Sunday, September 26, 2004

Now, though science helps us to make the first diagnosis [the physical], it is of no use to us for the second [the spiritual]. A doctor whose only preparation for his career is his scientific training will remain blind to the part played by spiritual problems in sickness, and powerless to sustain his patient in his efforts to resolve them.

Of the 'meaning' of disease, science has nothing to say: from the standpoint of science, nothing has meaning--neither the universe, man, life, death, illness, nor cure. The scientific view of the world is a stupid one. We see this clearly in the anguish that can take possession of a man when he suddenly realizes that nothing has meaning for him, neither his existence, his actions, nor his destiny.

Dr Paul Tournier from A Doctor's Casebook in Light of the Bible

Saturday, September 25, 2004

With all the attention being lavished on the fine reporting work of the Columbia Broadcasting System recently, I suppose it is understandable, though just barely, that more attention has not been lavished on the rather surprising news now brought to us by ABC.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Grumpy Face Posted by Hello

Me and my boy Posted by Hello

John Sebastian shortly after birth Posted by Hello

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Just in case anyone is interested, John Sebastian Baxter was born yesterday morning at 9:25 by cesarian. He weighed in at 8 pounds 15 ounces and a reach of 20 1/2 inches. Everyone seems to be doing fine. I forgot to bring the camera home with me so no pics today.

Monday, September 20, 2004

My last pre-fatherhood blog. Potentially my last night of restful sleep for a long time. Been reading Pascal this week. Extrordinary inights interspersed with lots of random half-finished thoughts. If I ever get back to it I'll post some of the juicy bits. These was one entry about without Jesus Christ we cannot know God, followed by the statement that without Jesus Christ we cannot know ourselves.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Interesting take on the intersection of politics, history, and a classic film here.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

A slightly more detailed baby update. We went to the clinic yesterday afternoon, braving hurricane leftovers on the way, to see how Lenise's blood pressure was doing (it had been pretty high last time) and to get further assesment on the best course. Her BP, swelling and weight were all down, which is good. However, her pelvic exam showed that she had a pretty low likelihood of successful delivery. Wrong shape, it seems. The doctor encouraged us to think about a c-section delivery. We had been talking about this in the car and Lenise was fine with the idea of a C-section. As long as we get a baby out of it, the exact method doesn't seem to be of critical importance.

What really struck me in this exchange, and what I had also noticed throughout childbirth classes, was the tremendous emphasis our medical culture places on "personal choice" these days. Even though in our case every piece of available data suggested that c-section is the right and wisest and safest choice, the doctor wouldn't directly recommend it to us. He didn't ask us if it was ok to schedule it. He merely mentioned it as an option and pointed out that natural delivery would be rather difficult.

This whole thing seems misguided to me. When you have a situation where you have very unequal knowledge, i.e. trained medical staff versus patients, those with the knowledge should be in a position to make recommendations. I don't think the idea of patient choice should be eliminated, but the way things are now just seems irrational.

I think the issue of breast feeding is similar. I don't see why someone would CHOOSE not to breastfeed. Of course circumstances might make it impossible or impractical, and there are options for those cases. But I don't know why the medical staff always asked us, "are you planning to breastfeed?" Seems equivalent to me of saying, "are you going to use your sense of smell?"

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

I think this is an terrific article by one of the people I consider to be among the brightest contemporary american thinkers. Thanks to John Barach for the link.

I was especially interested in Peter's comments on charity. This is something I had begun to learn and am still trying to grasp in studies of the ancient world. The notion of "love" or "charity" was, I think, entirely different than our current ones. The ancient world, and many parts of the non-western world today I believe, are characterized by an amazingly tenacious group loyalty. This apparently existed to the extent that people always thought of themselves in terms of the group they belonged to--their parents, ancestors, tribe, village, and possibly profession. Of course the dark flip side of this is a rather strident xenophobia. Anyone from outside you family is a possible enemy. If they are from outside the nation, take out the "possibly".

In this context the satements of Jesus in the gospels seem all the more striking. Jesus proposed that these ties, ties which constituted people's basic notions of who they were (ancestors, laws, traditions, families), were to be considered done away with, no longer of primary importance, and that he would be their new family, their new law, and their new nation.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

My brother introduced me via email to one of the classics professors at Purdue. It's been fun interacting with him. One of the pleasures and pains of being a dilletante like me is that you can get into conversations with folks in lots of different felds but always feel like something of a fake. When I've read three or four books on a subject and talk to someone who has devoted thier career to it I feel like a kid talking to an adult. I'm keenly aware of how little I know. I guess kids don't always feel that way though.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

I have finished all of the submitted contest books and will put up a couple more reviews tomorrow. I'm afraid I'll have to reneg n my promise to pick a winner though. It's just too hard. I will try to send out prizes to everyone though in either the order that I liked your submission, or when you send me your wish list (or info about how to find your wish list). BTW, you cannot simply go to your amazon wishlist and copy and paste the url there. Doesn't work, trust me.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

On Stealing From Libraries

The Mebane Public Library has a perpetual library sale of donated books they have no room for. I stopped by last week on the way to the grocery store and saw a new stack of books there. I poked around and found a bunch of (OT scholar) Walter Bruggeman titles and a couple other things. On my way over to the videos I noticed a couple of VERY large hardcovers with somewhat damaged boards. I decided to take a look. It was bothe volumes of the compact edition of the OED. Total price for all the books I could carry was $10.

Today was the first day of the county seat library sale. I popped in for a while of course. Prices were not quite as good as in Mebane. $3 hardcovers, $1.50 for soft. Fortunately everything not hardcover was considered soft, so I got Norman Davies Europe: A History and Michael Chabon in trade quite cheap, and a Robert Penn Warren novel for free in the stack by the door.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

This is from the department of things-we-have-known-for-a-long-time-but-journalists-are-just-now-figuring-out.

Book contest updates.

Finished reading Lilith. I wish I had something really intelligent to say about it, but I don't. Certainly a magical novel, and certainly you can see where the influence for Lewis' Christian neo-platonism comes from here. Some of it worked well for me and some didn't. I fear in some sense this may be due to lack of concentration on my part. Despite all the reading I do, I'm still someone who grew up on tv.

Yesterday I finished It Happened in Boston?. Here's a book which contains its own handy summary, which I will reproduce at the risk of "giving it away".

But what was I give? A faithless, empty headed, burglarious woman for a wife and a conscienceless, philandering English phlebotomist for a business agent. This precious pair of vipers began it all. These two adders divided my life, subtracted my happiness and multiplied my misfortunes. It was they who tipped me into that maelstrom of flse marcheses, mercenary Bergamese whores, slippery Italian counts, witless German art experts, villainour Peruvian generals, paranoiac harpies, spiteful Russian cats, specious Polish wizards, spying pigeons, nosy janitors and ambitious Irish cops. My closest friend was driven to hang himself by my closest enemy. Somehow, through cunning insinuation and obscure machinations, I was inveigled into murdering six poor strangers and the kind and generous Leo Faber--in the name of humanity! I have been slanderd, lied to, cuckolded, robbed and persecuted. My lovely reveries have been snatched from my head and replaced by nightmares. The fruit of my years of labor--enough beauty to stock a museum--has been carried off to a foreign land, while one of my masterpieces has been plagiarized by a man dead five hundred years. I've been thwarted by an angel, duped by God and stalked by the Devil. Who would believe such things could happen in Boston?

The book had much of what I love in a novel: a wondrous main character, odd plot, and a shimmering and imaginative use of nearly every word in the dictionary. And yet, I am compelled to compare it to another book about art forgery, Robertson Davies' What's Bred in the Bone. This is certainly unfair. Davies book was written twenty years later and he may in fact have read Greenan. But it is impossible for me to avoid thinking that Davies' novel comes out better in comparison. But I did enjoy reading Greenan's book as well.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Weird pic of the day.
I'm sure this would be a better blog if I wrote something once in a while.

I'm onto part two of the 2004 Book Recommendation Contest (may do links later if I feel energetic). Just finished reading The Undertaking by Thomas Lynch. Really quite a good book. he certainly knows how to write and has a lot of good things to say. Most of his issues are ones I've thought about myself at some point, including some of the stranger topics. For instance I once though about getting into the buiness venture that his uncle Eddie tried--messy suicide and death cleanup specialist. Eddie was horrified when Dr Kevorkian became active. He was sure that this would ruin his business as all the suicides would be clean and tidy. I think I must have a dark sense of humor as I found that pretty funny.

Now I'm off to pick up and look over a curriculum for teaching the high school group at church. I'm pretty concerned about the nearly total ignorance of the Bible I'm finding among this group, so I'm hoping to do some basic level instruction in that area. I'll be glad to have some organized material to fit this into or around though. I'm always full of ideas and love teaching, but I'm pretty bad at organizing a curriculum from scratch.

And in other news, got an email from the pastor in Lviv. They will be starting a big English class next week. They expect 300 participants. Many of their folks will be called on to teach for the first time, so they are nervous about that, which is completely understandable. Maybe I need to pass on to them some of the things I learned about teaching?