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

Strange-Gods-cover-with-blurb1

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

grimm fairy tales

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...]

Pulling Off the New Vulgarity

I am cautiously optimistic for Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of The Great Gatsby, though, like pretty much everyone, I have some hugely unsettled and queasy feelings each time I watch the trailer below:The modern music is jarring, and the dancing looks lewd.  But I think that might be all to the good.  It's hard to manage vulgarity when it occurs in a period piece.  Flapper dresses are so much prettier and more embellished than my jeans and a t-shirt that it's hard to remember that, in their … [Read more...]

An Outward-Oriented Marriage

The Sacred Search Cover_thumb[2]

I received a free review copy of The Sacred Search by Gary Thomas as part of the Patheos Book Club.At a recent lecture, the speaker explained the difference between apologetics and theology.  In apologetics, you are writing for the unconverted, so you have to make sure to explain your reasoning and make an aggressive case.  In theology, you're writing for people who share the basic tenets of your faith, so you can skip over the background and just plunge deeply into your tradition.  Although … [Read more...]


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