Wednesday, May 6, 2009


I follow a number of blogs. I don't add blogs to my list without consideration. I have to find something of value in the blog, a perspective that is either beneficial in some way or one that challenges my own thinking.

I really don't think anyone grows if surrounded only by like minded persons. I find that my own ways of thinking are challenged by the ideas of others, and I have to constantly assess my own ideas and think about how to express those ideas. I like this challenge.

Some of the blogs I follow are travel blogs. Others focus on things like story telling, or photography. Usually I am attracted by the work itself, but I also find myself becoming interested in the people behind the activities about which they blog.

Some blogs are idea blogs. I follow a Presbyterian minister, and another who is a student of Puritan theology and philosophy. I follow others who are not believers in God, even some who are quite atheistic. I enjoy examining their ideas, and also find myself fascinated by their humanity.

The Presbyterian minister is a hunter, a sports fan, and devoted to his church and family. He has depth to his beliefs and his way of living. Another I follow is a physician who is an amystic. Rejecting the mystical he is left not believing in God. He presents clear arguments for his beliefs, but more than that he shows himself to be a compassionate human being.

Some blog about their homes and display a deep love of their domestic lives. I sense a richness in their lives, and many share that well.

One of my bloggers blogs about Legos.

I am not, by nature, a socially involved person. Indeed, I have a reclusive tendency which I actively work against. I can be quite content in isolation, and must work to keep myself involved with other people. My fellow bloggers aid me in this task.

In the course of these interactions I find myself compelled to try and support my fellow bloggers. I have selected people who are genuine, and have depth, and express themselves well. Though a few of the blogs invite energetic discussion, I find that I approach these discussions with a bit of restraint. I value the exchange of ideas and perspectives, but am not so compelled to prove myself "right" that I assault my fellow bloggers with my keyboard.

My blog list grows slowly. I cull the blogs that prove monochromatic, that exist only to promote a particular perspective or agenda. I also cull those that don't seem to be growing or going anywhere. I add others with care. I am a frugal gardener, wanting to get the greatest yield possible from my little blog patch.

The real fruit of all of this is perspective. I see the world through different eyes, and grow a bit in the process.

It is a good thing.

Monday, May 4, 2009

I Kant Kant-

I read Critique of Pure Reason twice. Two different translations. I don't have the text with me right now, but I sold one and kept the other. The one I kept had a better translation, and was somewhat easier to read.

Not necessarily easier to understand. I do not claim to understand what I read. I thought that this was largely my own fault. I suspect that I did have a lot to do with my own inability to understand, but I later learned that others found the language and presentation a bit ponderous.

It was described in one article I read (and of course do not have handy to cite) that the German philosophers of the time of Kant (and for some time after) felt it "scholarly" to couch their concepts in ponderous prose. I do not know if that is true, but it would explain the difficulty in getting an untrained brain around many of the concepts.

I think another aspect was the effort of Kant to describe the very generalized ideas of knowing and reason. What can we know? What can we not know? How are the regions defined? Not small or simple questions.

Not quite so general (and perhaps meaningless) as "What is the meaning of life?" However, it was not quite so particular as making a measurable observation of some natural phenomenon. Then again, not all phenomena are easy to observe and measure.

I will probably drag the book out again, someday soon. I will read it, and perhaps convince myself that I understand a bit more than before.


Then again, perhaps I simply Kant Kant.

Evolution vs Creation in Education-

I find this debate terribly sad. It is sad because most of the players have very good intentions. It is sad because there is no compromise. It is sad because someone must lose something of value in the end.

The parents promoting creation/intelligent design wish to protect their children from a godless science. Not necessarily from science, but from a science that excludes God from the issue of creation. This is a genuine desire to protect, and the drive to protect offspring is powerful.

On the other side are scientists, striving to protect science education from being polluted by bad science. Unfortunately, God does not readily submit to scientific inquiry, and so good science will most likely be Godless. Not that all scientists are godless. Those who believe, however, cannot derive their faith from science.

Sadly, from what I have seen the creation/intelligent design faction does indeed promote bad science. This does not mean that they promote something that is not true. It does mean that creation/intelligent design may well belong in another venue.

I do not know if believers in God can begin with the evidence available through years of scientific inquiry and present a set of arguments that will pass the rigours of established scientific review. I an not so sure that they should.

I am still not convinced that science is the final arbiter with regard to what is true. It has proven valuable in building human knowledge and building a better world. It is worthy of a place of great honor. I am not convinced that it is ultimate.

A large part of the issue in this debate is good stewardship. Strangely, I find both the creation side and the science side are striving for good use of public funds in education. The scientist don't want to see public funds spent on teaching bad science. The creationists don't want what they view to be truth excluded from the education process for which they must pay through taxes.

Nobody wants children confused by different views of what is held to be true. However, lacking a consensus on what is true with regard to how things came into being, the educators are caught between waring factions. The children are destined to seek their own answers on the matter.

Perhaps that is the real focus. A system of education that teaches thinking, not just indoctrination. This is dangerous, of course. It will produce children who will not always think as parents may wish. It may produce children who think outside the box called "science," as well.

A generation of rogue thinkers might prove very interesting.

Dangerous children. Worth the investment.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Lines in Tension-

Music can be produced from a broad variety of instruments that have lines in tension. Guitar, violin, piano, and wash-tub bass. Many instruments which contain the potential for music in lines of some material drawn to a precise tension.

I find an analogy in ideas. Freedom and security, for example. A line stretched between absolute freedom and absolute security, representing the need to sacrifice freedom to obtain security, or to sacrifice security to obtain freedom. A line in tension.

With regard to this particular line, various people will prefer different points on the line as their particular place of comfort. Additionally, social orders that move too far toward one extreme or the other are more likely to fall than those that find a viable range somewhere toward the middle of the line.

A gross generalization, but one that seems to apply. There is no music if there is no tension. Too much tension and the line breaks. Not every sound that comes forth is music, either. Neither is music just one note.

Drums have planes in tension. A bell has a tension built into both the shape and the material of the bell. These instruments must be played in concert with similar instruments, due to the limits of their individual ranges. Even stringed instruments, though more flexible in range even in just one string, generally have several strings to expand the range of musical potential.

Many instruments come together to form bands and orchestras, bringing forth music from lines of tension.

I try to see families, tribes and nations in a similar way. Individuals living along various lines of tension, interacting with one another. Often it is noise. Sometimes it is music. Not always the same music, and perhaps not music to every one's liking, but a form of music none the less.

This idea of lines in tension sometimes aids me in understanding another human being. I look at how they live, what they are saying, what they are doing. I try to see the lines of tension that make up their individual life. Occasionally I can find a harmony between us.

This is a rather small thought to share. Not particularly deep, and perhaps not that insightful. Yet it is a way of thinking that might be helpful to someone.

That is why I share it. Let us make music together.