The death of a true intellectual

Jacques Barzun died at age 104.  A scholar of breath-taking range, Barzun, a French immigrant, was a cultural historian wrote about literature, history, music, philosophy, religion, education, how to write well, and baseball.  (He is the source of the quotation, “Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball.”  A champion of the liberal arts, he was a key developer of the “great books” approach to higher education.  He was a critic of Darwinism, existentialism, and other modern and postmodern philosophies.  Though his positions seemed largely in accord with a Christian perspective, he did not profess any personal Christian convictions.  And yet, he was baptized and sometimes attended both Catholic and Protestant churches.  (See this for the question of his religious beliefs.)

From his obituary in the Washington Post:

Jacques Barzun, a Columbia University historian and administrator whose sheer breadth of scholarship — culminating in a survey of 500 years of Western civilization — brought him renown as one of the foremost intellectuals of the 20th century, died Oct. 25 in San Antonio, where he had lived in recent years. He was 104. . . .

Dr. Barzun was 92 when he published what is widely regarded as his masterwork, “From Dawn to Decadence, 500 Years of Western Cultural Life: 1500 to the Present.” Journalist David Gates spoke for a majority of critics when he wrote in Newsweek magazine that the book, which appeared in 2000, “will go down in history as one of the great one-man shows of Western letters.”

Dr. Barzun sustained one of the longest and brightest careers in academia, having first risen to prominence as a professor who helped shape Columbia University’s approach to general education. He later was dean of the graduate school, dean of faculties and provost. . . . [Read more…]

OK, now it's a depression

The Dust Bowl has returned to my native Oklahoma.  A huge  dust storm hit Blackwell, Oklahoma, causing a 30-car pileup on I-35.  Blackwell is where my daughter, son-in-law, and three grand-daughters live!

Dust storm causes thirty car pile-up with injuries near Blackwell Oklahoma

 

 

 

Dust storm in Oklahoma causes highway to close and thirty car pile up – Oklahoma City Everyday People | Examiner.com.

Plot to bomb my old church

I used to live in Miami, Oklahoma.   The local college, Northeast Oklahoma A&M, was my first teaching job out of grad school.  That was where I became a Lutheran, being catechized and received into membership at the wonderful congregation of Mt. Olive Lutheran Church.

Imagine my surprise to hear about Gregory Arthur Weiler II, 23, of Elk Grove Village, Ill., who had a list of 48 churches, with maps and diagrams, that he planned to bomb in and around Miami.  An alert motel worker noticed that this particular guest was collecting materials for what appeared to be Molotov cocktails.

Miami police arrested Weiler and found in his room, in addition to the bomb-making equipment and the list of churches, a journal and other writings, including this statement of his plans:

“Self-Promote for the next 4 years while beginning list of goals written out in Oklahoma having to do with destroying and removing church buildings from U.S., a tiny bit at a time — setting foundation for the years to follow.”

Mt. Olive would have had to have been one of the churches on his list. The churches were all in Ottawa County, and 48 would have had to include them all.

I grew up in the next county over from Miami (pronounced “my-am-uh”). And in yet another case of the news striking close to home, I  see that Weiler’s court-appointed attorneys are from a law firm run by a guy I used to go to school with!

 

via Motel workers discuss church bomb plot arrest – KansasCity.com.

HT:  Anthony Sacramone

But now I see

Things have hard edges.  The leaves on a tree are distinct from each other.  Each pieces of gravel on a path is separate from the others.  Faces in a crowd don’t blur together.  Who knew?

Those who think there are no boundaries between right and wrong, true and false, beautiful and ugly; the blurrers of distinctions; those who think there are only shades of grey; the Hindu sages and New Age gurus who think “all is one”–these people are not just making philosophical errors.  They just need cataract surgery!

Back under the knife

Having completed several weeks of recovery from cataract surgery, we do it all again starting today, as my left eye gets operated on.

Despite the forced inactivity, I was able to keep the blog going pretty well, so I hope can do the same this time.  This eye, though, will be corrected for near vision–the other one was for distant vision–so this operation may affect me more in reading and blogging, at least for a few days until the vision stabilizes.  When that happens, I should see really well in both eyes.  But if I’m not able to blog at my normal pace, you’ll know what has happened.

The plan, after taking out the cataracts, is to put in new artificial lenses that will correct my vision so that I might not even need glasses.   But it will work like this:   My right eye will be for distant vision. My left eye will be for near vision.  My brain supposedly will work the board, cutting from one camera/eye to the other.  This is called “monovision,” and I’m told that quite a few people with contact lenses have this arrangement.

But isn’t “stereo” better than “mono”?  If I just use one eye at a time, won’t that throw off my depth perception?  Will I be able to see 3-D movies?  If not, I don’t really mind, since I have never seen 3-D effects in a movie that I liked, with the exception of the Michael Jackson short film at Disneyland, and this will save me a lot of money in extra ticket prices.  But I’d sort of like to see 3-D effects in real life.

Would glasses let me use both eyes together?  I haven’t been wearing them since the first surgery since the prescription isn’t valid anymore, and I realize that I feel weird not wearing the things.  I actually like wearing glasses.  I hate to give them up, especially since the styles I first wore in 7th grade have finally come back in fashion and are defined as “hipster” frames.

I know, I know, I should have asked my doctor about all of this, but I always want to get out of the doctor’s office as soon as possible.

Cataract update

My cataract surgery went well, as far as I know.  (I go in for my post-op exam later this morning.)  Usually it’s done with local anesthetic, but my eye-muscles and reflexes were such that they put me completely under, which was nice, actually.  Instead of watching the probe move closer and closer to the jelly of my eye, I simply went to sleep.  When I woke up, it was done.  My vision from the eye that was operated on is still really blurry.  Some patients report immediate and dramatic improvements, but, from what I’ve read, it sometimes takes longer.  Reading and computering (to coin a verb) is pretty difficult right now.   I’ll keep the blog going, though.  I’m working on formatting something big for you to chew on, so stay tuned.  I really do appreciate the support and the prayers that many of you have been offering.