By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Kindle Fire Readers: Use Pulse

Pulse on the iPad
Pulse on the iPad (Photo credit: Wesley Fryer)
"Pulse" is a news reader embedded in your Kindle Fire that works very well when reading this blog. Give it a try!
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Going Against the Herd

English: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Fala and Ruthi...
English: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Fala and Ruthie Bie at Hill Top Cottage in Hyde Park, N.Y. The better of two extant photos of FDR in a wheel chair. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Few things have caused more damage to humans than our vast reservoirs of denial. We see it in scandals everywhere--the cover-ups in all types of institutions, the deeply flawed individuals who keep presenting themselves for leadership positions at all levels (private and public), the innumerable instances where individuals just can't understand why others correctly and accurately find them so obnoxious. The latest example in the headlines is from the Penn State scandal in which the now convicted abuser apparently still believes himself innocent and mistreated.


But there is another type of denial that--instead of divorcing us from reality as in the above examples--can actually put us in contact with reality. I will call the first type of exceedingly harmful and destructive denial "truth-denial." The second, healthy type of denial is the type that enables us to reject and refuse the impositions of assumptions that are not necessarily true and often act to choke human flourishing. We can call this healthy version of denial "the denial of the arbitrary." 


For example, FDR famously struggled with his polio disability--to the point of hiding it from public view and by persisting in search of some amelioration of his condition. Some have called his approach denial, but it was surely of the healthy variety: he managed to communicate his vigorous personality without the distraction posed by those prejudiced against physical disability, and he managed to maintain a hopeful disposition invaluable to an entire nation during economic crisis and wartime. FDR denied the arbitrary view that physical disability side-lined you from the wider world of achievement.


Today, of course, people are also faced with various physical and cognitive disabilities (age is even considered by many to be a disability!). I bet that the ones who do best in dealing with them are those who refuse the arbitrary pessimism imposed by the herd.  Moreover, all persons deal with burdens and disabilities that come from their upbringings, from flawed families, from absurd obsessions with money, appearance, ethnicity, ambition, approval, I.Q., pharisaical religiosity, and other matters too various to list. Often, the first step toward liberation from these burdens is to go against the herd, to deny the arbitrary assumptions that keep us burdened.


Denial in its usual and more common form is a great and often overlooked evil, but there is more than one kind. Denial of eminently rebuttable and arbitrary presumptions is the healthy kind and opens a path to discovering that life has more to offer than the condescending herd might arbitrarily assume.


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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Latest Volume of Catholic Encyclopedia of Social Thought


Volumes 1 and 2 were published in 2007; volume 3 is a supplement just published in April 2012.

A co-author and I wrote the entry on "Tolkien." The Kindle edition is reasonable in price for personal purchase (see this link). If you go to the Amazon website and use the "Look Inside the Book" feature, you can search for "Tolkien" and read the article.

For hardcover purchases, interested readers should likely contact their local public and college libraries and suggest purchase of these volumes for the reference section. You can make the request in person at a library or email a request to the local librarian or the staff librarian in charge of collection development or of the reference collection.

Here is a suggested message to your local public or college librarian:


(If your local library already has the first two volumes, then suggest the purchase of Volume 3. You should include in your message the ISBN, which is a number that conveniently and accurately identifies a book.)

"I would like to suggest an addition to the library's reference collection: the Catholic Encyclopedia of Social Thought (Volumes 1 and 2 published in 2007; Supplemental Volume 3 just published in 2012), by Scarecrow Press, a division of Rowman & Littlefield. E-book versions are available.

The ISBN for the volumes are:

Vols. 1 & 2: ISBN/9780810882447

Vol. 3: ISBN/9780810882669

Thanks"

Here are some relevant links:

Amazon.com: Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought, Social Science, and Social Policy: Supplement: 3 ; Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought, Social Science, and Social Policy (2-Volume Set)


Publisher's website: Volumes 1 and 2 (https://rowman.com/ISBN/9780810882447#); Volume 3 (https://rowman.com/ISBN/9780810882669#)
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Friday, June 8, 2012

Horace on the Money Chase (Updated)

Horace (public domain)
From his Satires I:


But a good many people, misled by blind desire, say, "You cannot have enough: for you get your rating from what you have." What can you say to a man who talks thus? Bid him be miserable, since that is his whim.


Horace, Satires 1.1.61-64 (Loeb translation).


I write this from one of the most naturally impressive places in North America--Traverse City and its environs. The scenery is free. Yet, many are addicted to the money chase as a way to justify their lives.


We see the money chase, of course, in the business world. We also see it in that other business world known as politics, masquerading as unselfish public service. The illegal corruption of kickbacks, favors, and disguised bribery, plus the technically legal corruption of nepotism, favors, and the clever and astute piling up of pension and other government benefits. Update: For egregious examples of how our so-called "public servants" game government pension systems--even to the point of getting pensions higher than their previous salaries in addition to the usual double or triple dipping, see this Wall Street Journal exposé (June 9, 2012), at this link: State Politicians and the Public Pension Cookie Jar.


In Livy, I recall one or two instances in which a great Roman leader was said to have died without enough money to pay for his own funeral. The people then pitched in to ensure proper burial. Many of our political mediocrities are loath to follow such examples of putting integrity above venality and avarice.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Fable of the Turkey

English: Portret of a turkey
English: Portret of a turkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I was speaking the other day with a farmer near my home. I was admiring her colorful turkey with all his black and white feathers burgeoning around his body and in his very large, fan-like tail. He was quite a colorful, large, and impressive sight strutting around his fenced yard. His face was very much like the photo at right.


But the farmer noted that actually the proud turkey is quite small--the fluffy feathers make him seem much bigger than he actually is. His actual body is quite smaller than the feathers alone would lead you to believe.


And so, there is more "puffery" in the turkey than actual meat.


This image of the overblown turkey is quite applicable to many of our fellow humans and many human entities--from universities to nations. For example, some prestigious universities are so besotted with themselves that they play the puffed-out turkey: their arrogant self-regard far surpasses what is really there of actual intellectual and human worth. And, of course, many individuals play the same delusory game. Elected politicians come to mind since they are in the business of actually making you think that they are somehow indispensable, when, of course, they are perfectly and unequivocally dispensable and expendable.


Look around and see if the fable of the turkey applies to what you observe. We have the expression "take X or Y with a grain of salt." Maybe, we should take many arrogant institutions and individuals as if they were really scrawny turkeys with deceptive plumage and so puncture their delusions.
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