I like Steven Pinker

But you already knew that.

"The habit of hallucinating causal powers and forcing experience to fit them has shaped human cultures from time immemorial, producing our species' vast compendium of voodoo, astrology, magic, prayer, idolatry, New Age nostrums, and other flimflam."
-from The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature. There's already a link to the book around here somewhere... and I'm only halfway through, so expect at least a couple more posts and/or cartoons inspired by it.


Triangle Man

"Triangle Man, Triangle Man

Triangle man hates Particle Man

They have a fight,

Triangle wins

Triangle Man"

-lyrics from the song, "Particle Man" by They Might be Giants.

But it's not Mr. Miro--I doubt he would win a fight with Particle Man.

Language and Thought

Language and thought are clearly related, but it's difficult to articulate what that relation is, precisely.
When I was an undergraduate (a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away), I wanted to write one of my final essays on the Whorf-Sapir Hypothesis; my professor dismissed the idea, saying that it was already old news when he was an undergraduate. But it is surprisingly resilient (which Websters defines as, "tending to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change"), and versions of it persist to this day.
Despite our awareness of our own thinking while we're thinking in words, it's not the same as thought itself: "the sounds of language are the manifestations of thought that are most pungently present in our waking awareness, even if they are the tip of the iceberg of mental computation." -Steven Pinker, The Stuff of Thought.
Which is to say, we don't think using language, except in unusual circumstances.
Pinker also quotes Thomas Hobbes on the subject:
"Words are wise men's counters, they do but reckon by them; but they are the money of fools."


How did it get to be Thursday already?

Nietzsche wrote, "We don’t love our knowledge enough any more, once we have communicated it." That sits uneasily with my desire to post cartoons here; and while Anne Sexton wrote, "The joy that isn't shared dies young," I'm not sure that it's joy exactly that I share here.
I think I'll go for a walk now.


"The answer to bad evangelism..."

is not not no evangelism but good evangelism. Good evangelism is not proselytizing but witnessing, bearing witness to "the light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness had not overcome it"; bearing witness to the prophet's cry: "Let justice roll down like mighty waters," and to the prophetic insight that we all belong one to another, every one from the pope to the loneliest wino on the planet."

-William Sloane Coffin, not an optimist but always hopeful.


For my Seminary F/friends

And I'll add a quote from Peter Gomes later, once I find it again...
Update: the promised quote!
Gomes describes a student giving testimony at daily Morning Prayers (at Harvard, where Gomes is Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in The Memorial Church). The student had, "come to believe that it is better to give than to receive, that love is stronger than death, that good ultimately overcomes evil, that the love of money is bad, and that peace is the ultimate destiny for the created order."
Gomes concludes the paragraph, "I can say that I have never heard a better expression of the Christian faith. My only concern is that it didn't come from a Christian." (p. 71) Because the student is a self-avowed communist. I'm tempted to offer a length commentary here, particularly focusing on Acts 4:32-35 (which Gomes clearly has in mind but doesn't exegete here), but I'll leave that for another time.
However, I'm reminded of a book group meeting I attended several years ago. At that meeting, the person leading the discussion posed the question bluntly, "Is Christianity compatible with capitalism?" Before I could offer my opinion ("no"), an older woman forcefully declared, "yes!" I mention "forcefully" because, although she couldn't back her position up with Scripture (and I'm not saying it can't be done, only that she didn't do it), her strong reaction shut down further discussion, and that's just frustrating. I don't know what her fears are, since orthodox Marxism is fairly hostile to any religion; but it's dangerous to brand certain topics as off-limits to discussion. Discussion is how we vet whether an idea has merit or not; again, I'll save my thoughts for a later post, but you can read this if you're interested).
I joke about having an "inner Marxist" (which irritates many of my F/friends, whether they identify as Christian, anarchist, or libertarian), but as a person of faith I'm certainly not a dogmatic or "orthodox" Marxist. However, I'm also not a dogmatic or orthodox Christian.
I'm just glad to see a self-described conservative (who delievered the Benediction at Ronald Reagan's second inauguration, and performed the inaugural service for George H.W. Bush) recognizes that there is indeed a connection between Christian moral values and communism.


Sunday Afternoon

It's a relatively pleasant day... too bad I'm looking through the want ads.
And a quote for the day:
"What cracker is this same that deafs our ears with this abundance of superfluous breath?"
I'll have to keep this one in mind next time I visit Julie at work.


It's Friday...

and I had something I was going to post, but I seem to have forgotten. Maybe I'll post again later.
Mai is happy about her new dress.



I didn't actually watch the debates, but I was acutely aware that they were on.
But there was no judo.