Well, let’s get started then. These are my interests:
- software engineering
In philosophy, I put the highest value on clarity of thinking and writing. My heroes, in the past century, have been Wittgenstein, J.L.Austin, Charles Taylor, John Macmurray, Roy Rapaport, and George Carlin. I’m not professionally active. But I will present some essays in this blog.
Philosophy is a discipline for the mind; it is a joint — and mutually challenging — effort of finding true things. My deepest conviction is that some experience of this practice is every human being’s native birthright.
My religion is Christianity. I’ve read in other religions, and absorbed some ideas from them; but I’ve never made any of them the center of my religious practice. My childhood religious training was in Christianity; converting to some other religion now, sixty years later, would effectively chop my life into two parts, and that would be intolerable. It’s more straightforward to simply absorb new insights, as they come along, into my spiritual perspective, and abstain from modifying the basic vocabulary in which I express myself.
I worship at a small Episcopal parish nearby. I’ve been there since 1995; sang in the choir until a couple of years ago, been a lector (scripture reader at services) right up to the present, led discussion forums on interesting topics from the history of our religion.
I have no sympathy for the public utterances of fundamentalist evangelicals on matters of politics, social mores, or the physical and biological sciences. Their errors, in those domains, are too numerous to list here.
On the other hand, the popular atheism of Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, and the like, goes right past me; I can’t recognize my own worship, or my own god, or my own religion, in any of their descriptions.
The religion I follow is intensely and irrevocably personal. It attends to persons and to a personal god; it knows nothing of human institutions, even religious ones such as churches, parishes, denominations, or conventions. (These may be composed of profoundly holy persons, but that does not endow the institutions themselves with any haloes. Religious institutions are artifacts in and of human culture; no such organization can have, or represent, or engage in, any sort of spiritual life.)
The religion I follow does not convey, or consist of, impersonal theories about the nature of the world. It consists primarily of things that I do, and a battery of standards by which I steer myself, and a provocative vision of how persons can best relate to each other, and a deeply ingrained communal memorial to the man this religion is named for.
In music, I have one hero: J.S.Bach overwhelmed my spirit sixty years ago, and no other musician has ever displaced him. I do accept and honor a few lesser gods: Beethoven, at an entirely opposite spiritual pole from Bach, and Ravi Shankar, for bringing me music from wholly outside my native traditions.
What about literature? Hm . . . I read nonstop until I was around forty — taking time off only to become a husband and then a father. My admiration for the work of Ursula Le Guin is, well, unbounded.
I have a small output of poetry — maybe fifty poems in that many years. For the past five years I have led a local workshop in poetry: reading it and writing it.
Finally, go. (This is the board game — black and white stones on a 19×19 grid — that arose in China at least three thousand years ago and came to Europe and the Americas only in the 19th century.) I’ve played on DGS since 2003, currently at 10kyu.
That’ll have to do for now, I guess. Future postings will expand on each of these topics. In the meantime, we will pass the time speculating about some recent advances in neuroscience, the spiritual discipline of playing go, how philosophy and common sense are profoundly interconnected, and the mind of J.S.Bach.