Novak (novak) wrote,

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Personal: Notes Made in Passing

Okay, I'm about to drop, but there's things worth noting over the last few days:

* Fr. Coffey invited me to be one of five graduate student guests of his at a farewell luncheon the faculty is throwing for him. I can't describe how honoured I am by this.

* Bryan threw a bit of a curve ball, and decided to end his "Christian Faith and Racial Justice" class with a different lesson than the one described in his syllabus. Instead, he gave a kind of exposition on hope, and how it differs from optimism. Hope was sort of trans-rational, more a religious phenomenon or one of faith, rather than optimism, which he describe more as a result--at least an alleged one--of reason, like the Enlightenment's optimism in the powers of human reason. It is perhaps notable that the country most a result of that optimism--the United States--would also be the cradle of such a profound racism as the one we've been studying. Hope that this can be overcome draws on resources that go beyond those offered to us by educational programs, and new and improved ideologies like that of multiculturalism or egalitarianism. There were deep "ends and means" currents there in how eschatology influences ethics that will be worth continued meditation for me.

* I've had some kind of sense of how wide my emotions range with all my surgical complications: from furious rage at my health to a kind of peaceful detachment from the situation, I feel like I'm somehow starting to have some kind of sense of deeper honesty with myself about my feelings. I'm not sure how to say that more exactly. All I can say is that this is somehow important to me to move into: to let the rage rage and the peace settle; to let the various moods express themselves a bit more frankly.

* I've not had the chance to go head-to-head with Coffey yet about the new expressions I want to make about the interaction of human goodness and the goodness conferred by grace. Catholic theology has not been very articulate at distinguishing the two, and has let human goodness get swallowed up in grace overmuch, for fear of falling into all the problems of Pelagianism, and the ethical nightmares that arise when you start talking as though human beings are capable of perfect moral action. I think that I've come to a point where I can straighten out that theological language. Of course, it's all in Augustine, but everyone's been reading Augustine wrongly on the deal for 1600 years....

* Watched The Mission with Meg the other night for her Western Civ class. I was able to explain not only the 1700s Jesuit mission history, but also to help her see the movie's subtext about 1980s Latin American and liberation theology. Morricone's is still one of the greatest original soundtracks ever, and we had some interesting talk about a few of the shots: the last one, with the Cardinal staring at us after the credits was a bit more clear, we thought, and I also was very struck about why Rodrigo (De Niro) had to watch Gabriel (Irons) until he was killed. Any thoughts?

* Went to a Physics Department lecture on “The Historical Development of Science and the Scientific Method” on Thursday, but was disappointed to discover that it was an undergrad presentation, and not as detailed as I had hoped. I had some good conversation with a cloud of Physics professors that gathered around me afterward, though, once I was discovered to be a theologian. We compared some points of method between our fields, agreed that an absolute emphasis of the idea of "social constructivism" amounted to an utter denial of science, and I talked with them a bit about the Creationists, who I argued (to their agreement) could not be allowed to construe their arguments as "scientific" because of their arbitrary use of evidence: they only use those scientific points or studies that (often out of context) can be construed as backing their arguments. I learned an interesting mode of discussing what is legitimate scientific argument in this way, that a legitimate argument is "falsifiable": that is, that you can show what evidence would render it incorrect or false. We could say that the argument that gravity is a universal phenomenon, for example, could be proven to be false if would could find an area where it didn't work. The Creationists typically won't or cannot say up front what evidences would prove them wrong, and that lack of "falsifiability" shows that theirs is not a scientific argument but an ideological one. I wish there were more opportunities to easily hang with the physicists.
Tags: coffey, education, historical, movies/film/tv, personal, scientific, teachers, theological notebook

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