Friday, March 25, 2011


I visited Mirada Fine Art Gallery tonight, which featured an artist reception with Sean Gillespie, who creates utterly original woodwork art. Please see his web page and visit the gallery to see (and feel) this wondrous work.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Rain for the Front Range of Colorado: From the Book of Common Prayer

For Rain.

OGOD, heavenly Father, who by thy Son Jesus Christ hast promised to all those who seek thy kingdom, and the righteousness thereof, all things necessary to their bodily sustenance; Send us, we beseech thee, in this our necessity, such moderate rain and showers, that we may receive the fruits of the earth to our comfort, and to thy honour; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Theism and Categories

If we, as theists, believe that the universe is fundamentally personal in character, it follows that our ultimate understanding will not be in terms of things, which occupy space and may or may not possess certain properties, but of persons, who characteristically do things. Action, not substance, will be our most important category of thought. It is a truth too long neglected by philosophers--J. R. Lucas, Freedom and Grace, p. 111 (as quoted in Nicholas Wolterstorff, Art in Action).

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Monday, March 14, 2011

On (Not) Being There

This past Saturday night, I attended a scintillating jazz concert featuring the music of two of the best jazz-rock bassists around: Victor Wooten and Stanley Clarke. Rather than reviewing the concert (but I will note that I like Stanley Clarke's playing and band much better, though--more finesse, less histrionics), consider something about the audience.

Several people were checking their hand held devices for long periods of time during the live concert. Apparently, they could not simply be there in Boulder Theater during a live performance without simultaneously being somewhere else through computer mediation.

This is no small problem, but a change in consciousness--and for the worse. It used to be "distraction,"now it is called "multi-tasking." When awareness is divided it is lessened, diminished, impoverished. Before one eyes and ears are several jazz-rock musicians playing fascinating and difficult music. Since it is jazz, it involves improvisation and lots of interaction with the audience (unlike Kenny G going into yet another ego trance in front of his back up band). Yet during this concert, some souls help but stare at their little screens and "check" things. What things need to be checked when a concert is going on, a concert that one probably paid good money to see?

Media change is ecological: that is, it is systemic and multidimensional. More importantly, it is usually unnoticed. Most people sleepwalk through technological change, not knowing what it is doing to their souls, to music, to conversation, to reading, to listening, as McLuhan sagaciously observed.

Perhaps there is a word we need to hear: Wake up--and listen to the music of life.

Avenues of Access

"Love is patient. Love is kind..."--I Corinthians 13:4.

Healthy people have their tastes and preferences, but they usually fall into fairly normal categories when it comes to communication (whether they are entirely wise in their choices or not). Some are more talkative to others, but they do not recoil from speaking in public. Some dislike the telephone; some like it; but few find it painful or impossible. Some may not like email, but will send and receive it. And so it goes.

This is not true for the chronically ill. Given their limitations, they do not engage the world of human contact and communication in the same way as the healthy of body. This is obvious in the case of the blind or the obviously physically disabled. We do not expect a blind person to read a letter; nor do we expect one sadly limited to a wheel chair go for a jog with us during which we will catch up on our lives. But those who look fairly healthy, but who are chronically ill (and usually depressed as a result), appear normal. So, many assume that their communicative avenues are just as open as the rest of humanity. They can call, write emails, visit our homes, go for walks, and all rest, can't they?

No they cannot; and it is the better part of compassion to realize that all those who are chronically ill are painfully limited in their avenues of access to the larger world. Public meetings are out for those with environmental sensitivities; or, of one braves them, she pays for it for days or weeks or recovery time. Some find phone calls very tiring. Others may use Facebook as the easiest way to interact with others, despite its limitations.

The point is simple: If you truly love a chronically-ill person, you need to find what avenues of access are best for them, given their limitations and possibilities. Please do not heap shame on them if they cannot play your game. Perhaps you love talking on the phone, but your friend tires quickly and would rather send an email or useFacebook. Then adjust to it--in love. Listen to your friend's pain; then try to put yourself into their wretched situation. This is called "loving your neighbor as yourself," as Jesus himself commanded.

This is not easy, but love requires it; and love is often not easy. Yet Spirit-led love will endeavor to find a godly and life-giving way into the lives of the miserable.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Living Signs

I puzzle over the phenomenon of human signs. They appeared on street corners several years ago, waving signs for various businesses, often dressed outlandishly and sometime dancing around. This unsettles me for several reasons.

First, it must demean those who do this. They must feign interest in strangers and reduce themselves to animated signage.

Second, one feels strange being hailed by a stranger for a product or service one does not want. It may be worse than a robot call, since humans are functionally the robots here.

Third, I feel sorry for these souls, no matter how much he or she may smile or dance. Work time must drag on and on. It is often too cold or too hot. And recently, I saw a bedraggled man in an electric wheel chair holding a sign. This was probably the only job he could find.

Why must we have these living signs?

Friday, March 11, 2011

In Defense of Natural Theology on Sale

I am making a book I co-edited, In Defense of Natural Theology (InterVarsity Press, 2005), available for $10, which includes shipping (book rate). The list price is $26.00.

The shadow of David Hume, the eighteenth-century Scottish philosopher, has loomed large against all efforts to prove the existence of God from evidence in the natural world. Indeed from Hume's day to ours, the vast majority of philosophical attacks against the rationality of theism have borne an unmistakable Humean aroma. The last forty years, however, have been marked by a resurgence in Christian theism among philosophers, and the time has come for a thorough reassessment of the case for natural theology. James F. Sennett and Douglas Groothuis have assembled a distinguished team of philosophers to engage the task: Terence Penelhum, Todd M. Furman, Keith Yandell, Garrett J. DeWeese, Joshua Rasmussen, James D. Madden, Robin Collins, Paul Copan, Victor Reppert, J. P. Moreland, Douglas Groothuis, James Sennett, and R. Douglas Geivett. Together this team makes vigorous individual and cumulative arguments that set Hume's attacks in fresh perspective and that offer new insights into the value of teleological, cosmological and ontological arguments for God's existence.

If you are interested, please send a check to me made out to me at:

Doug Groothuis
Professor of Philosophy of Religion
Denver Seminary
6399 S. Santa Fe Dr.
Littleton, CO 80122.

Slowing Down Communication

Consider slowing down and simplifying your communication. Invest more time and thought into your messages by writing cards by hand, picking out cards of artistic excellence. Instead of texting, try speaking to people (and without background music). Ponder the possibility of listening to a piece of music with someone in silence, then discussing that work.

Try not to interrupt people; allow for silence to season the conversation. Become more Italian and learn the art of convivio (conviviality): conversation amidst food and drink (and some wine in moderation).

Narrow down the media; focus on the goodness of a word well-spoken, a line well-written, a soul well-attuned to the life of another creature made in God's image.

Stop yelling, literally or metaphorically. Create silence...because only in this world can truth be imbibed.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Democracy Where?

Is democracy viable in the Middle East (outside of Israel)? Thomas Sowell thinks not, and I agree. This is because democracies do not just spring into existence when a dictator is ousted. They can only develop and be sustained in certain kinds of soil, soil largely absent from Egypt, Libya, etc.

Unfashionably Thermostatic

Mark Edmundson explains why good teaching is not fashionable. This chimes in with Neil Postman's insight that the classroom should be different from the rest of culture, not a facsimile of it. Thus, teaching should be thermostatic: the teacher sets the temperature. See Postman's Teaching as a Conserving Activity.