Jul 31, 2002

Eschewing Contraception and Embracing Procreation
Open Embrace Open Embrace: A Protestant Couple Rethinks Contraception finally came today—after weeks with a lame company working for Amazon.

So now I’m digging in to what looks to be a really good little book by Sam and Bethany Torode. It is easy reading and I'm finishing it off easily.

They are attempting to argue that sex has three purposes: a procreation, union and worship. Contraceptives try to divorce the procreative and, often, the sacramental reasons from the act.

A few jewels before I blog my overall response to the book:

Pope Paul VI said: “To experience the gift of married love while respecting the laws of contraception is to acknowledge that one is not master of the source of life, but rather the minister of the design established by the Creator.

The Torodes said: “The contraceptive mentality treats fertility as a sickness and children as inconveniences.

“Pregnancy is not a disease.”

“As the Bible makes clear, the mystery of marriage is not about becoming one mind or one soul, but one flesh, encompassing the totality of man.”
Random Question
Do Catholic blogs focus more on their faith then Protestant ones? Why?
Seraphim further explain the metalife of the prefix.

Which is interesting, though it seems Arsitotle didn't have much of a knack for titles. I gather, reading all of this, that meta is a bloody interesting prefix.

He also points out, responding to my random question, that the Eastern Orthodox read Moses during their fasts.

I guessed that Catholics and Orthodox would--with worship based in a litergy--like us Anglicans read the greater portion of the Old Testament on a cycling basis. The Book of Common Prayer has readings, I think, for the entire Old Testament if you follow a year's worth of morning and evening prayers.

Jul 30, 2002

News and Technology
The internet seems to be edging out newspapers in the time readers spend with each medium, according to a report of a survey on Benediction.

A thoughts though, the is comparison between the entire internert and most people only read one or two newspapers, which is kind of misleading. A single advertisement in a newspaper is going to get more viewers than a single advertisement on the web. Think about every page being like A3729 in a newspaper. Yeah, your stuff is buried.

Besides, except for the printers, most of us in the noble old newspaper industry would have jobs in a digital world. So the hype isn't really that scary. In the new world of the computer, the same people will be covering the news.
Covering Crime
A good piece on the wonderful and crazy and freaked out world of the night cop reporter.

Slugging my way through some lame general assignment work without any room to fly, I envy this guy. Soon though, very soon I will be there, working on the deadline drenaline.
Students more moral after Christian cultural efforts
Christian cultural leadership has worked and is working in one area—abstinence.

Maggie Gallagher, in an opinion piece on Yahoo!, reports that virginity among high school students is up from 10 years ago and so is marriage. The only thing that’s really changed, she said, is the abstinence programs pushed by Christians.

It is slow, progressive work, but we will win.
The Proliferation of the Blogging Renaissance Man
Joshua Claybourn has added my site to his list of permanent links, which I heartily thank him for.

I've been reading his site regularly, we've exchanged a few e-mails, he linked to my last theology post over on Atlas and maybe I'll even write for his Hoosier Review. He tells me it pays twice what I make writing here.
Apex and meta: Seraphim takes on the fools
Mr. Danckaert has a few interesting posts up taking on the foolishness of the world around us.

He hits on those thinking they are at the apex history, smiling at their brilliance and the stupidity of all who thought before. Specifically, he's talking about medicine but he also uses (as always) the Greeks. Aristotle—current reactions to him and his own understanding of himself—serve to illustrate and highlight his point excellently.

He takes on those who think “meta-” means better. Using the title of a book by our dear prop Aristotle, he writes how “Metaphysics” doesn’t mean better than physical things, as some have misunderstood, but simply those things beyond the physical.

It seems a simple mistake though, when considered from the only-too-prevalent Gnostic view that the physical and material are somewhat to really evil. Metaphysics is seen as a way to escape physics, even though that's not the actual meaning of the prefix.

Thinking of metaphysics reminded me of my Philosophy professor, Dr. James Stephens, explaining the prefix: “The philosopher says, if you can do it, I can do it ‘meta-‘” .

Anyway, go read his posts.

Jul 29, 2002

With typical unperdictability and suprise, Credenda Agenda has published another issue that slipped right by me.
Christian Blogger Taxonomy
Martin Roth, et al, have organized the Christian bloggers list and given it its own site.

It looks like a workable system. I haven’t, however, figured out most of the new stuff, rankings, polls and such. But, I’m happy with it and with my place over there.

I'm still watching to see what kind of use the thing is put too.
Protestants Arguing over Communion
I have run a longer piece over on the Atlas site on Calvin’s decidedly unknown view of the presence of Christ in the elements of Communion. Take a look.

The post springs from my summer reading of England's history of worship and theology. This is summer reading at its finest. Eucharistic controversy in Europe in the 1500s. Oh yeah.

Personally, I’m currently holding to the view of Consubstantiation. I've shifted here in the last year from an uncomfortable relationship with Memorialism. It may not last, but I am happiest, I think, with the ramifications this leaves me in the morning.

The meaning of "This is my body" is a difficult debate for Protestants to have. No scriptural text rules out any of the four views and the question is, instead, decided by hermeneutics, by reactions and by ramifications.

Thus the debate seems to be perpetually curious and always flying, like a one-winged chicken, unexpectedly.

Jul 28, 2002

Laughless on the Right
Last night I watched But … Seriously, a collection of political comedy from 1950 to about 1993. It was enjoyable and mostly funny. But watching the thing I had to wonder: Where are the Conservative Comedians?

Is it something about comedians, about comedy? Perhaps we’ve just abdicated in that field?

Maybe we just don’t laugh?
UPDATE: Sorry, I seem to have lost an "h."

I'll say that Blogger ate it but you shouldn't believe me.
When's the last time you heard Genisis 1 read in church on Sunday? How about any reading from the books of Moses?

Jul 27, 2002

The double murder of one movie: Gosford Park

I watched the movie last night, having missed it in the theaters and not given the film any attention until friends began to recommend it. After watching it I think the movie could have been good, but was ruined. Twice, actually.

In an interesting turn of events the movie, like the old man murdered in the film, took it more than once.

MOVIE DEATH 1: Too many people, not enough time. We know everyone it seems, without knowing anyone well. The film begins by giving us a good look at the relationship between classes, between types of people, among a community of individuals thrown together. The movie opens as a giant fascinating sociological education.

Then the thing refuses to focus. The film either needed to be a lot longer, or to focus—to give us something firm instead of throwing us into the depths and only giving us an hour or so to sort everything out.

MOVIE DEATH 2: A rich English home in the 1920s during a party, why this must be a murder mystery! The movie even played with this cliché they embraced, having the Hollywood movie director unknowingly narrate the film why talking about a murder mystery set in the rich English country side while a murder took place around him. This movie was too interesting for a murder. The first portion of the movie was not heading toward a murder but, as I said, a giant sociological lesson. Then the thing, forced to pick something and narrow, picks murder and drop sociology almost entirely.

We don’t even receive a picture of hatred leading to murder, a picture of an old man with enemies, a picture about the end of an old man’s wretched life. The interesting story fades away and we are left with a cheap story form another era. We needed more than a murder and almost got it. Who changed their mind half way through this picture and decided they needed a good killing to go with their English country house?

A few questions about the movie:

Isn't it standard contract between film makers and viewers that a mystery will have all the clues embedded in the story before the conclusion? This one--unluess I was exceedingly dense--didn't. It felt damningly like deus ex machinia?

Why did the second actor pretend to be a valet (much less an experienced one from Scotland) and then change in the middle of the week? And why should I care? What does this do the story?

Would a rich English home afflicted with all known snobberies host a Jewish Hollywood producer in their home? Wasn’t there pretty standard anti-Semitism at that time?

Why did the girl—one of the few characters we actually care about—discover the murder when few others did? Wouldn’t some of the more experienced servants with this vast knowledge of the people invoilved have figured it out? Stylistically, it was important she unravel the story, for she was the only one we were following closely. But really was she the one who would have discovered this?
I have seen the sun and it is shining
The New York Sun is now online and will be added to my newspaper links. May it prosper.
Hunting Osama for Money
Mercenaries are flooding Afghanistan, looking to gain the monetary rewards for the death of Osama bin Laden and other Islamic terrorists.

They plan to behead him when the find him and turn his head over to the U.S. in exchange for the reward.

And the terrorists hiding in holes in Afghanistan thought they knew about terror.

Let the Rambos and the warriors-for-hire use their Vietnam, Cold War, Nicaragua (and everywhere else) experience to whack this clown. I'm waiting for the head in the mail.

Jul 26, 2002

A Medium Without Deadlines
One of the real flaws to blogging, as opposed to reporting, may be the lack of deadlines.

Deadlines add pressure. They force the words onto the page. They separate the writers from the hacks.

How long, really, can blogging survive without deadlines?

To wit:
My post on Christians and Art is still coming. It will focus on the need to engage the culture.
A post or article on physics is still coming. Probably when I return to school on August 22.
I am planning an article—hopefully to be published on some respectable site—on the importance of Creeds in worship.

Also, in honor of College Journalists everywhere, I procrastinated this evening and wrote none of the above, instead working with the layout of my sister’s blog.
Inspired to Insomnia and Drunk on Prose
The as yet blogless Elliot Wild, college friend and fellow journalist, writes in response to my celebration of the typewriter:

“Dan, I enjoyed your piece on the typewriter, and must admit I’ve felt the same way about the whole thing. I wish I could be like Hemingway, hurriedly pounding out a cable while flicking the ashes of my cigarette out of the window.

“I recognized, not only in the prose of the piece, but also in the time you submitted it (3:22 a.m.), a kindred spirit. My personal belief is that no great work with any real soul to it can be created before one in the morning. A man would have great difficulty writing that piece at 11 p.m., when he is sober and generally more stoic.”

Well, if I can’t be Hemingway with my fingers pounding typewriter keys, at least I can still write all night.

Eating a tomato sandwich and watching the sky turn blue at 5 a.m., when the local paper is thrown on the driveway, after a night of writing and blogging and reading, is certainly a glory of the 20-year-old student and writer.
From the Legion of Leeches

"Some people take to numbers; some are professional atheletes. I excel at standing outside a police station in 14 degree weather, yelling, “Why did you do it?” to some rapist. That’s what I do."

Timothy McDarrah, in My First Year as a Journalist: Real-World Stories from America’s Newspaper and Magazine Journalists. Edited by Dianne Selditch.

Jul 25, 2002

The Passing of a Good Man

Chaim Potok, author of The Chosen, died Tuesday at age 73.

He was a good writer. His first book, The Chosen, was influential in my life.

I will mourn this man's death.

Chaim Potok
Lesson: Some people get mad at the mention of the name Picasso.

Not that I ever learn anything.
Dubya: The Man with a Slogan

The Boston Daily Globe analyses Bush’s sloganeering.

Personally, I have mixed feelings. I understand why the administration is running these posters—it’s all about staying on message. Every other president did this too, in there own way.

For Bush, he isn’t the most adept rhetorician and could get off track. And then Reporter’s don’t want the message they want the story, so they are never guiding the President to his words to the American people. This is a way to be certain the message shows up in American homes.

So I understand it, I just don’t know if it’s working. It looks kinda dumb up there and kinda corny and kinda sloppy.

Jul 23, 2002

Blogging live from the Seattle Art Museum, all I can say is that art is cool and Picasso was sometimes strange--though I like him and he was still cool.

More to come on the subject of Christians and Art, hopefully later tonight.

Go visit your nearest art museum. Now!

Jul 22, 2002

The Typewriter:
A personal celebration of a machine


The newsroom is a quieter place today, but it has also lost some poetry, some soul.

The Typewriter is gone…

It sounded like machinegun fire. It sounded like an early automobile where you could still hear the individual pistons striking. It sounded like reporting.

All the President’s Men, the movie that inspired a generation to become reporters, opens and closes with the slamming keys of the typewriter typing out the story of the Watergate break-in and the Nixon cover-up. Large and black on the screen you see the letters driving into the ribbon and leaving their mark on the page—those letters with the expanding serifs and all the unique strangeness and weird “a”s and “g”s of typewriter typography.

It looked like reporting and it sounded like reporting. It was the poetry of the reporter. The typewriter was romantic.

The greatest event of modernity was, quite arguably, the development of the printing press. The typewriter put that invention into the hands of the composer. It marked a change in writing, a point where the look of the printer pages reflected the form in the mind of the writer. This is evident in the work of Ezra Pound—the first poet of any significance to write with a typewriter—in his compositional forms. The typewriter allowed the writer (what was it? 400 years later?) to work in the universal hand of the typewriter keys and to bring artistry to the form of his page in ways that hadn’t existed since monks wrote manuscripts.

I am a young reporter, a knight of the keyboard. I write on the personal computer all day and know of no other way to compose. I patch together my paragraphs and reword my sentences and spell check and do it all to the blinking beat of the electronic cursor. I couldn’t write on a typewriter, I know that and am thankful for the computer in every form I use it.

But the typewriter—what a contraption of ink and steel!

There’s a machine for a man’s fingers!

The computer keyboard makes little noise, almost white noise. The sound of man typing has lost the force it once had, the ink it once had, the explosion it once had. It is as if the newsroom has left the blue-collar world of press-passes jammed in hats hatbands and become civilized, white collar.

That thing didn’t blink away……..it exploded.

bam! BANG! badda-BOOM!

There’s some copy to read.

I don’t believe copy has changed because of technology, really. But looking at the force of the machine under our fingertips and the inky words in the morning newsprint, maybe we’ve lost something.

It had force. It had power. It had class. It had romance. It had poetry. It had soul.

We live in a better world, aesthetically, because of the typewriter.

Let men everywhere celebrate the advent of the typewriter. Let writers everywhere stop, pause for a moment at their glowing monitors and blinking cursors and hushed keyboards and remember that glorious machine.
A Random Paragraph to Show the Style and Prove the Brilliance of Tom Wolfe:
"Out in the middle of the field of computer terminals, he stopped and, with with an air of professional scrutiny, picked up a copy of the second edition, which had just been brought upstairs. Below the logo--The City Light--the front page consisted of enormous capital letters running down the right side--


--and a photograph running down the left.


Had he been feeling better Fallow would have paid a silent tribute to the extrordinary esthetique de l'abattoir that enabled these shameless devils, his employers, his compatriots, his fellow Englishmen, his fellow progeny of Shakespeare and Milton, to come up with things like this day after day. Just think of the fine sense of gutter syntax that inspired them to create a headline that was all verbs and objects, with the subject missing, the better to make you claw your way inside these smeary black pages to find out what children of evil were fiendish enough to complete the sentence! Just think of the maggot's perspreserverance that enabled
some reporter to invade chez Perez and extract a picture of Granny that made you feel the bloody act in your fingertis--in your very shoulder joints! Just think of the anticlimax of "saclp Grandma"..."then rob her." The pointless brilliant anticlimax! Christ, if they'd had more room, they would have added, "then leave all the lights on in her kitchen."
Tom Wolfe and His Punctuation
I hate exclamation points!

At least I did. They are false sensationalism. They are crutches for people who want to endue sentences with excitement they can’t write.

And then I met Tom Wolfe.

Wolfe was a progressive artist (as all great artists are) and, as such, revisited stylistic questions that lesser writers had settled, such as the exclamation point.

When someone doesn’t like the artistry of Wolfe, they will mention the exclamation points.

Wolfe overturns other punctuation standards, like the colon. Sometimes he uses it like the ellipses points, dots in a row.

Like this: ": : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :"

I don’t think punctuation is an a priori thing, which is why this seems problematic. We have to learn that italics mean accentuation, ellipses denote a fading out or a gap, and etc. So when you read this the question is, to sound like a lefty Professor in a Creative Writing class, how does that make me feel?

Then I have to figure out what it was supposed to make me feel and what it made Tom Wolfe feel and what it made everyone feel. The natural answer at this point is “confused,” which is the problem with this aspect of Wolfe’s progressivism and is a reason why you find this in his middle work (after he was established and could experiment more and not base everything on that experimentation) and not in his later work (I assume he realized the problem and dropped some of the more crazy and confusing styles).

This is not to depict Wolfe’s punctuation as crazy experiments that wandered and died of thirst. The colon was one experiment. Wolfe spans more than punctuation and certainly more than his failed experiments.

So now I am returning to the box where my punctuations rattle around. Today a good writer must live up to Tom Wolfe, the greatest writer of his generation and the pinnacle (I believe) of modern novelists. And Wolfe used those punctuations, the exclamation point—SHIFT 1—the ellipses and the slashes and the dots growing in rows like Nebraska cornfields and all the other punctuation we’ve not understood how to use.
Note the expanded typography post below.

Due to further interest and study I was driven to return to this paper and expand both my study and this post.
The Writer and the Technology
“Great writing has nothing to do with the fact that it's pounded into an Underwood #20 or carved into a stone tablet,” Anil Dash said in an argument about blogging, the short history of blogging and peoples hurt feelings.

Which is why a writer will always have a job, despite any technological developments.

This is important, at least ot me. I just wrote 80 column inches for the Sunday edition of our local newspaper. My favorite page is entirely my content and has a story about a woman charged with gun trafficking next to one about the Klallam tribe blessing a freshly carved 42-foot canoe with a photo I shot of a man and two boys ringing bells in the Shaker part of the ceremony.

I enjoy the weirdness of that page—in the stories and in the juxtaposition—and the technology didn’t really matter. It changed the process and it changed the a lot of technical things about the deliveyr but the content was, as always, dependant on the reporter.

For the technical record I used a ballpoint on a stenographers pad for notes, wrote the story on an IBM computer from the mid 1990s, took photographs with a 35 mm camera with a zoom lens and the stories was printed on A4 on broadsheet and received a circulation of a few more than 30,000.

Technology is nice but, finally, doesn't matter. You can tell because all newspapers, including the best, are behind in their technology.

Still, the Underwood #20 has to hold a special cool place in the history of writers technology. You have to admit that.

Jul 20, 2002

I Believe...
Christian Creedalism

A nice introductory article to Creedalism published on Calcedon by Greg Uttinger.

He makes a few excellent points in combating the arguments of those Christians who do not hold creeds as valuable, both from scripture and from the tradition of those non-Creedalists making the point.

My Christianity has grown Creedal in my last few years, culminating (I think) in my recent move to the Anglican Church, thus I enjoyed this introduction.

I rejoice in a weekly recitation of the Creeds that set out the truth of Christianity and the tradition of the Faith, separating Christianity from heresy.

I say—deeply, feeling the weight of the fullness of Christianity and the unity of the whole universal Christian Church—with the others celebrants of Christ's sacrifice and of the other hearers of the Word of God:

"I believe in one God, the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible;

"And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God,
begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light,
very God of very God, begotten, not made,
being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made;
who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven,
and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man;
and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried;
and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures,
and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father;
and he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead;
whose kingdom shall have no end.

"And I believe in the Holy Ghost the Lord, and Giver of Live,
who proceedeth from the Father and the Son;
who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified;
who spake by the Prophets.

"And I believe one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church;
I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins;
and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. AMEN."
Agreeing with the Postmodern Critique of Autonomous Rationalism, without Relativism
Goldstein writes a nice short piece on postmodernism. It is good to see someone educated enough to know and understand the division between denying the rationalists universal independent standard and mere rationalism.

Being a Christian Presuppositionalist I agree with the Postmodernist that the Rationalist/Evidentialists attempt to construct a universal independent standard was a failure.

What one does from that point is a good question. Relativism is not the only possible deduction from this reasoning, nor is it a particularly good one.

As Aquinas knew when he attempted to rectify Aristotle to Christ and set forth the importance, for the Christian worldview, of a posteriori knowledge; as Descartes knew when he introduced doubt into rationalism: we must really have the world our senses tell us exists, we must have a cosmos of reason and order.

What they didn’t know and what Postmodernism discovered was that autonomous reason couldn’t give us an independent universal standard by which to deduce those things.

Jul 19, 2002

The Panoply of the Crippled Shrubbery of Literature
I amble through new fiction in a Seattle bookstore, reading a sentence, a few lines, an opening paragraph, realizing that I am as good of a writer as any of the “up-and-coming,” “rising stars,” “next great writer” novelists filling the shelves. At first

I feel inspired. I feel a mixture of hope and determination, a hard place in my gut.

"I am going to begin a novel."

And then I realize what a ridiculous sight this modern panoply of trash that some poor desperate bloke read and judged great. I cannot be inspired by this shrubbery of literature and become depressed.

What a crippled bunch of writers, being outstripped by me!

So I went home and took a tonic of T. S. Eliot and Tom Wolfe, slept soundly until the next morning and felt better.
Typography in The Sun and in the History of City Newspapers
A long and detailed technical piece sure to be interesting to those in the newspaper industry, Andy Crewdson writes of typography in The New York Sun and their traditional type and layout.

He takes a few fascinating meanderings into the tradition of typography and the relationship of newspapers and their print that I found particularly enlightening.

Newspapers, he finds, used to be a product of their city. They once reflected their city in content but also in layout and fonts. Typography, he finds, was a unique part of the paper, a flavor, a cologne, a touch, which made the paper unique.

Crewdson believes this ended when papers began to think of themselves and sell themselves not to a city but to a type of person. So a paper is being written not for the Chicago man or the Seattle man but for the Young Urban Professional or some such adverting identified classification of person. Because the same classification of people read newspapers in every city (“newspaper readers”) even though the cities are different, newspapers now look the same in every major city.

I think this analysis is good seeing a similar development in a cities columnist—think Herb Cane—and a cities cartoonist.

Crewdson includes links to typographic examples and font styles. Following them is almost enough to make one an expert on the subject.

Considering I will be involved in my first paper redesign this fall on the Collegian, I think this has added depth to my considerations and, eventually, to my paper design and preference in typography.

Update: Consider this website devoted to typography for further study.
Before the Blogging Revolution
Will Matt Drudge one day be remembered as the preblogger?

Regardless, blogging seems to have made him (at least to me) terribly irrelevant and sensationalist. With the increase of blogging and my awareness of that world, I can replace Drudge by reading this blog or that blog—and do it pretty easily—avoiding his yellow style.
Like a Tiger through a Flaming Hoop:
Political Maneuvering at the Circus

Animal rights activists—either unorganized or of an unknown organization—attempted to decrease turn out to a Shriners’ circus in out little town of the shores of the Strait of Juan de Fuca by slapping bright yellow canceled signs on posters advertising the circus coming this weekend.

It was a nice move, politically, and potentially more effective than PETA’s picket line in front of the circus will be. But it proved to be futile in the face of the political genius of the Shriners and their circus.

If you bring in a sign with a canceled slapped on then your admission is free. So now the animal rights activists inadvertently helped more people attend the circus they protest.

Ahhhhhhhhhh. A glorious and hilarious political move.

It is a simple, elegant and dramatic political move on the part of the circus worthy of Tigers leaping through flaming hoops.
Words I didn’t know yesterday:

Kerygma: The Apostolic proclamation of salvation through Jesus Christ. I found this word reading Horton Davies’ Worship and Theology in England: From Cranmer to Baxter and Fox, 1534-1690.

Raconteur: A person who is skilled in telling anecdotes. I found this word reading The Bonfire of the Vanities, by Tom Wolfe.
Seraphim writes of the great Homer, Odysseus and his trip, ancient civilization and non civilization, bread-eaters, guys who can’t see and all things Greek.

Go, read and be educated.

Jul 18, 2002

The Cinematography of the Past and the Future
John Podhoretz argues, in a review of Road to Perdition, that The Godfather gave us our cinematic view of the past and Blade Runner gave us the cinematic view of the future.

I see The Godfather, the sobriety of the color and the scenes work with our darkened and faded past. I’m not that familiar with Blade Runner, but I doubt it holds the title for forming our vision of the future. There are a lot of science fiction movies competing for this and I don’t think Blade Runner was that big. It could just be my limited knowledge and reaction to the film however.

I’m thinking about an alternative for the image of our cinematic future, but haven’t worked out an alternative just yet. Perhaps the problem is my basic indifference to science fiction.

Podhorets adds to his review a nice bit about the cinemagraphic glory days of the 1970s and early 1980s, before special effects destroyed it all.
Newspapers Industry Could Learn to use Blog Technology
Poynter and the media discover weblogs and explore ways to use them.

UPDATE: In other Poynter/blogging news I have just discovered this journalism industry blog, apparently a long running thing, and already find it invaluable for keeping up with this beloved/damned industry.
The Ancient Metaphysical Problem of the Many [Books] and My Antibibliotaxonomy
Perhaps I’m the only one but I find a list of my 10 favorite books so complicated an affair as to be impossible. There are too many kinds of books to put in the same category, to classify by a single standard. I can do with fiction, perhaps, or history or theology or philosophy or science or a host of particular types of books. I cannot universalize the standard to include all books.

The diversity is just too great and too glorious for the simple top ten lists. I have the same type of reaction to the “If you were on a desert island…” book question.

I have no trouble, interestingly, doing this with films.
Americans Lose Tust in the Church
Claybourn reports that trust in religious institutions at its lowest in years, linking to an article by Agape Press. Only 45 percent say they trust religious institutions, the lowest percentage since the televangelist scandals in 1989 where 52 percent said the same thing.

Catholic trust has fallen more than Protestant, understandable so, to 42 percent. Protestant trust has remained at 59 percent.

I’m asking, why aren’t Protestants shaken by the Catholic scandals? What makes us feel immune to that sort of scandal and that sort of betrayal? Are out feelings accurate?

Jul 17, 2002

Woman 1: “No, that’s a myth. Garlic doesn’t keep away vampires.”

Woman 2: “It probably attracts Italian Vampires.”

Jul 15, 2002

Biased Both Ways
Not to defend the New York Times--certainly taboo in conservative circles and getting that way among many bloggers--this piece has a point about their bias.

As a Journalism Prof. told me: To be a journalist is to court controversy.

As I've told more than one angry source, If both sides are mad at you, the story is probably about right.
The Short Dictionary
Why don’t dictionaries give nuances?

Maybe I’m just using the wrong dictionaries, but when someone asks me what a word means I try to tell what it is like—give an identity based on a synonym—but then explain why they would use the word and not the synonym.

Take chic. To be chic is to be fashionable or stylish. That’s what the dictionary said and that’s where I started but why would you use the word instead of another word? Why did Tom Wolfe write of Radical Chic instead of Radical Style/Fashion.

The word is nuanced, it has other particular meanings and shades and connotations. To be chic is to be of high fashion, a little pretensions. It is an arrogant fashion that separates from the common people. The Emperor’s clothes were chic.

Thus the word is used often with a bit of irony and, in Wolfe’s case, was used as a paradox.

But the dictionary tells us none of this. The reader may know the word is not pronounced “chick” but he will still go out in ignorance. Not knowing the purpose of the word, thinking the synonym is identical.

Jul 13, 2002

Test Your Culture
An interesting quiz on Western artists. I won't tell you what I scored, but I suprised myself by feeling out ones I didn't know and not knowing ones I thoght I did.

But, I going to an art museum on Monday anyway.

Jul 12, 2002

Blog of Note
Just found this great blog.

Certainly worth reading and linking to under "Wit and Brilliance."

This is where I'd like to be with my blog in a year.
Keeping the Color
Writing about a local grass fire I reported "More than 15 District 3 firefighters responded to the fire, pulling yellow hoses from four fire trucks into the burning field and spraying the field, fences and the dampening the houses" and "While firefighters pulled yellow hoses into the field a "For Sale by Owner" sign burned next to the street.

The copy editors at the paper looked at my story--a story where I was trying to make readers smell the billowing smoke and see the plastic trim melt--and cut most of the color that was making this story different (and substantially more readable) than a host of others like it.

I didn't said anything. Mostly because they edit things all the time and while I disagree with some of their decisions they are doing their job.

My editor apologized this morning, asking me to continue to put the color in my stories, saying the paper didn't help the reader's see the story very often, and complementing my writing, saying I was a good writer and he appreciated the color I brought to my stories.

And so, a knight errant, I continue to more colorfully render the world in ink.
Renatinha is blogging her way to Israel.

It may not be the most eloquent of journals but it is gripping and, perhaps, significant for the blogosphere.

This seems to one of those interesting, unique and personal types of blogging that exists on the tertiary level. It certainly adds color and personality and information.

After all, where else do you read the thoughts of a Jewish Brazilian journalist in the middle of immigrating to Israel?
From Planck’s Constant to the Decaying Proton
In a summer triumph I have finished a 420 page book on the history of 20th-Century physics.

“The Second Creation: Makers of the Revolution in the 20th-Century Physics,” by Robert P. Crease and Charles C. Mann (1986, Collier, New York, NY) is an awesome book in scope and topic. They handle the material beautifully, working deftly with the technical matter and the human color of the history. They write about Bohr’s figuring out the make up of the atom without forgetting to tell us that he was a talker and seemed to learn by speaking.

I am not a scientist—either amateur or student or professional—but I am a philosophy student and the link there is tight. Because of this I particularly enjoyed the portions on the theoretical physicists and the philosophy of science. And, though my field is elsewhere, I am not entirely ignorant of physics. I took a class in astrophysics and found it the most challenging and inspiring class I took Freshman or Sophomore year.

My philosophy professor at Hillsdale College told me that if he had been a better mathematician he would have seriously considered physics. I believe my situation is similar to his and, like him, I will continue to love physics from the philosophical armchair.

Time permitting I’m going to turn out some comments on the history of physics—things I found remarkable, conclusions I drew and deductions I deduced—in the near future. Hopefully I will even be able to work up a long piece on the topic.
The Unknown Motive of a Spy
I just read—quickly—“The Spy Next Door, The extraordinary life of Robert Phillip Hanssen, the most damaging FBI Agent in U.S. history,” by Elaine Shannon and Ann Blackman.

It was an amazingly unsatisfying book. Most of the story had already been covered by the newspaper accounts of the spies capture and the authors couldn’t nail down anything as far as motive.

I was looking for the motive, the cause, the reasoning this man gave himself so he could betray everything those who though they knew him thought he lived for. The book doesn’t even go with the usual psychoanalysis except in a few one-sentence hints.

Which made me mad because I actually wanted to learn something.
Joshua Claybourn mentions me on his site today. Calls me a scholar and a gentleman, which I appreciate.

Though, I don’t know how he knows I’m a gentleman from reading the site.
Ravelstein:The Chacterization of a Scholar's Soul
I finished Ravelstein, a new novel by Saul Bellow. It was a good book, a fast read about friendship and the end of the life of a scholat and just about two old men. It was a meandering book, almost completely uninhibited by plot. The book had the pleasant feel of a walk in a city park.

About 20 pages into the novel I realized it was not completely fictional, but rather the fictional treatment of a real subject. Ravelstein is, pretty clearly, Allen Bloom. Like Bloom he is a scholar of the Western tradition with a large influence and a book on the decrepit state of the modern democratic soul that unexpectedly climbed the bestseller charts. Like Bloom was, Ravelstein is a popular Conservative and a homosexual dying of aids.

Bloom and Bellow were friends, old friends, and this offers an interesting look in to the man as well as the broader look into mankind.

I love the glance into Bloom/Ravelstein, a man questioning the people like the doomsday prophet. He asks the people—his students and his fellow educators and the educated of our world—what will you do to feed you soul in this soul-starved day of modern democracy?

It is a good book, not a great book but a good one. It should be read if one is interested in the scholarly life and friendships come to an end. It is a good book of characterization.

Jul 11, 2002

Because We Live in a Cohrent Cosmos
"If we are to have coherence in our experience, there must be a correspondance of our experience to the eternally coherent experience of God. Human kowledge ultimately rests upon the internal coherence within the Godhead; our knowledge rests upon the ontological trinity as its presupposition."
--Corenelius Van Til
An Introduction to Systematic Theology, pg 22

Jul 10, 2002

Squaring an Oblong:
Another Market Triumph

Square watermelon, brought to you by the space hungry people of Japan.

Another triumph of the market, controling nature to meet man's needs.
Write tightly, edit fiercely
By Dr. Suess
It has often been said,
there’s so much to be read
you never can cram
all those words in your head.

So the writer who breeds
more words than he needs
is making a chore
for the writer who reads.

That’s why my belief is
the briefer the brief is
the greater the sigh
of the reader’s relief is

and that’s why your books
have such power and strength
you polish with shorth.
(Shorth is better than length).
A Reporter Without a Beat
This is the life of a small town, general assignment reporter. I'm covering stories that are slow, small, important and yet a important in a pedantic way.

I wish I had a beat-- a regular subject a reporter covers daily and learns to know as well as anyone in that area-- to cover instead of this little, quick and uneducated stuff I'm required to do because I here for the summer and I am at the bottom of the reporting chain. Preferably a state politics or crime beat.

General assignment is the pits because you never really know your area, are always catching up and feeling stupid and in danger of making major errors in your copy.

Sometimes you need a descent fire and some good ambulance chasing to break up the road construction/city council stories.
A Terrifying Picture
Watching the smoke from Quebec wildfires, Mike Lee of Baltimore wonders about the potential secondary impact of a nuclear bomb.

Looking at the picture up on his site with that in mind certainly is chilling.

We have to stop a dirty bombs from going off in this country.

Jul 9, 2002

Are you now or have you ever been...
A blogger defends himself against the charge of, gasp, being a journalist or-- even worse-- wanting to be one.

I'm smiling and shaking my head over this but, honestly, it's just weird.

Jul 7, 2002

Blogging the Movies
I watch a lot of films. I believe it is the artistic medium of our time—as the novel, play and epic poem were once the mediums of a time. I also like to talk about films, discuss them, analyze them, consider their significance and look at the cinematography and philosophy of the film.

Reading my blogging I find that I almost never mention films on this site. I think there are a few reasons for this. Mostly, I’m not interested in reviewing movies. I want to discuss them but to do that seems to force me into at least a quasi-review.

I’m still working on how I blog on the latest films I’ve seen. Hopefully we’ll see some example soon.
According to my site meter, Sundays are the slowest days online. Closely followed by Tuesdays and Thursdays.
May the Ash Tray Protect us from Evil
Father Brown, the Anglican priest at our local Dungeness parish, was welcoming visitors to this morning’s service and mentioned that we enjoy having Anglicans and traditional Episcopalians visit us as they often do, passing through this retirement community.

“Though,” he said, joking, “we don’t want the Baptists. I’ve put an ash tray out front and that seems to have stopped them.”

Whatever works.
Writing from what could have been Cascadia
According to the Saturday Seattle Times an initiative—Initiative 796—to rename this green state Cascadia, discarding the name imposed by the Federal government and taking the name originally chosen by our territorial legislature in Olympia, has failed to reach the ballot. The initiative, which would have offered a way to right this historical wrong and could have given us a cool new name, apparently died because it lacked the funds to gain enough signatures and support to push it to a public vote.

This is too bad, really. Washingtonians always have the pain of distinguishing themselves from D.C., it would add a little flare to this oft overlooked state and Cascadia is a name that is right, geographically.

To have the state named Cascadia, after the mountain range, and the capital named Olympia after the mountain casting its shadow, would have felt and looked good.

Cascadia would have been good. Better luck next year.
JIHADIST ISLAM: Impotent Blowhardism
The insatiable InstaPundit talks trash to Al Qaeda and all the Jihadist wimps.

Following IstaPundit’s link, the self-monikered PhotoDude, has some chest pounding comments that I liked. Not that we should declare triumph, but we do seem to be winning.
You'd be Suprised what you find, Interviewing People and Stuff
InstaPundit has a cute little story about the New York Times getting information about the L.A. Airport gunman’s hatred of Israelis that the FBI apparently (if their own reports are to be believed) didn’t have.

UPDATE: There was a wrong there/their in there. My most humble apologies and hair pulling.
Out of Fear
Joel Miller does a good job describing the history that gave rise to Hal Lindsay and the Evangelical "last days" madness.

Unfortunately, unlike other times of national fear—think of the robbery and revivalism and the similar end-times frenzy of the Great Depression—this affair of Lindsay, et al, seems to have some lasting power.

God bless the day this ill founded and ill thought-out belief passes from popular Christian doctrine.

Links of Interest
Get it? Get it?
Naming the Quark

Naming the sub-sub-atomic particle, the quark, was done as a bit of a joke. The word is first found in Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. A portion of the book opens with the lines: Three quarks for Muster Mark!/Sure he hasn’t got much of a bark.

In Joyce’s work it seems to rhyme with bark, though today it rhymes with pork. The meaning of the term is debated. It is said to be a Bronx cheer (a fart), a play on a demand for three quarts of Irish ale, it resembles the German word for a kind of especially runny cheese, bird droppings and the sounds birds make, a sort of caw.

Whatever the meaning it was an odd word.

While working with the idea of theses fractionally charged subunits, physicist Murray Gell-Mann was reading bits and pieces of Finnegans Wake, and came across the phrase.

“The whole thing is just a gag,” he said to Robert P. Crease. And Charles C. Mann for their book, The Second Creation: Makers of the Revolution in 20th-Century Physics. “It’s just a reaction against pretentious scientific language.”

Jul 4, 2002

The Historical Importance of the Crucifix

Reading the Catholic G. K. Chesterton’s primer biography of Thomas Aquinas I stumbled across this passage about the importance of realism—in particular the realism of the crucifix. It gave me pause and has caused me some consternation over the past few weeks as I consider it, as a Protestant facing the crucifix.

“…Eastern Christianity flattened everything, as it flattened the faces of images into icons. It became a thing of patterns rather than pictures; and it made a definite and destructive war on statues. … [T]he East was the land of the Cross and the West was the land of the Crucifix. The Greeks were being dehumanised by a radiant symbol, while the Goths were being humanised by an instrument of torture. Only the West made realistic pictures of the greatest of all tales out of the East. Hence the Greek element in Christian theology tended more and more to be a sort of dried up Platonism; a thing off diagrams and abstractions; to the last indeed noble abstraction, but not sufficiently touched by that great thing that is by definition almost the opposite of abstraction: Incarnation. …[T]here was this tendency to make the Cross merely decorative like the Crescent; to make it a pattern like the Greek Key or the Wheel of Buddha” (61).

It was, it seems, the crucifix that preserved or saved the humanity and realism of Christianity, stopping a descent into the symbolism and the patterns of mysticism.

It was the crucifix that formed the center between the two great dogmas of Orthodox Christianity: the Incarnation and the Resurrection.

Thus, at least, the crucifix served a vital role in the history of the Christian faith. Perhaps that is no longer true in the present. Perhaps the crucifix has outlived its usefulness and should be discarded post-Reformation. But I think the burden of proof is on those wishing to discard the crucifix, not those wishing to keep it.

A Protestant facing the crucifix I find it a moving portrayal of Christianity, the depiction of the pivot of history and can find no reason sufficient to discard that portrayal.

The Protestant Cross Problem

Thinking and struggling on this problem, this conundrum of a Protestant and the crucifix, I have noticed Protestant Crosses and the art of those Crosses. What is it with all the Protestant Crosses being decorated with flowers, vines or pieces of cloth? The Crosses in the homes of my Protestant friends, most of those in local Protestant churches and all of the Crosses in the local Christian book store (strongly Evangelical Protestant) are decorated in this manner.

Why is a crucifix—the portrayal of the pivotal event in history and the center of Christianity—bad, while a cross with well placed flowers, cloth or vines is good?

Why should I make the cross some neat aesthetic design? Why do we want to loose the horror and the torture? The cross is an instrument of torture. Why should I portray some nice piece of cloth hanging from that instrument of torture—something with no bearing on reality—instead of portraying the death of the Son of God?

I, for one, don't know.

Jul 3, 2002

Francis Schaffer: The Life and the Argument
I just stumbled upon this splendid piece on Francis Schaffer, his life and his work.

I am more impressed than ever with this man. Like a modern Aquinas, he gave us a philisophical grounding for Christianity and showed us the other alternatives were irrational maddness. As historian Arlin Migliazzo said:

"Schaeffer showed me that Christians didn’t have to be dumb."

Michael S. Hamilton did an excellent job on this. Here is a glimpse, where Hamilton compares Schaffer and Billy Graham.

"In trying to assess the meaning of Francis Schaeffer, it is instructive to compare him to Billy Graham. Both reached the peak of their influence at about the same time, and both had an immeasurable impact on American evangelicalism. Graham in many ways represents the moderate middle of evangelicalism — defusing controversy, wishing the best for everyone, friend of both Republicans and Democrats, slow to disturb middle-class conventions, willing to cooperate with anyone who will let him preach the gospel. As historian Grant Wacker once wrote, “When Graham spoke, middle America heard itself.” It was just as natural to see Graham and the President on the fairway together as to see Graham on a platform with a Bible in his hands.

"But one can no more imagine Francis Schaeffer playing golf with the rich and famous than one can imagine Mother Teresa shopping for furs in I. Magnin. If Graham represents evangelicalism’s smooth center, Schaeffer represents its crushed-glass edges. Evangelicalism by its nature blurs denominational distinctions, but Schaeffer’s own version of Christianity was tightly sectarian. Graham lent his name widely and welcomed allies from all corners, but Schaeffer refused all alliances. Those who were not his followers but believed in his aims he categorized as cobelligerents in the war against the secularizing and dehumanizing trajectory of modern culture. While Graham appealed to the majority in the middle, Schaeffer attacked the middle for failing to see the direction it was headed. It is no accident that his strongest impact has been among those who have a bone to pick with the middle class — dropouts, intellectuals, and that remarkable recent phenomenon, formerly respectable citizens who have begun to perceive the American judiciary as a refuge for scoundrels.

"In short, Francis Schaeffer represents that part of evangelical Christianity that has always been ill at ease with the world in which it finds itself."
How I Spent the Summer
This afternoon I moved over two tons of chicken manure with my brother Michael, age 12.

Yeah. But it still pays better than reporting.
The book for the situation
G. K. Chesterton, described by Evangelical writer Philip Yancey as a "300-pound scatter-brained Victorian Journalist," was asked what one book he would take if he were to be stranded on a desert island.

“Why, A practical guide to shipbuilding, of course,” he said.
The Linguist Rides Again

Seraphim has returned with a vengeance. And reading the veritable poetry of prose on his site today serves as a good reminder of why we love him even if he does disappear for weeks on end.

Who does he think he is? Bobby Fischer?
The Front Page after the Attack
Poynter is collecting newspaper front pages from September 12.

This is an interesting, sobering and fitting memorial.
The Heavy Tread
I’m attempting to memorize Shakespeare’s sonnet number 148, one I enjoyed when I first read it and one I have been drawn back to.

I love the realism here—the way he loves this woman knowing who she really is.

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun,
Coral is far more red that her lips’ red,
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun,
If hair be wires, black wires grown on her head:
I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks,
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music has a far more pleasing sound:
I grant I never saw a goddess go,
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

Still, I’m not sure I’d use this in a valentine.
In the Writer's Bag
"Here are the tools I think writers need: a tightrope, a net, a pair of shoes, a loom, a bible, a zoom lens, six words, an accelerator pedal, a scissors and a trashcan." --Chip Scanlan

Jul 1, 2002

In case you thought Marxism was dead...
His Vacation
A whole week without the InstaPundit?