Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Who Gets to Choose Which Childhood Experiences Are ‘Appropriate’?

Friday, November 10th, 2017

Fom Christina Berchini’s thoughtful article:

Hard as some parents and guardians might try to shield their children from life’s difficulties and cruelties, other students bring adult issues to our classrooms. I certainly did. My students certainly did. An “appropriate” text, then, is also a text that honors this reality. Students who see their experiences ― however difficult ― reflected in the books they are asked to read might be provided with a coping mechanism through literature.

For example, the well-known young adult novel Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson addresses the issue of teenage rape ― a problem that Anderson’s supporters argue needs to be discussed. Children and teenagers lucky enough to live blissful lives ― the kind of lives my colleague assumed to be the rule, and not the exception ― are also served well by texts that illustrate the real trials and tribulations of childhood and adolescence. Such texts help to build empathetic classroom communities with a more complex understanding of the world, whether or not students have personally experienced such complexities.

Earthquakes, hurricanes, drought, flooding, and fire

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

No matter what the media or your friends and family are telling you, we are at the threshold of our own man-made “hell,” and the Devil Winds are here to remind us that no one is immune.

Earthquakes, hurricanes, drought, flooding, and fire—we are spiritually, morally, and physically out of balance. The winds are a symptom, amplified by the warming trend, igniting a fire in our souls. It is time to tend to our communities, to come together to aid our fellow humankind, and to simplify our experience.

More.

Study says thinking about dying can be healthy

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

Some people think of death as the terrifying thing at the end of the road. But as we know, death is natural and inevitable.

So, whether you’re writing your will or daydreaming of how awesome your funeral is going to be, a new study says thinking about your own death can be healthy.

More.

For centuries Western Culture encouraged people to meditate on their ends, so that they might live better, more thoughtful, and godly, lives. This has always seemed to me (TRW) a good idea.

The Fundamentalist Christian Chokehold On America

Saturday, September 30th, 2017

The fundamentalist chokehold on American politics seeks to destroy the religious and cultural plurality on which the country, and the Declaration of Independence, was based. These theological divisions – which pit believers against non-believers, and those who believe correctly against those who don’t – are a major contributor to America’s sharply divided politics. When someone believes he or she holds absolute truth, there can be no compromise, no middle ground, and no discussion.

Fundamentalism – Christian, Islam, or any other religious ideology – is the antithesis of progression. Fundamentalism’s dangerous anti-science stance threatens the world’s environment, reduces the efficacy of American education, and leaves citizens unprepared for life in a global economy. Fundamentalism is shrouded in ignorance, backed by authoritarianism, and places an enormous amount of trust in individual leaders. To free us of the religious chokehold, citizens must recognize, and actively vote against the powerful political machine of the Fundamentalist Christian right.

More.

Five Myths about Self-Love

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

From Sarah Lamb’s insightful essay:

I hate self-help books. Well, I do now. I hate them because they tell us how we should be. They tell us, if we only did things this way—the author’s way—then we will be happy and truly understand what it means to love ourselves. The day I gave up reading self-help books was the day I loved myself for having too much coffee. It was also the day I gave up trying to live someone else’s answer.

It was the day I started to walk away from someone else’s truth.

My occasional overindulgence makes me human. I sometimes stay up past my body’s desired bedtime watching Netflix or perusing Facebook or writing, doing yoga, or talking on the phone. And the next day, when I wake up and feel groggy or wired and tired, I know it was my choices the previous night that led to my current state. I know I caused some sort of suffering for myself—and I love myself for it.

Self-love isn’t what a lot of those self-help books profess it to be, according to my inner guru anyway. It isn’t about being in a constant state of perfection—eating just the right amount at each meal, and exercising before the point of fatigue, and not drinking alcohol at least two hours before bed, and not raising your voice when your best friend pushes your most triggering button.

Self-love isn’t about not having too much coffee. It’s something more than turning away from our humanness—it’s about accepting it.

But before we get there, we have to bust a few myths about self-love that have been floating around since the dawn of the term itself. Some might resonate for you and others might not. We are all guilty of embracing certain ones over others. We all have our preferred conscious and unconscious defenses against this thing that we feel so frightened about.

More.

What It Took Me Far Too Long To Realize About Loneliness

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

The author of Searching for John Hughes offers us an honest, unflinching look at his struggles with isolation.
Jason Diamond Oprah.com

I’ve dealt with depression for most of my life. But it had been a long, long time since I’d been truly isolated, nobody there when I got home or waiting in the next room. As a kid, I got used to being lonely, moving between my parents’ houses during their divorce, trying to figure out a way to fit into yet another school.

More.

Martin Rees: We Are Living Through A Political And Scientific Transformation

Friday, March 10th, 2017

Out of all great transformations we are going through, from climate change to artificial intelligence to gene editing, what are the most consequential we are about to witness?

Martin Rees: It depends on what time scale we are thinking about. In the next 10 or 20 years, I would say it’s the rapid development in biotechnology. We are already seeing that it’s becoming easier to modify the genome, and we heard about experiments on the influenza virus to make it more virulent and transmissible. These techniques are developing very fast and have huge potential benefits but unfortunately also downsides.

More.

Bannon, Deconstruction, v. meaningful readings of texts and life

Monday, February 27th, 2017

Steve Bannon’s love of Deconstructionism has got me thinking that a good dose of traditional sign theory, which dominated Western culture for centuries, would be in order, even if people are not believers. It argues that we can make sense of texts by careful readings, believing that they–and by extension, our lives–have meaning.

When I was earning my Ph.D. in English in the late 70s and early 80s, Deconstructionism was one of the big literary trends that many Miltonists eschewed because it reads every text as essentially meaningless, for all signs ultimately cancel each other out. Those who practice this theory are great at the intellectual gymnastics that such readings require. However, the alternate reality/facts, if you will, that such readings search out and concentrate on, are ultimately destructive to every text (and life itself). Nothing has meaning or purpose in this system, for there’s always chaos and war over dominance.

That, as my study, Perversions, Originals, and Redemptions in Paradise Lost, now an acclaimed book, is not at all true to the traditional semiotic approach of the Great Western tradition, first set forth by Augustine, the first and foremost sign theorist in the West. This system is essentially monistic (not dualistic, as some have thought), for all begins and ends in God. All signs must be read by the signs that God has embodied in both the Old and the New Testaments. Satan who separated himself from Heavenly communion and took many angels and humans with him then mimic, and pervert God’s words, deeds, and actions, forming, you might say, alternative facts and reality throughout the timeline–till the very end, when God steps in and becomes All in All, his monistic system restored. We are required by life itself to learn to read signs correctly and embody the truths of them in our lives if we are truly members of God’s City. If we choose to follow Satan and His opposing City, The City of Satan, or Man after the Fall, we never enjoy the Communion of Heaven, and will end in Hell (according to Augustine). There, nothing truly exists, for existence requires grounding in God, the source of all reality and being, but subsists. Milton, takes the Jewish and more logical tack that Satan and his City will ultimately be dissolved so that God will fully be All in All, his original monism restored throughout the universe (a notion again signifying oneness).

I think a discussion of Augustinian sign theory, while not the only reading of what’s going on politically, would be fruitful in today’s world. Even if one isn’t a believer, the notion that we can discover competing systems, which relate constantly to each other and provide insight into the characters enacting them, is exciting. It seems important to add that my work looks at patterns. I’m not dogmatic or doctrinaire myself, because I think most spiritual systems that I know of look for meaning based on Oneness and Unity with creation and would give value to such patterns. This lies beyond dogma, in my view.

Here’s a link to the study on Amazon. You can look inside to what it’s all about. You can also order a copy, or you can order a copy here (http://www.thomasrameywatson.com/editing/). Many academic libraries will have it too. https://smile.amazon.com/Perversions-Originals-Redemptions-Paradise-Lost/dp/0761837825/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1488228034&sr=1-4&keywords=thomas+ramey+watson

Most of my books, take up traditional sign theory in one way or another. I knew my novel, Reading the Signs: A Paranormal Love Story, just published but without much notice so far, was particularly timely, centering on the corruption that infects so many of our institutions, where power and control have become the norm. Such power mongering is embodied in someone who hasn’t hesitated to abuse those beneath him in every way necessary to get and maintain such control, including misuse of sex. Alternate realities, competing narratives, which Trump and company constantly practice, riddle the novel in which my protagonist and his love are trying to survive by reading the signs rightly and moving on. My popular memoir, Baltho, The Dog Who Owned a Man, also refers to Deconstructionism and traditional sign theory.

Our Brains Are Guided More By Empathy Than Selfishness

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

As the year winds to a close, gifts and giving are foremost in many people’s minds. And now, two new neuroscience studies suggest that our brains prompt us to act more like Santa than Scrooge.

In one study, researchers scanned participants’ brains to identify connections between generous behavior and brain activity. In the other, scientists dampened activity in areas of the brain associated with impulse control, to see if that would alter a person’s empathetic actions.

More.

The Invaluable Lessons Of ‘Watership Down,’ A Dark Classic

Sunday, January 15th, 2017

“Readers like to be upset, excited and bowled over,” Adams continued in his 2015 interview with The Guardian, remembering his early literary preferences. “I can remember weeping when I was little at upsetting things that were read to me, but fortunately my mother and father were wise enough to keep going.”

Of course, not all mothers and fathers are. Many want to shade their kids from the harsh realities of life, a natural instinct hardly worth criticizing here. Some children come face to face with loss regardless ― be it physical, financial, psychological. They are forced to understand grief and resentment firsthand. They are forced to understand that hard work and persistence and focused belief don’t always yield epic outcomes. But others, nestled safely, are not.

Fiction, thankfully, can give us the gift of empathy. The kind of empathy your protective parents might not be able to impart.

More.

Thomas Ramey Watson is an affiliate faculty member of Regis University's College of Professional Studies. He has served as an Episcopal chaplain (lay), trained as a psychotherapist, done postdoctoral work at Cambridge University, and was named a Research Fellow at Yale University.

In addition to his scholarly writings, he is a published author of poetry and fiction.

more...