Kevin's Musings

Thoughts on religion, philosophy, music, art, and anything else that has grabbed my attention during the day.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Thoughts in Hometown Buffet

These thoughts are going to be a little jumbled but hopefully one can make sense of them. I asked a lot of questions without attempting to answer many of them. They are thoughts and questions to ponder. I have been persuaded that it is more important to develop good questions than to have a lot of factual knowledge, and to spend one's life wrestling with those questions.

For 2000 years the goal of a good education was to create a lady or a gentleman. The good education produced people who would think well, read well, and write well. The leaders of the Christian Church had these abilities. Today the goal of education seems to me to be 1) rote memorization of data, 2) socialization, 3) Job skills and job preparation.

The historical understanding of the good education was to become a good, beautiful and whole person. A person, as it was understood, can become a beautiful person by contemplating beautiful things. How is that possible? Why is that so? One possibility: contemplation, reflection, is an action of the soul, not just the body. "One becomes what one contemplates. One becomes what one worships." How can I justify these statements? What sorts of things are worthy of contemplation? The first thing that comes to mind is the list of St. Paul in Philipians - things that are pure, noble, of good reputation, lovely, true, worthy of praise. He tells us to think (dwell, contemplate, reflect) on these things.

The ancient Greeks believed the well-educated person was a person of justice, goodness, someone who was inquisitive and had a whole soul - Someone who thought hard, felt passionately about good things and then did good in their community (head, heart, and hand). Historically, whatever group has had an understanding of head, heart, and hand would triumph in the culture, would LEAD the culture.

More thoughts:
How has the attitude of efficiency to the modern man been detrimental to an attitude toward valuing contemplation of Godly qualities of character, eternal constants, i.e. the world of being in relation to the world of becoming? (Plato) I think it has helped to blind us to the world beyond the world of the sense. If one believes in the world beyond the senses, because of the attitude that efficiency is better, one is likely to find difficulty in believing the world of sense can have any direct contact with the world beyond. The metaphysical world.

This also has implications towards the claim that fictional stories realised in the imagination can become reality both in the mind of the creator and in the mind of the receiver of the stories. Is Frodo Baggins, for example, real in the imagination since there is an author and a receiver of the person or idea of Frodo? Does Frodo have any direct bearing on the life of the person contemplating his qualities, his actions, and his thoughts and passions?

What paradigm is true if naturalism is false? What is the opposite of naturalism and materialism? Metaphysics, supernaturalism? The world of contemplation vs. pragmatism? How can one discover this world beyond the sensate world? How can one become convinced of the world of spirit, mind (as opposed to brain), aesthetics, emotion, etc.? Is God Himself the Creator of goodness, truth, beauty, justice, love, nobility, kindness, etc.? Does God create these qualities that we must become or is God Himself these qualities and we must share in His life in order to become these qualities? When we become people of goodness, truth, honesty, beauty, love, etc. does this mean we become what God is, or are these qualities something God creates and thereby we remain something outside of God - without sharing in His nature? Maybe this is the difference between Eastern and Western Christianity.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Is there a standard of greatness?

I've been reading Don Quixote somewhat in my spare time. I don't really have any profound thoughts on it as of yet, though it is engaging and humorous. I'm going to wait until I've read most of it, if not all of it, before giving my opinion on it. When one grows up reading textbooks and coming to believe that this is how one learns, it is difficult, at first, to read classic books which contain a very different mode of communicating. Some would say the standard should be these Great Books and that when comparing textbooks with Great Books, textbooks fail to live up to the standard of those books. However, that doesn't mean one cannot learn from textbooks. It merely means if you hold to a standard of excellence, which I do, then to become aquainted with the greats is important before pounding hours and hours of textbook material into your head.

It is the same with music. I grew up listening to classical music, thanks to my parents. When I got into high school, most of my friends (who were not band geeks) did not like classical music. I came to realize they had not been exposed to it at first, as I had been, and so did not have the opportunity to grow to appreciate it. The popular music of my high school years was 90's rock - Everclear, Ben Folds, Cake, etc. and some hip hop/gangsta rap. This was the standard in most of the minds at my age level during high school.

What I'm proposing is the idea that things that stand the test of time are things that are Great. Classical music has stood the test of time. Who hasn't heard of at the least, or become intimately aquainted with at best, Mozart's Eine Kleine or Beethoven's 5th? Classic books, I would suggest, fall in the same category. The Bible is the oldest and most popular/well read that we know of in the history of mankind. Why is that? Has science proven it away? Part of the reason is it presents answers to every aspect of humanity. It assumes there is a Supernatural Power, a Theistic view of reality, without trying to prove it. Science tries to prove everything. Stories simply assume certain facts about reality. But stories are not always necessarily false. The Bible has stood the test of time. What else has? Most books that have stood the test of time, especially over the last 2000 years, are religious in nature. Many people have said throughout history that religion is a comfort for people and therefore it is a weakness. I would say (along with Dr. Reynolds) that that is a strength of religion. ( I'm sure many books and much music has been written that were not good enough to last that long, just as most of the books and music we are familiar with today will not stand the test of time, since 99% of everything humankind creates is junk. That's not to say there is nothing of value in some of what man produces today, but we must evaluate it against a standard that is higher than "what I want" or "what I feel based on my own tiny little perspective is best".

So, hopefully, and I could be wrong, that as I begin to read Great Books I will be able to see what time has shown to be the best possible quality of literature produced by the mind of man.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

First blog

This is my first experience with a real blog site. How exciting!

My posting will be mostly on thoughts I'm having recently, books I'm reading, ideas on music and music composition, or other ideas I've gained through discussion or internet sites. If anyone has any advice on how to make this better, please help me out.

I only recently discovered the Orthodox Church and have found my way into discovering the Truth there. So much of my posting will be on my learnings from my readings and experiences in the Orthodox Church as well.