Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tuesday Tales

Reflections on matters large and small on a cold, damp Tuesday morning.

Happiness: Talk show host Hugh Hewitt put politics aside for a terrific hour of radio a few weeks ago, testing his guests to justify "Why the Ancient Greeks matter". Specifically, how did the classics influence the Founding Fathers of America, and whether we in our busy lives should make time to read and study the likes of Homer, Aristophanes and Plato today. History buff that I am, my ears always perk up for the monthly visits from classicists John Mark Reynolds and David Allen White when they appear individually, so it was a particular treat to hear them tag teaming together to present their case. Professor White's final point, in particular, has stayed with me, a case of someone successfully putting a shape to the half-formed understanding I had of how I'd been trying to live my own life this past year:
David Allen White: How about "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." We have a false idea of liberty; we think it means that I can do whatever I want to do. Aristotle in the Ethics tells us that "no, real freedom consists of doing that which is Good". You can only be happy when you come to some understanding of goodness. Thomas Jefferson, the Pursuit of Happiness: we'll never be fully happy, because we'll never be fully good; but if we follow that brilliant notion from Aristotle which goes through all the Christian order, goodness does indeed lead to something like the happy life.
Another benefit from the show was news of Professor Reynolds' book on the subject, "When Athens met Jerusalem". Sounds fascinating..!

When the apostle Paul stood on Mars Hill in Athens (Acts 17:16-34), he faced a listening audience prepared by centuries of discussion. Because Paul understood the intellectual baggage and issues of his day, he was able to impact and change the direction of that discussion. Paul changed the Greek and Roman intellectual world that day.
[C]hristendom was born in a time much like the start of the twentieth century. Religious uncertainty and change were in the air. Old ideas had failed spectacularly, but new ideas had not yet taken their place. Christians faced a cultural, political and social environment that was both attractive and, at least in part, hostile to the gospel. How they were able to not only survive but also thrive and create a better, more appealing culture is a good lesson for all Christians today. Even non-Christians, who may be swayed by facile attacks on the cultural importance or benefits of Christianity, can utilize such knowledge for better and more constructive conversations with the billion human beings who are followers of Jesus.
Concern: Has something happened to Suzanne's site, Big Blue Wave? I haven't been able to view it for weeks now, without it crashing on me.
Equity: Thomas Sowell's latest column, "A Personal Inequity": "The problem with trying to equalize is that you can usually only equalize downward."

Verisimilitude: A Blackpool waxworks display serves as a humbling reminder that re-creating a lifelike resemblance in wax must be extremely hard to do well, and how much artistic talent is derived from skill at perception; the first skill to be exercised, yet the last to be mastered. Failures like this make me realize we should extend more praise upon those who manage to succeed in such a difficult medium.


Rob Misek said...

Our only shared reality has already been defined, the truth.

Goodness is following the path of truth.

We cannot love someone unless we are true to ourselves as well as others.

Recognize that we are joined in a covenant of the truth.

Dag said...

God morning, Rob.

Bo Amoureuse said...

Rob you are right. We cant love someone unless we are true to ourselves.