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Drifting Flowers of the Sea by Sadakichi Hartmann Across the dunes, in the waning light, The rising moon pours her amber rays, Through the slumbrous air of the dim, brown night The pungent smell of the seaweed strays— From vast and trackless spaces Where wind and water meet, White flowers, that rise from the sleepless deep, Come drifting to my feet. They flutter the shore in a drowsy tune, Unfurl their bloom to the lightlorn sky, Allow a caress to the rising moon, Then fall to slumber, and fade, and die. White flowers, a-bloom on the vagrant deep, Like dreams... Continue reading
Back in February the Queer Omaha Archives Oral History Project housed at the University of Nebraska at Omaha Libraries' Archives and Special Collections interviewed me. The interview is available online here. Continue reading
A fascinating article on Aeon about research into our inner voice. This will come in handy when I start Descartes in class in a couple of weeks. An excerpt: The roots of the new work trace back to the 1920s and the Russian developmental psychologist Lev Vygotsky, who said the human mind was shaped by social activity and culture, beginning in childhood. The self, he hypothesised, was forged in what he called the ‘zone of proximal development’, the cognitive territory just beyond reach and impossible to tackle without some help. Children build learning partnerships with adults to master a skill... Continue reading
Three Stones Make a Wall: The Story of Archaeology by Eric H. Cline My rating: 4 of 5 stars A fun, engaging, and informative read giving the highlights from the history of archaeology, updating with recent scholarship and technology, and also discussion of some of the big issues facing contemporary archaeology. View all my reviews Continue reading
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Yesterday, after many years of writing and post writing editing and design and marketing work, my book was published! Open: A Memoir of Faith, Family, and Sexuality in the Heartland. As I was getting ready yesterday, I composed myself a little ditty set to the tune of the Laverne and Shirley theme song, "It's my book day, my book day, making my dreams come true." I sang it most of the day. You can order the book online at Amazon and other sites or go into your bookstore and request it. If you want a signed copy, here are my... Continue reading
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I first remember being aware of John McCain when I was impressed by his speech to the 1988 GOP convention. He was the first politician I ever gave money to, during the 2000 primaries. Over the years he was as likely to frustrate and anger me as he was to do something I admired. His speech on torture I play in my ethics classes when we discuss respect for human dignity after reading Immanuel Kant. This weekend generated some very good articles about him and his funeral (and Aretha's too). This article at the Guardian was quite good in discussing... Continue reading
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In all the long years my mother was a widow, I wondered what sort of man she might meet and marry. I wanted someone who would make her happy, but worried about some man I might not get along with. So, when my mother began seriously dating in 2001, I was nervous to meet Revis Stanford. My nerves were quickly eased. Revis was very kind and gentle and funny, even if his humor was corny. It's then I learned what my mother most liked in men--those who made her laugh, as that is the trait Dad and Revis shared. And... Continue reading
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In Novum Organum, Sir Francis Bacon writes that there are "four species of idols [that] beset the human mind." The first are Idols of the Tribe--"man's sense is falsely asserted to be the standard of things." These are "inherent in human nature." Second are Idols of the Den--besides the errors common to all humans, each individual has his or her own den "which intercepts and corrupts the light of nature, either from his own peculiar and singular disposition, or from his education and intercourse with others, or from his reading, and the authority acquired by those whom he reverences and... Continue reading
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I've begun reading Sir Francis Bacon's Novum Organum as part of my now many-year project of reading through some of the philosophical canon, re-reading some volumes I've read before and some for the first time. Here are a few aphorisms from the beginning of the book. Some comments afterwards. Knowledge and human power are synonymous. The subtilty of nature is far beyond that of sense or of the understanding; so that the specious meditations, speculations, and theories of mankind are but a kind of insanity, only there is no one to stand by and observe it. For the subtilty of... Continue reading
Segu by Maryse Condé My rating: 5 of 5 stars A marvelous epic story. I fell in love with the characters, grieving their sorrows, and delighting in their joys. The novel opens in Segu, the capital of the Bambara Empire in what is now Mali in the late 18th century on the day that the first white man tries to visit the city and is turned away. The story centers on the Tagore family over three generations as they navigate rapid changes brought upon West Africa by the rise of Islam, the slave trade, and the imperial ambitions of European... Continue reading
A good article in Foreign Policy lists the key accomplishments of Kofi Annan: He developed the doctrine that a state's sovereignty is conditional it’s fulfillment of fundamental obligations to its citizens. Sovereignty=Responsibility He reformed and improved peacekeeping efforts. His focus on development goals led to the greatest reduction in global poverty in world history. Continue reading
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Karl Popper considers the idea that history can provide us some meaning. He doesn't think so, "We must find our justification in our work, in what we are doing ourselves, and not in a fictitious 'meaning of history.'" He thinks that most of the history we learn in school is only the "history of power politics," which is problematic. So we must learn to interpret it "from the point of view of our fight for the open society, for the rule of reason, for justice, freedom, equality, and for the control of international crime. Although history has no ends, we... Continue reading
The Open Society and Its Enemies: New One-Volume Edition by Karl R. Popper My rating: 5 of 5 stars This major work has been "on my list" since I read that marvelous little book Wittgenstein's Poker about the time Wittgenstein supposedly got so angry at Popper he brandished a poker at him (if you haven't read that book, I highly recommend it). After the election of Trump I thought I should hurry up and get it read. This is a major tome that takes some work to get through (though you can effectively skim through portions). If you want to... Continue reading
Yesterday while driving in the rain from Oklahoma to Omaha, I listened to a couple of good podcasts from the TED Radio Hour. The first one was on free speech and why even obnoxious ideas must be heard. The second one was on hate and how we respond. It had some overlaps with the other podcast. Continue reading
Healing Tears Lamentations 1:1-5 by the Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones First Central Congregational Church 5 August 2018 Finally in 586 Before the Common Era, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had had enough of the Kingdom of Judah and its repeated rebellions, so he sent an army to destroy the city. And from that catastrophe we receive this little book of poems, five lamentations. Hear now the word of the Lord: Lamentations 1:1-5 How lonely sits the city that once was full of people! How like a widow she has become, she that was great among the nations! She that was... Continue reading
Be Holy Leviticus 19:1-18, 33-37 by the Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones First Central Congregational Church 12 August 2018 This summer we have been telling stories. Ancient stories, of the people of Israel and Judah as they experienced domination, conquest, and exile. We have not told the story from any one book of scripture. Rather, every week we've been in a different Old Testament book, because this is a story that deeply shaped the entire canon of the Hebrew Scriptures. Last week we left off with the Book of Lamentations, a series of poems written in the wake of the... Continue reading
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"I did other work; and in this concrete way, out of work that came easily to me because it was so close to me, I defined myself, and saw that my subject was not my sensibility, my inward development, but the worlds I contained within myself, the worlds I lived in."--The Enigma of Arrival In the summer of 2006 I went to Borders bookstore to buy some books to take with me on my beach vacation to Sarasota, Florida (one of those was Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, which no one probably considers a beach read). I wanted to read a... Continue reading
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I have come to the end of the first book of Karl Popper's The Open Society and Its Enemies. The final chapter is marvelous. One key insight is the idea of the strain that exists for humanity as we move from a closed society to an open society. For Popper, closed societies are more collectivist. A key feature is that an individual rarely struggles to understand what the right thing to do is, as social custom has made that clear. Identity, meaning, and purpose are clear. Open societies, however, are ones in which individuals are "confronted with personal decisions." One... Continue reading
The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín My rating: 2 of 5 stars This novel seems, in some ways, to be an act of devotion--a kind of inconoclasm (the breaking of the image) that is in fact faithful to the importance of the image (this idea from Natalie Carnes's book I just read). But I didn't get much out of the novel. View all my reviews Continue reading
Image and Presence: A Christological Reflection on Iconoclasm and Iconophilia by Natalie Carnes My rating: 4 of 5 stars This sometimes dense and sometimes mesmerizing book proposes at the close of the introduction that it will prepare "us for greater ecclesial unity and perhaps even [goad] us one faltering step toward earthly peace." A high order indeed. Carnes points out that the great traditions of Christianity--Orthodox, Catholic, & Protestant--remain divided over how they view images, so to solve this problem leads to unity. And she also richly introduces her topic by connecting it to the violence over images of Muhammad... Continue reading