"Where did the thought of the Higgs boson come from? Does this particle exist only in our mind? Can it be manipulated by our thoughts? Is it possible that matter isn’t so much a thing as it is a perspective? If so, could it be that by changing this perspective we might discover that our essential nature isn’t matter-based after all?
Maybe the most important thing we have learned with the discovery of the Higgs boson is that there are a lot more questions to be answered and a lot more discoveries to be made – discoveries of both cosmic proportion and, perhaps more importantly, spiritual dimension.”
Read Eric Nelson’s full commentary on how the Nobel Prize for the “God Particle” discovery prompts deeper questions about ourselves.
Photo by Rene Passet
Atheists and believers alike will find something useful in this conversation. I promise.
"Religion for Atheists” is Alain de Botton’s prescription for people who don’t believe, but may respect and miss experiences of faith. This cradle-atheist is dissatisfied with popular dismissals of religion, and he’s giving voice to a new way.
He says that the most boring question you can ask of any religion is whether it is true. But how to live, how to die, what is good, and what is bad — these are questions religion has sophisticated ways of addressing. And he feels that secular society has emptied public spaces of religious messaging, only to fill them with commercial proselytizing that may impoverish us morally. And so Alain de Botton has created something called The School of Life, where people young and old explore ritual, community, beauty and wisdom.
Tuesday Evening Melody: “I & Thou” by The Daredevil Christopher Wright
by Susan Leem, associate producer
"I love exploring my own doubt, and how people have wrestled with the idea of understanding human motivation, purpose."
~Jason Sunde, songwriter
Martin Buber's 1923 seminal work I and Thou is essential reading for many a seminary student. And, the Wisconsin band The Daredevil Christopher Wright has rendered this classic namesake into song. And it’s got us reading and talking more about this Jewish religious thinker too.
"Every Thou in the world is by its nature fated to become a thing, or continually re-enter into the condition of things."
~Martin Buber, from I and Thou
Our colleague Chris Roberts spoke with the songwriters for his latest story at Minnesota Public Radio. Listen to the audio (left).
By inaction one can become the center of thought, the focus of responsibility, the arbiter of wisdom. Full allowance must be made for others, while remaining unmoved oneself. There must be a thorough compliance with divine principles, without any manifestation thereof. All of which may be summed up in the one word “passivity.” For the perfect man employs his mind as a mirror. It grasps nothing: it refuses nothing. It receives, but does not keep. And thus he can triumph over matter, without injury to himself.
When we speak of the idea of America, we are speaking of many interconnected ethical ideas, both metaphysical ideas that deal with ultimate reality, and ethical and social ideas, which all together offered hope to the world. The idea of America, with all that it contained within it about the moral law, nature, God and the human soul, once reflected to some extent the timeless ancient wisdom that has guided human life since the dawn of history. America was a new and original expression, in the form of a social and political experiment, of ideas that have always been part of what may be called the great web of Truth. Explicitly and implicitly, the idea of America has resonated with this ancient, timeless wisdom and has allowed something of its power to touch the heart and mind of humanity. It is necessary to recover this resonance, this relationship, however tenuous and partial, between the teachings of wisdom and the idea of America.
—Jacob Needleman, from his wonderful book, The American Soul: Rediscovering the Wisdom of the Founders
A happy Fourth of July to all Americans celebrating independence today. Please keep in mind all the countries and people in the Middle East trying to develop their own experiments in democracy — and that anything worth having always takes time.
How Do We Swing Honor Around?
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Can we make the world a better place if we change the way people think about honor? This is the question philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah explores in this smart, three-minute short film. He gives several examples of how customs that were once considered a matter of honor — challenging someone to a duel or foot-binding small girls — persisted for thousands of years but ceased after a few decades.
But why? Only when the fundamental dialogue in society is based on respect, Appiah says, can we change the way accepted practices, such as honor killings, are viewed by the people who carry them out.
Suzuki Roshi used to say that what was needed most in the monastery were people who were good at cleaning out the corners. The most perverting ideas are the ones that lie for years and years in the dark corners of our mind. Like spiders, they creep out while we are sleeping and spin their webs of illusion. Only when the mind is clean, in order, and uncluttered can the present moment be fully realized. If we hang onto past memories, trophies of our good-old-days, in time our mind and our home will be a museum instead of a place to encounter the present reality. The relationship between house cleaning, garden cleaning, and mental caretaking is not just symbolic. It is very direct.
If you have, let us say, a theory about man, and if you can only prove it by talking about Plato and George Washington, your theory may be quite a frivolous thing. But if you can prove it by talking about the butler or the postman, then it is serious, because it is universal. So far from it being irreverent to use silly metaphors on serious questions, it is one’s duty to use silly metaphors on serious questions. It is the test of one’s seriousness. It is the test of a responsible religion or theory whether it can take examples of pots and pans and boots and butter-tubs. It is a test of a good philosophy whether you can defend it grotesquely. It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it.
—G.K. Chesterton, from the chapter “Spiritualism” in his 1908 book All Things Considered
Image by Bill Rogers/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Q:The bible says that white hair is found among those who live a virtuous life. So being, at the time of his death, Osama bin Laden had lived a more virtuous life than Krista Tippet. Not to hard to believe.
This reasoning might be considered a hypothetical syllogism. If you are being sincere when making this deductive inference, I might suggest that you reevaluate the validity of your premises and redraw your conclusion. For clinging to this fallacious reasoning deceives yourself and others you are trying to persuade.
Now, if your deductive reasoning is intended to be hurtful (even through humor) rather than logical, I’d like to offer a perspective Martin Marty once shared with our program on how he measures a person’s character:
"I’ve often thought — I’ve often said, ‘If Billy Graham had been born mean, we’d be in terrible trouble,’ because he had so much power, so many gifts, and so on. One of my distinctions in religion is not liberal and conservative, but mean and non-mean. You have mean liberals and mean conservatives, and you have non-mean of both."
I hope you are one of those non-mean people whose influence betters the conversation rather than hastens its demise with sarcasm and weak logic.
Kind regards and happy new year,
Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Business Tips on Living Well
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
The following three points from the Harvard Business Review could just as well be applied as an operating motto for one’s personal life and not just for business networking, non?
- Revise your conference calendar.
- Talk to the loners.
- Find diversity within.
Photo by Ed Yourdon/Flickr, cc by-sa 2.0