Sure, evolution as such is not to be found in the book containing what God gave Moses as an explanation of origins suitable for illiterate nomads. No, and beer is not mentioned in the Bible either, though man has been making it for about twelve centuries.
Bishop Tikhon of San Francisco, Los Angeles and the West

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Microsoft must abandon Vista

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I am so far removed from the world of PCs and Microsoft operating systems that I have never even played with Vista. For which blessing, I send a grateful prayer to God. I mean, he could have afflicted me with Vista. Instead, he only smote my beloved Jeep. A fair trade.

While Vista was originally touted by Microsoft as the operating system savior we’ve all been waiting for, it has turned out to be one of the biggest blunders in technology. With a host of issues that are inexcusable and features that are taken from the Mac OS X and Linux playbook, Microsoft has once again lost sight of what we really want.

Read the rest: “Why Microsoft must abandon Vista to save itself”

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Filed under: — Basil @ 7:55 pm

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Reflections on L’Engle’s Aesthetics

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In the wake of Madeleine L’Engle’s recent passing, I went to Barnes and Noble last night and picked up Walking on Water: Reflections on faith and art. I love it, of course: Who could not love a book by one of the best Christian writers of the last century on faith and art? However, there is one paragraph that truly irritates. In a chapter entitled, “Icons of the True,” she puts in the following paeon to a relativism vis á vis art:

What is a true icon of God to one person may be blasphemy to another. And it is not possible for us flawed human beings to make absolute, zealous judgments as to what is and what is not religious art. I know what is religious art for me. You know what is religious art for you. And they are not necessarily the same. Not everyone feels pulled up to heavenly heights in listening to the pellucid, mathematically precise structure of a Bach fugue. The smarmy picture of Jesus which I find nauseating may be for someone else, a true icon.

I do not relate. Perhaps my understanding of truth is antiquated and naïve in this post-Wittgenstein world, but I still believe it means “corresponds (in some sense of ‘corresponds’) to a reality that exists external to me.” A true icon is one that bears a resemblance to its subject. I do not mean by this a mean verisimilitude. Rather, something about the work must somehow reveal something true. And while the revelation comes from our participation in the work as viewers, readers, or listeners, it does not follow that Warner Sallman’s Head of Christ, or any of his devotional imagery, is perhaps true for some. To say so is a pusillanimous evasion of the possibility that beauty may have an antonym (to use an expensive word that L’Engle uses twice in the first two chapters).

Naturally, when she quotes Bishop Kallistos (Ware), I am considerably warmer. His grace writes in the journal Sobornost:

an abstract composition by Kandinsky or Van Gogh’s landscape of the cornfield with birds… is a real instance of divine transfiguration, in which we see matter rendered spiritual and entering into the “glorious liberty of the children of God.” This remains true, even when the artist does not personally believe in God. Provided he is an artist of integrity, he is a genuine servant of the glory which he does not recognize, and unknown to himself there is “something divine” about his work. We may rest confident that at the last judgment the angels will produce his works of art as testimony on his behalf.

(If that quote is reproduced in one of the many collections of his essays — The Inner Kingdom, perhaps — I would be grateful if someone would point out where I might read it in its total context.)

She closes the second chapter with this line, which I love: “There is nothing so secular that it cannot be sacred, and that is one of the deepest meanings of the Incarnation.”

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Filed under: — Basil @ 8:42 pm

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Freedom of a Sort

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When I finally gave up hoping that my Jeep would be returned to working condition in what I would have previously considered a timely fashion, I stopped paying exorbitant fees for taxicabs and learned how to use the local public transit, which is primarily buses. Greg is a friend from Boston who uses public transit there exclusively, and he promised I would find it liberating. Although I miss the freedom of a private vehicle (no word yet on the Jeep), his promise has been fulfilled in a very spiritual sort of liberation:

I no longer fret or steam over traffic snarls. I typically leave one and a half to two hours before liberty expires, and I must be on the ship. Further, someone else is in the driver’s seat. It is their problem, not mine.

I have completed reading several books (today makes three by my count) — a feat I had not accomplished since February 4, 2004 (yes, that fateful day). I have started many, but finished none.

These are, of course, the two books recommended by my spiritual father and the other, related title, which I mentioned previously. Since my internet connection is currently hampered by my abysmal financial condition, I will collect offline my thoughts on each text individually and then post them here.

Clearly, this is liberty of a different sort. As a citizen of the United States, I am accustomed to imagining liberty, especially when associated with traveling about, with freedom to: to move, to go where I wish right now, or in exactly thirty-five minutes, to get there faster or slower, and so forth. But my newly discovered liberty is precisely a freedom from: from the need to be dominated by my desires to roam, from the entanglement with traffic, which tends toward my agitation, from slavery to an object that, as we speak, is demonstrating that its value will have an end.

And it feels good to be free.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 6:31 pm