Blue Spider's Coffee House

Truth, Love, Beauty and all things Virtuous


October 2013

Pied Beauty

GLORY be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

-Gerard Manley Hopkins

The Limits of Free Speech: When Everyone Stares and No One Cares

Are an increase in profanity, obscenity, indecency and pornography, the signs of a highly progressive society? Total license can and does breakdown freedom, create life-long addictions and at times actual slavery as in the case of human trafficking. Mostly due to the pornography industry, slavery is making a comeback around the world.

All rights have limits and boundaries, including the freedom of speech or expression. All forms of sexual relations, even though practiced privately, do have social impacts because they are inherently relational or social acts.

Can we really be progressives if we are unwilling to say no when what is the basest but one of the biggest of all industries promotes the rape of young children and animals, and the drugging, abduction, trafficking and abuse of young women, and also young men.

Can we really be progressive if our highest law enforcement officials refuse to enforce any of the current pornography laws on the books and instead idly watch the explosion and growth of the internet porn industry while intensely involving themselves in the ordinary lives of its citizens and other world leaders.

Divine Incarnation

“Perhaps He goes to sleep, in order to bless sleep…; perhaps He is tired that He may hallow weariness also; perhaps He weeps that He may make tears blessed.” –p.69, The God Who Weeps, Terryl and Fiona Givens

Why The Individual Should Strive For Self-Reliance

“To become self-reliant, a person must work. Work is physical, mental, or spiritual effort. It is a basic source of happiness, self-worth, and prosperity. Through work, people accomplish many good things in their lives”

Work as a Spiritual Necessity

“Work is always a spiritual necessity even if, for some, work is not an economic necessity”–Neal Maxwell

Grog and I: A Common Thread Through Time

As I think back on the long line of ancestors all the way back to the beginning with Grog, then Tag and from Tag to Canute, from Canute to Soren, from Hans to Heber to Jim and finally myself, I am not sure I am too much different from them.

Certainly technology has changed things and hence how we interact with nature is different. I do not gather or hunt nor do I fish or farm. I shop and I consume, with a vengeance. I don’t have to forage for anything, unless you count driving up to the McDonald’s drive through for a sausage egg McMuffin and a little carton of milk foraging. I consume on daily basis many more calories than Grog or Soren ever did over any significant amount of time and the farthest I have ever moved to retrieve my food sometimes is from the TV room into the kitchen. I can travel farther in a shorter span of time than any of my Viking ancestors could have ever dreamed of. And communicate with people all over the world within a matter seconds, although not as intimately or as beautiful as the thoughts and ideas marked down in my ancestors journal and letters.

But despite the giant technological changes in production, consumption, mobility, communications and government, when I look at my ancestors I do not feel we are very different from each other. I do not think the modern Hansen is very different from medieval Hansen. I do not think the bonds, concerns, and relationships between Grog and Ida and their family and friends or Myrtle and Heber and their family and friends are not much different from those I experience with my wife and our family and friends.

Concerns about good and evil, right and wrong, despair and happiness still concern us as it did them. These were concerns families had before there ever were large societies, modern governments, or mass media set up to redefine families and morality. As John Steinbeck pointed in his novel East of Eden good versus evil was the first story told and every other story from that point on has just been a variation on that theme. Concepts such as love, hate, hope, despair, honesty and deceit, pride and humility, all some manifestation of good and evil have never really gone out of fashion and are impervious to even modern man’s attempts to change human nature.

I believe these concepts take on different forms as man’s relationship to nature changes due to technology, but they as underlying principles of humanity to change definition and are the underlying power of the humanity. I also believe that even as powerful as technology is in changing our relationship to our physical environment, that it too has to bow down to natural law or moral law in order prevent it from destroying the very society that creates it.

Wisdom, the application of morally correct principles, is in just as much short supply now as it was in modern times. A reading of our newspapers and review of our politicians at home and abroad would suggest that wisdom in just as much in short supply as it was back in Canute or Soren’s time. In fact, despite huge collections of data and bodies of knowledge, wisdom appear to be still wanting and progress in human relations is negligible, even though we have more and more civil rights than ever before.

Just as Grog, Tag, Canute, Soren, Hans, Heber and Jim experienced good and bad times I expect I will continue to see them as well. Just as they struggled with their weaknesses throughout their lifetimes I expect to as well. And just as they have all passed away, except for Jim, I know this is my destination as well. But as I have tried to learn of them, I hope that they have been watching over me and mine and that there will be some sort of family reunion, assuming I get past St. Peter’s gates, with Grog at the barbecue. I heard he does a mean smoked tri-tip.

And this is Why ‘Atheists Don’t Have No Songs’

Contrary to all the inspiration behind this world’s great songs, poetry, and literature, Phillip Kitcher, the John Dewey Professor of Philosophy at Columbia, a man smarter than most, counsels us that in our pursuit of knowledge that we “don’t ask ‘What is life?’ instead consider “the various activities in which living organisms engage and try to give a piecemeal understanding of these.”

In other words, we should only pursue fragmented knowledge and chase it hither and thither, in our mad rush to an end of nothingness, never asking larger questions than that that describes a particular action or function. Oh how cold, stark and depressing is the new morality and it’s ends. Where is the need for faith and hope at the end of lonelines, pain and loss? Is our only recourse more laws and more bureaucracy? Is it any wonder, as Steve Martin’s aptly named titled song states why ‘Atheists Don’t Have No Songs’.

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