January 25, 2006

Greetings from Athens!

On Monday afternoon, I arrived in Athens, Greece, where I am studying this semester at DIKEMES, the International Center for Hellenic and Mediterranean Studies (the ackronym is Greek). Since "what I did to day" blogs are a pet peeve of mine, I will not be expending a great deal of effort to report my activites here. However, I do want to give my readers some idea of how this will effect my blogging.

The first and most obvious result is that, as I am studying ancient Greek literature, I will be quite likely to blog a great deal more about that issue than I ordinarily do. Additionally, I am taking a class on the Orthodox Church, so Greek Orthodox theology may be another topic I blog on with some frequency.

The other issue, of course, is the amount of blogging I am able to do. I am not sure precisely how this will be effected. I don't have internet access in my apartment here, but I have access from the DIKEMES academic center, and I have long gaps in my class schedule during which I may have spare time. I expect my classes to be less work than at Penn, and I also have fewer extracurricular responsibilities. On the other hand, I am in GREECE, and will quite likely have better things to do than write on my blog much of the time. There have also been some technical difficulties (the wireless network here is extremely unreliable, so I'm plugged in to the wall at the moment) that have prevented me from writing up to this point.

And now, since I am in Athens, the obligatory picture of the Parthenon. This picture was taken from the balcony of the DIKEMES academic center where I am studying (click for a larger image):

You will notice that the sky is rather white, making the Parthenon a little difficult to see on the picture: this is because for the last 48 hours it's been SNOWING. I didn't get any snow in Palouse or Philadelphia this year, but it finally caught up with me over here on the Mediterranean.

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November 03, 2005


I apologize for the lack of real content on this blog recently. I've been very busy working on the Underground Shakespeare Company's production of "Titus Andronicus", which opens tonight! Those of you who are at Penn (or otherwise in the Philly area) should come out and see it. Details here. Once the show is over at the end of this weekend I should hopefully have more time for everything, including blogging (once I catch up on the school work I'm getting behind on during this show). In particular, look for a post on "Creation science" in the near future.

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May 07, 2005

The Future of This Blog

In case you hadn't noticed, this blog has been awefully sparse for the past few months. I had an extremely busy semester and not much time for blogging. It is now summer (that is, the spring semester of school is over), and working 40 hours a week and having Saturdays and Sundays off and not taking work home in the evenings is sounding restful. So, in this post I'd like to give some idea on what sorts of things will be influencing my topics over the course of the summer, and then comment briefly on a few issues I missed.

  • This summer I'm going to try to dive back in to some serious intellectual Bible study. I'm currently in the middle of studies on Isaiah and John the Beloved (covering his life and the four books that bear his name, but probably not the Revelation), so I'll be working (and perhaps blogging) on those.
  • I'm going to try to read as much of the New Testament in Greek as I can. I've gotten through about 4/5 of Matthew already (over the course of the last year), and I'm hoping (optimistically) to make it to the end of the gospels by the end of the summer.
  • At present, I have a list of philosophers whom I dislike without ever having read. This is bad. I'm going to try to eleminate it by reading them all. The names on the list are Wittgenstein and Hegel (for whom I have a mild distaste) and also Nietzsche (whom I rather despise). So I will be reading Wittgenstein's On Certainty and Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil, and probably also something by Hegel (haven't determined what as yet).
  • I'm also going to try to eliminate what I see as some important holes in my knowledge of philosophy by reading Kant's Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals and Locke's Second Treatise on Government (and probably the first while I'm at it).

I may be blogging on any or all (or none) of these things over the course of the summer. Now, here (as promised) are the important issues I missed:

  • Terri Schiavo: This was a complicated issue; I don't think it was nearly as cut and dried as most of the Evangelical bloggers I read seemed to. We can't keep people alive on life support forever, it just doesn't make sense. If they are really gone, we have to let them go. On the other hand, removing a feeding tube is much different than turning off a heart and lung machine. The big issue, I thought, was that her "husband" fathered children by another woman while she was in the hospital. This, I think, should have invalidated the marriage leaving her in the custody of her parents. I don't believe that the ends ever justify the means - I am a non-consequentialist - and so I must condemn the actions of the Republicans in Congress on this issue as they flagrantly disregarded the Constitution.

  • Pope Benedict XVI: What a great guy. I'm enthusiastic about the new Pope. He seems solid. From what I can tell, he takes Scripture seriously and views the Church councils as a tradition of Biblical interpretation rather than an independent authority. Good stuff.

  • Beth Stroud (momentarily) Reinstated: (See the great interview at WesleyBlog). What a mess. I can't understand why there is any question about this. If an individual who claims to be a Christian and is a member of the church is unrepentant about sexual practices that do not conform to Biblical standards we are required by Scripture to excommunicate him (see 1 Corinthians 5). In fact, this is one of only two cases where the New Testament contains explicit instructions to excommunicate an individual (the other being Titus 3:10-11, "Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.") This is a paradigm case for Scriptural excommunication. Note, however, that excommunication is rarely, if ever, practiced properly. Jesus views it as a way of motivating people to repent, not as unlovingly excluding them (Matthew 18:15-20). The point is for the Church to show quite clearly that it does not condone the individual's actions, and in so doing to hopefully motivate the individual to repent, at which time he is to be admitted back into the Church, preferably to a celebration along the lines of the Prodigal Son. Why is this not being practised? a) People don't read the Bible, and b) people don't believe the Bible. The Church needs to start taking Scripture seriously again and practicing what it says.

I think those are all the critical things I've missed. Hopefully I can keep up on events as they happen from now on (at least for the rest of the summer)!

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December 15, 2004

Ever Wondered What Things are Like Where I Come From?

You can read about it in the Times today. This is an excellent and accurate description of what things are like in Eastern Washington (in the context of a discussion of the Washington gubernatorial election, in which, according to the Secretary of State's office, Republican Dino Rossi won the machine recount by a mere 42 votes, the closest election in Washington's history, and a manual recount is now underway). Enjoy!

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October 31, 2004

Underground Marlowe Company?

The Underground Shakespeare Company's main fall production, Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlowe, featuring yours truly, opens this Thursday at 8PM in the rooftop lounge of Harnwell College House here at Penn. Click here for more info.

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September 27, 2004

Penn HumanitiesForum/Class Schedule

A long overdue update on factors which will determine the content of my non-political postings over the next semester/year:

  1. The first meeting of the Penn Undergraduate Humanities Forum was today. I was awarded a year-long research fellowship with the Humanities Forum last spring after submitting a research proposal. This year's theme is "Sleep and Dreams" and I will be doing research on my favorite philosopher, George Berkeley to determine how his philosophy of immaterialism ("To be is to be perceived," roughly equivalent to Schopenhauer's "To be object is to be object for a subject," but easier to understand since he is an 18th century English philosopher instead of a post-Kantian German philosopher) can deal with the fact that we perceive things in dreams which we would like to say are not real. Here is the text of my proposal:
          In an attempt to rebut the atheism and skepticism of his contemporaries, the early 18th century British philosopher George Berkeley proposed a theory he referred to as “immaterialism” (others would later call it “idealism”) the physical world is made up not of matter as an independent entity but of ideas, and as such exists only so long as there is a mind perceiving it. This solves all sorts of philosophical problems, but raises several of its own. One of these is the question of false perceptions. In dreams, for instance, we perceive many things which we want to say are not actually real and, as Descartes had pointed out earlier, we often have difficulty distinguishing between dreams and waking life. Berkeley's answer to this, in brief, is that we would not even pose the question unless we somehow perceived the unreality of dreams, and this perception, like all others, is part of that stuff of which reality is made. Berkeley also suggests that the perceptions we have of the real world are ideas impressed upon our minds by God, whereas dreams might be considered to be internally generated.
          While this is the beginning of a solution, it is by no means complete. If we perceive a difference between dreams and waking life, what is that difference, what faculty of the mind is responsible for our perception of it, and why is it not always accurate? In those cases where it is not accurate, and we do not know correctly whether we are asleep or awake, what has caused this failure? How can Berkeley explain these failures within the framework of his immaterialism? Is he forced to concede that dreams have some degree of metaphysical reality? If so, what makes waking life more real than the world of dreams? Is it really even coherent to say that one thing is “more real” than another?
          These questions only scratch the surface of the inquiries required in order to create a complete philosophical theory of dreams consistent with Berkeley's metaphysics. To this end, I propose to delve further into this topic under the title “Are Dreams Real?” The intention of this research will be to examine George Berkeley's own philosophical writings and the writings of his contemporaries as well as those of later idealists in order to arrive at a functional neo-Berkeleyan metaphysics of dreams. By terming the theory I am looking for “neo-Berkeleyan” I understand a number of restraints to be placed upon it, in order to make it consistent with Berkeley's own principles. First, it must not posit matter as an inert, non-thinking substance existing outside of any mind. Second, it must be consistent with basic Christian doctrine and a simple, straightforward interpretation of the Christian Scriptures (however, my research will center on the writings of modern philosophers and especially Berkeley himself rather than on the Bible). Finally, the theory must be consistent with “common sense,” which is to say that upon having constructed our theory we must be able to continue speaking about dreams in the way people ordinarily do without contradicting the theory – when we dream we must leave reality, and when we wake we must return to it.

  2. My class schedule. I should have posted this sooner but didn't. I'm taking two philosophy class, Intro to Ancient Philosophy, and Formal Logic II. I'm also taking Greek and two courses in computer science, but it is unlikely (though not impossible) that these will inspire anything posted here. In fact, it's probably also unlikely that I'll post anything about formal logic. It is, however, quite likely that I will post on ancient philosophy periodically. For instance, right now I am posting the observation that Parmenides of Elea holds very similar views to Immanuel Kant and I don't understand how it could be possible that my TA doesn't see that.

Once the political season is over, these are the things that will likely be determining the content of my posting. Enjoy :)

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April 30, 2004

Penn Humanities Forum

Good news! I've been selected as an Undergraduate Fellow of the Penn Humanities Forum. As part of the humanities forum, I will be doing research on metaphysical idealism generally and George Berkeley specifically to determine how such theories can deal with dreams, and whether or not an idealist must consent that dreams have some degree of reality. I'll be working on this beginning next fall and presenting my research next spring.

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March 01, 2004


So the Underground Shakespeare Company's "Merchant of Venice" which I performed in this past weekend was decidedly successful and a lot of fun. Somewhere along the way I found myself becoming the company's webmaster. I can't take credit for the site, as most of it was already in place when I got it, but I am now working on some updates, upgrades, and revisions. Check it out at undergroundshakespeare.com.

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January 02, 2004

Status Report

The Northwest is covered in massive snow! We measured the snow on the ground in our yard at seven inches this afternoon, and it is supposed to continue to fall for quite a while.

I was in the Tri-Cities the last couple of days, and made it back alive. Tons of snow there too. Yesterday (Jan. 1) evening I was driving down I-82 from Richland to Pasco (going less than 35 MPH on the 70 MPH freeway) and hit black ice and spun around in circles and hit the cement dividing wall. Bent up my bumper a bit, knocked off my front license plate (optional in Washington anyway). No real damage to me or the car.

I got all the way from the Pasco to Palouse (over 100 miles) without incident this afternoon, then going around the corner to my house I slid off the road into my own yard and got stuck, so I left my car there. Very convenient place to slide off the road. Snow is fun, but not for driving!

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December 19, 2003

Latest News

  • As of 3:30 yesterday (Thursday 12/18) afternoon, I am all done with finals. Hurray! The classes I just finished are Greek, Calculus, Physics, and Jewish Law and Ethics.
  • I'll be getting home for break around 11 or 12 tomorrow (Saturday 12/20) night.
  • I was just cast to play Lorenzo in the Underground Shakespeare Company's production of "The Merchant of Venice" next semester. Exciting!
  • I'm flying back here to Philadelphia on January 11th. The classes I am taking next semester are History of Modern Philosophy, Aesthetics, Computer Science, and more Greek and Calculus.

Merry Christmas!

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September 08, 2003

Up and Running and in Philadelphia!

So this site is finally back up again, after about two weeks fo downtime. During that time I've moved to the other side of the country, and am now up and running on my brand new computer from my dorm room at the University of Pennsylvania. I moved in on August 28 and classes started on September 3. It's great to be here, and good to have this site up and running again!

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August 18, 2003

Site Downtime/College/etc.

This site is going to go down sometime soon, probably Friday, and it may not come back up for a while. I am leaving next Tuesday (August 26th) for the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where I hope to enter the Computer and Cognitive Science program, through which I would get a degree from the School of Engineering and Applied Science in computer science and a degree in philosophy from "The College" (the arts and sciences school). I'm getting a new (much faster) computer when I get there, and it may be a little while before I get everything transferred. I'll move in and get my computer and stuff on the 28th, so look for the site to be available again any time after that. Hopefully it won't be too long.

As for the move, I could sure use some prayer. As I'm going off to college on the other side of the nation, I will, right at the same time, be removed from everything that's familiar, be temporarily without a church or any kind of accountability structure, and exposed to new temptations. Please pray that I can, as all of the Church should, influence the world around me more than I am influenced by it. The Church must infiltrate the world, rather than the world infiltrating the Church. I want my life to be true to this. Your prayers are appreciated.

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