fidesquaerens: (Default)
2012-08-04 07:42 pm

gone, gone, gone!

I was explaining to someone just what decompressing from a summer session had been like, and all of a sudden I was struck by what seemed like the perfect fannish analogy. This has been me these last several days as I finished up the actual teaching portion of summer school.

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All of which raises the question, just what is my inner Gollum here? What i'm like in that intense of teaching? The stress itself? Regardless, the freedom and the wanting to dance all around? Yeah, I was totally like that.

(Originally posted to LJ.)
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2012-07-26 05:23 pm
Entry tags:

more thoughts on The Hobbit movie

Thanks for everyone who answered yesterday's post. I liked reading everyone's ideas. But I wonder whether I wasn't clear about just what I was getting at?

When I heard the news about a possible third film, my first thought was: the Appendices and other sections of The Lord of the Ring provide nice snippets, but I couldn't imagine many things with a dramatic structure, particularly things that people who weren't already fans of the book would care about.

The one exception is probably the hunt for Gollum and for knowledge of the Ring. I can see a conversation with Saruman piquing Gandalf's interest. Maybe a trip to Rivendell to interrogate Bilbo one more time, along with some other Rivendell scenes. Maybe we meet Aragorn there on one of his trips to see Arwen (because apparently Tolkien movies must have romance, even when they don't). Aragorn and Gandalf realize that Gollum is the key and hunt for him for a while in frustration. Gandalf breaks off and goes to Minas Tirith where we get intellectual maneuverings between him and evil!movie!Denethor (oh, please, couldn't we make him smart? Even that would be an improvement...), and Denethor gives Gandalf access to the archives almost as a dare to actually find something about the founder of Gondor that Denethor doesn't know. Assisted ably by Faramir - in direct opposition to dad, a place for wimpy!movie!Faramir to show his character - Gandalf finds enough to form a theory. Meanwhile, Aragorn through great feats of will and against all odds, finally captures Gollum and meets up with Aragorn somehow. Contrary to what the book is, they don't beat the information out of him but somehow give him a chance to give it up willingly.  Gandalf rushes off to the Shire, while Aragorn takes Gollum to Mirkwood. It could end on a nicely redemptive note, but not in an uncomplicated way - leave the question of whether Gollum is really reformed and whether he'll stay that way.

Even that, though, seems strangely anticlimactic. I mean, how exciting is intellectual discovery if you're not an academic? Even politics seems beyond what Jackson can manage well. And the whole thing ends without the point of all the sacrifice and effort being made clear; it really just is a set-up for LOTR.

There are other things I'd like to see explored, like Balin's colony in Moria or the family struggle to get Frodo to live at Bag End, or how the various elven kingdoms related to each other. But I'm honestly not sure how you'd give that any kind of a dramatic structure, and that's what I was really asking about. We all have our favorite characters and moments, but there simply doesn't seem to be a *narrative* worth telling here.

Anyway, that's the kind of thing I was looking for. I would love to see more of the other places, but I'm simply not seeing where you'd get the plot for a self-sufficient movie. So if anyone who commented yesterday wants to lay out a possible movie that's self-contained and would actually pull from what Tolkien said, I'd be very interested to read it.

I am a little concerned about overmilking the franchise, and I don't want this. I'm not anti-Jackson, but the pieces with true narrative potential all involve characters and types of situations he hasn't shown a great ability to do well. I'm only really concerned about that concern, though, when there doesn't seem to be a point to a further movie and they make one anyway. They're planning a fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie, and that's built off an amusement park ride, for Pete's sake. And Tolkien packs so much backstory that there are definitely places worth exploring. (I can imagine four or five separate SiIlmarillion-based movies, though I'm not sure I'd want Jackson to make them...
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2012-07-25 07:22 pm
Entry tags:

a third The Hobbit movie?

On a slightly lighter note from all the politics/heavy personal stuff...

TOR.n is reporting a L.A. Times story saying the studios are considering making a third Hobbit movie. Specifically:

The Burbank film studio originally planned to release two “Hobbit” movies based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s literary prelude to “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, and principal photography on those two pictures finished in New Zealand this month. The first is set to come out in December, followed by the second in December 2013. The two films combined cost about $500 million.

But Jackson has concluded that there is enough material from the book, as well as the extensive appendixes to “The Lord of the Rings,” to make a third film, according to three people who were not authorized to speak publicly. New Line Cinema, the Warner Bros. unit overseeing production of the movies, is eager to see it happen, and talks are underway with actors and others who would need to sign off on the plan.

Aside from this being very cool news (icanhas?), I've been wondering how thy were going to break up the movies? I'm assuming the Hobbit itself provides the plot for the first movie, and that after that there's some kind of a LOTR preview. This is a guess completely out of nowhere, but I'd assume it would be about events in Gondor and Rohan, culminating with Gandalf discovering the news about the Ring and the first battle at Osgiliath. But I don't know.

So in light of that, I was wondering. I'm assuming the first move will be The Hobbit itself. If you were to make a movie of the other material between Bilbo's and Frodo's quests, what events and characters would you center it around? What canonical events would you use to create a self-contained story, and how would you tell that tale?

(No spoilers for the actual movies, please.)

(Originally posted at LJ.)
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2012-07-12 04:24 pm

a long-expected birthday

My dear people. My dear Bagginses and Boffins, and my dear Tooks and Brandybucks, Bracegirdles, goodbodies, Brockhouses and Proudfoots. Also my good Sackville-Bagginses that I welcome back at last to Bag End. Today is my one hundred and eleventh birthday: I am eleventy-one today.

Well, not quite that old: I am thirty today. Like Bilbo I find myself longing for mountains and stretched thin. I know some of you who have more years than you will laugh at thirty feeling old; but the last decade has worn me out. Plus I now feel old enough, not to be old precisely, but old enough that I'm not young. If that makes any sense.

I keep reminding myself that I'm still three years shy of my majority in hobbit-reckoning. So no need to act like a growed-up just yet, and no need to act like it at all, really. I can play the part when I need to better than I once could, but I suspect it will always be an exhausting endeavor.

Since I'm claiming hobbit aging, I should probably treat the birthday like a hobbit. That means mathoms. Lately I've been listening to the Piano Guys, a piano/cello duo that's big on YouTube. Here's my latest favorite song:

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I didn't just choose to share this because it's a great song (which it is), or because new, fresh music is always such a gift to me. What I love about the Piano Guys is that they cover popular and classical songs (in this case Coldplay's "Paradise" with an African twist) but make them their own. This is near and dear to my heart because it is exactly what I try so hard to do in my own fanfic. Listening to their music, I've been reminded of one of my all-time favorite quotes from JRRT:

"Do not laugh! But once upon a time (my crest has long since fallen) I had a mind to make a body of more or less connected legend, ranging from the large and cosmogonic to the level of romantic fairy-story--the larger founded on the lesser in contact with the earth, the lesser drawing splendour from the vast backcloths--which I could dedicate simply: to England; to my country. [...] I would draw some of the great tales in fullness, and leave many only placed in the scheme, and sketched. The cycles should be linked to a majestic whole, and yet leave scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama. Absurd."

Not absurd at all, my good professor. For me, fanfic at its best becomes a language, a metaphor, that we can use to talk about the things and experiences that matter most to us - but use a frame of reference that expresses them more intimately than would be possible otherwise. And it provides a framework so we can delve deeper than we might otherwise. A shared religious tradition does the same thing for me, which is why I think I probably spend more time blogging about religion than in actual religious worship. It's a way of talking about things to get beyond the surface, and thinking and talking about that seems to alternately break my heart and soothe my wounds.

In its own way, the same thing can be said for fandom and for my fanfic in particular. A close friend of mine once described her work as "fanfic as therapy," and that description always stuck with me. Fanfic often is therapy but not just for me personally. For me, it almost works as a Freudian psychoanalysis of the real: of whatever is most true, most significant, most in need of examining and understanding. I know other people whose work strikes me the same way, so much so that I wonder how it could happen any way other than intentionally.

That, for me, is the value of fanfic. And of myth, come to it. That's really what a lot of fanfic is, though it can be put to other purposes. And begging Tolkien's pardon, but the drive to do that isn't absurd. Not by a long shot.

Along those same lines I want to thank everyone who has given my birthday wishes, but in particular the people who ahve written me fic for my birthday. Both touched me deeply, albeit in very different ways:

  • Beauty by [personal profile] just_ann_now. There's just so much sun and light and happiness here, in all it. (Alec/Richard)

  • The Wardens by [profile] dwimordene_2011. There's Beorn, and Radagast, and they're just so other in the best sort of way. And of course the transformation of the hunting instinct to awe was beautiful - a very hopeful thought.

Thanks also to everyone who's said such nice things, both here and at FB. I do appreciate it.

On another note, enjoy Christopher Lee reading "The Raven":

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This isn't quite as random as it seems. Recently, I was reminded of Dwim's "The Hamster" poem. Listen to Sir Lee, and try hard not to hear in your mind:

And yet the dark-haired stranger wand'ring, called 'Thorongil', set me pond'ring,
thrilled me—filled me with dread suspicions that I'd never felt before;
So that I, to still the craving of my mind, which might be raving,
To know the all of him not saving secrets buried at his core—
I'd have the all of him not saving things he'd shown to none before—
I bought a hamster, nothing more.

Scantily did it resemble he who bore the star-brooched mantle;
'Sir', I'd said, 'or Madam, truly I am not versed in hamster "lore";
Nor care I to risk your biting simply so's to gain a sighting
Of your underside for tidings of your gender that I should ignore,
As I would your namesake's myst'ry' — Here I set 'him' by the door; —
'Yet I can't, and so I'm sore.'

Years later, that poem still makes me laugh like little else.

A happy un-birthday to the rest of you. Thanks so much for making today a good one.

(Originally posted at LJ.)
fidesquaerens: (Default)
2012-07-11 08:36 pm

in which corporate America does something right ;^P

Warner Bros. has an app allowing you to create a desktop for computer monitors, smart phones, etc.

What's so cool is you get to choose exactly the bit of several scenes you want to see. I chose Gandalf and beorn having a moment of recognition, and then Bilbo up to his elbows in danger in Mirkwood. A dangerous business, indeed!

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2012-07-11 08:38 am

from the annals of FB

#1. TOR.n shared this collection of buttons available at Comicon (which has apparently been dubbed as #hobbitcon on Twitter this year):

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I want, oh, pretty much all of them but definitely the top-left one to go on my bookbag. The pin I got for being an LGBT ally is lonely. But the bottom-right one earned a definite giggle. Am I the only one reading this who remembers OFUM?

#2. The many tweets of KimKierkegaard. In which someone has mashed bits of Kierkegaard's timeless wisdom with Kim Kardashian's not-so-timeless tweets. With friends like Justin Buber thrown in for good measure. I don't know any of these people enough to fully get this as much as I'd like, but I thought someone else could use a good laugh.

#3. Yoda origami - what's not to love?

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#4. Another TOR.n goodie from Comicon. Their sign is hilarious, though I rather think it was unintended. Yes, fandom works pretty much like a ring of power at times. (Though I'm sure TOR.n is a great site...)

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#5. Yet more goodness of the Star Wars variety:

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#6. And finally, because no post should apparently be entirely without religion, here's some hellfire and dalmatians:

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(Originally posted at LJ.)
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2012-06-01 11:57 pm
Entry tags:

a Long-expected Trailer

I had the distinct pleasure today of seeing the Hobbit trailer on an IMAX screen. Also the significantly less distinct pleasure of seeing Dark Shadows on that same screen - not a bad movie per se, but really a much better $1-theater movie than an IMAX undertaking.

Anyway. The Hobbit. I was truly impressed by it, and not really worried by anything that I saw. It's hard to tell much of anything from a trailer, of course. And do keep in mind I haven't seen the original trilogy in at least three years. It's possible that I am starved for all things Middle-earth, preferably accompanied by Howard Shore's music. But I am also even more of a Hobbit fan than a Lord of the Rings one, so I think I had some pretty high expectations. The trailer could have confirmed my worst fears; it didn't.

Before we go any further I should probably throw in a cut for spoilers, because we're totally going there )

As I said, you can only tell so much from a trilogy, but this is all really promising.

(Originally posted at LJ; please comment there.)
fidesquaerens: (Default)
2012-04-18 04:45 pm
Entry tags:

in which I have an ouchie, a career opportunity, and a Besorg moment

#1. If there's anyway to avoid it, do not ever have a cyst excision. Keep your skin healthy, and catch them early. I'll spare you all the medical gore, but the preferred medical procedure these days is to make a very small excision and squeeze the cyst out as much as you can. It reduces risk of infection and scarring. They give you lidocaine for the actual incision, but there's not much that can be done about what they call "pressure." I've felt pain due to pressure; squeezing a sizeable mass through a small opening in tenderized skin is something else entirely. I started alphebatizing numers to keep my mind off it and got all the way to fifty-seven.

Was going to blog deep thoughts about the role of government this afternoon ([personal profile] roh_wyn, [personal profile] celandineb, you both got me thinking - thanks!) Or work on drafting my Euthyphro lecture. But the pain and general discomfort have me feeling a little loopy, so I think I'll just relax and watch dunk-dunk.

Anyone else who had this cyst excision done, do you have any practical advice? I'm doing the gauze pads and the pharmacy should deliver antibiotics tomorrow morning (standing around for a half-hour was not in the cards earlier). But it's really very tender and makes life awkward. What helps?


#2. The woman from career services at my university sent out a call for resumes, for a specific full-time receptionist job at an insurance corporation in the area. It wasn't really a mass email; at least, it looked to be addressed to me specifically. This amuses me to no end, and worries me. Am I so behind in my program that they think I need to be looking for entry-level work outside of academia?


#3. Over at FB, Neil Gaiman posted about this guy who asked Neil Gaiman to write him a poem, which said guy would have tattooed. Gaiman agreed, and the poem was illustrated by David Mack (of Kabuki fame). For folks with a FB account, the pictures are available here, and the poem itself is in the comments.

Personally, I doubt I'd ever want a tattoo that large. Really any tattoo - maybe a classy, small and exotic one, something in Mandarin or Arabic that was meaningful to me, but even that just isn't my style. Still, the idea of tattoo inevitably called [personal profile] just_ann_now's Besorg character to mind. Lines like

I will write in words of fire.
I will write them on your skin.
I will write about desire,
Write beginnings, write of sin.

are very inspiring to put it mildly.

(Originally written at LJ; please comment there.)
fidesquaerens: (Default)
2012-04-06 09:40 pm
Entry tags:

more fandom crossover: boy bands meet Middle-earth

How can something so wrong be so complete right?

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(Originally posted at LJ; please comment there.)
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2012-01-11 05:22 pm

a rose is a rose is a rose?

A few days ago I promised Celandine a more in-depth reply to some points she raised in my last post. We were straying into some rather philosophical waters, at least in my mind – the distinction between knowledge, belief and faith, whether the scientific method required that all claims be verifiable, etc. – and they really deserve their own post. I do promise to get back to that.

But before I get to that, Gwynnyd actually made another comment on another track that screamed out "pick me! Pick me!" whenever I started to write about all that knowledge/belief stuff. See, in that last post I had listed a long list of things that some of the "faithful" had done, but then said:

But to paint all the faithful with this brush is like blaming your local Southern Baptist Church because they share their name with the Westboro crowd. To be sure, the SBC has done and said some things that make my skin crawl and that I heartily disagree with, but I prefer to blame them for their own sins (to use the churchy phrase) and not those who share their name. Similarly, I am one of the faithful but I'm not faithful like that.

To which Gwynnyd replied:

But, but… if I say, "the picture on the right describes the way people of faith approach the world" – is that wrong? The way "people of faith" approach the problems does – often – look exactly like the picture on the right. You tell me you are a "person of faith." – head scratch – How can you object to being grouped in with them if you tell me yourself that you belong to a group with the same name?

It's a fascinating question, and one worth pursuing. (Or at least I hope so! It's one of the questions motivating my dissertation.) And it's one that comes up in all kinds of contexts. I recently read a piece over at the NY Times' Opinionator blog ("Where is Europe?"; highly recommended to all geography geeks, btw) that basically looked at what people meant by Europe throughout history. The question really depends on who you ask and how you use the word "Europe." Is it a political ideal? A mass of land? A cultural/religious institution (i.e. Christendom)? A political structure like the E.U.? British people who deny that they are part of Europe may mean one thing by it; cartographers who want to include Russia mean another. You can see similar distinctions come up whenever we try to divide people or places. When I see things like this, I see a question lurking just behind the scenes: do I have a right to assume, when you use a word, that you mean the same thing I would mean by it?

Kant famously said (well, famous to philosophers!) that all definitions are analytically true. What he means is basically that the statement "a bachelor is an unmarried man" is always going to be true. So is the statement that "a bachelor is a married man" or "a bachelor is a ten-foot-tall orangutan." When we say "X is Y" we're not making any claim about how the world really is, but really are just talking about what we mean by an external word. That's an attractive view, to be sure, because there's something violent in being told you can't even use words to describe your own thoughts how you want; it reeks of Orwellian doublespeak.

The problem is, language doesn't just stay in our own minds. This is a problem Richard Dawkins picked up on in I believe The God Delusion. Lots of Christians wanted to claim Albert Einstein as one of their own because he often talked about God in his writings. (Perhaps the most famous example is the quote, "God does not play dice with the universe.") But Dawkins argued – and I believe he was correct, based on what little I know of Einstein – that Dawkins's God is not the God of your standard churchgoer. He did not believe in an intelligence, a first-mover, or someone to whom we could pray and expect a reply. If anything, Einstein used God as sort of shorthand for the whole of the cosmos, or perhaps the sense of mystery that expands beyond our discrete "facts" and animates all scientists. Dawkins didn't object to Einstein being labeled as a believer in this; but he warned that the language could be misleading at best. More likely, it would lead to equivocation: where you use the same word but mean one thing at one place and something else somewhere down the road.

This is where my guy Anselm can be helpful. Anselm is a medieval monk living in Normandy around the turn of the millennium, and is probably most well-known for his ontological argument that God exists. Think of that proof what you will (and you'd be in good company to say it's hogwash, although not mine), the first part actually has some rather interesting things to say about language. Let's say I tell you that God exists. You want to disagree with me, but to do that you need to be talking about the same concept (or thing) as I was. Simply saying "God doesn't exist" won't cut it, if Kant was right about definitions; we could both have different ideas in mind when we talk about God, so when you say God doesn't exist, what guarantee is there that the thing I said didn't exist, was what you had in mind?

Anselm's solution is rather simple. If I want to talk meaningfully about something you hear, then I must first "understand what [I] hear, and what [I] understand, is in [my] understanding." So to follow through Anselm's example, let's say I claim God exists and you want to say I'm wrong. You must first understand what I mean when I make the sound "God" with my voice, and that concept must exist in your understanding (in your mind) so you can turn around and say that that concept we're talking about doesn't exist. Since you're trying to say that what I meant was wrong, you have to hold the discussion on my terms. The one who makes the first statement basically gets to say what the terms mean. And yes, you can also use God to mean something else entirely, but then you're no longer engaging with me, and the fact that we're both making the sound "God" when we talk is really just a big coincidence. According to Anselm, that's not communication.

So, back to Gwynnyd's original question. If Anselm is right – if I have to use your term on your terms in order to communicate with you – then I think it follows that the first person also gets to say when the term is wrong. The flip side of that, though, is that if I don't disown how you use the term, your use becomes part of my concept as well. Terms do change, but it's almost always with the permission of the people who are using the terms; or it should be. Otherwise, we run the very real risk of talking at each other rather than with each other.

Take for example that politically-charged term marriage. At one point it may have been a contract for producing and raising the next generation, and so procreation (and the ability to procreate lawfully) was at the heart of it. But as the people already getting married changed their conception of marriage's aim – once procreation wasn't enough, and things like love and mutual support became key – the term changed. Since we ought to be consistent, once the people who had the right to define marriage said it meant a certain kind of loving relationship, I'd argue it's right to say same-sex couples can get married too. The only way around that is to say marriage means something those couples are incapable of sharing in – procreation is the obvious answer, or you could argue that men and women complement each other in a way two men never could. But feminism has (at least for me and most people I know my age!) made that second option untenable. Women aren't intrinsically different from men, so two women could in theory complement each other the same way a man and a woman can. My point here is that once the definition has changed, it's only fair to apply it consistently; but the initial change has to come from the inside.

All of this can seem horribly abstract, I know. But the basic premise is something we Tolkien fans are pretty familiar with. I didn't read the books until after the movies were released, but from friends who had, I know they often resented what those movies did to the characterizations of certain characters. Gimli was comic relief. Arwen was Xena Warrior Princess. Denethor was… well, the less said about the Denethor characters most movie fans had in mind, the better, really. To those book fans' mind, there was an influx of people who were using the same word but describing something very different. And the book fans fought back, educated the newbies like me on what the book characters were really like, even came up with linguistic conventions like referring to book!Denethor or movie!Denethor to differentiate two different concepts masquerading as the same thing. It worked, to an extent.

But remember the frustration you felt when someone talked not about PJ's Denethor but about Denethor full-stop, and you get the frustration I feel when I hear people talking about the "faithful" like we are all Bible-thumping, climate change-denying reactionary luddites. Because there *is* a tradition that provides context to what this term means, just like Tolkien fans have a book to point to, a standard that says this interpretation is not really what this word means anyway. Looking at that tradition seems like a better place to start, than just taking a head-count and going along with majority rules.


Originally posted at LJ; please comment there.
fidesquaerens: (Default)
2012-01-09 05:52 pm

the road goes ever on...

Several years back (so my department's lore goes) when the philosophy and theology departments were housed in the same building, someone put up a sign. Above the official sign pointing to the philosophy department it said "Questions without Answers", and toward the theology department, "Answers without Questions." I'm fairly certain it was a philosopher who put it up, but the theologians must have had a sense of humor about it because it apparently stayed up for several years, maybe even several years.

My school is a Jesuit school, which is a rather questioning and open-minded wing of the Roman Catholic Church. Knowing the theologians that are here today, I am sure that they could laugh such a jab off because they are confident that it was a stereotype that doesn't apply to them. It doesn't; in my experience, they never met a question they didn't like, and the old joke "Two Jews, three opinions" applies to them just as well.

But I was reminded of this story when I saw a CafePress ad for a t-shirt poking fun at faith.

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Apparently, they think I'd be interested in atheist gear based on the keywords I type. Which is interesting, but not all that surprising given the truly awful directed ads I've received over the years. Anyway...

Images like this make me sad because they reflect a grain of truth. There are many people and groups that claim the label "faith-based" that apply more or less this approach. Evolution contradicts Genesis 1? Nuts to Darwin, then. The Bible says God will never again destroy the earth with a flood? That means we don't need to worry about global warming. Hermione and her lot are called witches? That alone makes Harry Potter taboo in many circles. I've seen it played out more than once, and it always makes me cringe.

But to paint all the faithful with this brush is like blaming your local Southern Baptist Church because they share their name with the Westboro crowd. To be sure, the SBC has done and said some things that make my skin crawl and that I heartily disagree with; but I prefer to blame them for their own sins (to use the churchy phrase) and not those who share their name. Similarly, I am one of the faithful but I'm not faithful like that. Nor are many people I know. Most religious people are carried on by inertia, as unreflective as the great masses of any group that achieves a certain critical mass.

But I'd say among the groups that have truly thought through the principles, at least as many of the faithful see conflicting evidence as an interesting challenge as see it as a threat. If Darwin has a good case (and I believe he really does, what I understand of evolution - I'm a philosopher, not a scientist, so my science education stops at the gen-ed level), then I need to reinterpret other things I believe to be true in a way that makes sense of that. It's the challenge by which we weed out bad interpretations and get below the surface level. To disregard the challenges posed by "new evidence" is bad stewardship of a gift from God. So I say shame on my fellow Christians (and Jews, and Muslims, and...) who don't take that challenge seriously. You're missing out.

I accept the scientific method in all its glory. Most Jesuits and Methodists (the faith traditions I'm most familiar with) do, too. What I reject - emphatically - is physicalism. That's the idea that the physical facts, the kind of things described by science, describe the sum total of reality. I am not so vain to think I can explain God or offer a proof, but I find that living with that reality is humbling, and in a good way. To think that there's something bigger than myself out there, bigger than the world. Does he wear white robes and make the thunder rumble when he laughs? Probably not. Does he answer prayers and can he prevent natural disasters? I don't know, though my first response (due to indoctrination or faith or something innate within me) is yes on both accounts, though I struggle with both, philosophically and personally.

I prefer Bilbo's approach to physicalism:

He used often to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: it's springs were at every doorstep and every path was it's tributary. "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door," he used to say. "You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no telling where you might be swept off to.

Or Sam's:

'The road goes on for ever,' said Pippin; 'but I can't without a rest. It is high time for lunch.' He sat down on the bank at the side of the road and looked away east into the haze, beyond which lay the River, and the end of the Shire in which he had spent all his life. Sam stood by him. His round eyes were wide open - for he was looking across lands he had never seen to a new horizon.

I don't mean to get preachy here, and I certainly am not trying to convince everyone to be like me. It works for me and my character, but I know the word faith conjures different images for different people given our experiences. I get that.

But please, don't tell me all "faith" looks like that picture on the right. Where there is evidence, I try to make sense of it and reformulate my beliefs so to be consistent. There I will adopt the method on the left. And where there is no evidence one way or the other, I believe what is most useful to me or try to be content with not knowing, more or less in line with William James and Blaise Pascal (who, icky Wager notwithstanding, actually had some pretty interesting ideas about the nature of faith). That doesn't mean I ignore evidence; in the cases I'm talking about, there's simply no evidence to ignore. But I still reject the idea that the world I know is the sum total of what there is. When, in the history of science, has that ever proved true?


Originally posted at LJ; please comment there.
fidesquaerens: (Default)
2012-01-03 02:52 pm

MEFA goodies

This morning I got to do one of my favorite MEFA-related tasks: emailing all the authors competing in the MEFAs who won an award, to give the good news. (Full results will be available to everyone in a few days.) So I thought I'd share my stories that did well in the MEFAs:

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how the MEFAs work )

I'll be making a formal post later tonight over at the [profile] mefas community, thanking our many volunteers who helped pull off the MEFAs. But I want to say it now, that I really can't thank [personal profile] aranel_took enough. She has designed us a site more or less from scratch, dealing with my frantic "I know this particular feature goes live in eight hours, but I'm not really sure it's doing what I intended" emails, and generally doing more to keep me sane and keep the MEFAs running smoothly than I have a right to expect of anyone, myself included. Praise her, with great praise!

There are other people who have likewise risen above the call of duty, my own reviewers not least of all. (I honestly am not sure when some of them found the time to sleep!) And many other people who have quietly but reliably gone about volunteering so that no one noticed things could go wrong. Can we say "team effort"? More on all that tonight in the official post. But thank you, all of you!


Originally posted at LJ; please comment there.