Journal

Riva-ligion

I think one of the reasons why PC culture took off so vehemently is because it’s unbelievably horrifying for most people to accept that they are nothing more than an imperfect mound of animal flesh full of biases and prejudices.

I think this can only happen in predominantly atheist places, because there, no God loves you to absolve you from your fleshy pathos and offer you a promise of some form of forthcoming eternal perfection.

Perhaps religion was pragmatically necessary. Otherwise, you’re expecting people to come to terms with having the same fate as a biodegradable shopping bag, and spirituality is more unhealthy.

(That’s from Riva.)

You can only control the process

I copied this from this webpage.


Sports is inherently complex.

There are many variables that affect the outcome of the game. Most of these variables are not within the control of players or the coach. There are too many plays, statistics and countermoves for a person to remember them all. To try and control all of them would be sheer madness.

But after speaking with psychiatry professor Lionel Rosen, Nick Saban realised that the average play in football lasts just seven seconds.

It’s impossible to read and execute every play to perfection for the entire game. But seven seconds? Anyone can do that. Execute, rest, repeat and you eventually have a game.

Excellence is a matter of steps. Excelling at the first thing, then the second, and then the next. The process is about staying in the present and laying siege to the obstacle in front of you. It’s about not getting distracted by anything else that comes your way.

Saban’s teams have done that — and then some. They started by winning games. Now, they are winning championships.

My 2019 Goals

I wish I was better.

A better dad. A better husband. Better at praying and seeking God. A better worker, eater, reader, friend. Better helping around the house and sticking to our family budget. Better at listening and empathizing. Better at keeping my word.

I want to be a better version of myself. I think we all do, whether we admit it or not. It’s part of what makes us human.

But where does this feeling come from?

I think we know, deep down, that we’re capable of a little bit more. That we’re not leaving it all on the court, so to speak. That what we have to show for ourselves at the end of each day doesn’t tell the whole story about the passions and ambitions inside of us.

The problem is, we lack those last drops of self-discipline—that evasive “last-mile” effort needed to make any real progress. We start exercising, but give up. We eat better, but only for a few days. We reach out to friends, but quit when things get complicated.

That’s me. I’m notoriously bad at goals and New Year’s Resolutions. I didn’t make any in 2018 because I knew I’d fail.

But I’m done with that. I’m capable of so much more than my 2018. So this year, I’m starting from ground zero. I’m making 2019 about the fundamentals, because I’m still bad at those.

I have three goals for Q1 2019. Come April, I’ll evaluate my progress and decide what to do for Q2.

  1. Jog for 30 minutes every weekday.
  2. Read one book per month.
  3. Get lunch with a friend once per week.

This post is my way of keeping myself accountable. I also want to challenge others to do this with me—DM me on Twitter if you’re interested.

Hartshorne on God

From what I understand, Charles Hartshorne broke the first ground on synthesizing Alfred North Whitehead’s process philosophy into some kind of digestible theology.

The following selection comes from his book Omnipotence and Other Theological Mistakes (1984).

In Plato’s Republic one finds the proposition: God, being perfect, cannot change (not for the better, since “perfect” means that there can be no better; not for the worse, since ability to change for the worse, to decay, degenerate, or become corrupt, is a weakness, an imperfection). The argument may seem cogent, but it is so only if two assumptions are valid: that it is possible to conceive of a meaning for “perfect” that excludes change in any and every respect and that we must conceive God as perfect in just this sense.

Charles Hartshorne

I’ve been more or less obsessed with process philosophy/theology lately. I’ll explain why in a later post.

College as consumer good

I had the top comment on a Gary Vaynerchuk LinkedIn post last week. Sparked some good discussion. Thought I’d share here.

“Today, college is about an ‘experience,’ not an education. It wasn’t always this way, but we’re here now. This means the problem is much deeper than finding other ways to educate yourself and become ’employable.’ It’s about addressing people’s deep-set need to enjoy their life and not miss out on ‘milestone’ experiences (like college). We literally go into lifetimes of debt in order to not feel bad about ourselves — to not feel we missed out on an experience that, frankly, many college graduates would give up if they could go back in time.”

To put this more simply, I think college is a consumer good for most kids. Not 100% a consumer good, but more than 50%.

Lots of kids go mostly because they want the experience, and not to become employable or learn real things (beyond “life lessons”).

A test for this theory might be to compare time spent studying with grade trends at major universities. Especially easy-to-get-into state institutions.

This isn’t (necessarily) about the cost of college, the quality of college education, or whether college is a worthwhile investment. I’m simply saying that many kids go just to have an experience. Whether it’s worth the cost is something everyone should decide for themselves. But making a good decision in this regard requires us to be honest with ourselves about our (and our kids’) motives and about what actually goes on at college.

I love my college experience. It shaped me socially, professionally and spiritually in ways well worth the cost, in my opinion. But is that necessarily true for everyone who goes? For even the majority of students?

Those are fair and important questions to ask.

DBH on Religion

I transcribed the below from this video. I like this. It’s a different way of thinking about religion and God—one I find more compatible with my common observations of things.

“I never take any religion as a closed system of propositions, every one of which is true, or true in the same way. I think of all religions as cultural artifacts that express truths, or fail to express them, in ways determined as much by cultural history as by anything else.

It’s not the case, by the way, that after you move away from the basic affirmation that God is the basic absolute that you immediately run into irreconcilable differences. There are all sorts of realms of experience — devotional experience, mystical experience — and other affirmations about moral life where you find commonality of experience and concept.

But we’re talking about the human experience of the infinite source of all that is. There’s no way that could be reducible to a single set of internally consistent propositions that exclude all other approaches. These approaches are going to be mythological, spiritual, philosophical, ethical. They’re going to contradict each other in some details and affirm one another in others. Among the traditions that are serious traditions — not the kind of religion you might make up in order to sell a product — they can all converge upon the same truths, with all the fallibility that every human approach to truth exhibits. In the same way that different schools in the sciences are going to diverge from one another.

Ideally, at some point, there is a theoretical breakthrough that will reconcile the differences, or show that one theoretical path was sterile. In a sense, that’s true also of religious experience, but it’s not going to be in the realm of empirical investigations.

But yes, many religions can be true, in the sense that they are speaking of the truth in the best way the cultural traditions to which they belong allows them to do so, while at the same time differing from one another on specific affirmations which may be right or wrong.”

Percy on present-ness

How did it happen that now he could see everything so clearly. Something had given him leave to live in the present. Not once in his entire life had he come to rest in the quiet center of himself but had forever cast himself from some dark past he could not remember to a future that did not exist. Not once had he been present for his life. So his life had passed like a dream. Is it possible for people to miss their lives the way one can miss a plane?

Walker Percy, The Second Coming

A concise definition of Austrian Economics

I’ve copied these 10 points from Steve Horwitz’s valuable post on this subject. They succinctly define the tenets of Austrian economics.

  1. Only individuals choose.
  2. The study of the market order is fundamentally about exchange behavior and the institutions within which exchanges take place.
  3. The “facts” of the social sciences are what people believe and think.
  4. Utility and costs are subjective.
  5. The price system economizes on the information that people need to process in making their decisions.
  6. Private property in the means of production is a necessary condition for rational economic calculation.
  7. The competitive market is a process of entrepreneurial discovery.
  8. Money is non-neutral.
  9. The capital structure consists of heterogeneous goods that have multi-specific uses that must be aligned.
  10. Social institutions often are the result of human action, but not of human design.

On their own, these points might seem somewhat vague and obvious. But they’re worded carefully here—it’s what’s implied when we take them as fact that gets interesting.

For more on Austrian economics, read this.

What is God?

There’s enough here to ponder for a lifetime, if you take what he’s saying seriously. From the Los Angeles Review of Books:

Best to begin, following Thomas Aquinas, by saying what God is not. God is not the biggest being in the universe, or outside of the universe. God is not a discrete entity, like you or me, or a cloud or an atom or a quark, or (if one can put it this way) the universe itself as a whole. Nor is God the clockmaker, winding up time and matter and letting them run their course on their own.

God is the eternal and immaterial fullness of being and life that is the condition of there being anything at all. Infinitely rich and inexhaustibly beautiful, God is being itself, and as such, goodness and truth. Singular and simple, God lacks nothing yet, out of boundless and inexplicable love, creates what is other than himself, that which is not God. Distinct from God, what is not God — which is to say, everything: creation — is nevertheless bound to God, dependent at every moment and in every respect. Yet this dependence is not debilitating but enabling. It is the source of power and identity and, for living creatures, agency and, for rational creatures, freedom. To be is to depend on God for everything, and to acknowledge and celebrate this dependence is to be alive, fully alive, transparent to the source and end and empowering life that fills and moves all living things.

Brad East (channeling David Bentley Hart)

Einstein on God

I’m not an atheist, and I don’t think I can call my self a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations.

Albert Einstein