Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Am I That Smart?

Posted: July 30, 2016 in Education, Religion

~ Sweet Old Bob
I must precede my perspective with an attempt at self evaluation. Now, this can be a slippery slope to madness, as in “he’s beside himself” being a description of someone who is trying to self-analyze. But, I believe I have moments of clarity. One that I recently drew an agreement, was saying “you can’t disregard religion or science as explanations for what’s going on in the world.”
As I related this to someone I included a reflection on my days as a high school junior. I started out the year taking physics for my science course. I was working part time as a dish washer at the time. For some reason I decided to quit my job. To fill in the extra time I decided to add another course. It was chemistry. In one of the classes I was supposed to explain how a battery works. There are two explanations. One is in the discipline of chemistry, the other in physics. I wrote a paragraph that included elements of both because I had read them as I studied both. The teacher who taught both courses, in my opinion, should have graded me down for not sticking to the course I was writing for. She didn’t. I just believe there are more than one way to explain a phenomenon. A religious explanation of anything shouldn’t be excluded from the conversation just because it doesn’t toe the mark in a religious one.
In a series on evolution, one episode was called “What about Religion?” It did a pretty decent job of presenting evolution to a class in a religious college. The fact that scholars who teach religion do their best to explode the myth that evolution teaches that we descended from monkeys. Evolution does not teach that we evolved from monkeys. The fact that we and certain primates share 99% of the same gene pool should be offered as evidence that we and these primates do share something in the physical world. Would this scientific fact make religious explanations false?

Wednesday, May 09; Thursday, May 10; and Sunday, May 13, 2012
I have used this copout for many years to partially explain why I left college in the middle of my junior year: with all the cheating going on around me just what value is a college degree? It seemed to me that degrees awarded to those who cheated their way through college devalued every degree awarded. The practical value of a degree for getting a job wasn’t a factor. The emphasis on the word “cheating” is to slightly altar the meaning of the word from that which is commonly understood. I think I believed that corroboration outside the classroom sullied one’s efforts, and made the product – a finished homework assignment – not one’s own. Copying someone else’s test paper in class is certainly cheating in the traditional meaning. But, to what extent is one’s homework understood by the professor to be the sole effort of the student who turned it in? Could gaining cooperative skills be valued in the process; thus making corroboration not important as an argument against the value of the homework? I can remember incidents of students being chastised and flunked by teachers who determined their work was not their own because the teacher knew who’s typical work was represented on the papers. Of course if more than one paper is the same then collusion – versus corroboration – was evident.
I am forced to resolve the idea that gay marriage cheapens the traditional idea of marriage (i. e. the spiritual and physical union of a man and a woman). It is so easy to adapt either the conservative or liberal view without much thought. But, that is intellectual laziness. The very arguments, for and against gay marriage, should be considered; at least on an academic level. Can we ignore the effect of society’s accepting gay marriages be considered when thinking whether they are ok or not?
If I revisit my long-held opinion that the cheating that was going on around me rendered the results of my undergraduate studies worth less than in a pristine (non-cheating) environment, then maybe I would think that maybe my copout was just a copout. On a pragmatic level, who really cares?
When a certain Fr. Toner called me at my rooming house to forward the offer of an anonymous donor to pay for my next semester’s tuition, my opinion regarding the actual value of the degree may have clouded my thinking. I can imagine an extended conversation with Fr. Toner. I might have added my thoughts about how those who cheat their ways through college debased the degree I would have gotten if I had broken my commitment with the Navy and continued my university studies.
He might have argued that my degree would be as valuable as what I had actually acquired in the process. Seeing that, I might have re-thought my decision.
As for the marriage issue the same argument might be advanced separating heterosexual from homosexual marriages. The heterosexual marriage is only as valuable as the effort expended in making, and preserving it.
Sunday, May 13, 2012:
In today’s edition of the Kitsap Sun print edition, page 11A – below the fold, column’s 1 through 4 – is a column by Cal Thomas. It starts off with a typical conservative’s slant on President Obama’s evolved thinking on same sex marriage. He is not accurate in his opinion of Obama’s reason for delaying and finally arriving to the conclusion that we ought to allow gay marriage. It only reveals his cynicism. His opinion about why the conservative Christian’s stand can’t carry the day because of their inability to adhere to the teachings of the gospel as it teaches about the nature of marriage, that of not allowing divorce.
Garrison Keillor has a wonderful spoof of the proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman. It proposes a constitutional amendment defining marriage the way it was in ancient times, and still is in some societies. The strongest argument against the new real proposed amendment is in the part of the spoof about a man doesn’t need to be a virgin but a woman does. This is great stuff.

I Am Not Cynical, But…

Posted: July 30, 2016 in Politics, Religion

I just got through dealing with my city’s billing department. They have adopted a really aggressive billing.
That is a paraphrase of Mose Alison’s song, “Gettin’ There “, in which he says he’s “not down-hearted, but I’m gettin’ there”.
I have a friend who lives just outside the city limits, who said if this city decides to annex his neighborhood, he will put his house up for sale. I don’t know what his beef is, but I certainly do understand his sentiment. Right now, if I had the resources, I would move outside the boundaries of this city in a heartbeat.
That would only solve the immediate problem. Expanding on that one issue, I feel that my elected representatives adopt (in their mind, certainly not to my face) that I am in the word of our most cynical Presidential candidate, a loser. I don’t know if I prefaced my remark with his infamous put-down, I would get real sympathy from my elected representatives, but it is worth a try.
My concerns were recently addressed in an article in the local newspaper about the percentage of local people who are struggling financially. I believe this is not just local and contributes to candidates who prey on their negative views of the system. To believe there is a mythical Siren song that causes disaffected voters to vote for the less qualified, but emotionally appealing candidate, much as the Siren’s song lead sailors to disaster. This character is emblematic of the political rhetoric that they don’t really understand but appeals to their emotions.
Logical intelligent arguments go right over the head of those whose minds are made up and do not listen. They offer no rebuttal but repeat their original opinion. Dale Carnegie included this unattributed quote in his book, “How To Win Friends and Influence People”: “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still”. As I remember, the author follows up with the idea that people can only be convinced if you appeal to their “better angels”. This is my translation, probably not verbatim from the book itself.
Googling the quotation leads to Dale Carnegie’s book and tries to trace the origins of it. It1 cites the famous British writer, Mary Wollstonecraft, who used the phrase “Convince a man against his will, He’s of the same opinion still.” in the notes to Chapter 5 of her 1792 treatise, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. This adage is placed in quotes, denoting that it wasn’t original text, but without reference to the source. So either she didn’t know the origin of this saying or she assumed that it was so popularly known that citing the source was unnecessary. My opinion is this compares to the “dead metaphor”.
1. CliffNotes Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Dr. Schneider, 
I seem to remember your promoting front page editorials in one of your classes when I was an undergraduate. Now, there is a very prominent front page editorial in the news. It is from yesterday’s edition of the Sioux City Journal. I had to google the subject because I heard an item on NPR’s All Things Considered this afternoon. Even the name of the paper escaped me (my memory is just too full of information to remember any one item… at least “That’s My Story and I’m Sticking to It”). So, I googled another paper that was mentioned in another item… still on NPR’s ATC. That paper mentioned the other paper’s story only after I added the word “bullying” to the search phrase. Interestingly, the story I was looking for is in the Christian Science Monitor about the other paper’s front page editorial. (Was it you that told us that the Christian Science Monitor was one of the most respected news sources in the world?)
The story from the Christian Science Monitor is available at this link:
Do you remember any of this? It is just one more example of why you were my absolute favorite teacher at G. U. Your influence lives to this day in me.
I intend to forward this link to a member of the local school board and ask him/her how Bremerton School District’s policy against bullying if faring these days. One never knows what a little shake-of-the-cage might do in our society. In past generations there was just too little political involvement. It is how the only way for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing is so important in any society. I know you mentioned how you were out on the firing line demonstrating against the Iraq invasion-occupation (a k a the Iraq war).
As always I am waiting with great anticipation for your response and perspective regarding this. If I have to I will phone you about this if I don’t “hear” (dead metaphor) from you. But, I will undoubtedly ask you to read this from your e-mail message if you haven’t already.
I intend to forward that link to a member of the local school board and ask him/her how Bremerton School District’s policy against bullying if faring these days. One never knows what a little shake-of-the-cage might do in our society. In past generations there was just too little political involvement. It is how the only way for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing is so important in any society. I know you mentioned how you were out on the firing line demonstrating against the Iraq invasion-occupation (a k a the Iraq war).
As always I am waiting with great anticipation for your response and perspective regarding this. If I have to I will phone you about this if I don’t “hear” (dead metaphor) from you. But, I will undoubtedly ask you to read this from your e-mail message if you haven’t already.

Thinking about how demeanor can influence people to do what you want I am reflecting on how my older daughter became associated with a large Catholic family. They, through their friendship, got her engaged in praying the rosary. I asked her how this activity made her feel. She told me it made her feel good. I could draw the conclusion that she was on her way to embracing the Catholic faith.

The next piece of back-ground information will lend further understanding to this. When her boy-friend (when she was a senior in high school just short of graduating 10th in a class of about 250) and she became intimate, he decided “Catholic roulette” was the best way to practice birth control. Well, that failed. She became pregnant (I don’t recall it “showing” when she actually graduated) and she had two choices: she could have gotten an abortion or not. She chose not to; which is one more reason for me to hold her in very high regard (i. e. I am that much more proud of her).

But, her path to Catholicism was cut short by a young woman who could have been branded as a zealot. These people will bring extreme views to arguments (like abortion is murder). It was this proclamation that turned my daughter off to the Catholic religion (the budding romance with the Catholic church was killed by the frost of a cold wind of an extreme view) and she ceased being involved. I believe she would have become a model Catholic; like so many ways she makes me proud of her.

An article by Patrick Condon of the Associated Press printed on page 9A of today’s print edition of the Kitsap Sun entitled “Strategist is central figure against gay marriage” gets my creative juices flowing… big time!
I will take the points I observe in order.
First, “…he jokingly calls `the forces of evil’” I would say, this is not a joke, and is not funny. It is tragic that a political shill enjoys credibility on the issues because of his success in persuasion. His strategy is employing academic arguments that sound good. These arguments only succeed if the person persuaded closes his/her mind and refuses to listen more reasoning. The other factor that leads to his success is the dearth of reasonable arguments with persuasive clout. This winning strategy does not make his argument right. It is a classic error of “might makes right”. I can only hope this writing can be a good weapon against the evil extant.
Being part Carl Rove is another factor that makes his quest a decent into hell. Carl Rove successfully got George W. Bush elected and reelected by appealing to the worst instincts of people. One of his strategies that typifies his wrongful way was the whisper campaign in the state that eliminated John McCain from the Republican primary in 2000. The campaign pushed a lie that McCain had fathered an illegitimate black child because of the child McCain and his wife adopted who happened to have dark skin. That will live in infamy in the history of politics. This kind of strategy is successful in furthering all manner of evil. The Pat Robertson part of his persona just confirms how religion can be misused to further evil.
“Five thousand years have shown that marriage between a man and a woman serves us well” is a really poor argument because it eliminates the possibility that including gay marriage could have served us just as well. Using a successful institution to argue against another is just wrong. It proves nothing to use the color red to argue that the color green is wrong.
What I find most amusing is the rest of that statement … it (heterosexual marriage) is “fundamental to our nature as people.” The alternative, he said, is a culture based on personal desires. Really? So, let’s adopt arranged marriages because most marriages are based on personal desires. And to enforce that let’s bring societal force to parents to do their duty in arranging marriages for their children.
“Gay rights organizers begrudgingly admire Schubert’s ability as much as they detest what he’s doing” is like arguing that allies admire Hitler’s ability to bring his country together ignoring the evils he spawned in the process. Don’t forget the German word for “great” is “gross”. Gross has become an expression of bad to the extreme. In that sense Hitler was gross. So is this Frank Schubert.
Schubert’s convoluted reasoning rises to the front in his feelings for his sister who is raising children with her lesbian partner. “I love my sister very much, and I want her to know that my working on this issue was not a reflection of me seeing her as a less valuable person” is at the center of the heartless campaign to eliminate a rightful joy from gay and lesbian couples and relegating them to a less valuable existance.
Schubert’s twice winning the MVP award bestowed by the bipartisan American Association of Political Consultants reduces the battle to that of two competing sports teams with no regard of whether one or the other is right. In fact neither sports team is more right than the other unless competing elements like money vs. love of sport is taken into consideration. In non-commercial sports neither team is more right than the other.
My attitude on his other effort to make divorce more difficult has definitely matured from the days when my first marriage fell apart. I would have agreed with him wholeheartedly then. But in retrospect I see all kinds of evils surfacing in a marriage forced to endure because of artificial strictures that only prolong the misery and inevitability of the break up. Viewing the movie “War of the Roses” can illuminate the tragedy of a marriage breaking up without a speedy enough resolution.
Schubert’s attending an all male Jesuit high school could very well have caused him to adopt a warped attitude towards homosexuality having probably witnessed it first hand in an era when it was considered evil and the prevailing doctrine was that it was sinful. He failed to mature past that failed policy.
Finally, I hope the trend towards tolerance continues against these efforts to enshrine outmoded doctrine based on emotion rather than reason.

Thomas Sowell’s column in today’s Kitsap Sun has 12 points; one of which is sensible. So, as one might pan for gold one can read a column like this and find a truth that, while having some profundity, cries for clarification. The paragraph:

“The real egalitarians are not the people who want to redistribute wealth to the poor, but those who want to extend to the poor the ability to create their own wealth, to lift themselves up, instead of trying to tear others down. Earning respect, including self-respect, is better than being a parasite.”

I would add that corporate America is all about efficiencies at the expense of employing those whose talents are meager; but who deserve a living wage. I wouldn’t do away with incentives to better oneself. Certainly a better material life and/or more leisure to pursue mind improving activities is/are (a) laudable goal(s). If the educational community would quit trying to tie every learning experience to job pursuit and promote bettering students’ minds they might get those who perceive the false hope of riches if you learn more, rather to concentrate on achieving a truly liberal arts curriculum.
Yes, liberal arts have earned a negative connotation by the giggling masses. If you would read (reread) Newman’s “Idea of a University” you might realize a more perfect goal for getting a degree. Follow this link for the complete text.
Oops! I started reading the preface and I find this startling message, “…that Knowledge and Reason are sure ministers to Faith.” Could I, by a careful reading of this treatise, be sucked (uh, I mean drawn) back into the fold?
So, my journey to add to Mr. Sowell’s nugget has taken me far afield. Maybe the simple addition of the concept of making more jobs available should be the supreme goal of corporate America. After all, it was Henry Ford’s wise idea to make his workers’ wages high enough to enable them to purchase the product of their labors that should be the supporting concept that would rationalize that supreme goal. The antithesis of that mindset is Walmart’s keeping workers’ wages low so they can only afford Walmart’s products.