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Dan L
Cambridge, MA
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I really enjoyed Alain's talk, but it was the Q&A with the director that stood out to me. Did anyone else notice this? This is what the director said to Alain: "Actually, let me just ask a question. How many people here would say that religion is important to them? [polls the audience, 50+% raise their hands] Is there an equivalent process by which there's a sort of bridge between what you're talking about and what you would say to them?" [Alain attempts to answer but misses the question so the director asks again] "I mean, it seems to me that there are plenty of people in the TED community who are atheists, but probably most people in the community certainly don't think that religion is going away any time soon, and want to find the language to have a constructive dialogue and to feel like we can actually talk to each other and at least share some things in common. Are we foolish to be optimistic about the possibility to see the other world, where instead of religion being the great rallying cry of divide and war, that there could be bridging? [Alain swings and misses with, "atheists need to be more polite" and basically have patience with the religious... but not actually listen to them?] To my mind, he's begging for centered-set. He's literally asking, is there any model out there that will allow people of different beliefs (or none) to actually talk to each other and both get somewhere? Is there hope for the TED community to actually have dialogue?
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Just for you, Jeff. haha. I almost posted the image of the prayer you prayed: http://www.desicomments.com/dc1/03/83220/83220.jpg
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Thanks, Jon. The download link should be working now.
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Thanks Vicki! The link has been fixed. We're in the middle of working on a new website and have had a few glitches along the way. Let me know if there are anymore problems.
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It's up and running now. Thanks.
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Of course not. Thanks for posting that Ian! Please feel free to download the podcast, pass it along, repost it, etc. I look forward to hearing your thoughts!
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Haha. Love the sudo make me a sandwich. I wish I could own that compliment, but I had several friends in college who were computer science majors (one is working for Google) who introduced me to xkcd. Btw, Amy, this post is AWESOME.
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Yeah, unfortunately Typepad likes to protect the integrity of your comments, so I can't go in and edit them. My only options are "unpublish," delete," or "mark as spam," which is what I normally have to do with Jeff's comments! But it really is too bad I can't edit what you actually say... When playing around with the html, just make sure you if you start something in <> you close it with </>or it will continue on. It's not great, but the "preview" button will help to check your comments before you post them, and you can usually edit your comments for up to 5 minutes after.
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Yeah, I thought you might like that one.
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Otto's comment posted twice so I deleted one of them. Thanks for sharing Otto!
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Haha. Thanks. The temptation was too great. I couldn't resist.
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Experiencing the story in this way naturally fosters my desire to pray and enter into conversation with God. For example, yesterday I read the short story (7 sentences?) of Jesus calming the storm in Matthew. I tried to enter the story as one of the disciples. There I am, following Jesus into the boat and going out on a lake, when a huge storm hits. The waves are crashing over the boat and I'm doing everything I can to battle the storm with the others, but there's a good chance we're going down. I can't swim, and I'm afraid the whole ship will sink and my life will be over. And Jesus was the one who got me into this mess in the first place. I followed him out into the lake and what is he doing? Sleeping!!! And that makes me reflect on my own life. Can I relate to this disciple? Do I feel I've followed Jesus into a storm? Do I feel like I'm sinking right now? Does it feel like Jesus is sleeping in my life or nowhere to be found? What am I worried or panicking about? In desperation we shake Jesus awake, and cry out, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!" And what happens next blows me away... What does that say about my current situation? Do I feel like I have Jesus in the boat with me? If yes, what do I want to say if anything to him? If no, that makes me want to ask Jesus if he actually is in the boat with me. Did I follow him into this situation or take my own boat? Can he get me out of this mess or calm the storm? Etc. And then I can revisit the story from Jesus' perspective (that one's always interesting). Or, I can be someone in one of the other boats that followed Jesus. What type of emotional response does the story produce in me? Can I relate to that character? What does that say about my relationship with God? What is God trying to tell me through the story? etc. I apologize for the longwinded response. I guess the short answer for me is that entering into these stories in such an experiential way always gives me a strong yearning to experience God in my own life and drives me towards prayer.
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I love this post, Peter. Great question. One of my favorite ways to read the Bible is through a technique I've learned from the Jesuits of inserting yourself in the passage through the eyes of one of the characters. Here's an excerpt on this type of "participating" in scripture from Hearts on Fire, Praying with the Jesuits under the category "Praying with the Scriptures": "Select a short passage from Holy Scripture. As you open the book, be aware that you are in the presence of the Living Word, the One who guarantees all that is written. Read through the passage slowly and attentively; read aloud or whisper in a rhythm with your breathing – a phrase at a time – with pauses and repetitions when and where you feel like it. Do not hurry to cover much material. If the passage recounts an event in the life of Jesus, enter into the scene as one of the participants. Speak with the persons involved: the blind man being cured, or the disciples as they walk with Jesus. Share their attitudes. Respond to what Jesus is saying. Some words or phrases may carry special meaning for you. Savour those words, repeating them out loud, turning them over in your heart. Think about each of the words or phrases. Who said it? What does it mean? To whom was the word or phrase addressed? What was the speaker feelilng? When something strikes you, pause. Pause, for example when…. you experienced new meaning or a new way of being with Christ (for example, you sense what it means to be healed by Jesus), you experience God’s love, you are moved to do something good, you are peaceful, you are happy and content just to be in the presence of God, you are struggling with or disturbed by what the words are saying."
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Oct 6, 2010
Hi CHinkle, There's a tab at the top (on the left) labeled "Stage 4 Faith" which will give you a quick overview of Peck's stage theory. Welcome to the blog!
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Haha. Well done, PB. I've never heard of people trying to justify polygamy in the name of diversity before, but I like it!
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Thanks Steve! I actually have to give the credit for that one to Adam Bakun. Good stuff. "Ya see, me and the Lord have an understanding."
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I absolutely loved this movie, not because of the plot (which I thought was overused and easily predictable), but because the CGI in 3D was incredible. I think this is going to revolutionize the way we watch movies. Anyway, in watching this movie I was reminded of the 20th century philosopher Fr. Bernard Lonergan, SJ (I can't get away from those Jesuits!) who believed (and I'm stealing this from my friend) that the purpose of art is to escape from reality into a "new structure of cognitional understanding (that of the artist's perspective) for the sake of an enriched return." I love that. Art frees us from the confines of our reality and transports us into the created reality of the artist, which upon our return, gives us a new way of seeing, knowing, and relating to the world around us. I think the forest scenes in Avatar did that for me. I had a renewed sense of awe and wonder discovering the beauty, richness, and interconnectedness of Pandora through the eyes of Jake Sully. I left this movie with a strong desire to reconnect with God in the beauty and richness of our world, and also a feeling of sadness in all the ways we have failed to do that (I think that ties in with Jimmo's idea of our longing for a return to Eden).
Toggle Commented Mar 1, 2010 on Why Avatar is Cool at Not The Religious Type
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I love G.K. Chesterton, though I find I have this bad habit of reading bits and pieces of several of his books (they take me a long time to digest). I think one of the things that keeps drawing me back to Chesterton is the thread of constant humor running throughout his writing. He is often referred to as "the prophet of ample girth and ample mirth." In The Man Who Was Thursday Chesterton portrays God as this powerful person of immense weight and yet incredible levity at the same time. As you follow the main character throughout the book, you struggle with him to discover the mystery that continually eludes him: Shall I tell you the secret of the whole world? It is that we have only known the back of the world. We see everything from behind, and it looks brutal. That is not a tree, but the back of a tree. That is not a cloud, but the back of a cloud. Cannot you see that everything is stooping and hiding a face? If we could only get round in front... What I love about Chesterton is that in reading his different works, you get the sense that he has actually "got round in front" and has seen the face of the world. Chesterton, like the character of God in this book, carries an immense weight (literally and figuratively) and yet many of his works reflect a sense of levity. As Jimmo mentioned, with Chesterton there's a sense that "everything is simply trivial." I think Chesterton most directly conveys this idea at the end of Orthodoxy with this bold statement: Joy, which was the small publicity of the pagan, is the gigantic secret of the Christian. And as I close this chaotic volume I open again the strange small book from which all Christianity came; and I am again haunted by a kind of confirmation. The tremendous figure which fills the Gospels towers in this respect, as in every other, above all the thinkers who ever thought themselves tall. His pathos was natural, almost casual. The Stoics, ancient and modern, were proud of concealing their tears. He never concealed His tears; He showed them plainly on His open face at any daily sight, such as the far sight of His native city. Yet He concealed something. Solemn supermen and imperial diplomatists are proud of restraining their anger. He never restrained His anger. He flung furniture down the front steps of the Temple, and asked men how they expected to escape the damnation of Hell. Yet He restrained something. I say it with reverence; there was in that shattering personality a thread that must be called shyness. There was something that He hid from all men when He went up a mountain to pray. There was something that He covered constantly by abrupt silence or impetuous isolation. There was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth; and I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth. Sometimes I think Chesterton is right. In my own experience of God I get a sense of joy and mirth that I don't quite understand. In speaking about "chatting with God" Dave will often say that he starts off with something like "How are you, God?" And he'll ask God that question even in the midst of something like Haiti's Earthquake. And the answer he always seems to get is that God is doing just fine. Let me try to clarify this a bit. I find I can pray to God about something really painful or tragic and God meets me there, and surprisingly enough, he seems to feel the pain and understand the hurt more deeply than I do. If I'm praying for someone else who is hurting, I find God will often take me deeper and show me to a greater extent the pain and suffering that person is experiencing. And yet, there is still this deep sense of joy (maybe even mirth?) in God. It's like he sees, understands, embodies, and experiences the pain and seriousness of a situation better than I do, and yet if I were to go even deeper down I would hit this wellspring of joy. I don't understand why or how there could be such joy at the bottom of all that pain, but with God it seems to be there. When I read Chesterton, I get the sense that he saw and experienced that much better than I do. Anyway, as Dave mentioned, "The fun with writing about Chesterton is the chance to quote him endlessly." So, if you have made it through this lengthy series of quotes and want to do some of your own let me tell you about Project Gutenberg. Project Gutenberg is a site of over 30,000 Ebooks (you can read them on your computer or Kindle) which are all FREE because their copyright has expired in the United States. So if you want to read and quote Chesterton without paying a dime, all his works are available there for free.
Toggle Commented Jan 29, 2010 on Why GK Chesterton Rules at Not The Religious Type
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DJ, thanks for the heads up! I've prayed as well. Keep us posted on how Ben is doing.
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Good point, Steve. Describing love is not the same as defining it. The same way words fall short of describing a picture, or a picture falls short of the reality, so our attempts at a definition will also fall short. At the same time, I think we get something out of the process of trying. A little while ago I was reading a book by Fr. Michael Himes where he takes a crack at explaining agapic love. He writes: Aquinas gives a wonderfully insightful definition of 'agape' or, as he translates it into Latin, 'caritas': it is, he writes, 'the effective willing of the good of the other.' Himes then goes on to talk about how agapic love is not something you fall in and out of like an emotion, but an actual act of the will, which I think most of us would agree upon. He goes on to say: Thomas' definition of love as an act of the will which chooses to effect the good of the other requires two qualities (at least). The first is wisdom. You can never know with certitude what the true concrete good for the other is. You must always try to perceive what that concrete good may be so that one can act to bring it about, recognizing that you may be wrong. You must be ever ready to revise your idea of what the other's good is. The second quality which love demands is courage... The courage he is talking about here is exactly the point that many of you raised about tough love, which can be incredibly hard to do. I love Himes's comment on wisdom being a requirement of love, because I think it is spot on with centered-set thinking. If we have multiple arrows and none of them are pointing directly at the center, that means our view of "the good" will always be warped and will necessarily require a great deal of humility and continual "recalibration." When we will "the good of the other" it will always be imperfect, which means that if we truly love someone, we will want to continuously be checking in with Jesus, inviting him into our relationship with that other person, and asking Jesus how he sees and loves that person. In the centered-set model, I think we could define love as the way God sees and interacts with the world. That means that our ability to truly love (see and interact with the world the way God does) directly correlates to the number of our arrows that are connecting in relationship with Him. And our arrows can only "recalibrate" by continually being in relationship with God and each other.
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I like your question, Dave. At first I thought, yeah, who really cares? People are great (or not great) with or without prizes. A prize doesn't change what a person has done. But on the flip side of that, there's a reason we have prizes in the first place. I think prizes are a sign of what we as a society hold to be valuable, what we deem worthy of high esteem. We have sports championships, Oscars, Tony's, Emmy's, Grammy's, etc. as ways to recognize the best in each field. And the message that is sent to everyone else who aspires to do something in that field is, "this person, team, movie, song, etc. is what we consider to the very best." When it comes to the Nobel Peace Prize (and I want to preface this by saying I know little to nothing about the Nobel Peace Prize) I imagine that it would be awarded to the person who has done the best work that year at promoting peace, especially between nations. I think when someone like Gandhi fails to win that award it does one of the following: a) Devalues the Award -- if Gandhi was truly the best that year, then the award becomes devalued because it is no longer awarded to the best b) Makes us rethink and possibly redefine what we consider valuable. -- For example, if I go to an art museum knowing very little about art, I might very well scoff at a masterpiece and have high praise for some amateur piece of art. But after reading enough critics or "experts" in the field, my might opinions start to change and I would likely look at and judge art through a different lens. (For better or for worse). The question that people are asking after Obama won the Nobel Prize is: Do we consider Obama the best in this field? Do we want to hold him up as this year's standard of excellence for achievement of peace? Do we want to tell the world that Obama has done more than [all the other candidates] and that they should strive to be like him?
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Haha. Good point. If we take Casey off the "Speaker & Staff" list then we can add Texas and Sugar Land Vineyard to the list.
Toggle Commented Sep 15, 2009 on Survey Results -- CCS 2009 at Not The Religious Type
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Back when I was at BC, I took several classes with the former Calvinist, now Catholic philosophy professor Peter Kreeft. He had many things to say about Protestants and Catholics, and this one stayed with me: He stated that Catholics are like a fireplace without a fire and Protestants are like a fire without a fireplace. He writes: "It isn’t that fundamentalists explicitly deny this Catholic vision of the Church; they just don’t comprehend it. They may have things to teach us about being on fire with religious zeal, but we have much to teach them about the fireplace. A fireplace without a fire is cold and gloomy. But a fire without a fireplace is catastrophic." There is clearly good and ill on both sides and I try the best I can to chew the meat and spit out the bones. I hope someday together we can become a fireplace with a fire in it.
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