Prayers of Kierkegaard

We speak this way with you, o God,
there is a language difference between us,
and yet we strive to understand you,
to make ourselves intelligible to you,
and you are not ashamed to be called our God

Lord Jesus Christ, who loved us first,
you who until the last loved those
whom you had loved from the beginning,
you who until the end of time continue
to love everyone who wants to belong to you,
your faithfulness cannot deny itself!

Great are you, o God, great are you, o God!
Although we know you only as an obscure saying,
and as in a mirror,
yet in wonder we worship your greatness,
how much more shall we praise it at some time,
we shall praise it when we come
to know it more fully!
When under the arch of heaven,
I stand surrounded by the wonders of creation,
I rapturously and adoringly praise your greatness,
you who lightly hold the stars in the infinite
and concern yourself fatherly with the sparrow.

Father in heaven! Open the fountains of our eyes,
let a torrent of tears like a flood obliterate all of the past life
which did not find favour in your eyes;
but also give us a sign as of old,
when you set the rainbow as a gateway of grace in the heavens,
that you will no more wipe us out with a flood;
let sin never again get such power over us
that you again have to tear us out with the body of sin.

Father in heaven. In springtime everything in nature comes back again
with new freshness and beauty.
The bird and the lily have lost nothing since last year.
Would that we, too, might come back unaltered
to the instruction the teachers!
But if, alas, our health has been damaged in time past,
would that we might recover it by learning again
from the lilies in the field and from the birds of the air!

Father in heaven! You loved us first!
Help us never to forget that you are love,
so that this conviction might be victorious
in our hearts over the world’s allurement,
the mind’s unrest, the anxieties over the future,
the horrors of the past, the needs of the moment.
O, grant also that this conviction might form
our minds, so that our hearts become constant and
true in love to them whom you bid us to love as ourselves.

Knut Nystedt was born this day in 1915.

So thin a veil

So thin a veil divides
Us from such joy, past words,
Walking in daily life—the business of the hour, each detail seen to;
Yet carried, rapt away, on what sweet floods of other Being:
Swift streams of music flowing, light far back through all Creation shining,
Loved faces looking—
Ah! from the true, the mortal self
So thin a veil divides!

Edward Carpenter, born 125 years ago today, was known not as a transcendental philosopher but a social reformer who started with a high opinion of Man, the individual, and proceeded to an exalted vision of men collectively might become.

Image result for edward carpenter

Before it was accepted or even safe, Carpenter was open about his relationship to George Merrill, a gay man with two right arms.



Evolution Evolving

The idea was that all life on earth, and we within it, came from a random and meaningless process of struggling to make more copies of DNA snippets.  It wrought its damage on us, convincing us that all pretense to value or meaning was an unscientific illusion. Fellowship was reduced to calculation of the gain to be had in a bargain, and love became a strategy for increasing reproductive success.

A century of loneliness and depression followed Darwin’s theory.  All dissent from the canon was mocked with caricature of Grandfather with a white beard calling down from heaven to create the world in seven days.

Only after powerful computers allowed us to actually try out the neo-Darwinian orthodoxy in simulation did skepticism become scientifically respectable. Darwin’s greatest fear about his theory was that all diversity would collapse in short order, and natural selection would grind to a halt once there was no variety from which to select. This proved to be prescient. Mendelian inheritance can’t prevent the collapse of diversity in a brute contest for maximizing reproduction.  Nor could the standard model explain community, or the vast scale of cooperation or the complex web of interconnectivity characteristic of ecosystems.

Most difficult of all has been the question of the origin of life. The gap between the most complex system that might arise by chance alone and the simplest system capable of reproducing itself in the oceans of a proto-Earth only gets wider the more ingeniously we try to bridge it.

And the very process of evolution didn’t come for free.  Most genotype-phenotype maps are not capable of evolving at a decent rate.  How did evolution evolve?

Questioning the plausibility of the simplest neo-Darwiniian models became scientifically respectable, and now it is almost mainstream.  Evolution’s capacity for creating diversity and complexity is far more efficient than we can yet explain.  Evolution creates a powerful illusion of foresight and planning. The Great Chain of Being holds its mystique.

Article by Richard Watson
Response by Marion Blute

Image result for durkheim great chain of being

The Most of It

He thought he kept the universe alone;
For all the voice in answer he could wake
Was but the mocking echo of his own
From some tree-hidden cliff across the lake.
Some morning from the boulder-broken beach
He would cry out on life, that what it wants
Is not its own love back in copy speech,
But counter-love, original response.
And nothing ever came of what he cried
Unless it was the embodiment that crashed
In the cliff’s talus on the other side,
And then in the far distant water splashed,
But after a time allowed for it to swim,
Instead of proving human when it neared
And someone else additional to him,
As a great buck it powerfully appeared,
Pushing the crumpled water up ahead,
And landed pouring like a waterfall,
And stumbled through the rocks with horny tread,
And forced the underbrush—and that was all.

by Robert FrostImage result for buck crossing lake

Lincoln Left his Mark on PT 109

The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend.
— Abe Lincoln

Image result for pt 109

On this date in 1943, young John Kennedy was skippering a small torpedo boat on a mission to sneak up in the dark on a Japanese Navy outpost in the Solomon islands. Instead, a Japanese destroyer rammed Kennedy’s boat and snapped it like a matchstick.

Kennedy sustained a spinal injury that would cause him chronic pain throughout his short life.  But that night, he had strength and gumption enough to swim to shore, leading the crew who could swim, instructing them to push with them a piece of the wreckage where those who could not swim were clining.  As the legend goes, Kennedy held in his teeth a rope that towed a crewman who had been badly burned.

17½ years later, Kennedy was inaugurated President on the Capitol mall, and he invited to the ceremony not only the two Island natives who found and rescued Kennedy and his crew, but also the captain of the Japanese destroyer who rammed PT 109 on the night of August 1, 1943.

Image result for kennedy inauguration

Time stands still

Time stands still with gazing on her face,
stand still and gaze for minutes, houres and yeares, to her give place:
All other things shall change, but shee remaines the same,

till heavens changed have their course & time hath lost his name.
Cupid doth hover up and downe blinded with her faire eyes,
and fortune captive at her feete contem’d and conquerd lies.

When fortune, love, and time attend on
Her with my fortunes, love, and time, I honour will alone,
If bloudlesse envie say, dutie hath no desert.
Dutie replies that envie knowes her selfe his faithfull heart,
My setled vowes and spotlesse faith no fortune can remove,
Courage shall shew my inward faith, and faith shall trie my love.

Freedom of Expression

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— John F. Kennedy