Thursday, September 23, 2010

Infographic: Are Books or E-Readers More Environmentally Friendly (via Slate)

Acquire used books. Or use an old eReader someone gave you. And get a little solar panel that will charge your eReader. Or let your hamster charge it by running on his or her wheel.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wendell Berry Quotes from The Way of Ignorance

Finished reading The Way of Ignorance by Wendell Berry. Berry has been on my "to read" list for...years maybe? I connect deeply with his ethos and worldview. Not because I farm. I don't and have a "black thumb" destroying just about anything I try and grow but I connect with Berry's holistic view of the world. He writes the world as he sees it. And I hope I can learn to see the world more and more like he does. Here are some quotes that were particularly meaningful or provocative to me as I read. There's always some danger in taking little quotes out of context but hopefully the speak well on their own and maybe breed a desire to read Berry.

"Creatures who have armed themselves with the power of limitless destruction should not be following any way laid out by their limited knowledge and their unseemly pride in it. The way of ignorance, therefore, is to be careful, to know the limits and the efficacy of our knowledge. It is to be humble and to work on an appropriate scale."
"One mind alone, like one life alone, is perfectly worthless, not even imaginable."
"Our destructiveness has not been, and is not, inevitable. People who use that excuse are morally incompetent, they are cowardly and they are lazy.Humans don't have to live by destroying the sources of their life. People can change; they can learn to do better."
"The corporate mind knows no affection, no desire that is not greedy, no local or personal loyalty, no sympathy or reverence or gratitude, no temperance or thrift or self-restraint. It does not observe the first responsibility of intelligence, which is to know when you don't know or when you are being unintelligent."
"The logical end of the ain't-it-awful conversation, as of the life devoted merely to opposition, is despair. People quit having any fun, they begin to talk about the 'inevitability' of what they are against and they give up. Mere opposition finally blinds us to the good of the things we are trying to save. And it divides us hopelessly from our opponents, who no doubt are caricaturing us while we are demonizing them. We lose, in short, the sense of shared humanity that would permit us to say even to our worst enemies, 'We are working, after all, in your interest and your children's. Ours is a common effort for the common good. Come and join us.'"
"By indulging a limitless desire for a supposedly limitless quantity, one gives up all the things that are most desirable. One abandons any hope of the formal completeness, grace and beauty that come only by subordinating one's life to the whole of which it is a part, and thus one is condemned to the life of a fragment, forever unfinished and incomplete, forever greedy. One loses, that is, the sense of human as an artifact, a part made imaginatively whole."
"...if we work with machines the world will seem to us to be a machine, but if we work with living creatures the world will appear to us as a living creature."
"There is nothing deader or of more questionable value than facts in isolation."
Embarrassing questions that the gospels impose: (1) "If you had been living in Jesus' time and had heard Him teaching, would you have been one of His followers? To be an honest taker of this test, I think you have to try to forget that you have read the Gospels and that Jesus has been a 'big name' for two thousand years." (2) "Can you be sure that you would keep his commandments if it became excruciatingly painful to do so?" ... "Those are peculiar questions. I don't think we can escape them, if we are honest, I don't think we can answer them. We humans, as we well know, have repeatedly been surprised by what we will or won't do under pressure. A person may come to be, as many have been, heroically faithful in great adversity, but as long as that person is alive we can only say that he or she did well but remains under the requirement to do well. As long as we are alive, there is always a next time, and so the questions remain."
"...there are limits to what a human mind can know, and limits to what a human language can say. One may believe, as I do, in inspiration, but one must believe knowing that even the most inspired are limited in what they can tell of what they know. We humans write and read, teach and learn, at the inevitable cost of falling short. The language that reveals also obscures."
"The Gospels, then, stand at the opening of a mystery in which our lives are deeply, dangerously, and inescapably involved. This is a mystery that the Gospels can only partially reveal, for it could be fully revealed only by more books than the world could contain. It is a mystery that we are condemned but also are highly privileged to live our way into, trusting properly that to our little knowledge greater knowledge may be revealed. It is this privilege that should make us wary of any attempt to reduce faith to a rigmarole of judgments and explanations, or to any sort of familiar talk about God. Reductive religion is just as objectionable as reductive science, and for the same reason: Reality is large, our minds are small."
"If Jesus only meant that we should have more possessions or even more 'life expectancy,' then John 10:10 is no more remarkable than an advertisement for any commodity whatever. Abundance, in this verse, cannot refer to an abundance of material possessions, for life does not require a material abundance; it requires only material sufficiency.That sufficiency granted, life itself, which is a membership in the living world, is already an speaking of more abundant life, Jesus is not proposing to free us by making us richer; he is proposing to set life free from precisely that sort of error. He is talking about life, which is only incidentally our life, as a limitless reality."
"...opposition to evolution, abortion and homosexual marriage does not constitute an adequate religion. It does not even constitute an adequate set of 'values." The great moral issue of our time, too much ignored by both sides of our present political division, is violence."
"We make make war, we are told, for the love of peace. We subvert our Bill of Rights and impose our will abroad for the sake of freedom and the rule of law. We honor greed and waste with the name of the economy. We allow ever greater wealth and power to accumulate in the hands of a privileged few only to provide jobs for working pwople and charity to the poor. And we sanctify all this as Christian, though the Gospels support none of it by so much as a line or a word."
"(In a time when it is the fashion to propose amendments to the Constitution, I would like to propose an amendment requiring (1) that when war breaks out the president and all consenting members of his administration as well as all consenting legislators,whatever their ages, should immediately be enrolled as privates in combat units; and (2) that for the duration of any war all executives and shareholders of corporations contributing to the war effort should be restricted to the same annual income as the workers in their factories - no sacrifice being too great in a time of national peril.)"

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Flossing = Reading the Bible

Flossing is reading the Bible.

Wednesday morning I got to go to the dentist. Leading up to Wednesday morning I fretted over the fact that I had not been flossing. I knew that during the cleaning that moment would arrive when my gums would be torn by the hygienist's floss. And then would come the requisite chastisement: "Have you been flossing? No? You need to floss."


But we were out of floss. And who thinks about buying floss except when it's 7 minutes before bed and you just brushed your teeth. If then.

Of course we should floss. It's good for gums, your teeth won't fall out and stuff and somewhere I heard it even makes you age slower. We all know we ought to floss. But I brush? Isn't that good enough? It's a start. But I really ought to floss.

Sunday mornings I go to worship. I know that during the worship service that moment would arrive when out of the preacher's mouth would come the requisite chastisement: "Have you been reading your Bible daily? No? You need to read your Bible daily." 

Pretty much every Sunday since the Bible has been available in the language of the people and affordable (maybe 150-200 years after the Gutenberg Bible?) it is the obligation of evangelical, and even some other, pastors worldwide to mention in their sermon at least once the need to read the Bible daily. Or have a quiet time (which has always sort of sounded like a punishment to me). Or have devotions. Pick your nomenclature. 

If reading the Bible/having daily quiet times has been something you have struggled with during the week you know it's coming, you are expecting the burn of the "read the Bible" floss on your gums at some point during that sermon.

Of course we should read the Bible daily. It's good for our souls, it helps us know the God we profess to follow, it teaches us about life and godliness. We all know we ought to read the Bible. But I attend a worship service every week or so? Isn't that good enough? It's a start.

There has been nothing, absolutely nothing, that has been as beneficial in my life as reading the Bible daily (or almost daily). All kinds of research has shown that reading the Bible is the most significant factor in spiritual growth. Period. We NEED to do it. I actually like it when the preacher tells us to do it. Because my gums are used to that. But for some (most?) people the read your Bible challenge is like the challenge to floss.

Me? I'm going to start flossing.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010