Thursday, September 08, 2005

Signifying Nothing.

Long ago I learned that there are relatively few things that are so complicated that they can't be simply stated.

Sadly, that fact is lost on many people of intelligence.

Over the years of reading shcolars, I have often lamented that while they may be great thinkers, they are not therefore also great communicators. In fact, it is most often the opposite that is true.

Why this is the case is a mystery, but I have a few thoughts. The one that I find most liekly is that these thinkers have become basically disconnected from the world they live in. It doesn't matter that they may be husbands and fathers, mothers and wives, or whatever else. Fundamentally they "live" in their area of expertise. Its where they spend most of their time, and are most at home. Its laguage has become thier first language. The people in it are more real to them. Their feelings and opinions matter more.

Now one may argue that a person cannot become a true authority in their field without making such acccomodatioons, but that is empirically false. There are scholars who are able to communicate complex ideas accurately in simple ways. They have not lost touch with the world outside their area of expertise.


Becuase they have remained balanced. They have not taken the world of the academy moe seriously than the one outside the academy. They remain essentially "down to earth."
That's why they are such good communicators fo ideas. Great scholars who are also great communicators are essentially great translators. They take ideas conceived in one world (the academy) and elucidated in that one world's laguage and translate them into laguage which is used by another world (the one outside the academy). That requires being well versed in both laguages, being connected to both worlds.

Some folks are out of balance, too connected to one world. They take themselves and their ideas too seriously. They deride those who don't. In the end all they do is isolate themselves furhter, make themselves more irrelevant.

That's too bad; the world needs people of intelligence to provide a certain leadership.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Some scary stuff

At least its scary for those of us who have kids in the public school system. Read about it:

Friday, September 02, 2005

Katrina and the Waves

I don't know that I'll ever think of the name Katrina witout reference to the recent storms that hit the Louissiana coast recently. The destruction is beyond anything that I would have imagined.

But apart from the physical destruction that the strom caused is the spiritual damage that is being caused. Of course Katrina herself is not causing it, but there are peopel, Christians and non-Christians alike, who seize upon the opporutnity afforded by Katrina to grind an axe.

So far, I have seen three such axes. The first is one that I am sure Christians have come to expect;the old theodicy argument, which essentially melts down to: "If there is a god and he is so good, how could he allow this to happen?" The problem of evil has confronted Christians, indeed all theists, from the beginning. There are some things that are well worth noticing:

1) It doesn't make sense really for people who posit a non-moral universe to attach moral values such as "evil" to what are, by thier definition, random acts of nature.

2) The presence of evil in the universe, if accpeted, does not mean that the theis is the only one with a philosophical problem. Those arguing for the non-existence of God cannot simply use evil to disprove the existence fo a good God, they have to account for the existence of evil itself.

A second axe comes from Christians who want to show that God really isn't in control of everything, or at least that he doesn't cause things like "evil storms." But that doesn't square with the Bible. The Bible does say he causes things to happen. But the Bible also says that God brings good out of things. Even calamity is a tool in His hand. Perspective is also an issue. We rush to judge something as evil and horrendous without waiting to see what good might result. Certainly I don't want to say that God is into the ends jsutifying the means, but it would be wrong to say that stroms and such show God is not in control or does nt cause, because really we need to wait and see what God is going to do with it.

A third axe also comes from Christians, and it is specifically from ones whose main focus is Israel. There are actually people who want to say that this storm is a judgment because of the American support for the current pull out in the Gaza. There are a lot of problems withthis, not least of which is a post hoc type of reasoning and a blatant sense of America at the center of all things, but the most permicious thing is the timing! The rush to judge ios smply unacceptable. This is no time to be pointing fingers and laying blame. Even if the claim is true, it is also irrelevant to the suffering going on. Those who are calling out "judgment" would be wise to show mercy and send help to those in need.

All in all I think it obvious that for the time being all the axes need to be put away or else be put to use in rebuilding and rescue efforts.