Friday, May 30, 2008

Oh my! Opinions are subjective. Oh my!

"Opinions are subjective," complains a writer. And so she goes on:
"whenever an opinion is a wrong one, it typically defies the rules of logic."

What's your opinion about that?

"By contrast, interpretations of [a text] are potentially less subjective insofar as they are guided—and guarded—by the tools of historical and literary analysis."

So how do you interpret that?

But above all (and not to be confused with your subjective opinion or your wondering and wandering interpretations), there's "truth itself. . . [which has at the pinnacle] biblical truth which, of course, is inherently reliable and inherently authoritative since it is inspired by God.”

If you get your logic, and it's rules, and your history and literature, with their tools, and grab onto the set of texts given mother nature's nature which is Father God's CPR, then you cannot go wrong. Wrong, of course, is the very opposite of being right. But that's just Aristotle's opinion. What if he's sometimes subjective?

I'm glad the speaker and writer Sarah Sumner has some other opinions.


scott gray said...

so...if you get your logic, and it's rules, and your history and literature, with their tools, and grab onto the set of texts...

so...what if the only thing grabbed is the text? sort of a one-way grabbing. what if there's never an 'aha' moment for the grabber?

what fun is that?

J. K. Gayle said...

Right, Scott. One-one grabbing sounds no fun at all. So how does one get to some of those good 'aha' moments?

scott gray said...


i talked out loud about this with john on the tail end of this thread:

so i won't repeat it here. people or texts-- looking for passwords to other's experiences. it's what i wish we all were to each other in the blogosphere.

one-sided grabbing is assault. and the way some people grab texts (and each other in arguments), it's assault with intent to kill. time to lay down the chain saw and pick up the scalpel.

or do seminaries not teach fine surgery in theological discourse?

i've just discovered religious naturalism. it resonates deeply. any essays (or thin books) you might suggest?



J. K. Gayle said...

Welcome back, Scott. And thanks for the link. Did you think John's take on your comments were a bit reductive, although he says "we all do that" implying that we shouldn't and shouldn't so often "do that"?

Your great metaphors made me more curious about you. I jumped over to your blogs. Have you done graduate education in theology? Was it a chainsaw or scalpel experience? I saw your comments with, to, about Suzanne also--she does get some nasty silencing from men who seem rather prone to silence women.

Please tell more about your interest in religious naturalism. How are you getting to that, and where do you see it leading?

I've got to run and may be slower as the summer goes on in conversation. But I sure appreciate it!


scott gray said...


here’s what i’ve learned this week:

i try to ride the fence between theism, atheism, agnosticism, mysticism, pantheism, and postmodernism because i think there’s value in each position, and then further value once again in each nuance in each position, and value yet again in each person who calls him/her self a member of each position. lately, the players in each position tend to think that simplistic dualisms are the easy default, especially when everyone is tired, busy, stressed, or the topic is charged; and when someone ‘defeats’ another’s position, that means ‘my position wins by default.’ usually there’s a third point of view closer to a more profound truth than anything articulated in any of the arguments presented. i’ve been accused of naiveté, waffling, poor thinking, and other precise vagaries. go figure. it’s difficult to ride the fence.

the other thing about fence riding, is the smarter you are, and the cleverer you are, the more you can get away with. i watch you, mcgrath, and david get away with it the best. the less you know (that would be me), the more likely you are to be dismissed reductively, or not even answered at all. or banned.

not only are the three of you smart, but your approach for each player is just right. i don’t seem to have that knack. i’m not as smart, or as well read; i haven’t been at this blogosphere thing as long as others have. so i have a tendency to charge boldly into others’ blog bedrooms. some folks welcome my presence, and others are surprised to see me. (hey, you left the door open, and there's a lot of cool toys in here! let's play!) i found that some theist believers consider anyone who shows up at the door as an unbeliever with questions, is a troll. i’ve discovered that some atheist believers consider anyone who finds graphic slaps at the theistic paradigms of others distasteful, is a troll. i’ve discovered that some sites that talk a good polymorphic talk (see many viewpoints, or least give value to them), circle the wagons when the questions about their presuppositions get tough. polite sites reduce me; less polite sites ignore me; some ban me as a gadfly (go figure!) and i wouldn’t change any of it for the world! or at least not much of it. the blogosphere lends itself to antagonism. at least if we were face to face, there’d be faces involved. we wouldn’t have to ‘face off,’ which is what really happens in the blogosphere. no one's face is on, unless we make a concerted effort.

we have great metaphors for change and rebirth in christianity. one not often used in the paradigm is the cyclic watering of parched lands. i started my masters ages ago, because i was thirsty. i was a fallow field, had used up all the loam in sight, and needed flooding. so i started my masters for stimulating exposure to the river’s abundance. and it worked nicely. i had the opportunity to wrestle with some excellent faculty, and by the time i finished, i was up to my nose in flood water full of nutrients. it was primarily a chainsaw experience, because i knew so little, i was gulping in huge chunks of stimulus. my papers were full of ideas, but not very well thought out. it was also a chainsaw experience in that it was catholic driven, with indoctrination agendas, and mandatory ‘formation’ weekends spent discussing relationship building with an anthropomorphic god i didn’t believe in (no one thought it was funny when i said, ‘don’t anthropomorphize god. he hates when you do that.’)
once i graduated, i took about five years to wallow in the fresh mud. that was about 6 years ago.

but it’s cyclic. so about a year ago, i was ready for more mud. i started blogging at doug’s metacatholic site, and he was most patient. he taught me lots of blog etiquette, and he let me sleep, with great patience on his part, on his blog couch long after i had overstayed my welcome. (and i am most grateful, even though we don’t interact as well now as we did then.) when i’ve accumulated enough mud, i’ll be quieter for a while, then start blogging again. i can’t sustain it like some of you can. i just don’t seem to be wired for it.

i had the great fortune while growing up of living, and moving, and having my being in an anglo-catholic parish where the dogma was a source of interesting dialog at coffee hour, but the liturgy was king. we argued, disagreed, shook our heads in wonder at the profoundness, and silliness, of our fellow parishioners’ beliefs and ideas, but at 1100 o’clock in the morning each and every sunday, we celebrated the connectedness of the body of christ in glorious high church liturgy. one’s dogmas and beliefs never decided who was in, and who was out. my agnosticism was as readily accepted as the labyrinth crowd and the folks who thought the gospels were written by the apostles. participation in the richness of a fabulously semiotic liturgy was what let the ‘doxy’s dance together with mutual delight.

this year has been one of clarifying my theistic/agnostic positions. in the inquiry, and in the clarifying, i’ve seen lines drawn among my blog friends. it’s discouraging. theists who willingly sought out venues to engage with atheists, all of a sudden are rallying around the ‘believer’ flag. people i’ve seen be accepting of pluralistic views all of a sudden think others ‘don’t get it’ (which usually means ‘don’t agree with my way.’) people who never get feisty, are now upset when one of their colleagues goes off the deep end (in their minds at least), instead of asking why that might be so, and applying jesus’ tolerance and question behaviors to fix relationships. and i have to say, this whole theodicy thing has drawn more lines in the sand that i could possibly have imagined. it’s turned into an interesting deal breaker in a variety of ways. interesting, but dismaying.

i just read the wiki stuff on religious naturalism. it seems to be rooted in critical thinking and science; community is valued; thinking about god is not mandated by those who are theists, or scoffed at by those who are atheists; moral and ethical frameworks are thought about and talked about, and implemented; wisdom texts from many paradigms are valued; interconnectedness with people and the environment are treasured. you’ve read my post on eutopia; i’m an optimist. there’s room for theist, atheist, mystic, agnostic, and believer in that religious naturalism tent.

that’s what appeals.



J. K. Gayle said...

Wow, Scott. Thanks for sharing some of the journey you've been on and are now journeying on! I am very very impressed. It's a lot to respond to, and I only add that now because just as I sit down to respond, I've got someone calling me away. And I do want to say a couple of things now.

First, I think your candor and honesty are rare stuff indeed. That's refreshing to me in itself. Most at the very least want to come across (I think even to themselves) as rather coherent.

Second, my belief about beliefs are these. We've undertheorized their importance, underrecognized their ubiquity and prevalence. I so much appreciate your marking "atheism" as also a "belief." More than that, I think or maybe believe, that beliefs really can't be helped. That is, they can't be manufactured and turned on and off like a faucet. That's not to say that they don't change; they do. But when an evangelical Christian preacher (or an proselytizing Muslim) says to "believe," then they don't really know that they're asking for. Belief, moreover, is tied to the body, to where it's been and what it's been through, in other words it's tied to experience. Paul said as is translated into English, belief comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. But I think most people having gotten all that could be meant by "hearing" much less by "the word." At any rate, one reason I like many good feminisms is that the feminists who employ the methodologies and epistemologies focus on the body. If Aristotle gets one thing right in his Rhetoric it's his asserting that the inner passions are the body of beliefs. (Of course, rhetoricians, by transliterating and overtheorizing "enthymeme" and "pisteis", have completely missed it.) Aristotle was hung on logic, on cold objectivity, on abstractions that didn't require beliefs or the body or much passion. I do appreciate yours! And may try to get back to you soon. Thanks again for stopping by and for all you've said!

Sincerely, JKG

Anonymous said...

I'm really enjoying this comment thread. Not all the details are easily comprehensible to me (I had to laugh, Scott, at your kind of putting you on the lower end of "the smarter you are, the more you can get away with" fence riders. If that ranking is true, who knows where I am, as I don't understand a whole lot of these kinds of discussions).

Having said that, though, I feel like I'm following the heart of key parts of it, and I'm certainly enjoying that. I also agree with the marking of "atheism" as a belief.

And JK, I wrestle a lot with what belief is, what shapes it and all, and I don't have many answers at all. But the angle you are coming at it from, concerning the body and experiences, I think I agree that that is undercredited. Personality, too.

Which gives me, of course, more questions. I don't believe that we can't help what we believe and don't have choice in the matter. I'm not quite sure I'd go as far as agreeing that they can't be helped. But I don't think they are nearly as detached of a cognitive, independent thing as we sometimes assume. I do have a lot of questions how it works, even as I watch my own beliefs grow stronger and in some ways more confident. I don't think it is a stubborn, inevitable confidence that is just the result of sticking my heels further and further in the ground the more cognitive dissonance I encounter. Could be, of course, and I suppose I'd be the last to know :-\.

I also agree, Scott, that it is dismaying to watch topics like theodicy and others become deal breakers. I've been thinking about your paradigms for wisdom literature, and I've been thinking about beliefs, and what I think about either of those topics and I how I see myself in them. All I come up with is a poem. And I don't know if it will make sense. Some day I may blog about it myself, but for now I'm gong to hog up this more comment thread to try out my beginning thoughts (not that my blog has high visibility, but a comment thread from a few days ago on a blog that doesn't list comments, I'm assuming, is less read than a new post, and you two happen to be the ones making me think about this anyway).

Here's the poem: (and it's a risk to throw a poem out there, because interpretations vary and are so emotively charged, but here goes)

The Silken Tent
by Robert Frost

She is as in a field a silken tent
At midday when a sunny summer breeze
Has dried the dew and all its ropes relent
So that in guys it gently sways at ease
And its supporting central cedar pole,
That is its pinnacle to heavenward
And signifies the sureness of the soul,
Seems to owe naught to any single cord,
But strictly held by none, is loosely bound
By countless silken ties of love and thought
To everyone on earth the compass round,
And only by one's going slightly taut
In the capriciousness of summer air
Is of the slightest bondage made aware.

For me, belief is a lot like that tent. The center pole is something quite solid, sunk into something that is what it is. For me, this includes my views on the Bible, my understanding of God, the things about Him I hold to more or less securely, regardless of (or even with) the questions. It is, I suppose, either the shape or the root of my beliefs. It's where I stand and how I stand, and it doesn't ignore the questions about the quality of cedar for a tent post or the choice of land where the tent is set up, but, in general, is a confident-in-spite-of -the-questions rootedness of belief for me.

But the other cords that hold the tent up and give it its shape, they aren't so solid or precise (which is not to say they are insignificant, don't matter or are wishy-washy). And the way the tent moves in the wind as a result of those ropes is simultaneously secure, but also sort of gives more.

I don't know. I'm thinking about things like my take (or not) on theodicy, on abortion, on politics, on comp/egal. My beliefs on all of those things matter to me (well, except politics, and even that not-mattering is based in certain beliefs), and they are not likely to up and change easily. But neither are they as rock solid essential as the "central cedar pole" stuff.

They matter, but also they are neither so fragile or so definitive to be worth having to circle the wagons up because some disagree with how they are staked or someone asks questions that blow against how my "tent cords" are tied down. I don't know. I can't make the analogy work all that far, but maybe far enough you can feel what I'm getting it. In some ways the way the different tent cords are tied down, somewhat loosely, but still fixed, is directly in relation to the tensions that blow around on the issue. And I'm almost always glad (even if uncomfortable) for those tensions and the questions.

I rarely find that questions from another perspective actually uproot my beliefs (usually because even if I don't have answers for the questions, I don't see better or more certain answers from the other perspective, but the questions from that perspective keep my own perspective more honest and ____--can't think of the word that I was feeling there).

My beliefs don't feel like bondage to me, though I can't deny that in one way they are. And inasmuch as the "capriciousness of summer air" keeps me aware and conscious of the bondage of my beliefs (and of the choice to continue to be rooted in those ways), I'm glad for that movement. Somehow that gets at part of why I like listening in on conversations (if they are more or less polite :) ) that push and pull against my beliefs.

I also kind of see it as the way the tent cords are tied down are more likely to be pulled up and restaked down a little bit differently. It's not so much a given that they will be, but they are just that way. There is some degree of fixedness in relation to that main supporting pole and other things. And, I don't know, I AM pretty stubborn :), so those types of things I might be quite confident on, but confident in a more flexing way.

Well, again, there's a lot such an analogy doesn't carry all the way through on, but it is a starting picture for me, and it's nice to know it will be heard and considered and pushed or pulled against as the case may be.

(This is long--I feel like I'm responding to two threads--this one and Scott's asking about models for thinking about wisdom literature--I don't know that how it relates to them will be as clear now that I've spoken it, but for me, it's connected :) )

Anonymous said...

The thing I like about the tent paradigm, too, is that it is what it is, but, also, it's not really defined or doesn't need to be defended in order to be what it is. There's a lot that is not in that tent, even a lot of things that are pretty much excluded by implication because of what the tent is, what it's main pole is, and where it's set up. But, those things as what they are, the tent is still a place of welcoming and relationship (I'm thinking, of course, more of big social tents from the olden days than of little camping tents). You are welcome in my tent and not a threat to my tent nor is the tent a threat to you, just because it is set up according to a certain structure.

For me, that's not the same thing as saying I think all tents are the same. I don't. Just that, the tent is what it is, but nothing about that should exclude the fellowship and important social connections that happen in that context.

For me, it feels a little bit like your example, Scott, of the working side by side on a HFH project. It does grieve me when strong differences get in the way of being in relationship or of working together. Somehow solidness of belief or conviction doesn't have to equal impossibility of good and vital relationship. Somehow, solidness of conviction and belief should include good and vital relationship without fear...

And I'm back to that other comment I left feeling like fear is what gets in the way of much space being left for good dialog in these areas of wide differences that matter to us.

J. K. Gayle said...

I don't believe that we can't help what we believe and don't have choice in the matter....

My beliefs don't feel like bondage to me, though I can't deny that in one way they are... that push and pull against my beliefs.

Somehow, solidness of conviction and belief should include good and vital relationship without fear...

Thanks, Eclexia, for your comments!

When you say, "I don't believe that we can't help what we believe" do you have a choice in your belief "that we can't help what we believe"?

Do you have a choice in involuntary laughter at an inside joke?

Do you have choice over falling in love?

Do you have a choice about fear?

Yesterday, I ran with my dog from my home to a river nearby. We both stopped when we saw, stretched along the path sunning itself, a huge snake. I saw the hairs on my dog's back rise up, and felt the hairs on the back of my neck stiffen. I did restrain my dog (he's been bitten by a beaver before, twice, when we were out in the same area). And then I picked up a rock, threw it near the snake, and scared it away. Three breathing beings with fear. I'd say much of our fear was involuntary. And yet I was able to control and restrain and remember and respond. A bit of a human advantage so none of us bit or got bit. :) This is a true story. But I thought about that in relation to my responses to my kids and my wife.

We watched home movies all weekend. It was my son's birthday. I love him so much, and my daughters, and my wife. I'm really deeply in love with her. After more than two decades of living with her, there are profound feelings, many like the first when we first met. Do I have in choice in the matter of loving these human beings?

And am I imprisoned by my belief in Jesus? At age 14, I became an atheist--it was in an instant, in a moment I can recall, in a life science class in a middle school in Bryan Texas. Now there were resentments against Christian theists, and particular ones, and close ones who were (in my view, my beliefs) profoundly hypocritical and painfully abusive of others, of me, of people dear to me. And there were pubescent desires, hedonistic ones of the strongest pull. But then, a couple of years later, after lots of water under many bridges of a young life now 16, with other substantially grievously painful events and some reflection, in Jakarta Indonesia, on a particular day, I became not only a theist, a person who believes in a god, but a particular kind of theist, one who can't help but see Jesus as a particular kind of human being who has invaded not only human history but also my young history of only sixteen years. My profound belief, much different from the propositions of "truth" pushed on me by parents and Sunday School teachers and youth group workers and such, was Jesus is here by a kind of breath, a breathing in relationship with me.

Now that belief comes and goes, as does my fear of snakes when I see one within twelve feet of me but then it leaves and my love of my best friend when I am with her but then when we're moving in different directions.

In the gospels, what really amazes me is how each one of the men who were closest to Jesus in the end--not just Judas or doubting Thomas--each one of them in the end believes he's not the one. That is they lose their belief. For the eleven disciples it does come back. But how lucky for them to be with him, to hear his voice, to see him breath and eat and look them each in the eye, to touch him freely. Jesus then says we who have never seen and yet believe are luckier. How does anyone manufacture fear of a snake? Or love of one's children or spouse? Or believing gratitude towards our caring giving God? Does it "feel like a bondage"?

Regularly, I'm in recovery groups, and there is common agreement among those in the 12 step process that we cannot behave other than how we believe. I saw this work out in my own father's life--he has advanced degrees in theology and has ministered to others in many contexts--but his behavior in certain areas was both painful to others and to him. A change came, began to come, for him when he started quoting a little saying of another pastor friend of his. It goes like this: "We practice daily what we believe; all the rest is religious talk." So I think part of the cleverness of 12 Steps (in many of the American contexts anyway) is that it begins to move the body and the hand and tongue into confession and humility so that new beliefs can come in and so that new behaviors follow. I have a good friend who is a sex addict; he's a father of three children and he and his wife are still together after nearly 25 years; he is a physician who has won awards in medicine--and yet he cannot get his mind around changing his behavior, which more than once has hurt his family and himself. To think of his behavior as a disease--because he's also a Christian and a doctor--has been very very difficult for him. His models (medicine and Christianity) have offered different beliefs about his beliefs. Fortunately, he is in process of change. Sometimes belief is deeper than knowledge. It's like C. S. Lewis said, not just a coat of paint but deep dye on the soul.

I love it when philosophy professor Dallas Willard asks his 101 students something as they turn in their exams. He asks: "Do you believe what you wrote." He says they always smile because they know that they don't have to believe what they wrote to get a good grade. They are graded only on what they know which they write on the exam. I love that because their smile is rather involuntary, and so are their beliefs. Doesn't mean that their beliefs are out of control or that they can't control them or that they are imprisoned by their beliefs.

So after this diatribe, these ramblings, I want to come back to some of Scott's questions in an indirect way. Coming face to face with profound beliefs within us individually and respectively is freeing. The just or the righteous shall live by belief. And what if belief is like laughter at an inside joke?

I believe that Langston Hughes believed this with all his heart. It's belief that is congruent with knowing, but is deeper than taught knowledge. Hughes wrote this in a book he entitled, The First Book of Negroes, for children and young adults who could and would believe with him. He wrote this on page 17:

This is legal segregation, but Negroes call it "Jim Crow," and they do not believe
it is legal because it does not follow our Constitution or the Declaration of Independence...

And in 1952, when he published this words, not all believed what he wrote. It's taken much to change beliefs, to convert the unconverted, and not to imprison them.

(Thank you again for using your blog to post writings of Langston Hughes!!)

Anonymous said...

I know when I talk, I’m often talking out of both sides of my mouth. I’ve been accused of such on many occasions, and I no longer try to deny it, because, well, it’s true :) And mainly it’s just nice to sit and have someone point it out who is doing so in the nature of continuing the dialogue and not in silencing me because I’m being illogical! I really appreciate the selections from what I wrote that you collated at the top of your comment, because it puts words, neatly and concisely–my own words–to the tensions I’m feeling when I’m thinking about these things.

Do you know Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel? Owl is one of the best descriptions of my personality I’ve ever read. So, there’s a story in that book about Owl wanting to be upstairs and downstairs at the same time, and he runs himself ragged trying to figure out how to accomplish that and finally sits down in the middle of the steps, tired. So, I sit in the middle, but the middle isn’t really “home”.

In this area that you have touched on with beliefs and how they are rooted in the body and the experience, I race between the upstairs and the downstairs–between seeing people as rooted in our experiences and our bodies and being free in our cognition. I know they are both extremes and I believe they are both reductionistic in their own ways. But still I want to hang out in both places and sometimes run myself ragged in the thinking process.

So, in that context something you said at the end of your comment really struck me as relevant: “...belief that is congruent with knowing, but is deeper than taught knowledge.” I think I can live with that.

I like the comparisons you make with not being able to help laughter or fear or whatever.

Factored into my thinking is some of my reading of Viktor Frankl. I read through his biography with incredible fascination. I was struck as I read by his own inconsistency (only I’ve had a hard time going back to find the exact quotes. Like most biographies, it wasn’t the easiest reading, although I loved internalizing his story/stories. I’m just not sure I want to go back and reread the whole thing trying to find the quotes. I thought I marked them, but I was reading it at the gym, so some of my markings are scrawls and some places I just didn’t mark when I thought I did). Anyway, what I remember is this: he talks about how driven and compelled he is in his love for his wife. How he just about can’t help himself. But, then, when he is talking about God, he says something about how he can’t think that it is a compelled driven thing. And I remember thinking, aha, if Frankl can be a little conflicted and a little inconsistent, well, I’m in good company :) I doubt I do Frankl or his thinking justice, and I may have read more into that than was there. But still it was a thought that made me smile.

Reading your thoughts is nice to me as I think about my own running up and down the stairs on my thinking on this (and can I help my belief that’s what at the top of the stairs and the bottom of the stairs are both important? Am I just a product of my SJ linear brain trying to reconcile and make sense of a very nonlinear world? :) My questions and inconsistencies never end.

It IS freeing to come face to face with profound beliefs inside of myself. It is freeing to recognize some of them as binding/bondage. It is freeing to make some conscious choices concerning them. It is maddening to not really know how much is conscious choice or not. (I know I love how it helps me to understand more about my personality, for example, in descriptive ways. I know how much I hate it when someone rolls their eyes and discredits a belief or insight of mine as “oh that’s just the way she is” as if I can’t help any of it and can’t use my brain to come to any conclusion independent of “who I am”. As if because I'm an SJ and think linearly, I can't help it that I think the way I do and come to the conclusions and beliefs I do for the reasons I do.)

In all truth, I don’t want to think of myself as independent from “who I am” but neither can I bear to have that be so prescriptively restrictive that I am left with no credibility. These are the kinds of tensions I wrestle with, on a broader scale, when I express that it is hard for me to believe I can’t help at all what I believe and have no choice in the matter. I can’t help it (smile) that it bugs the tar out of me either way, that I’m compelled in my beliefs OR that I’m so independently “untethered” from internal and external influences or experiences.

I find myself pushing up against both sides (compelled or by choice?) and then sitting down on the step smack in the middle, not because I think the middle is right (the middle usually seems to get it wrong from both ways I think!) but, because, to quote Owl, “All I am is very tired.”

In any case, some days it can be a fun kind of tired. Especially when the people talking to me at the top and bottom of the stairs, or along the climb are friendly and not defensive or attacking. And so, in that vein, I’m enjoying this discussion and the pushing against that happens. Your thoughts are enjoyable to read and quite helpful to me from different angles, not the least of which is helping me figure out some more of my own conflictions (I guess that’s not a word, according to spell check...)

Thank you for sharing real stories as you think out loud on these things. I love stories, and they help make connections in my brain.

J. K. Gayle said...

It is maddening to not really know how much is conscious choice or not.

Your own personal description here makes me think of C.S. Lewis, who was about the only other person on the planet who is as self aware as you. I'm just kidding now (and David Ker might be proud of me for attempting such a joke, such hyperbolic teasing). But really, Lewis was amazing. Not only did he think through things, he was interested in consciousness and in change. He has a couple of difficult autobiographies that I just love (A Pilgrim's Regress and Surprised by Joy). Have you read them?

In Surprised by Joy, he comes to believe that he has two sorts of consciousness (along with all the stuff that's sub conscious). He calls these "enjoyment" and "contemplation" and says their mutually exclusive experiences. I've blogged some on this (and it really is a long long long post), but I think it's pretty helpful along the lines of wondering whether we can change, and how we might, when that's helpful.

Anonymous said...

:) I don't mind being compared to C.S. Lewis, even if it is a joke. When I've asked David before whether he was joking or serious about something, he told me that everything he says is always both.
Anyway, your "hyperbolic teasing" made me smile.

I'm not sure what it says about my self awareness to compare myself to an owl in a children's book!

I read your other post, and you certainly do give me a lot to think about over there. It's going to need to cogitate around in my brain for a while. And I think, sigh, I've run out of words (can you believe it?!? finally!) for the moment on this topic--so many thoughts, so much input, so fast. And now I need to sit on it all for a while. All very good things to sit on. Thank you.

scott gray said...


i'm not done here, yet.

but my head is full of good things to think about, it's about to 'splode.

i'll be back.

thank you so much for great 'aha's.


J. K. Gayle said...


I think it's wise to compare yourself to an owl in the book for children. And my favorite lines in your Robert Frost poem are

By countless silken ties of love and thought
To everyone on earth the compass round,


I've enjoyed your fun at John's blog. Thanks for stopping by again here!

Jane said...

J.K. you are supposed to be writing your dissertation!
;) I've posted the French of the parable to my blog and will try to get it to you soon

J. K. Gayle said...

Votre traduction est belle, Jane! merci beaucoup