Commitment to Coherence

In this interest of maintaining my new level of intelligibility, I'm merely posting a cartoon today and probably taking a nap immediately after.
The cartoon has something to do with Lutherans...


Yes, Senator Allen?

This is a cheap-shot at a U.S. Senator from the state I used to live in; and it's a waste of time to boot. Therefore, I really couldn't help posting it. Despite my struggles to see everyone as a beautiful child of God, it doesn't look as though I'll ever like George Allen.
Hudson is another issue: who she is and why I say "Phewy!" to her (not to be mistaken for "Phooey") is not nearly as important as the spreading of scurrilous rumors... So feel free to share any that you may have with me!

What is Truth?

A clarification regarding "begging the question": circular reasoning is an obvious version of begging the question, but the same dynamic is at work in both fallacies. What distinguishes the two is that, when one begs the question, typically the assumptions are unstated. This makes it more difficult to detect, particularly when you happen to agree with those underlying assumptions. For instance, on NPR a couple weeks ago, Cokie Roberts was talking about the Democrats' chances in the upcoming election, and warned them: "If you don't have security, you don't have anything." (or words to that effect) What does this assume? For one, it assumes a certain understanding of security which doesn't include things such as "job security," or decent public education, or health care: it only focuses on future potential terrorist attacks. And secondly, it assumes that Republicans have in some sense made us more secure at least in that sense, which it seems they haven't--unless increasing the number of terrorists through misguided neo-colonial invasions counts as making us more secure.

On a completely different subject: I'm always struck by how different motivations can manifest in the same behavior. This isn't earth-shattering news, but I think it's interesting, and a good check on assuming that we know what's going on with other people. I'm tempted to go into more detail, but as luck would have it, I have real work to do this morning!


Thinking Critically

Many people mistake "criticism" as necessarily negative; of course it can be, but more importantly it deals with analysis.
There are terms, however, that get tossed about without comment, such as "begging the question." Someone "begs the question" when a person assumes what is supposed to be proven. A classic version is, "We know God exists because the Bible says so; and we know the Bible is true because it is the Word of God." (This was not asserted by a Quaker, of course, because we know that the Bible merely contains the "words of God": the Word of God, of course, is Jesus.) It's interesting to notice how often this happens, particularly since people don't notice. A good contemporary example is how our government treats people detained because they're suspected of being connected somehow to terrorism: they demand civil rights and humane treatment, but the Bush Administration continues to refer to them as terrorists. That begs the question; but then, critical thinking isn't a skill valued by either the Administration or the general public these days.
Sometimes people use "beg the question" as if it meant that a question "begs to be asked," but that's not technically correct. On the other hand, insisting on being technically correct can alienate you from people. To quote Nietzsche out of context once more: Crede experto


The Verdict is In: "Obscurely self-referential"

"I am certainly doing everything I can to be hard to understand myself!"
This evening, someone told me that he hadn't posted any comments on my blog lately because it was too obscurely self-referential, and it was just too hard figure out what the heck I was talking about. This is significant, because I assumed that no one was reading at all, so the blog was functioning more or less as an on-line journal, full of nonsense and in-jokes. Not that I won't continue with the nonsense and in-joke, but I promise to make an effort to widen the appeal. Well, somewhat: the cartoons will continue to be the primary focus of the blog, and how wide is their appeal?

At the same time I'm a bit relieved that people are missing what I take to be fairly obvious clues to what's going on in my life. And that statement will remain obscure: it's probably not worth either me going back and clarifying (or deleting)--or you, dear reader, going back and puzzling over that which I have chosen to publish on the web and yet remain hidden. As Nietzsche wrote, "To talk about oneself a great deal can also be a means of concealing oneself."
In case you're wondering, the opening quote is also from Nietzsche, both taken from Beyond Good and Evil.

FYI: The Napkin Artist and I will be providing music for this thing on Monday morning at 11:15. We're expecting to play for the majority of the allotted time, and we'd love to see you there.

Saturday Morning Cartoons

It's Saturday morning: where are my Legos? Now that I'm a grown-up, I can make obscure references to Thomas Kuhn, but it's not quite as much fun.
Back when I was a kid, I used to wake up before my parents, and watch Bugs Bunny and Road Runner and build Acme product out of Legos... and they worked about as well as Wiley Coyote's.
Explanation of the Cartoon: hearing about a stressful event can provoke the same biochemical reaction as if you were experiencing the event yourself. If someone keeps telling you horror stories, it will take a physical toll on your body--not quite as bad as repeatedly falling off cliffs like Wiley, but it's still not very fun.
I don't know if this talk of Legos and cartoons sounds sappy and nostalgic or not, but that's what I'm thinking of this morning. I am an adult, even if--according to a book I've been reading recently--I'm not really dealing with the tasks of adulthood very well. Of course, I don't really know anyone who is doing particularly well in that area.
More cartoon explanation: The Target closed shortly after I moved here, so I can't check on "homeostasis" unless I want to drive into one of these sprawling Midwestern cities. Somehow I think driving to Dayton, or Indy, won't help.
Speaking of homeostasis, I'm at a bit of a loss this morning, which is one of the reasons this post is more disjointed than usual. Mostly, I wish I were somewhere in Appalachia this morning.


Who is Tanner?

There was a discussion of the word contumely the other day, occasioned by a film that inserted Hamlet's famous soliloquy (in French) for reasons that are not really clear. That is, we can see it as a choosing of death, which in context makes sense...

In any case, it's strange to see a noun ending in "ly," which makes it seem more like a misused adverb. I guess this wouldn't happen if I was more familiar with the Bard.
I wonder if I ought to include more writing on religious--or at least philosophical--themes in this blog, but I get the feeling that people just come to look at the cartoons. That's what I would do.
So, I've put in a cartoon about Jesus being fully human and fully divine: but does anyone want to hear how I understand that? If you do, I'd also have to include postings on my recent discovery of Reconstructionism as well as my struggles with the UUs. Of course, I'm hoping that alone will scare you off: you'd have to have a cast iron stomach to read about the Christology of someone who would start by talking about Jews and Unitarians.
In any case, I'm going to try to get home before sunset: have a good weekend, and a happy new year!


I Can't Explain

I spent a lot of time playing Tetris a while back, mostly when I was supposed to be writing an essay for Jerry, one of my favorite professors. I think he was working on this book at the time (even though it's dated several years after the fact). Anyhow, I associate Tetris with chronic procrastination and the semiotics of Roger Bacon.

Tonight, though, I'm playing Tetris and wishing I was somewhere else. There's a song by The Who going through my head, which serves as the title of this post.
I hate it when I have to decline an invitation, particularly when the alternative is sitting here playing Tetris.
And of course, I can't explain. Sorry.


Tomorrow: a full account of the confluence of the Great Awakening and the En lightenment to provoke the American Revolution!

(This is probably more interesting than most--I won't say all, but most--lectures I've given, particularly with regard to the above-named topic.)
I probably ought to explain the Reconstructionist title, but that can probably wait, too.


Another Monday afternoon

I guess it beats the alternative, but I had a pretty darn good weekend and I'm not really ready to return to "real life."
And how was your weekend?



This has become something of a running joke: where do all these cartoons come from, anyway?

I was waiting on the Holy Spirit this morning, but the only thing that came was Bob Dylan. That happens sometimes:

The rainman gave me two cures, and he said, jump right in
One was Texas medicine, and the other was railroad gin
But like a fool I mixed them, and it strangled up my mind
Now people just get uglier, and I have no sense of time...

I've been reading Ecclesiastes--yesterday and again this morning--and so I've been wrestling with the "Nevertheless!" aspect of that text, which I find appealing in Nietzsche but disconcerting in the Bible. Meaningless vapors, futilities and vanities, nonsense and smoke:

Everything as to all; one occurrence for the righteous and for the wicked, for the good, and for the pure, and for the unclean, and for he who sacrifices, and for he who does not sacrifice; like the good, so is the sinner; he who swears is like him who fears an oath.

"Yes, but... "

So, I'm going bowling this afternoon with Julie and some other folks. It could be worse.



This isn't the quote I alluded to yesterday, but it's one of my favorites from Nietzsche, and was inspired by Columbus:

In the horizon of the infinite.— We have left the land and have embarked! We have burned our bridges behind us—indeed, we have gone further and destroyed the land behind us! Now, little ship, look out! Beside you is the ocean: to be sure, it does not always roar, and at times it lies spread out like silk and gold and reveries of graciousness. But hours will come when you will realize that it is infinite and that there is nothing more awesome than infinity. Oh, the poor bird that felt free and now strikes the walls of this cage! Woe, when you feel homesick for the land as if it had offered more freedom—and there is no longer any "land"!

What do we want when we say we want "freedom"?



I can't find the quote I was looking for, so check back later.
The weather is nice here, but I'm having another low energy day--possibly related to listening to some high energy Horace Silver tunes--"Sister Sadie" and "Break City," among others--late last night. I started to dig out some Monk, but thought better of it and went to bed.
I still haven't come up with anything particularly thought provoking (the missing quote might fill that gap). Or rather, it's all the same old stuff: Quakers and the sacraments, Nicholas the Frenchman's Fiery Arrow, The Last Temptation of Christ... and yet nothing about Columbus.


[No Title]

Now that I've got time, I'm too tired to write coherently. Perhaps tomorrow.


Stop Time!

There's a great Horace Silver tune called "Stop Time" that I've been thinking of lately. I keep thinking I'll have time to sit and write something thought provoking... but mostly I'm just trying to keep up with my work (and not, in case you're curious, doing a particularly good job of it). But here's some cartoons: enjoy!

I also want to add a new person to the blogsplosion list, Radical Pie, but I haven't had time so you'll have to make due with this link for now.


And one for the UUs

It's not that I don't like Emerson...


And one for Eileen...

What do we do with our education? Inflict it upon others! In that spirit, I'm subjecting my students to Niebuhr's Christ and Culture this semester.
I hope no one defends "Christ and Culture in Paradox" with Michael's zeal, although I now have the ability to eject people from class. Wish me luck!

More Fan Art!

Thanks, Matt!