Pithy quotes from our current reading which give us pause to reflect

Yes but I also think it is a challenge to be human. It is hard not to recognize our epistemic inadequacy and yet our humanity is greatly enhanced if we accept our limitations and proceed with humility and kindness toward those who share our condition. But the temptation is to fling our faith toward something from which we can proclaim our certainty and assess the adequacy of others instead. Oddly I see Christianity as endorsing humility and grace and yet so many Christians (present company excluded) are eager to see the rock of ages as undergirding a prideful certainty and triumphalism. But the lesson I take from that is that being human just is problematic and there is no easy, surefire shortcut. Not in religion and not in anti theism either.


My comment about our vestigial church library was just a personal reflection of what our current library is. As Merv alluded to, it was little used, and truthfully was overwhelmed with donations of Christian romance novels and series along with children’s books and populate modern authors, but few serious scholarly books. Now, they got rid of all those, and have about 6 feet of shelved books that are still pretty limited, mostly reference type books. So, it is vestigial in some respects. On the possitive side, the church is getting Logos for all the Bible study teachers.


This quote has been a favorite of mine:

“The Enlightenment proposed a doctrine of reason that required no faith, a vision of society that required no tradition, and a politics that required no God, the source of all light and being.” John Betz

It’s impression upon me, might have been due to how Ken Myers masterfully read the quote. It was at the beginning of a Mars Hill Audio episode where there’s a short, but very sweet recap of a 1997 interview with David Park. They brought up something I had not considered with Augustine’s view that it is a figure of speech to say Christ is the rock, but literally true that God is light. As a professor of physics, this question about the nature and meaning of light intrigued Park like the proverbial pea under the king’s mattress.

A humble certainty, still doesn’t pretend to know what it does not.

“Therefore know for certain…” Acts 2:36

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And then there is the proverbial mixed metaphor, said the princess. XD (Although this is a misapplication of it. ; - )

ETA: This is just a mixed up metaphor. :grin:

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…and pretend not to know what it does. Nor does it disengenuously preclude things while pretending to be open and honest, and then still go on it like it hadn’t happened and wasn’t still the case, Mark.

Logos is quite an investment, isn’t it?! I hope it’s really useful and well used!

As far as the Vestigial Church Library goes, your donations may better server readers elsewhere.
There is also the whole Little Free Library movement going on. You could start and stock your own!

I just spent too much time digging around for more books by Berry in my Bookshare account, and I think their coverage may be comprehensive. Mercy! Has he written a lot. I’ve downloaded Jaber Crow, The Mad Farmer Poems, and Selected Poems. At least they take up no shelf space!
I’m anxious to read the entire Manifesto. The part you share the other day was just beautiful.

Thanks for your reply, Mark, I fear I was too quick to speak (type) and too slow to think. We are all a work in progress as they say.

This is a perceptive observation and I have and do fall under this critique all too often. Although I also think it is interesting that Christianity, whilst never condoning the hypocrisy of its adherents, does have explanatory power to make sense of it. That is to say, it affirms that Christians are sinners saved by grace, accepted inspite of their hypocrisy. And as an unashamedly self-critiquing belief system it never shies away from calling believers to be be more than they are right now.

Thanks for your gracious rebuke and timely reminder (even if unintended) :-).


So does the rational possibility of solipsism :sunglasses: People can be utterly unfathomable either way.

A funny thing is that Augustine considered the problem with considering the existence of other people, and there’s so little said on the subject until we get to Plantinga. Any other Christian figures I’m overlooking?

Yes, you’re right, Mark. I’m way too prone to impatience and judgementalism myself and dwell too often on my uncharitible assessments of people, rather than recognizing their need for things like broader life experience that will help polish off some of the edges I find sharp.

Try again.

You should see me in traffic. I’m not too bad face to face but my non-a**holiness is still aspirational.

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And @MarkD, Rereading this discussion again this morning. Really valuable insights. Thanks, To you both.

Just put a hold on it. Thanks. That the creek put you in mind of this book and that it has this title reminded me of something I wrote (thought of it as a poem at the time, maybe) about forty years ago, during my drifting years.

Not doing.
Not withholding doing.
Nothing above.
No thing below.



(And I would definitely call that poetry.)

Thanks so much for sharing. I think you have captured much of what O’dell’s book is about.

Would love to know more about the background to your poem, if you care to discuss it.

It is a little embarrassing how wide open wooey I was then. Looking not just into psychology but also anything spiritual, especially if it was foreign and shiny. So Taoism and Buddhism and Alan Watts. I imagine all of that was unnecessary for someone snug in an established tradition.

There is only one more and then you’ll have my entire opus. This comes from beginning to date from scratch after a three year marriage to my first girlfriend. By then I was doing psychotherapy and getting over the hang ups that are rife in my family was a big focus. This rhymes at least.

Wholest each together be
Between the two a rainbow see
All is seen through either eye
But depth requires two should try

Got any you’d care to share?

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Let God be true, even though everyone is a liar, as it is written: That you may be justified in your words and triumph when you judge.
Romans 3:4

There is something to be said for triumphing in truth and truthfulness instead of being content with disingenuousness.

Than you for sharing these poems, Mark. It’s risky putting such personal work out to public view.
This one’s a beautiful consideration of the way two people complete each other, which reminds me again of this beauty you shared recently from cummings:

No, Mark, I have no poetry of my own to share. I think I wrote one in my life that was not a school assignment of the tortured haiku variety. That one was a attempt to get out on paper, and perhaps dull, the horrible image of my father-in-law’s hands working across the top of his blanket, while he was in a thorazine-induced stupor, thorazine which I had helped administer, intended to calm him from a panic attack while he was dying from lung cancer at home. I was teaching full time and taking grad classes, bringing my students’ German assignments with me to grade, while we drove an hour back and forth to Scott’s folks’. My father-in-law died just before our final performative assignment in Lit Crit, and I gave my “poem” to my prof, explaining that I wanted no response to it, but just to let her know what was going on. I was exhausted. Scott even more so. I just wanted my prof to know why.

The following fall the same prof, Diane Bruner, dealt again with me dealing with more death–as well as what has been the closest thing to a spiritual crisis I’ve experienced. I don’t think she comprehended what much of the reading material was doing to me. It was far more than academic to me.

My writing has been of the utilitarian kind. I have long been a letter writer. I thank my old, school friend, Morton, for that. He ordered me two pen pals in junior high school. And he and our friend Sonia wrote to me, when I was at Interlochen Music Camp one summer. Once email finally arrived in my life, I maintained the habit of long, meandering, chatty mail, maybe even longer, once paper and postage were no longer a consideration. How does one write a memo?

Lots of expository writing for classes and also work, and occasional “technical writing” for particular friends or students, who needed step by step instructions on completing a computer-related task. That’s always a fun challenge, trying to clear one’s minds of the learning one has experienced in order to approach the task as one did, when one was green to it. You have to pretend to be both student and teacher, in order to make clear to the student how even to begin. I use this skill frequently at work, especially, when guiding people through websites over the phone.

While I was still teaching, I did participate in the National Teachers’ Writing Project (maybe 1995). I kept none of that work. I enjoyed the program, but was sorely disappointed when given to understand that fiction and poetry were the highest forms of writing, neither to which I aspired. I can never think of a plot that hasn’t already occurred. I am too involved in processing the real to be able to invent the other-real. And I think the project directors were short-sighted and wrong. I’ve read gorgeous non-fiction prose, some of which is even academic. In my mind, good writing is good writing, no matter what its form.

I marvel at and revel in the kinds of writing I can’t produce. My artistic and expressive skills lie elsewhere.


Right there with you. As much as I appreciate good literature I have no talent for writing fiction nor any desire to acquire any. It’s like music. I couldn’t value it more highly but we don’t all have that talent.

Also like you, I have acquired skills for writing nonfiction and appreciate those who do it best. But unlike fiction we all need to be able express our thoughts and best attempts to understand this world, and not just from a scientific standpoint (though that too is valuable).

*Got to put this down. I’m sure we’re both watching the January 6th hearings. Later.

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"Russell concludes by saying that:

All knowledge, we find [one finds], must be built up upon our [one’s] instinctive beliefs, and if these are rejected, nothing is left. (The Problems of Philosophy)

Russell means that one’s instinctive beliefs provide no reason and support of the existence of the common-sense world. He puts solipsism aside by stating that the common-sense view of the world is more simple than the solipsistic view, which, in fact, it is not. The world of common-sense is explained by science - physics, biology, etc. - but the world of the solipsist of the present moment neither has nor requires a cause nor an explanation. Momentary consciousness just is what it is."

Richard Watson, Solipsism

Hi Mark! This topic is fruit for thought, and the quote you highlighted, has so much truth in it.
My take on this is that during an argument, we sometimes give the appearance of attentive listening, while at the same time, we are actually lost in thought while thinking of what to say next.
Sometimes its best to keep a mouth shut and listen to another, and just maybe we might learn something new.
Sorry is a word that comes too late, and by the time it comes, one learns that we both share the same point of view, just from a different angle.
Thanks for this great topic!