Time and change

April 25, 2009

I have been recently reminded of some of the things I’ve written in this space, some of which I wholeheartedly stand by to this day and some of which I have changed my mind about or at least lost some of my enthusiasm for.

It’s been interesting, though, in how I’ve been reminded: they have been people who have tried to use the things I’ve written here to form a snapshot of my beliefs and ideals. While that might be generally pretty useful, I’m also noticing that it’s not sufficient.

For me, this space has always been tentative – or at least, I have always thought so. Too often do we expect publication – and yes, even a blog is publication in this day and age – to solidify an idea in writing, frozen at the moment that it stopped being a private thought and instead became public words. Generally, the prevalence of what is sometimes referred to as “the rhetoric of assertion” (cf. this essay by Gary Olsen) makes this idea that much more pervasive. But blogging for me has never been simply about the publication of thoughts; it is the perfect place to explore ideas in a way that is interactive (if I just wanted to put out my own ideas with no interaction, I’d disable comments – and believe me, there are times in the history of this blog that I have wished I didn’t have the convictions that I do about free and open discourse) and in some ways collaborative.

I have been doing that here since August of 2006. (I’ve actually been blogging since around January of 2005, partly here – and wow, how my writing has improved since then! – and for a year on the long-defunct thechristiancynic.com.) It is impossible for me to verbalize all the ways in which my life has changed: I now have two sons (my first wasn’t even born when I started blogging, although he would have been an infant when I started up here), am finishing up a degree that I wouldn’t have even considered at the beginning and which (other than relating to writing itself) has very little to do with the interests that led me to blog initially, and have a different outlook on life altogether because of all the experiences that I’ve encountered along the way, most of which have never been reflected on this blog.

I suppose what I’m doing here is an extended disclaimer: feel free to read anything that I’ve written here. I am (for the most part) unapologetic about what I have said, and I wouldn’t take any of it back even though there is much that I would no longer assent to if you asked me about it. You can disagree, and that’s perfectly fine. If you’re looking to characterize me by what I’ve said, especially the further back that these musings go, then you will be battling rather unsuccessfully with an image of me that does not exist in reality.

Time changes most things, and when progress occurs, that is undoubtedly a good thing. I like to think that I have made progress, and that is enough for me.

Evolution and the acquisition of knowledge

March 29, 2009

This is sort of a piggyback on the last post in the sense that I’m posting again on evolution; it is actually a mere coincidence that I would write some musings on evolution and cognitive shortcuts (especially after a long break), only to be confronted by the idea of evolution yet again the following day in the last place I would generally hope to hear about it: my church.

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On cognitive shortcuts

March 28, 2009

Okay, the hiatus is over – sort of. This won’t indicate any sort of regular posting, but I have a subject that I think fits best under this banner rather that my Docere Est Discere blog (even though it deals in a very broad sense with education).

In my interim as a student teacher – which is coming to a close in the next few weeks – I have tried to stay apprised of what is happening with the blogs that I have been following for quite some time (many of which are on this site’s blogroll). One of those which I have come to enjoy greatly is Ed Brayton’s Dispatches from the Culture Wars, which I find interesting and enlightening on a number of topics (despite disagreeing personally with Brayton on a number of matters).

Recently, Brayton wrote about Chris Mooney ripping George Will apart for his uninformed and flawed piece on global warming in the Washington Post (both pieces were printed in the Post, actually), and in discussing the issue, he brought up the idea of cognitive shortcuts:

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Blog on hiatus

December 30, 2008

Okay, I guess I should say officially on hiatus – I haven’t written anything substantial over here since September. (Wow, has it really been that much of a gap? I guess my words are coming back to bite me…)

I really do have good reason for the gap, I suppose: I just finished an 18-hour semester, and I’m preparing for student teaching, which starts in just a few days for me. I simply haven’t had the time to post anything substantial, and to be honest, I haven’t had anything to say on the typical issues that this blog covers.

So here’s the official word: I will not blog as The Christian Cynic for at least four months. This timeframe coincides with my student teaching, and I will be using all of my energies to fulfill my New Year’s resolution to blog through my student teaching.

It’s possible that I might come back to this blog – it’s equally possible that I might be done with The Christian Cynic. (Maybe I can let this guy have the name back.) Time will tell. If this hiatus is permanent, I thank those of you who have read and those who have commented as well – I have enjoyed your feedback and learned a great deal in the process.

If any of you are still interested in reading what I will be writing on teaching, learning, education, and English language arts, hop on over to Docere Est Discere. I hope to see you around.

The problem with deceit

September 11, 2008

The topic of lying and deceit (if one can separate the two) is one that has been in my mind since Alexander Pruss blogged it about it a few months ago (see this Google search). Pruss has some good things to say, but I think he has neglected some fundamental aspects of the subject.

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Blog-apathy, an exhortation, and a farewell

July 12, 2008

I was saddened to see in my RSS reader yesterday that John DePoe of Fides Quaerens Intellectum is calling it quits. John has had some excellent discussions over his way (he’s been on the blogroll here for quite some time), as well as some quick updates from the philosophical blogosphere and elsewhere (such as William Lane Craig’s recent essay in Christianity Today) that are invaluable.

His reason is one that I have sometimes struggled with: a lack of desire to blog, and John adds that “blogging has felt more like a chore than an enjoyable hobby.” I’ve been there, and it’s hard to muster through with other things happening.

I’ve been blogging off and on (although probably more off than on) for about 3 years now, and the only reason I still feel like doing it is because I still have things that pop into my head, some (relatively) original thoughts and some reflections on various mental stimuli (like reading the blogs of others), that I want to put down (in a metaphorical sense) in writing. It used to be that I felt like my voice needed to be heard because I had important things to say that other people needed to hear, but now my reasons are more selfish (and paradoxically less egotistical): I’ve realized that blogging is more about catharsis for me than relaying important facts or personal wisdom. I also deeply value the use of blogging for reflection, something that drives me (for reasons sometimes unknown to me) to keep two blogs, one specifically to reflect on my teaching/learning experiences.

For any bloggers reading this that might be suffering from similar troubles with blogging, I would make the following suggestions:

  1. Reassess your reasons for blogging. Unless you have a relatively large readership and are a proficient writer, you’re probably not going to write to appease others who want to read what you wrote. The best thing I think the average blogger can hope for is to have some small regular traffic and other sporadic hits that indicate that someone cares about what you’ve written. Comments are even better, but blogging in the hopes of receiving feedback is probably a futile effort as well unless you choose to write on only the most controversial topics (abortion and evolution are ones that have driven feedback for me).
  2. Keep your mind thinking about things you might want to write about. I started using Google Notebook to track ideas, some of which have been sitting around for months now, and it has been very useful to provide content (when I don’t spontaneously blog with my ScribeFire interface – another useful tool). Jeremy Pierce of Parableman has stated that he keeps a text file of ideas for blogging that he searches every so often for things to write about. It might even be useful at times to review past writings and follow up or amend previous statements on different topics – maybe even to find holes in them.
  3. Read, read, read – and then read some more. The best way to keep ideas moving is to take them in – ingest whatever you’re interested in to keep your mind sharp. It doesn’t even matter if you blog about what someone else has written; you may simply be inspired to investigate a certain topic or to find analogous arguments elsewhere, among other things. When you stop consuming writing – something that seems to be a common thread among writers of all types – then you will probably see your own writing flow diminishing as well.

I wish John all the best and thank him for his great site, and I hope that other bloggers will see this as an opportunity to reflect on their own habits and struggles as writers.

Mitigating circumstances

June 26, 2008

In my post yesterday, I neglected to discuss an important aspect of abortive considerations: mitigating circumstances. I cannot in good conscience leave out this subject since it plays a part in the premises of the previous argument.

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