Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Thoughts on Religion...

by children's book author, Philip Pullman. His anti-Lewis, anti-Christian trilogy is being made into films, with The Golden Compass (2007) as the first installment.

"My basic objection to religion is not that it isn't true; I like plenty of things that aren't true. It's that religion grants its adherents malign, intoxicating and morally corrosive sensations. Destroying intellectual freedom is always evil, but only religion makes doing evil feel quite so good."

Decorating on a Dime and Imagination

A Kentucky man transformed the bare walls of his basement with sharpies and imagination. This is worth seeing.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Day of Reckoning

Finally someone is willing to tell the art world that the Emperor has no clothes. Robert Hughes takes on Damien Hirst in this article from the Guardian. Hughes is the author of a thoughtful book on modern art, The Shock of the New. Hirst is probably most famous as the artist who slices animals in two and preserves them in glass tanks. His most recent works include a diamond encrusted skull and managing to stay in the public eye as if his art were important. He's become a master of publicity--which is, after all, one of the greatest traits of modern artists.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

New Life for an Old Violin

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the concertmaster of the of the Milwaukee Symphony was offered the loan of a Stradivarius. In a time when collectors, and not musicians, are the only ones able to afford to own the celebrated instruments, this is indeed a generous gift--but, thankfully, perhaps not as unusual as one would think. After all, great instruments were meant to be played.


What is the use of correct speech if it does not meet with the listener’s understanding? There is no point in speaking at all if our words are not understood by the people to whose understanding our words are directed.
—Augustine, On Christian Teaching

Rhetoric in Defense of Truth

Since rhetoric is used to give conviction to both truth and falsehood, who could dare to maintain that truth, which depends on us for its defense, should stand unarmed in the fight against falsehood? This would mean that those who are trying to give conviction to their falsehoods would know how to use an introduction to make their listeners favorable, interested, and receptive, while we would not; that they would expound falsehoods in descriptions that are succinct, lucid, and convincing, while we would expound the truth in such a way as to bore our listeners, cloud their understanding, and stifle their desire to believe; that they would assail the truth and advocate falsehood with fallacious arguments, while we would be too feeble either to defend what is true or refute what is false; that they, pushing and propelling their listeners’ minds towards error, would speak so as to inspire fear, sadness, and elation, and issue passionate exhortations, while we, in the name of the truth, can only sit idle along sounding dull and indifferent. Who could be so senseless as to find this sensible? No; oratorical ability, so effective a resource to commend either right or wrong, is available to both sides; why then is it not acquired by good and zealous Christians to fight for the truth, if the wicked employ it in the service of iniquity and error, to achieve their perverse and futile purposes?
—Augustine, On Christian Teaching


"Symbols are the natural speech of the soul, a language older and more universal than words."
--Edmund Spenser (1552-99)


“The trouble with me is lack of faith…The irrational dead weight of my old skeptical habits and the spirit of this age and the cares of the day steal away all my lively feeling of the truth, and often when I pray I wonder if I am not posting to a nonexistent address. Mind you, I don’t think so—the whole of my reasonable mind is convinced: but I often feel so.”
—C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Music of the Spheres

Quotes from Jamie James:

There was a time when the universe was believed to cohere, when human life had a meaning and purpose. A person who devoted himself to a lifetime of study, instead of coming out at the end of it the author of a definitive treatise on the pismire, or a catalogue of the references to Norse sagas in Finnigans Wake, would actually have a shot at discovering the key to the universe.

The concepts of the musical universe and the Great Chain of Being originate in the classical bedrock of our culture, flow through the Christian tradition, and remain firmly centered in the Renaissance and the Age of Reason. They are at the core of the culture. It was not until the nineteenth century that the perspective shifted decisively to the earthly, the tangible. Materialism and sensuality, qualities that had been deeply mistrusted throughout most of the Western tradition, emerged ascendant.