Saturday, October 22, 2005

I want to give a big public thanks to Alastair for sending me a copy of Walter Ong's Orality and Literacy, which I just finished. Ong has a tremendous range of knowledge of classical studies, anthropology and literary theory, among other things. The book explores the differences between oral and written communication. This is putting the matter much too simply though. Ong demonstrates how very deeply the technology of writing (and, later, print) affects human thinking. Thus for people who are primarily oral people (say, in a culture without writing), thoughts are organized very much differently from writing cultures.

Ong mentions here and there some of the implications of his studies on biblical and theological studies. This becomes very complex. For one thing, the ancient Hebrews were one of the first, if not the very first, peoples to use an alphabet for writing, and were among the few to write down sacred truths or sayings of history. On the other hand, though, the world in which the Old Testament was written was primarily an oral world. Somewhat less so for the New Testament, but orality, demonstrably, still played a big part in communication.

Would be very interesting to study this book in a church small group. Someday I'm going to find that small group that reads interesting stuff like this together :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Just as a political schema, this seems on target to me. It sounds like he doesn't actually know any fundamentalists though. The author is one of today's better sci-fi novelists.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Sin boldly so the rest of us can laugh at you.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

I've lost count of how many times I've heard David Bowen preach and thought to myself, "I have the best pastor in the world." You could listen for yourself here if you like. He does try to make his sermons as local as possible, so there are usually a number of inside jokes and so forth, but to me that's part of the charm of having him be "our" pastor. The analogy he drew today between Hosea's description of Israel and a designated driver who gets drunk was one of the most inspired illustrations I think I've ever heard.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

"Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government."

Since my amount of content has been poor lately, I figured I'd make up for it in quality.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Related to the last post, this past week I read Edward Humes' School of Dreams, a journalist's account of a year in the life of one of the highest performing public schools in the United States.

One of the most amusing portions of the book detailed a visit to Whiteny High from Neil Bush, bother of the president (the one who's been barred for life from the banking business). Bush, since his scandal, got involved in an education initiative known as Ignite!, which seems to be a software based learning program based on Howard Gardner's multiple intelligences theory. While Gardner's work, which I've just recently gotten familiar with, is interesting on its own merits, the education software turned out to be a set of different games trying to teach school subjects in a variety of ways. When the Whitney students tried it out they quickly figured out the easiest method for each activity, found it trivially easy, and proclaimed it worthless.

In the Q&A session, Bush told the students that the idea was to make education easier for everyone. Some of the students responded that maybe the problem is not that education needs to be easier, but that some students need to work harder. This answer seemed to baffle Bush. Whitney students, btw, are known for the astonishing amount of homework and extra-curriculars they take on in an effort to get placement in the top colleges.

I would love to mention the big science project assigned in physics class, but I don't want to give it all away.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Best article I've seen yet on technology and education. Unfortunately for those of us who are already computer addicts, it is long, so we may not be able to read more than the sidebar quotations.