The Strain of Pride

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I've read most of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, but I'd never gotten around to his Tiffany Aching series til this month.  These books are pitched as more for children than the main Discworld sequence (which doesn't explain why my local library stored them, in order, in YA Fiction, Adult SF, YA Fiction again, and finally the Children's section).I'd say they're enjoyable, but not as much so as the main books (try Witches Abroad, instead, which I've just gotten onto my gentleman caller's q … [Read more...]

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Atonement?

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Eve Tushnet visited “Atonement: Stories About Confession, Redemption and Making Amends” (a night of true stories told/performed in preparation for the High Holy Days) and she found that the stories touched on regret and error, but rarely on atonement and penance. I wonder if atonement is especially hard to talk about–harder than sin, rationalization, or realization of wrongdoing. I’m doing this series on portrayals of penitence and it’s easier to find examples of artworks which should include pe … [Read more...]

Intuition Pumps and Other (sometimes extraneous) Tools for Thinking

Intuition pumps

Daniel Dennett has written three or four quite good books in 2013. It so happens they’re all appearing together as Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking, which, to be honest, I might have enjoyed a bit more as several separate kindle singles.In the first book (as I’d break it up), Dennett introduces the concept of an intuition pump – a thought experiment that helps us use our intuition to get a handle on a knotty problem – and starts running through ways you can use vivid hypothe … [Read more...]

Modern Stoicism – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

stoic joy

A number of my friends have gotten more interested in Stoicism of late and have been reading A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine for a practical introduction.  I give Irvine total credit for writing a philosophy book that's meant to be actionable, not a historical survey.  But, as a recovering Stoic, I'd like to couple any praise with a warning about the philosophy.    The GoodA Stoic avoids becoming attached or indifferent to the things ze ca … [Read more...]

Strange Idols and Strange Identities

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In Strange Gods: Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life, Elizabeth Scalia has a simple definition of an idol. In the decalogue, we are warned by God to have no other/foreign/strange gods before Him.  So, in our modern age, Scalia points out, our idols are less likely to be something like, say a giant golden calf that give burt offerings, and more likely to be letting Reddit usurp our prayer time.  An idol doesn't have to be worshiped to impose itself between us and God.But what would it be l … [Read more...]

Anyone have an ideological immersion course?

vous comprenez

Yesterday, Chris Hallquist put up a post in the Atheism channel titled "Everyone in America should fail to learn a foreign language" which I quite enjoyed, especially this section: So they can have the experience of failing to learn a foreign language. You can learn a lot from failing to learn a foreign language. You learn about how languages work. About the features of English you never thought about before even though they’re around you constantly. About the ways in which English did … [Read more...]

Questing for God in Land of Faerie

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Fare Forward, a new Christian magazine has just released its third issue.  Some articles are available to subscribers only, but my review of Philip Pullman's Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm is up today as one of the preview articles.  Check out my essay on learning moral law on the wrong side of the wardrobe, and check out the other topics in the issue to see if you'd like to subscribe.  Here's a teaser quote from my review: [W]hy does God feel so far from the magical world? Fairy tales are … [Read more...]


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