Sunday, February 24, 2013
Saturday, February 23, 2013
Teach as if what you said counted for Eternity. It does.
Teach as if your students were eternal. They are.
Teach as if God were your audience. He is.
Friday, February 22, 2013
Friday, February 15, 2013
a throne that brings on misery by its decrees? (Psalm 94:20)
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8).
Thursday, February 14, 2013
But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell's dark vision, there was another -- slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley's _Brave New World_. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley's vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.
What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in _Brave New World Revisited_, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In _1984_, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In _Brave New World_, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.
This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.
-- Neil Postman, Foreword to _Amusing Ourselves to Death_ (1985)
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Here and Now
Here and Now: The Autobiography of Pat Martino
- Pat Martino, Bill Milkowski
- Feb 12, 2013
- Series: Denver Journal Volume 16 - 2013
Professor of Philosophy
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Losing our Letters
Amazing as it may seem to many of us now, human beings wrote letters to each other before the arrival of electronic mail. My mother did. Along with her letters (sometimes typed on a typewriter, sometimes in long hand), she sent me clippings from her local newspaper—another print medium that is in jeopardy—about my old high school friends, how the moose are taking over Anchorage, Alaska, and other items she finds noteworthy. She was a lifelong correspondent, and thus a dinosaur. God bless her for it. But there are a few far younger “dinosaurs” out there, including one of my students who hates email and cherishes letter-writing (“my correspondence,” she affectionately calls it).
What do we lose when we exchange email—or incessant cell phone chatter—for the writing and receiving of letters? We all know what we gain from email and cell phones—speed, transferability (ugly word, that), volume of data, and more. But what features of a good life do we forfeit in the process? As with all communicative technology, there is a trade-off between gains and losses.
For one thing, we tend to replace reflection with rapidity. Email is fast, very fast—and often, too fast. No intermediary object is required for an email. We type letters on a screen and launch them into cyberspace. With letters, we must inscribe symbols onto a page, a distinct physical object that takes up space and which has a marked history of its own. Writing by hand takes time, and is, therefore, inefficient given contemporary quantitative standards. However, the time and effort is takes to write a letter demands a slower pace and allows for more deliberation on what one is writing. In days of yore, many a letter was written only to be torn up and thrown out because one thought better of it. Or perhaps it was tucked away as memorabilia.
In an email age and texting age we may be losing a literary fixture: the collection of noteworthy people’s correspondence, as The New York Times recently noted in an essay by Rachel Donadio called, “Literary Letters, Lost in Cyberspace” (September 4, 2005). I have read entire books made up of the letters of C.S. Lewis (who was always in good form), Francis Schaeffer (the consummate thinking pastor), and others. It is not unusual to find the letters of literary figures or philosophers, such as Bertrand Russell, bound for posterity or included in biographies. “Men of letters” were almost invariably men (or women) of letters. Letters of note tended to be saved or duplicated. Emails, on the other hand, are so multitudinous and so disposable (click or “oops!”), that often they are not translated into a more permanent form. (Digital storage is less permanent and more fragile than paper, since it often decays, is fragmented, or becomes unreadable due to new software. I take this up in The Soul in Cyberspace.)
Letters carry the literal touch of the person who wrote them. Even a typed letter is signed. It is crowned by the signature: one’s own name in one’s own hand. If a letter is hand-written, the sign of the personal is made more manifest. In writing a letter recently (a rarity, I admit), I realized that I seldom write by hand more than a few sentences at a time, usually on my student’s papers. Besides that, I may make a list (for shopping items or articles due to editors), check boxes for various purposes, or fill out forms. My hand writing is poor; in fact, I do not write cursively, but print. It is slow and cumbersome. I must work at making my inscriptions intelligible, and any aesthetic features are out of reach. Nevertheless, our handwriting—heavenly or ghastly or somewhere in between—is our creation, the inscription of our identity placed on receptive material. We may choose the type of pen, color of ink (or inks), and make idiosyncratic notations. Yes, email gives us a plethora of choices, such as fonts, emoticons (now animated), text size, photograph-pasting, and so on, but these are pre-selected for us by others. They are not created by us specifically for another. The manner of writing itself—apart from its overt intellectual content—may be revealing. A good friend of mine told me that her mother discerned the disheveled state of her soul not by the content of her writing, but by the contours of her handwriting.
Simply because letters are irrepressibly personal, most of us still get a small (but not cheap) thrill from finding a letter in our mail box addressed to us in handwriting (and not machine produced)—a letter that often has a telltale thickness, indicating that it houses several pages, folded and written by human hands. Perhaps we should send and receive fewer emails, yell into the cell less often, and instead give and receive the small but tangible joy a letter can afford. Perhaps (to consider something quite radical for most) we should even work on our penmanship as a way of working on our relationships.
Douglas Groothuis is Professsor of Philosophy at Denver Seminary and the author of On Jesus (Wadsworth, 2003).
Sunday, February 10, 2013
A song of ascents. Of David.
when God’s people live together in unity!
running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
down on the collar of his robe.
3 It is as if the dew of Hermon
were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
even life forevermore.
Wednesday, February 06, 2013
The United States of Europe? No!
Monday, February 04, 2013
PowerPoint and Stupidity
A presentation tool should in principle facilitate the exchange of information. Through its graphic prolixity, however, Power Point gives rise to obscurity, confusion and cognitive fatigue. Moreover, the worldwide use of unreliable or doctored graphs and diagrams engenders doubt and the validity of discourse that has been given a layout intended to ensure a form of legitimacy. Finally, the proliferation of images responding to an ‘esthetic’ demand pollutes the argument. Emotion takes primacy over reason, exhibition over speech, spectacle over logic (99).
Although it may not makes us stupid, there is no doubt that PowerPoint, like many other media, helps to make the world illiterate and contributes to the abandonment of critical thinking, to blind acceptance, to a new form of voluntary servitude (228).
- Jesus is brought before the court.
- The soldiers clothe him in purple.
- They crown him with thorns.
- They put a reed in his hand.
- They kneel mockingly before him. “And begin to salute him, Hail King of the Jews!” Mark 15:18.
- They spit upon him.
- They strike him on the head with a reed (59-60).
We are to fear and love God so that we do not use His name superstitiously, or use it to curse, swear, lie, or deceive, but call on Him in prayer, praise, and thanksgiving.