Saturday, September 13, 2014

Neo-Oralcy & the End of Book-o-Cracy


Cultural Lag

The Book-O-Cracy is dead  but there’s always cultural lag—
unbridgeable gap between tradition & what’s actually
happening.  It hurts—the split generates restless legs and
attention dys-function. Can’t be denied. Well, it can be. Of
course it can.
.  


A Post Literate Age,  I say.  We’re Beyond the Book-o-Cracy,
which is why I call now  Neo Oral: renovatingof the original
oral tradition I patronize, find quaint and “mythic” like herbal
remedy & leeches.
 
Those were days when I  had to have a good memory, we say:
to store lore which came in air,  syllabics, words, sentences.
No  one was taking notes. I had to listen:  oyez, oyez so as to
hear words of  the wise aswell as practical instruction.  
 
THEN: written down. Tablets and  spiral notebooks & Bicpens
replaced  my memorization. Still possible for construction bosses
and others to be  illiterate and rise eeto the top but I had to
pretend I could read.
.    


"Like us (fine artists & humanitarians: 
 there was an initial
 flurry, Ben said, and then not so much; and he & I talked low
in the library about what
IT meant and what IT took to get into
IT and how-IT-is that the MEDIA we swim in now is radically
different
than what-IT-was and how IT might ultimately impact
school& schooling and study  and scholarship and research &
publications &  academic probation and  footnoting, plagiarism
of course
(intellectual property rites) & retention & attendance
policies & whether we as colleagues  were shy or lazy or
indifferent or not rewarded for IT or  not tuned-in to IT’s
possibilities (the media IS the instant messaging meme-service
project for idea & insight & query & quip & quest & edification

—emergence of local food-for-thought & foundation for our
  own intellective and affective sparking. 

116 comments:

  1. Meditatio:

    "You must always have God's Word in your heart, upon your lips, and in your ears. But where the heart is idle and the Word does not sound, the devil breaks in and has done the damage before we are aware [Matthew 13:24-30] . On the other hand, the word is so effective that whenever it is seriously contemplated, heard, and used, it is bound never to be without fruit [Isaiah 55:11; Mark 4:20]. It always awakens new understanding, pleasure, and devoutness and produces a pure heart and pure thoughts [Philippians 4:8]. For these words are not lazy or dead, but are creative, living words [Hebrews 4:12]."

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  2. Can't claim to have God's Word in my heart, lips and ears. I know some who insist they do & proclaim and walk on water. Would you say Hemingway did? The devil's no stranger. It's the denial and cover up that raises the bozone layer.
    .

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  3. I have been giving this some thought already. Would I say Hemingway did? Certainly, not in the narrower sense. Above is a Luther quote speaking to the exercising in and meditating on holy scripture, the Bible. There is a wider sense that even the pagan has good religious impulses, only, lacking revelation about the Christ and such, it is quite incomplete and will remain so.

    Yes, even with Hemingway's bleakness, there is useful meditation.

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  4. When the devil breaks into my life, it is usually with bitterness, self-pity and lack of generosity. Secondary to that with laziness and desiring indulgence. It's all about me and my wants.

    This is different from knowing myself and discerning passions. But on everything there are limitations and disappointments will abound. We could see everything as bleak. There also needs to be a limit to the bleakness. It could be another self-indulgence...

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  5. God's word may not be in my heart, lips, ears--but bitterness, self-pity, and lack of generosity--and of course fear, hate, anxiety, self-indulgence. I might could blame it on the devil--but won't deny it whatever it's source. My human nature and original spin, say. Comes with the territory.

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  6. Apparently, Hemingway was a sort of a Catholic. He probably had words in heart, lips and mouth, and since he communed, also in stomach. Wholesome. I see behind the brash exterior. It takes something to discern such sadnesses. -- I don't see it so much with you, but I assume it.

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  7. I'm glad you are enjoying Hemingway. My first published article dealt with him and Steinbeck and used the flashy word (in it's title) Weltanschauung

    '

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  8. Ah, and what did you find? I have read a lot of Steinbeck. My father even had him on the shelf in German. "Fruechte des Zorns." Made me cry.

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  9. http://www.jstor.org/stable/812695 This is the article

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  10. I will read it in a while. This week will bring me a random provincial inspection of the preschool (comes at the end of every September I am told). Last night, was lying on my bed coloring my hair, and reading all the rules and regulations, expecting a grilling. One coffee and out the door...

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  11. Thanks. I learned from the administrator, today, if there is an evil intruder we hide in the broom closet. I did not know that. If there is a fire, we go to the RCMP building, so we can be inside, as it is always frigid winter here.

    I checked out Jstor and we wrestled. There seems to be no way to access the article from here without paying $19.00. You might possibly give a short summary on the comparative world views. (I have no idea why people feel the need to use "Weltanschauung". "World view" is a perfectly analogous way of talking.)

    We have been discussing "apples" with the little children. We have them for snack, and they say "an apple a day keeps the doctor away", which rhymes. Then they tell you about Mother Goose, which rhymes, etc.

    So, today I brought out the Bible, big black one, and the children's one we give away, and started at the beginning. Creation was a little bit boring, but the fall of man caught their attention. There was only one rule: do not eat the apple from that one tree! Well, we likened it to the cookie jar, and breaking other rules. When temptation comes, guess what, they look like they know what we are talking about, but it has never happened to them. No. Not them. --You could see that the conflict was meaningful. I did not need to tell anyone to sit properly, keeping their hands to themselves and all that.

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  12. "'That's how I learned to write,' he said, 'by reading the Bible...The Old Testament. That's all any writer needs'" (pp. 128-29). By Hemingway's own admission few, if any, influences were as significant on his writing style as the Bible.

    Quoting someone on the internet.

    I had thought of that myself, when I first woke up today. The Bible has so much in the least brushstrokes. The most important stories were brought down on tablets, and then precious papyrus. You have to be as concise as possible. Let the hearer or the preacher fill in the rest.

    As to his morality to be the one of what feels good, he did not mean things of epicurean delights. I think he speaks to the natural law, which we all acknowledge, and which the Ten Commandments summarize. American atheists may wish to tear down the posted Ten Commandments here and there, but they will not extirpate them from their (as they think non-existent) souls, try as they might. Sooner or later it will taste foul. It can't be helped. If animals are killed for food or sport, we may lament the death of Bambi, but man has always killed for food, usually involving exercise and possibly heroism and skill. When God himself becomes the lamb, this is a scandal because of the reversal, not because of the cruelty of sacrifice...

    Ok. It's running with me. I will stop. I have a feeling you have the worldview differently, but then we have never indulged in concord before...

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  13. Try googling "the Weltanschauung of Steingbeck and Hemingway" and see if it connects. Yes, weltanschauung was a show-of term, Are American atheists significantly different than Canadian atheists? The violent bear it away.

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  14. We don't have the same kind of strife, and we look at it as kind of bizarre.

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  15. IT? The differences are relative, circumstantial, local, regional. The absolutes are the same

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  16. Our government just legislates gay marriage and that is that. Never been that bone of contention. We don't have time, energy and climate for that. On the other hand we also have no abortion law, whatsoever. Abortionists limit themselves voluntarily to just some weeks along. Our head of government is the Queen, defender of faith(s).

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  17. Differences galore, but American Atheism and Canadian Atheism (you claim a significant difference) sounds like a difference in patriotism (chauvinism) on your part and not a describable difference in atheism. If so: describe.

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  18. I know only one Canadian atheist. He is my daughter's brother in law, a smart but uneducated young chap. He could be a diamond in the rough. We get along well, he and I, in Canadian fashion. We are still friends on FB.

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    1. But you suggested a difference between American and Canadian atheism What's the difference?.

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  19. Ethos.

    Hemingway and Steinbeck went for dinner once and Hemingway was a brat, in New York. Different ethos, those two men. We read quite often about writers having brawls. You would think them a little better controlled, as a bunch.

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  20. I have never used the word "ethos" before. Does it work?

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  21. Are Canadian Xians different that American Xtians? (I detect a Canadian chauvinism I've noticed before--like your Lutheran chauvinism. Pride in country and religion. I understand.)

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  22. There was a controversy on Vancouver island recently. A large American organization was going to have a large meeting. Some very famous, mostly Conservative people were loosely associated with it. The town council cancelled the availability of the facility, at the last minute. They are no conservatives there, in west coast lotus land, nor church goers. Some people severely criticized the town council, where every pimple had an uninformed opinion, but basically they did not want the strife. And to be really honest, I don't blame them much.

    What was the point. It seems that progressives, liberals, atheists sometimes want to suppress other opinions with thorough-going unfairness. But here, I really think we value harmony, even the goofy town council.

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  23. Progressives and Liberals and atheists want to suppress other opinion with thorough going unfairness. Are these American PLA or Canadian PLA. I have heard the stereotype that Canadians don't relish controversy. Very polite. Draft dodgers in the 60's would flee to Canada. But I still can't grasp how Canadian atheism would differ from American--any more than American Lutheranism would differ from Canada. Might we just admit to chaunvistic emoticons and be done with it.? I understand your patriotism and loyalty--political and religious.

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  24. Do you not think that peoples have different national traits? When I go back to Germany I know immediately that I am among my kind. There is a unique combination there of the famous Gemuetlichkeit together with free speaking and taking no leaves in front of the mouth (kein Blatt vor den Mund). You say it how it is and have a beer together.

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  25. I have no interest in being particularly Canadian. I am a border crosser, an immigrant and also living in exil.

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  26. Yes of course--but you still have not explained the difference between American and Canadian atheism (or Lutheranism for that matter) Differences are the basis for loyalty and discord--discrimination and exclusiveness. Patriotism and Religious contention. The eclipse the Sames. Just describing here. I want to know the difference between Canadian and American atheism--

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  27. I am no specialist on the subject, maybe the only difference is that there are no posted Ten Commandments to pull down.

    "Die heiligkeit mit der sich manche Seele blaeht, ist oft nur Mangelheit die Fehler anderer zu begehen"-- The holiness with which some souls puff themselves up is only the lack of opportunity to make the mistakes others are making. (Someone famous. A teacher wrote it into my poetry book. I think it was a nun.)

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  28. Canadian Lutherans are different from American Lutherans by virtue of composition. American Lutherans have been in America for some time and went there for reasons of freedom of conscience and religion. They have well maintained a doctrinal purity with fervour. Canadian Lutherans are more recent arrivals and former refugees and displaced people. They come more with a hinterland-ish, folksy warmth and softness, as well as a fear of anything looking, smelling, sounding Roman Catholic to them. This is how I started, too, but I love the clarity and rigor of a systematic theology. I also don't like smarmy music and art. I don't like anything that I call "religious mastrubation", a kind of pulling yourself up by sentimentalism or plain repetition. There are differences. Yes. There are always differences. But where the Christ centered Word rules, we always find paths to each other.

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  29. What?

    Will you indulge us now with a point about Hemingway's or Steinbeck's worldview? It seems that Steinbeck, too, drank pretty deeply from the words of the Bible.

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  30. "God's in his heavens and all's right with the world."

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  31. My husband is asking for his short stories now. I started him on a longer one.

    The inspector came and went and won't be back for a while now.

    I am baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and as far as I know so are you.

    The fall is hot and glorious with all the leaves still on in full color and splendour.

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  32. "Sovereignty," insists my orthodox Presbyterian pastor and cohort. And then procede to argue out rules and regulations for Calvinistic worship if not for daily live. All is well and all is well and all manner of things is well, the Episcopalians like to exclaim. I stick in my thumb, pull out a plumb: o what a good boy am I. Ann is not baptized, nor Jonathan. Liz (our first) was. Many are called but few are chosen.

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  33. I read that Goodman Brown is about Calvinism and sovereign election. I guessed Ann is nit baptized, Liz being the last one, you told me. Everyone is called and chosen to baptism. That is not where the constriction lies. We have around that bush.

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  34. We have been. Sorry, I have to go. My back hurts. No more centers crawling on the floor for awhile.

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  35. "Young Goodman Brown" is a short story published in 1835 by American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne. The story takes place in 17th century Puritan New England, a common setting for Hawthorne's works, and addresses the Calvinist/Puritan belief that all of humanity exists in a state of depravity, except those who are born in a state of grace.[citation needed] Hawthorne frequently attempts to expose the hypocrisy of Puritan culture in his literature.[citation needed] In a symbolic fashion, the story follows Young Goodman Brown's journey into self-scrutiny, which results in his loss of virtue and faith."

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    1. Makes sense: the depravity (twisted) of humanity--our original sin (es, esse: essence, being), Goodman denies his relationship with the devil (evil) and his miserable his whole life. A goodie (wanna-be good so bad he can't afford or acknowledge the bad-it-takes. Beautiful story.

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  36. The benefit of the eucharistic controversy cannot be overlooked. Faith in the Word of God is essential for overcoming the spiritual-psychological focus on the inwardness of pious communion. What makes this so significant is that the Enemy, an expert on the single soul,loves individualism. He can penetrate the psyche and control it. He can twist and cripple even the believing Christian so that, lost in introspection, he despairs of God and the world. But there is one thing the Devil cannot do: he cannot become really present flesh. The call of the words of institution liberates the Christian from the clutches of self-analysis.
    (Oberman, Man between God and the Devil, p. 243)

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    1. Makes the victimizer (me) the victim (me)--and reifies and idolizes the "negative" and denied aspect of my human nature. 'The call of the words of the instituion liberates none but those who have ears to hear and are both called and chosen. Otherwise: rice off of rhinos and uncalled Xtians galore acting as if they heard it.i

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  37. You don't get it because you don't want to.

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  38. Titus 3:5-8 He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying.

    St. Paul of Tarsus, chief of sinners, least of the apostles

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  39. What does "eternal life" mean to you?

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  40. That we can be with him, now, and even more later, through faith, because he has loved us and known us and not cast us away. As he said, he would that all repent and come to him. But if I start measuring my spiritual temperature too much, it ruins the joy and freedom; it becomes the bondage of self-scrutiny, and deprives the redemptive word its full sway.

    I have to make some playdough. The three year olds drive me crazy. --Oh, but they are so amazing. There is a little set of twins, blond and sturdy looking. When she is upset, he cries with her. He gets this incredible sensitive look on his face, and gradually the distress spreads across his face. They sat in the cubbies waiting for Mom. I gave them each a tissue and they took them and wiped their faces. A moment later, the helper said to them, they could put them in the garbage. So they went. On the way they spied some toys and they were soon involved in the tool box. It just seems very profound, how they mirror each other. I suspect this will be a lifelong sensitivity. We all have this with brothers and sisters, but this seems more so.

    Eternal life is this, that we can be this close in affection, in thick and thin, in life and death, in spite of our sinfulness, hatefulness and temporalness. Through baptism a new relationship is established and made firm, the water with the word of promise. Jesus calls us brothers and sisters and friends.

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  41. Did you take in Ayan Hirsi Ali's speech at Yale on Sept. 15 th ?

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RcWjbZmBIBo

    Is that something else we can't talk about? Or is not interesting? Or not epistemological enough?

    When I watch conversion stories, I hear people say that this is what attracts them to Jesus: he calls them friends and brothers. And God is Father. The invitation to love their enemies frees them from their consuming hatreds.

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  42. She wants Muslims to "stand up to Allah" and to "reform holy scripture", change the "core creed". Mmm.

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  43. It's not very interesting, Ali's conversion. OF course Jesus calls us friends and brothers and sisters and invites us to love our enemies and be freed from our consuming hate. Old "good" news. I wrestle with Allah constantly--Israelic, Change the creed. Christians galore arguing over it dogmatically. Goodies.

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  44. Ali is not a convert. She hangs out with Dawkins.

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  45. I thought she is your kind of person, philosophical, raising consciousness, don't worship your stupid book.

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  46. Your sense of my-kind-of-person is naturally framed and colored and understood by your kind of person. You send links which don't connect without copying and pasting and googling. But I don't watch or read all the links sent by folks--more interested in what they have to say on their own than the references they post.

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  47. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a phenomenon and an icon in her time. What she says matters. We should try and discuss it.

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  48. Copying and pasting and googling is such a chore.

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  49. A Christian Pastor was killed in a Pakistani prison, says the National Post, today. Ayaan Hirsi Ali would say: why do you worry about the image of Islam? Worry about the violent injustice instead. You have it all backwards with your creed.

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  50. No creed is complete and every creed can stand accusation. Always: war, horror, violence, hate, fear, injustice. I have my own inadequacy and daily violence to preoccupy myself,

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  51. Creeds are for examining, comparing, agreeing, disagreeing. That is not preoccupation nor violence, nor fear. It is thinking. -- Some creeds espouse violence and threaten death for dissent. Throwing it all into one pot is utter, blind, willful, lazy, immoral bullshit and it is not serving the world.

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  52. Ayaan Hirsi Ali has the fortitude to identify a "core creed" of Islam. She shows why she disagrees with it. She claims most Muslims live in dissonance with the "core creed". She suggests they rise up and do something against this "core creed" and those who incite violence, INSTEAD of going after her, shooting the messenger(s).

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  53. "In the face of opposition from the Muslim Student Association (MSA), Ali denounced the “cancer” of militant Islam and urged Muslim students to follow their conscience rather than submitting to the will of Allah.

    It is a testament to the surviving remnants of academic freedom at the Ivy League colleges that students from the William F. Buckley Program were not forbidden to hold this event and even staunchly defended by Yale’s President Peter Salovey."

    I don't know how you get this to happen when the entire religion is about "submitting" to Allah, by definition. But lining up submission to Allah against using your conscience is a good start. Does a good God really want you to violate your conscience all the time, and suppress so many natural joys? Does he love or does he hate people and his creation? Does he want you to love people or hate people? Can a killing in a family or of other innocents ever be "honourable"?--Think. Feel. Pray. Whom are you serving and why?

    Does it make sense? Does it feel right? Are your deepest concerns addressed? Are you getting any answers? Are wise people you know for or against it?

    We are all on a quest for truth. We dare not abandon it.

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  54. Sovereignty. I have my own inadequacy, inconsistency,
    daily violence and crimes against the whole to pre-occupy me. Are there only remnants of academic freedom? You will color your hair. I will mow the lawn.

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  55. Are you not the most liberal professor, on the most liberal college, in the most freedom-loving country on the planet! And probably most senior to boot! Are you not a child of Yale? And did they not teach you Daniel in the lions' den early on? (Literally or metaphorically speaking)?

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  56. I am the most senior professor & my pedagogy is the most radical if not liberal & the college has been designated by Newsweek as the most liberal and I am a child of Yale and the metaphor that has most influenced me since high school religion course in prep school: Plato's Cave. Personal salvation or enlightenment. The salvation of other souls and social justice is a decent vocation: many are called, few are chosen but still take on the responsibility and concern and dedicate themselves to doing good. There is considerable peer pressure to serve as chorus and choir and ongoing clamor about human horror and inadequacy beyond our own.. Team Spirit: we root for "good."

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  57. Where is Babylon? Would it be in Iraq? I have to do a year's bookkeeping. Fall is falling. The taxes are due. The great musical works are playing again on the Geneva got from Air Miles. A man beheaded his coworker in Oklahoma... Brahms' Requiem has been my favorite for a while... I wish I were a great soprano. To my own delight I am a bearable soprano. We can sing anywhere, even just in our heads.

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  58. Die Gedanken Sind frei. -- thoughts are free.

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  59. Saddam Hussein had a summer palace by the ruins of Babylon. Daniel accurately predicted the succeeding empires to come to Nebuchadnezzar. My dad gave one Sunday school lesson, all of my growing up years. It was the day I learned the name of Nebuchadnezzar. I was proud to have my dad teach a lesson. He was very reticent with this sort of thing in general refraining from things overly pious, though he was outgoing. But I am stalling on my work for today. He would have been 80 a couple days ago. He loved that song about thoughts being free. There is a rousing song about that. Thoughts and destroy any walls and shred any barrier in two...

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  60. Joshua fit the battle of Jerico and the walls came tumbling down. My walls in fact resist and defend and protect and sustain my weltanschuuang. I wouldn't say this in public because it isn't "humanistic" sounding or liberal. Never the less, Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon and Sunday School not with standing. Weltanschuuang uber alles.

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  61. Thoughts are free, who can guess them?
    They fly by like nocturnal shadows.
    No man can know them, no hunter can shoot them
    with powder and lead: Thoughts are free!

    I think what I want, and what delights me,
    still always reticent, and as it is suitable.
    My wish and desire, no one can deny me
    and so it will always be: Thoughts are free!

    And if I am thrown into the darkest dungeon,
    all these are futile works,
    because my thoughts tear all gates
    and walls apart: Thoughts are free!

    So I will renounce my sorrows forever,
    and never again will torture myself with whimsies.
    In one's heart, one can always laugh and joke
    and think at the same time: Thoughts are free!

    I love wine, and my girl even more,
    Only her I like best of all.
    I'm not alone with my glass of wine,
    my girl is with me: Thoughts are free!


    The translation could be improved. Maybe I will apply myself to it. Now I see why my dad loved it; it was popularized as a Silesian folk song, and he was from Silesia.

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  62. The poet Robert Bly responded to an audience question after a reading. "Where do you ideas come from," she asked. "They come roost in my skullhaus like a flock of birds, flying by all the rest of you, knowing there's room in the inn for them to brood.' Something like that. Saddam had a summer place by the ruins of Babylon. Tower of Babel is my origin myth of preference.

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  63. I prefer my origin "myths" to happen in places that can actually be visited or dug up, and not just in skull houses. Also, you would think that the fellow sitting there with his own free thoughts, nursing his glass of wine and dreaming of his girl (none of which we begrudge him), gather some courage, at some point, and say or do something about what is really going on (maybe he should marry her). Free is good, but not so much being forever reluctant. My mother told my father that he was putting his light under the bowl. (Sermon on the Mount).

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  64. Look, Pete Seeger sang it:

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dbwQXVcbkU0

    We had to memorize all the verses, except the one about the wine and the girlfriend. The music teacher at the gymnasium would assign it, and then it went around the classroom, each one had to say a verse...

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  65. Sorry, I've again lost the thread here. Free thoughts for sure. [Once Faulkner & Joyce exposed their streams of
    unconsciousness offending my linear habits of
    beginnings, middles, & endings; and then MTV,
    damnit, began generating constellations of imagery
    non sequitur to whatever lyrical sequence was going
    on & on, and my sense of Show & Tell took a hit,
    ambushed by internal providential explosive devices
    until it became clear to me what a merely convenient
    truth a sequence is—& because & affect.]

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  66. More seriously, Lazere connects some “wryly humorous” remarks of Irving Kristol to a “killing spree” perpetrated by a man who believes that “all liberals should be killed.” And to prove Kristol’s snobbery, Lazere refers to a disparaging remark Kristol once made about his fellow soldiers in World War II, without revealing that Kristol’s worry was that they were “too easily inclined to loot, to rape, and to shoot prisoners of war.” All this from a professor who proposes his brand of “critical thinking” as a “possible model for the entire enterprise of liberal education.”

    These lapses are distasteful. But the more serious fault of Why Higher Education Should Have a Leftist Bias is its utter neglect of the vocation of teachers who, as Bloom put it in Closing of the American Mind, “must constantly try to look toward the goal of human completeness and back at the natures of his students here and now, ever seeking to understand the former and to assess the capacity of the latter to approach it.” Academics who think of the university as just another front in the war between liberals and conservatives turn their back on this humbling vocation.

    Jonathan Marks is professor of politics at Ursinus College.

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  67. Someone didn't like a book by a man Lazere. Lazere argued that higher education should have a left leaning bias. Why should it have a bias, at all?

    Conscience is free, as thoughts are free, or should be. But what is freedom. In the end it is doing gladly what we ought. But what is it we ought to do...

    I did 6 months of bookkeeping. The neck hurts and I am not thinking. You pick out something. You are good at that.

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  68. "Great article man, I especially liked the closing sentiments. Personally I think education -especially post secondary- should have as little bias as possible.... Or as many as possible. In either event we achieve the same aim of asking ourselves/students/etc to actually examine issues with their own existing knowledge, as well as that of their peers and contemporaries, and finally of their predecessors... [form an opinion, an so forth]

    Being on the same boat, I don't see this right-lean he (the author of the original article) is talking about. I mean, if anything, we have a bit of a leftist lean: I find myself constantly having to (nauseatingly, at times) argue points I don't entirely agree with so it's not some hippie-gangbang in class every day ;)"

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  69. Some student wrote that. Sorry about the imagery.

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  70. I really don't know what the issue and concern is in these fragments. The complaint by conservatives is the liberal bias in higher ed. (And in the media) I'm impressed with my students--their thinking and writing. Going to class each day is like Quaker worship for me: never know what will emerge (or nothing).

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    1. "The universe constantly and obediently answers to our conceptions: whether we travel fast or slow the track is laid out for us." All anyone wants is to find the meaning of their existence and that's what Thoreau is going for. Yes, he's raising all of these other questions and concepts, but bottom line it's about figuring yourself out. Not just yourself, but how you fit into the world and your reality. We are all constantly trying to "figure it out". That's why I'm on this campus, in this classroom. More than I want to know, I need to know what I'm meant to be doing, whether that means for myself or in the grand scheme of the world. The Universe is a term I typically use to replace the "god" concept. Like, to me the universe is this big thing that works in ways we don't understand and doesn't necessarily always work, but it's still there. I can't bring myself to believe in absolutely nothing. So, I think it's the energy you put into things that you get back. Whether that's showing kindness and then receiving it (the idea of karma) or being awful and having bad things happen. However, I also believe that you make up the perceptions you have of yourself (which are certainly influenced by other people, but you are the one who creates your reality, so you can allow things to stick you with you or roll off your shoulders.). If you feel guilty about something, probably in some coincidental way something bad will happen to you, because you started that cycle and were aware of it. If you don't feel bad, maybe everything will be okay because you thought you were doing right. Or maybe I'm totally wrong about these half-baked ideas that I'm having trouble articulating. Sometimes it's easy to just think we're all creatures on this rock flting around a ball of fire in the middle of a black abyss and nothing means anything because we're all gunna die anyways. But, that's depressing in its own way and it's much better for me to think about what some arrogant man wrote about life and compare my ideas to his and think in this frilly, la-di-da way about the nature of the world and reality" (student in class response -- our course in the transcendentist and romantics. Beyond liberal and conservative maybe.)

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    2. Another sample of what comes out in in-class writing response--thought you'd enjoy.
      "Dreams and possibilities… no, in college, is one of the best times in your (my, our, whatever) life (maybe? So far, for me) to aspire, dream, conceive of a future. Now before us there is a web of possibilities and paths, stretching, shimmering, untouched, untried, untested and potential. We have yet to try just one path, job, new city, to “begin our lives” for real. The possibilities could fill you with fear or excitement, There are so many options open to us (I think) and we are so lucky… so how do we decide a path? I guess it’s based on your personality, what you want: convenience, danger, new experiences, safety, making your mom happy, to lie, survive, thrive. Maybe you will try them all. Maybe you will “succeed” and maybe you will “fail”; the worst would be to not try, to attempt to keep every possibility and not destroy the beautiful web of the imaginable (reality vs. fantasy) by choosing one, maybe a “right” path, maybe a “wrong” path. The absence of a choice, I guess, is the worst choice. #7: Maybe we’re all just trying to find a house we love?"

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  71. Does the universe talk and make plans? Does it love?

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    1. That's how the transcendentalists talk. Also moderns and post moderns. Oversoul. Goddess, even. Old Nobodaddy, Blake's term. Some of it's an effort to avoid anthropomorphism and idolatry. Some of it's just an effort to express the beyond. Lot of universe loving going on these days. Sovereignty: thy will be done, like it or not. Here it is Monday morning and I get to go to working in the vineyards of the lord.

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  72. Thy will be done, like it or not, is not praying.

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  73. It's describing how it is. The truth. Make no mistake: thy will be done--what a relief to know that: one might think otherwise. Sovereignty, as my orthodox presbyterians (and I'm sure Lutherans) proclaim--and they also assert how works etc won't bring salvation, but still: announce ways of proper worship, working it best they can so as to be saved or maybe simply out of what they call love.

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  74. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

    What does this mean?--Answer.

    The good and gracious will of God is done indeed without our prayer; but we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also.

    How is this done?--Answer.

    When God breaks and hinders every evil counsel and will which would not let us hallow the name of God nor let His kingdom come, such as the will of the devil, the world, and our flesh; but strengthens and keeps us steadfast in His Word and in faith unto our end. This is His gracious and good will.

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  75. We pray that God's good and gracious will be done and not the other.

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  76. Wrestling not resignation. Prayer is work of top priority.

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  77. And yet, the Holy Spirit is no skeptic.

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  78. More from in-class conversational writing:" A response to response #8: I definitely agree with your conceptual understanding of God/The Universe. To me, God is an unknowable essence, not some old man with a beard in the sky. God created the universe, and we don't understand, entirely, how the universe works. Abdul-Baha, the son of the Prophet founder of the Baha'i Faith, once spoke with an atheist about God. The atheist said, "I don't believe in god." Abdul-Baha asked the man to describe this "god" he didn't believe in. The man described God as someONE in the sky who watches humanity. Abdul-Baha said that He did not believe in the same God the man didn't believe in.
    I also believe that God/The Universe confirms us when we make an effort in one direction or the other. Which is sort of another way of looking at Karma. When I do something that is in conflict with God/The Universe I am shown the error of my ways. You certainly have to be paying attention to what God/The Universe confirms and what it doesn't. It's not an easy thing to do at all.
    A response to “The Plagued Raven” (#9): Service is in it’s essence a selfless act, is it not? Therefore, it is pointless to expect reward or notoriety from acts of service. Sure, it would be nice but the individual is only in control of his or herself. One can’t expect others to act they way you want them to act. One can, however, lead by example. And act the way you want others to act. That is what is in your control, your own actions.

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  79. Yes, and that barely, seeing the sinners we are. We've been watching House of Cards, and Francis just sent Peter to AA meetings. In summer we took in a course on addictions by a specialist who needs to go to AA meetings every day. That's the kind of people we are. We need to work on things together.

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  80. If I may, I will use part of the above response in writing to a Calvinist who argues that Christ cannot be in the supper because he is in heaven. Same kind of thing as a bearded man hovering above.

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    1. "Higher Power"--the AA designation, avoiding the idolatry and anthropomophic projection fundamentalists seem to embrace. Original Sin: a description (es, esse: essence, being)--not a judgment. Damaged and damaging ("damned)--also good description but is easily taken as condemnation. Denial and cover up (of the descriptive truth)--is where the negative connotations of these words appropriately arises.

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  81. Let's agree as far as we can, for a change. We need the Higher Power, as some like to put it. We know he/she/it is not like us, even though some of us confess that we are made in God's image. However, that is a suitably vague way of talking. It matters, because both male and female are made in his image and we are in possession of conscious reflection, and other faculties. We know good and evil, though the evil God would have kept from us. So all bearded men, and locating on planets and in the sky, are also just images, anthropomorphism. But the images reflect essential truths. And what I really need to know is : does this Power know me, hear me, love me, help me-- and my neighbor. Or are we praying to the lampshade? Without faith (as we said the Spirit is no skeptic), we don't have the hope, nor the additional strength. When we pray together and mean it, something happens.

    And believe me, it does not come easy to me. I am not talking in a facile manner. I lost a son for whom I prayed fervently.

    On YouTube he has a video singing: "take me before it's too late. Bury me deep, deep in the snow." -- We buried him in the snow, at thirty below, Celsius. We did not stay by the grave long. It would have been worse not to have prayed... The day he died, I began sleeping well, again. He had got into the habit of not letting me know whether he was coming or going.

    Anyhow, without the faith and struggle in prayer, though it may disappoint, we are not fully alive.

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  82. We agree on the need, the yearning, the desire--the struggle.

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  83. Sam, I am going to suppress the arguing now. It's going to be winter and I have lots to do.

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  84. Were we arguing (argo: "shine")? What was the issue or contention?

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  85. Not quite relationship, and not quite dialectic. Or not at all.

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  86. Was pointing out in linguistics class that communication is always state of the art, whether it fits our agenda or not. Similarly: relationship is relationship and relaying and relating--whether smiling and on the same page or quarreling and contentious.

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  87. "Bickering" someone called it.

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  88. Yes: a bickering relationship. As opposed to strokes and smiles.

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  89. Here is something we agree on: I teach my kids and Mom's that the most important thing they can do for their children's intelligence and growth, at this time, is to give them as much language in context as possible--all manners of story telling and speech, including "bickering." Talk, talk, talk...

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  90. argue argue argue: edifying: building up a common shine.Unfortunately, the word argue has negative connotation. But originally, at least: a good thing. Not easy to bring off an environ
    ment where it is apprecaited.

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  91. Comparative systematic theology; making deductions from Biblical passages; translating pro's and con's. This better or that. This more faithful or that. What did they mean by that...

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    1. Chemists and biologists and environmental scientists--sociologists and movie critics, literary analyzers and sports commentators: the same process among devotees, disciplines and professionals. Different subject matter but that needn't eclipse the SAME Then they all go home with family and friends. Do they carry their expertise with them, or leave it at the door?

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  92. 21 percent of Nobel Prize winners have been of Jewish descent. Since we are always talking about Einstein.

    It has nothing to do with genes, or not entirely, or mainly. It comes from forever reading and discussing the Torah.

    Someone, Reza Aslan, was trying to argue recently in a widely publicized book that Jesus was illiterate. Nothing is further from the truth regarding observant Jews. The young are carefully read in the scriptures and ask questions and comment, as the boy Jesus did in the temple.

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  93. I'm increasingly inimpressed by the wit, whimsy, savvy, knowledge of my students and believe it to be their upbringing inside tech & info capabilities--the whole world of info at their finger tips.

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  94. I didn't realize we were always talking about Einstein and am trying to remember when last?

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  95. Reza Alan thought he was very savvy. And are the Quakers really known for innovative ideas?

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  96. Are we now talking innovation? (And have we always been talking about Einstein? )

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  97. (Help me understand what's behind the Qua
    ker question.)

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