Sunday, November 11, 2007


* Bartolomé Blanco Márquez, who was one of the Spanish martyrs beatified on October 28, wrote a letter to his girlfriend while in prison waiting to go before the firing squad. He was 22 years old. Well worth reading.

* Benedict XVI on Jerome:

What can we learn from St. Jerome? Above all I think it is this: to love the word of God in sacred Scripture. St. Jerome said, “To ignore Scripture is to ignore Christ.” That is why it is important that every Christian live in contact and in personal dialogue with the word of God, given to us in sacred Scripture.

This dialogue should be of two dimensions. On one hand, it should be truly personal, because God speaks to each of us through sacred Scripture and has a message for each of us. We shouldn’t read sacred Scripture as a word from the past, but rather as the word of God addressed even to us, and we must try to understand what the Lord is telling us.

And so we don’t fall into individualism, we must also keep in mind that the word of God is given to us in order to build communion, to unite us in the truth along our way to God. Therefore, despite the fact that it is always a personal word, it is also a word that builds community, and that builds the Church itself. Therefore, we should read it in communion with the living Church.

The privileged place for reading and listening to the word of God is in the liturgy. By celebrating the word and rendering the Body of Christ present in the sacrament, we bring the word into our life and make it alive and present among us.

* A heated but reasonably informed debate about whether it is consistent for a Catholic to advocate the legalization of prostitution at "The Curt Jester."

* "Reformation Theology" has a grouped list of recommended books for studying Reformed theology.

* In light of the recent arguments on plain sense, it's interesting to go back and read Rebecca's summary of the Reformed view on the perspicuity of Scripture.

* John Heard discusses Sufjan Stevens.

* There are few things like Yakko's Universe Song for putting things into perspective.

* Eliezer Yudkowsky at "Overcoming Bias" seems to have difficulty overcoming his own. As I've noted before in other contexts, the sort of position he criticizes is not based on threat and punishment, which is merely a convenient caricature, but on a particular view of what's required for either rationally consistent moral motivation, or obligation, or both. Perhaps because the caricature admits of a very simple sort of refutation, it tends to be read into any argument concluding that there is some link between morality and God, often without due regard to the actual features of the argument made and the position defended by it. The reason the argument is problematic is not the silly reason given by Yudkowsky, but its implications for the role of reason in our moral life.

* Today is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, a day of Christian solidarity with all those who are persecuted and killed for Christian faith and life in the world today. Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering (Heb. 13:3). You might consider giving to Open Doors International or Aid to the Church in Need.

* An interesting article on the problem of the standard kilogram.

Currently Reading Online

James Wilson's Of the Nature and Philosophy of Evidence from his Lectures on Law.

I. Todhunter, William Whewell: An Account of His Writings

William Whewell, Six Lectures on Political Economy

Mark Collier, Why History Matters: Associations and Causal Judgment in Hume and Cognitive Science (PDF)

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Testing the Selectorate (PDF)
Game Theory, Political Economy, and the Evolving Study of War and Peace (PDF)

Charles Babbage, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures
Reflections on the Decline of Science in England

Bernard Bolzano at the SEP


* An autobiographical essay by one of the greatest ghost writers of recent times, Mildred Wirt.

* An interesting article at the Guardian on the problem of the 'Greek loves'. The little editorial blurb asks why the Greeks were so confused about homosexuality, but what the article really shows is how we are confused by Greek practices. It should be noted, incidentally, that Plato's affirmation of the blessedness of male lovers should not be taken as if it were quite so unambiguous; after all, this is in the Symposium, which is a slightly comic text about a drunken dinner party, and the model held up in the dialogue is of male lovers who have sublimated or transcended every particular sexual interest in the other in order to contemplate beauty as such. A great deal is made of the fact that the relationship between Socrates and Alcibiades is not sexual. In Xenophon's Symposium, Socrates argues that everyone who seriously teaches another is like a sexual procurer; it does not follow from this that sexual procuring was favorably regarded, since it's clearly the sort of thing that might be said in half-joking philosophical discussion during a drinking party. It's also a bit problematic that Davidson shifts back and forth between 'homosexuality', 'homosex', and 'gay', which are none of them exactly the same thing. But it is, as I said, an interesting article, and it makes the book sound interesting.

* An excellent primer on game theory (PDF)

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