Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Pathway Between the Seas - a review

David McCullough wrote Pathway Between the Seas (PBS) which is about the building of the Panama Canal, one of the greatest building achievements in world history.

I just finished this book on Sunday but had started in February. It is a very long book, around 600 pages, but I enjoyed it. McCullough does a great job of funneling many details and descriptions into many different themes, based on a single thread.

Why it is a such a good book
I most enjoyed the characters in PBS. McCullough does a great job of tying in many different biographies and placing them in the context of the building process. One of my favorite parts was the U.S. political battle as to where the canal was going to be built and how Panama became an independent nation.

How a 600 page book can be a quick read
PBS is a very long book filled with a lot of detailed information and it is easy to get lost in all of it. I'm not sure if this is a weakness of the book. McCullough does a great job of controlling the amount of information given to the reader, but the nature of the topic causes it to lean toward too much information. I found it best to pay attention to the main characters and do my best to remember their names. (Even if they weren't easy to remember.) Also, I tried to hold onto the main theme of each chapter, which was not too hard to do because the writer is a master at creating narratives.

Who should Read it
If you enjoy history and are comfortable weeding through a lot of details while holding on to a main theme, I would suggest that this would be a good summer read. The length of the book is challenging, but it is definitely worth reading.

What I learned
One general idea I gleaned from this book was that large movements are often controlled and determined by individual leaders. The failure of the French was caused by the naivete and ignorance of the French leaders. The success of the Americans was caused by the tenacity, organization skill and discipline of individual leaders. It surprised me that even such a large project as the Panama Canal (Its scale is massive, absolutely incredible. The locks that were built are so big that they would be part of the sky line in New York City. Only the Empire State Building and a couple other skyscrapers would be larger.) would be greatly determined by individuals. It helped me realize why one's individual actions can have momentous consequences for other people around us.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Why are Taylor Men Passive?

The other day I stated on my facebook a question, "Why are Taylor men passive?" Two people who were not from Taylor commented. (My lovely sister Sarah Pulliam Bailey and not so lovely looking Eddie Burris) Thank you to both of them for commenting and I hope they continue to dialogue with each other on this issue.

The reason I asked this question was because Taylor men are quite passive. The most recent evidence is regarding the number of males who applied for Lighthouse trips next year. For those of you not familiar with Taylor or Lighthouse, Lighthouse is a campus organization that sends out students on short-term mission trips for J-term every year. Approximately 25% of the applicants were males.

Men are a minority on campups so there should be less male applicants then female applicants simply because there are less men on campus but why is it so low?

Eddie Burris blames the feminist movement, Sarah disagrees. I'll let them debate that point.

I think that there are deeper reasons for this serious problem. I strongly believe that it comes down to two issues: gender relations and identity.

First, gender relations.
Men on campus don't see themselves as authorities or examples to women. Some think this is linked with how women see themselves and men, but ultimately, it comes down to how men see their relation with people. Guys don't want to be leaders and those who are leaders are often hurt by people's rejection of their authority. If you want to insult a guy, don't listen to him, acknowledge what he says or respect one of his requests. This doesn't obeying a every guys wish, but boy it is extremely insulting when you ignore a guy who is in a leadership position. (This is not to say that this excuses men. God calls men act like Christ [and women]. Christ took insult all the time, but did not quit or become passive. Men have no excuse!)

Second, identity.
A man's identity is a really big deal, a really, really, really big deal. If a man loses his identity (generally) or does not have one, he will more likely be passive and counter-productive. Furthermore, if he doesn't have a strong identity or a stable identity the same result will occur, passivity. (Generally speaking of course.) Especially with young men, there needs to be a battle for us to fight, and it has to be one which we think we can win! (So don't suggest to a guy that he defeat world poverty.) Fighting a battle can be a major part of a guy's identity. I do not mean by "a battle" literally fighting or picking up a big cause. I mean holding to something that is seen as important and worth sacrificing for. More importantly, most of the time, a male's identity is more then likely trapped in an addiction. Specifically, a lot of men are addicted to pornography and sexual sin. There are more and more studies coming out on the addictive nature of pornography. There are other substances that are addictive in nature to men, but I want to specifically point out pornography because it is becoming more of an issue for the church.

So that is what I think about that. I would be especially interested in hearing people's comments and observation about this problem. By the way, I can't go on lighthouse because I have school.

passing note: people often point out video games are the problem, I think that they are a consequence of the problem, not the problem itself.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Antony Flew, 1923-2010

One of the major philosophers of the 20th century has died. Antony Flew was an English philosopher who defended atheism until 2004 when he publicly claimed to be a theist. Sadly, he was minimalist and as far as we know, never acknowledged anything more then an Aristotelian God.

It should be pointed out that Flew did much more work then just atheism in philosophy. He was a leading scholar on David Hume, major critic of John Rawls in political philosophy and did work in philosophy of education. This is only some of what he did work in.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Responses to Criticism against berkeleyan/Edwardsian Idealism

In my last post I gave my argument for why I am an Idealist. Specifically, to be is to be perceived. The ontological status of the physical world is based upon one's perception of it. In my last post, I answered an objection regarding relativity of idealism, whether physical reality is simply relative to one's perception.

The Problem of Pantheism
The first problem that I want to work with is the problem of pantheism. On facebook, Ryan Mullins brought this problem up:
The physical world is made up of God's thoughts. God's thoughts and actions are equivocal. God's actions are a part of his being. So, the physical world is a part of God's being.
The problem is that neither Berekeley nor Edwards would want to be pantheists. Neither do I. There are a couple of responses an idealist can give. First, is God a simple substance? Second, just because God thinks something, that does not mean it is an thought of God in this particular world. (Abraham inquiring God to consider a change in his plan.) I think God is powerful enough to be able to think of something while not it being revealed to us.

Problem of relations of minds
This is a serious problem for the idealist. It goes like this:
We are God's thoughts, we are ideas of God, our mind's are, but our minds also create ideas and perceive God's ideas. What is the relation between God's mind and our's?
This problem is very serious because the existence of our minds is based upon God's thoughts. I don't know the answer to this question. It's a major problem, but I don't see how it gives reason to say that idealism is false.

3. the boxed God problem
This is a very serious problem for the idealist. It took me a long time to work through this problem:
The idealist is coming to his position based off of problem for the naive and representational realists. God, how the idealist believes he exists, his ontology, is based off other understanding of the world. His beliefs about God do not stem from who God reveals himself, rather they result from responding to how he understands.
I will expand on this in my next post. Note: There is a lot here that needs to be developed. Sorry the Butler game is more important!

Halftime is over, Go Butler!!!!!