Monthly Archives: December 2011

Happy Solstice!

My exam for 2 of my classes was only yesterday — so I’ll be busy marking right up to the big day!

Hopefully I’ll be able to catch my breath long enough to write something substantial. Until then, ttfn.

Here’s to Hitch

Socratic Mama reminded me of Hitchens’ closing words in his debate with William Dembski. In light of Hitch’s recent passing, these are words worth remembering:

I want to answer Bill’s (Dembski) implied question… Why don’t you accept this wonderful offer (of eternal life in heaven) ? Why wouldn’t you like to meet Shakespeare, for example? I don’t know if you really think that when you die you can be corporeally reassembled and have conversations with authors from previous epochs. It’s not necessary that you believe that in Christian theology and I have to say that it sounds like a complete fairytale to me. The only reason I want to meet Shakespeare, or might even want to, is because I can meet him anytime because he is immortal in the works he’s left behind. If you’ve read those then meeting the author would almost certainly be a disappointment.

But when Socrates was sentenced to death, for his philosophical investigations and for blasphemy for challenging the gods of the city, and he accepted his death he did say, “Well, if we are lucky perhaps I will be able to hold conversation with other great thinkers and philosophers and doubters, too.” In other words, that the discussion about what is good, what is beautiful, what is noble, what is pure, and what is true could always go on. Why is that important? Why would I like to do that? Because that’s the only conversation worth having. And whether it goes on or not after I die, I don’t know.

But, I do know that it is the conversation I want to have while I am still alive. Which means that to me the offer of certainty, the offer of complete security, the offer of an impermeable faith that can’t give way is an offer of something not worth having.

I want to live my life taking the risk all the time that I don’t know anything like enough yet… that I haven’t understood enough… that I can’t know enough… that I am always hungrily operating on the margins of a potentially great harvest of future knowledge and wisdom. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And I’d urge you to look at those who tell you, those people who tell you at your age, that you are dead until you believe as they do. What a terrible thing to be telling to children. …and that you can only live by accepting an absolute authority. Don’t think of that as a gift. Think of it as a poisoned chalice. Push it aside however tempting it is. Take the risk of thinking for yourself. Much more happiness, truth, beauty and wisdom will come to you that way. Thank you.

Cheers, Christopher.

Merry merry

Happy Christmas/Saturnalia/Chalica/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/etc

My favorite holiday song for the season — Tim Minchin’s ‘White Wine in the Sun’:

It’s the kind of song that makes me giggle and get weepy, all at once.  The song has got just a touch of heresy, and more than a touch of sentimentality (in that good kind of way).

I particularly like what he sings to his baby girl, because it’s something I hope Emma will always know in her heart:

And you, my baby girl
My jetlagged infant daughter
You’ll be handed round the room
Like a puppy at a primary school
And you won’t understand
But you will learn someday
That wherever you are and whatever you face
These are the people who’ll make you feel safe in this world
My sweet blue-eyed girl

And if, my baby girl
When you’re twenty-one or thirty-one
And Christmas comes around
And you find yourself nine thousand miles from home
You’ll know what ever comes
Your brother and sisters and me and your Mum
Will be waiting for you in the sun
Whenever you come
Your brothers and sisters, your aunts and your uncles
Your grandparents, cousins and me and your mum
We’ll be waiting for you in the sun

I love the images in this song — I can see the color of the white wine in the sun, and feel the love of this family.

And that’s the weepy part for me (in a good kind of way).