire some humility on my part. I had learned much of the information in this book from various sources through the years but this brought it all together so that I now have a much clearer concept of what the Big Bang is and how, for today, it is the best explanation for the mechanism of the origin of the universe.

This Hebrew Lord by John Shelby Spong

Say, this is a pretty good book.

Conversations of Goethe
by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, Johann Peter Eckermann, J. K. Moorhead, Havelock Ellis (Introduction), John Oxenford (Translator)

Hard going but worth the effort.

The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea
by Arthur Oncken Lovejoy

This one was hard. I bought it because of reference to it in Ken Wilbur's The Marriage of Sense and Soul, a marvelous book. Lovejoy is a philosopher and characteristically takes a long time to say things. Will try again a few years from now.


The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory
by Brian Greene

I learned a lot about string theory in the first half but got bogged down after that.

Catching the Light: The Entwined History of Light and Mind
by Arthur Zajonc

Here's what I said earlier this year.

"Just finished reading this book by Arthur Zajonc. It is great. I posted this at Travis Stanley's Blog.

I would like to recommend a book I've just read. It has all the things I like in a book: ancient history, science, religion, poetry, great prose ... It is "Catching the Light: The Entwined History of Light and Mind" by Arthur Zajonc. It is a kind of history of how we humans have perceived the nature of light since the time of the Greeks and it has nearly always been at that juncture between what we conceive of as the divine and the material. It is full of metaphor and unexpected turns of thought. I'll give one example of something interesting. He discusses how several poets and artist types were depressed (my word) by Newton's reduction of the phenomenon of the rainbow to a mere scientific explanation. He quotes a poem by a Thomas Campbell (not the RM one) that captures their attitude

"When Science from Creation's face
Enchantment's veil withdraws,
What lovely visions yield their place
To cold material laws"

And John Keats wrote also

"...In the dull catalogue of common things,
Philosophy will clip an angel's wing's,
Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
Empty the haunted air, the gnomed mine ...
Unweave a rainbow..."

It struck me as I read this that it may bear a relation to why so many American's have such a resistance to what science has learned about our origins. We love mystery, we desire wonder, we do not want to believe in what many perceive to be a cold, remote and random process based material law. Comfort is sought in the miraculous.

But there may be a third way and books like this one help illumine the path to it."


The Way of Discovery: An Introduction to the Thought of Michael Polanyi
by Richard Gelwick

Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality
by Donald Miller

Now this is the type of Christian writing that anyone can respect. The scene of the confessional was one of the most creative acts I have ever heard of in my entire half century life. Simply Beautiful.

Out of the Question...Into the Mystery : Getting Lost in the GodLife Relationship
by Leonard Sweet

These emerging types are gonna get to me yet with all their talk about relationship. I just might get it...someday.

The Last Word and the Word after That : A Tale of Faith, Doubt, and a New Kind of Christianity
by Brian D. McLaren

Excellent. Even though I have attended the churches of Christ all my life, I have been a universalist throughout adulthood. Brian, in the course of his narrative, give's reasons that evangelicals should be able to live with. I think Origen's apocatastasis idea is worth thinking about.

The Empiricists : Locke: Concerning Human Understanding; Berkeley: Principles of Human Knowledge & 3 Dialogues; Hume: Concerning Human Understanding & Concerning Natural Religion
by John Locke, George Berkeley, David Hume

Boring.

A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey
by Brian D. McLaren

Read it for the third time.

Cosmopolis : The Hidden Agenda of Modernity
by Stephen Toulmin

Background for understanding enlightenment and postmodernism.

The Last Juror by John Gresham

This was lots of fun. I identified with it cause I'm from small town Arkansas just across the river from Gresham's fictional Mississippi place. There are a couple of reference to the Church of Christ. Always interested in that. His main character, a newspaper man, attended all the churches in town. He mentions the CofC two times. Of course he brings out our most salient feature, the lack of musical instruments. The other characteristic that he mentioned was the lack of emotion.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

What it is like to walk the Appalachian Trail. You will fee like you are there.

Jesus Through the Centuries by Jaroslav Pelikan

I'm gonna read this one again and then comment. Some of it is still soaking in. I tried Mary Through the Centuries : Her Place in the... as well but couldn't get into it.

The Universe Next Door by James W. Sire

An apologetic from one of the evangelical perspectives. It is an introduction to other philosophical approaches than his and necessarily is an abbreviation of them.

There's more to be added later.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Quote on Evolution from Brian McLaren

From Brian McLaren's The Church of on Other Side: Doing Ministry in the Postmodern Matrix

But if by the term evolution we mean simply an observation of adaptive development from simple to complex, a pattern of change suggested by the data of the fossil record, then we have something potentially very different. We have one of the possible means by which God created. As such, evolutionary process can be seen not as an enemy of God, or as a god itself, but rather as a creation of God. In this view, it would be a creation intended to produce other creations, a "natural" tool used by a supernatural God, a creative process or tool of God's design (such as erosion or plate tectonics) for producing planet earth as we know it. If evolution is seen in this way, it can become yet another of the praiseworthy elements of the universe's desgin, inspiring awe and wonder, leading to adoration and worship of the Creator --not denial and disenfranchisement. Behold --an enemy becomes a friend. (p76 2000 edition)

Sounds good to me. Wish more people felt that way.
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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Beyond Liberal and Conservative

Consider this.

"One of the most promising promises of postmodern theology, in my view, is the potential for moving beyond the 20th century categories of liberal, conservative, and evangelical (or at least decentering the categories in importance). Spirituality in America, an article by Leigh Schmidt published in the Wilson Quarterly, offers a brief history of "seeker spirituality" in America. The author suggests ..."

http://www.generousorthodoxy.net/thinktank/2005/11/beyond_liberal_.html

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Friday, December 02, 2005

Wisdom from Goethe

I have been reading about how many of the fundamental constants which govern the development of the cosmos are finely tuned in order to provide a livable universe. For instance, a slight increase or decrease in the strength of gravity would result in universe either of only black holes or, respectively, of no suns or galaxies at all. Then I come across this from"Conversations with Goethe" (Da Capo Press edition 1998, p 75):

"Nature goes her own way and all that to us seems an exception is really according to order."

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Search for Noah's Ark

We all have seen television shows and movies about the search for Noah's ark. It is clear that it is a dream on the part of many people that someone or some team will find it and confirm a literal reading of the book of Genesis.

What kind of a God would put us through this? Would hide such a piece of important evidence for thousands of years. What kind of a God would want us to care about such a thing?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Quotation from Spong's 'The Hebrew Lord'

"The primary purpose of the gospel design is to lift our vision, not to give documentary photographs to baffle our minds."

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Dalai Lama and Ann Coulter

This week in a bookstore in the Chicago Airport, I saw two books side by side. Ann Coulter's book "How to Talk to a Liberal" was next to the Dalai Lama's "The Wisdom of Forgiveness."

Was it by design or by chance?

Those two together, it was pretty cool. Just thinking about forgiveness, to and from several directions, the implications are wholesome.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Conversations with Goethe

From the book which Nietsche called the best German book there is: Conversations with Goethe,


"It is not enough to take steps which may some day lead to a goal; each step must be itself a goal"

p. 8 (Sept. 18, 1823)


Saturday, October 08, 2005

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Playing God

I agree with the observation of Simon Singh in Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe that every technology seems to have its critics. We've all heard the old saw about "if God had meant for us to fly he'd given us wings." There are so many examples of that type of thinking. In Singh's book there is a most unlikely, to me, example of this. It had to do with the invention of photography. Seems a fellow was offended by Louis Daguerre's invention and stated that

"The wish to capture evanescent reflections is not only impossible . . . but the mere desire alone, the will to do so, is blasphemy. God created man in His own image, and no man-made machine may fix the image of God."

(from page 201 of Singh's book.)

We hear similar things today about certain emerging medical technologies. You know what I mean.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Great Chain of Being

Just got The Great Chain of Being via Amazon today. It caught my interest because of references to it in The Marriage of Sense and Soul by Ken Wilber. So much to read. Last night I checked out Dallas Willard's The Divine Conspiracy from church. Won't read much this weekend 'cos we're headed to Memphis for my mother-in-law's 90th birthday!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Universe's Habit ... or Addiction?

"The Universe is in the habit of making beauty. There are flowers and songs, snowflakes and smiles, acts of great courage, laughter between freinds, a job well done, the smell of fresh-baked bread. Beauty is everywhere." Matthew Fox p64 of Spiritual Literacy.

Now off to work to mix some chemicals.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Conscious Experience

THE WORLD OUTSIDE US IS FILLED WITH SPIRIT AND MIND. IT IS IN THE WOODPECKER OUTSIDE MY WINDOW PECKING IN THE DEAD TREE.

from "The Mind in the Hand: A Meditation" by Linda Hogan in Parabola vol 30 #3, p. 61, 2006.

It seems to me that the best apologetic against a reductionist/mechanical world view is that fact that conscious experience exists.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

What Have I Learned?

What have I learned in the few months since starting this blog?

1. That it is difficult to articulate what I feel. It is hard work saying what I want to say.
2. I don't have that much to say.
3. I still do not want to disclose my feelings about a number of subjects that are important to me.
4. I am terrified when I see that someone has responded.
5. Still expect to continue doing this.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Thoughts about change

I well recall thinking back in the nineteen seventies and eighties, that the generation of my great-grandparents saw more technological change than any previous generation. For instance, a great grandfather was born in 1874, before the light bulb, telephone, cars, planes, and musical recording entered the scene. He lived to 1972; so, he lived to see all those things and even the moon landings. I wish I could have asked him what he thought about it all.

I used to think that I was born after it all happened. That I was living in the modern world and was used to change. The older folks, I thought, had a trouble with change. They had trouble with new technology and with old habits, like racism for instance.

I now realize that things have changed quite a bit in my lifetime. The ubiquity of personal computers, the internet, the changing political scene, the work a day world. I realize that I have trouble changing and adapting. A person tends to think, mostly subconsciously, that the way the world was when they were ten years old is the way things oughta be. Well the world has changed a great deal since 1960 when I was ten. We are not going to go back there. Wouldn't want us to.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Light -Ultimate Truth

There is a Light that shines

beyond all things on earth,

beyond us all,

beyond the heavens,

beyond the highest,

the very highest heavens.

This is the Light

that shines in our heart.


-- Chandogya Upanishad 3.13.7 --

Monday, August 15, 2005

John Grisham and the Church of Christ

In his book "The Last Juror", John Grisham gives us a small town Mississippii setting from the late sixties to seventies. His main character, a newspaper man, attended all the churches in town. He mentions the CofC two times. Of course he brings out our most salient feature, the lack of musical instruments. The other characteristic that he mentioned was the lack of emotion.

Friday, July 29, 2005


Church of Christ, Egypt, AR. Posted by Picasa

In October 1929, a lady brought her newborn son to this church. Now, after a career preaching in many states, he has returned and is the minister here. He is my Dad.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Catching the Light again

I just commented over at Wade Hodges blog about "Catching the Light". Below is a reprise of what I said here back in Feb.


_______________________________________________________________

Just finished reading this book by Arthur Zajonc. It is great. I posted this at Travis Stanley's Blog.

I would like to recommend a book I've just read. It has all the things I like in a book: ancient history, science, religion, poetry, great prose ... It is "Catching the Light: The Entwined History of Light and Mind" by Arthur Zajonc. It is a kind of history of how we humans have perceived the nature of light since the time of the Greeks and it has nearly always been at that juncture between what we conceive of as the divine and the material. It is full of metaphor and unexpected turns of thought. I'll give one example of something interesting. He discusses how several poets and artist types were depressed (my word) by Newton's reduction of the phenomenon of the rainbow to a mere scientific explanation. He quotes a poem by a Thomas Campbell (not the RM one) that captures their attitude

"When Science from Creation's face
Enchantment's veil withdraws,
What lovely visions yield their place
To cold material laws"

And John Keats wrote also

"...In the dull catalogue of common things,
Philosophy will clip an angel's wing's,
Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
Empty the haunted air, the gnomed mine ...
Unweave a rainbow..."

It struck me as I read this that it may bear a relation to why so many American's have such a resistance to what science has learned about our origins. We love mystery, we desire wonder, we do not want to believe in what many perceive to be a cold, remote and random process based material law. Comfort is sought in the miraculous.

But there may be a third way and books like this one help illumine the path to it.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

"It is never too late to be what you might have been." (George Eliot)

Thanks to Jim Hughes for the quote in the title above. It is an encouragement to me. Came across his blog somewhere while surfing through Church of Christ folk blogs.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Catching the Light: The Entwined History of Light and Mind

Just finished reading this book by Arthur Zajonc. It is great. I posted this at Travis Stanley's Blog.

I would like to recommend a book I've just read. It has all the things I like in a book: ancient history, science, religion, poetry, great prose ... It is "Catching the Light: The Entwined History of Light and Mind" by Arthur Zajonc. It is a kind of history of how we humans have perceived the nature of light since the time of the Greeks and it has nearly always been at that juncture between what we conceive of as the divine and the material. It is full of metaphor and unexpected turns of thought. I'll give one example of something interesting. He discusses how several poets and artist types were depressed (my word) by Newton's reduction of the phenomenon of the rainbow to a mere scientific explanation. He quotes a poem by a Thomas Campbell (not the RM one) that captures their attitude

"When Science from Creation's face
Enchantment's veil withdraws,
What lovely visions yield their place
To cold material laws"

And John Keats wrote also

"...In the dull catalogue of common things,
Philosophy will clip an angel's wing's,
Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
Empty the haunted air, the gnomed mine ...
Unweave a rainbow..."

It struck me as I read this that it may bear a relation to why so many American's have such a resistance to what science has learned about our origins. We love mystery, we desire wonder, we do not want to believe in what many perceive to be a cold, remote and random process based material law. Comfort is sought in the miraculous.

But there may be a third way and books like this one help illumine the path to it.



Thursday, January 27, 2005

I have always believed this

"if we call someone a fool, we have taken a stab at the very image of God."

Fred Peatross' Abductive Column Jan 26, 2005
also see his blog

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