|The Birth of Jesus|
by Giotto di Bondone
-from Anselm of Canterbury: The Major Works p. 320
There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person. -G.K. Chesterton
|The Birth of Jesus|
by Giotto di Bondone
Last year I shared a playlist of Christmas music I was listening to at the time. I'm still enjoying all of that music (especially Downe in Yon Forrest which is officially my favorite Christmas album ever), but there is also another sort of Christmas album to consider. These are the albums you listen to, not when you're sitting and enjoying a peaceful meal or sitting in front of your lit tree, but when you're in the hustle and bustle, wrapping, laughing, decorating, cooking. The fun, bouncy music that sets the mood for the season. This year, I'm posting a list of the fun, bouncy holiday music for the boisterous parts of the season.
In his Dictionary of Cuisine, Alexandre Dumas gives the reader a cautionary tale about turkeys involving the celebrated French poet Boileau.
"Boileau, when a child, was playing in a courtyard where, among other poultry, there happened to be a turkey. Suddenly the child fell, his dress went up, and the turkey...flew at him and with his beak so wounded poor Nicolas that, forever barred from becoming an erotic poet, he became a satiric one and maligned women, instead."
"From this, no doubt, stemmed the aversion he had for the Jesuits, sharing the popular belief that they had introduced turkeys to France."
|So you wanna mess with the Jesuits do you?|
|"Hans, shoot that fat Jesuit in the back yard.|
We'll cook him up for our Reformation Day party.
|"Well, that was a glorious turkey dinner. I wonder what my|
Separatist cousins in the New World are eating right now."
"Heh, probably wild venison or something silly like that."
"Yes, let's all give thanks for our traditional English dinner!"
Everyone should be a patriot, by all means. Patriotism is natural to humanity, and loving your patria is as natural and virtuous as loving your pater. But don't make the mistake of confusing your patria with the political nation-state under whose power you happen to find yourself. That is called nationalism and nationalism has run roughshod over patriotism for the last 200 years. It was nationalism that told Occitanians that they had to become Frenchmen, Tuscans that they had to become Italians, Bavarians that they had to become Germans, Navarrans that they had to become Spaniards, and Virginians that they had to become Americans. Nationalism always and everywhere attempts to subsume a healthy patriotism under a love for a vast political state, and in the process turns what is primarily a peaceful appreciation of one's culture and people into a militant hunger for dominance and control on the world stage.
Come now, insignificant man, fly for a moment from your affairs, escape for a little while from the tumult of your thoughts. Put aside now your weighty cares and leave your wearisome toils. Abandon yourself for a little to God and rest for a little in Him. Enter into the inner chamber of your soul, shut out everything save God and what can be of help in our quest for Him and having locked the door seek Him out.
-from Proslogion by Anselm of Canterbury
I wrote this for my Omnibus students at school. We're reading the Iliad right now, and I realized that no one has really explored the musical possibilities for this book.
Science is both a philosophical and rhetorical activity. This must be understood first. In order to do science one must first be a philosopher, and in order to successfully participate in scientific discourse, one must be a rhetor. That many scientists today would deny this does not mean that they are free from philosophical assumptions or that they their discourse is free from rhetoric; it simply means that they are unconscious of their uses of philosophy and rhetoric. The sooner that we can strip the residual Victorian veneer of pristine objectivity from the natural sciences, the sooner we can come to better understand why we as a society find scientific arguments to be persuasive and the better we can evaluate the philosophical underpinnings of our science and make it more useful as a tool for discovering truth. In this area at least, the despised and maligned creationists are ahead of the curve compared to most institutional scientists in that they recognize the huge role that personal worldview and philosophy play in the interpretation of scientific data.
To see this in action, we only need to look at the advancement of science from the Middle Ages to today. The story we often tell is one of steady uphill progress from one new objective fact to another, as humanity pulls itself from the dark ages and into the splendor of the intellectual light of our modern times. However, when we look at the history we get a different picture. Most of what we call the advancement of science came not because of irrefutable, objective arguments compelling men to climb from their darkened caves, but because certain theories arose at the precise moments that philosophical paradigms in society were changing and eager audiences were creating the perfect rhetorical situations for persuasion.
For example, Galileo’s arguments about cosmology weren't irrefutably airtight. However, his science of mechanics was attractive to the rising mercantile interests of his day and he pitched his ideas in the direction of the rising class of merchants and entrepreneurs who were more open to the new science because it boosted their ability to turn a profit. Likewise rulers were often resistant to the new science for the very same reason; they wanted to maintain the hierarchy of society. Later when the Puritans with their postmillennial hopes were looking for the means of taking dominion and remaking the world, Newtonian physics came along and gave them a mechanical world and the means of pulling all the right levers to control it. As society became more secular in the Enlightenment, man became very lonely sitting at the steering wheel of nature and with the advent of the Romantic period began to want to locate himself as part of nature rather than as lord over nature. This is an essential background to understanding why Charles Darwin’s theories were so readily accepted in their time. It wasn’t because everyone saw in them objective and irrefutable truth. Erasmus Darwin wrote erotic poetry about plants, and his grandson Charles formulated a theory that placed man firmly in place as a part of nature and cousin to the other creatures. Both were products of their time and the spirit of Romanticism inspired them both. Later Darwin’s theory gained strength because the idea of optimistic onward and upward evolution lent strength to British imperialism. Still later Darwin’s theory was used to support ideas of eugenics and racial purity. Today Darwin’s theories are a symbol of cultural optimism, and, in the absence of a belief in a biblical Adam and Eve, a basis for the brotherhood of all mankind.
Now, why have I spent so much time on this background for what could have been a very simple book review? It’s because I believe it is important to see how science is made persuasive and how scientific thought is even shaped by prevailing cultural commonplaces and philosophies. The natural sciences, especially the scientific method with its combination of abduction, induction and deduction, have proved extremely useful heuristic devices. However, we live in an era of scientific imperialism in which the claims of science are seen to be objective, absolute and totally separate from the type of discourse that goes on in the realm of the humanities, ordinary rhetorical persuasion. Science is seen to be authoritative without the need to persuade and this lack of self-awareness among scientists often creates a dangerous calcification of scientific dogma as scientists lock ranks against any dissenters from the orthodox position and use coercion rather than persuasion to police the bounds of the discipline.
|Nobody expects the Dawkins Inquisition!|
|Although that would have|
been pretty cool...
A good pie is hard to find. Today's world is plagued by the sorts of pies that you get from the grocery store bakery or the type you get by using pre-made crust and canned filling. And yet, a truly well made pie is a thing of terrible and awesome beauty. Obviously one way to guarantee that you get a homemade pie is to, well, make it yourself at home. However, sometimes you want to enjoy the fruits of someone else's labor, and so I've decided to share some great places to get good pie near Lynchburg, VA.
|Montana Plains Bakery|
in Lynchburg, VA
|The pies of Montana Plains|
|Mountain Fruit and Produce|
An unassuming gas station
harboring a delicious secret!
|Inside Crossroad Store|
|Mrs. Rowe's Restaurant|
|Pie Heaven at Mrs. Rowe's|
|Of course you could buy|
Mrs. Rowe's Little Book ofSouthern Pies and make
your own. But it's not going
to be the same.