Congrats to Lomachenko, three-division world champion

05.13.2018 / Culture

There was a big fight tonight… Congratulations are in order to Ukraine and to its champion boxer, Lomachenko.

Enjoy the highlights at CBS.

It was a beautiful fight. English has its Alexander Pope, tennis has its Roger Federer, boxing has its Vasyl Lomachenko.

Back in 2017, I wrote about this Orthodox Christian boxer, praising the musicality of his performances. He is a musician as much as a boxer. Rhythm, rhyme, repetition, syncopation. It’s beautiful to watch.

On May 11, I mentioned that the fight was coming up and predicted that “take down his next opponent and become a three-weight-class world champion. His fighting style is, as of now, unstoppable.” Although Lomachenko got knocked down in the sixth round he showed class by thanking Linares for teaching him a lesson.

He also showed his humility by giving credit to his father and trainer saying, “My father told me to go for the body in the final rounds, so I did.”






Jordan Peterson and Ben Shapiro Interview

05.08.2018 / Politics

This is perhaps best single Peterson interview so far. In it, Peterson develops a host of related big claims. He states and concisely explains no less than the following:

  • an account of the evolution of morality (that leaves open the possibility of divine intervention) as iterated games over time
  • an account of the evolution of social hierarchies
  • a defense of the Enlightenment
  • an explanation of why Christ is the “king of kings”, the hero of heros
  • the difference between Sam Harris and Peterson
  • an interpretation of Genesis
  • a break down and criticism of identity politics
  • a response to critics
  • a defense of cleaning your room.

My only complaint is that Shapiro keeps nodding and saying “uh huh” and “right, right” when he should just be quiet and let Peterson talk. Other than that, it’s a good interview.






Reflections on my father's passing

05.07.2018 / Misc

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6 years ago today my father passed away.

Six years ago today, I sat holding his hand, still warm, trying to comprehend that he was dead.

I arrived at the hospital a little after 10pm, just minutes after he breathed his last. Thank God I had not gone to sleep! My brother and sister were there.

The transition from this life to the next, like the transition of a baby from inside the womb to the wide world, is a sacred transition. A liminal space. Something supernatural. The nurses cleaned him up because death, like birth, is messy. It’s organic. It’s not clean or neat or Hollywood. It’s a rending. He looked like himself only his mouth was open. He knew he would pass soon, for he silently removed his wife’s hand from his chest, signaling to her that it was time for her to let him go.

Just that morning I had asked him for permission to bring the family to my church and pray the Orthodox Christian prayers for the departed, after he had passed. He said, “of course, Keith.” 40 days later, the family did come to my church and prayed. I was so glad to have his blessing.

Weeks before, I recorded poems for him from his favorite writer, Robert Frost, and sent him the audio files to listen to while in the hospital. He enjoyed them because he said they weren’t morbid or sad, just delightful. He said that visitors often wanted to visit him and be sad or share sad stories, which he was fine with. But he clearly preferred to live in the (happy) moment.

He joked to the end. He always quipped the old joke, “I’m not afraid of death. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” Yet we have to be there when we die.

He was courageous. He had pancreatic cancer for two years. It’s not a merciful cancer; normally diagnosis is followed by death within six months or so. But he survived and even finished a book, continued his radio show, and spent a lot of quality time with us. My sister learned a saying that “cancer is the gift of time.” In other words, when someone has cancer, you feel the clock ticking and you press in for time together. I had two great years with my dad, two of the best we had together in 27 years. And I thank God for that time.

At the hospital, it was hard to comprehend, as I held his hand and felt the warmth slowly fade, that it was real. Just like imagining your baby before he arrives, it’s almost surreal when labor actually starts. But so it is. It’s real. So I tried to stay in the moment with my siblings and my other family members. We each had our own reactions. But we agreed on sacred silence.

After about 30 minutes, each of us took turns being alone with him. The male nurse was empathetic, professional, and cooperative. During my turn I poured out my heart to him. I told him about my best times with him and my worst times. I told him I would pray for him and love him and try to make him proud.

Now, six years later, I ache to think he hasn’t met my children or seen our life transitions or walked my sister down the aisle (that was my brother’s honor). But I honor him, his life, and his courageous death.






A corrupt teacher's union... and only the beginning

05.04.2018 / Classical education

It’s horrifying to hear Dr. David Perry, the President of the Hamilton Township Education Association, say this:

“I’m not here to hurt anybody. I’m here to defend. No matter the worst teachers in the world, I have defended.”

Check out Project Veritas’ new video exposing a teacher union president.

Teachers should not be invincible to accountability. On the contrary, they should be more accountable than many other professionals.

We teachers are accountable to the parents, to our students, to our administrators, to the law, and to truth itself.






Thomas Sowell on Three Kinds of Discrimination (on the Rubin Report)

04.20.2018 / Politics

This interview is edifying, informative, and challenging on multiple levels.

Dave Rubin talks with Thomas Sowell about his life, his education, and his new book on three different kinds of discrimination.

It includes a beautiful story that Sowell relates about how a young boy took him to a public library and taught him that you can read books even if you don’t buy them. That young boy gave us one of the world’s great living scholars.






Emotional trauma healing resources

04.17.2018 / Personal growth

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A little while ago, I asked friends for books other resources about the connection between trauma and muscle pain. Here’s what you came up with! I added links to each title, and a few descriptions.

Thanks so much for your collective wisdom and expertise. I’m going to start to reading through these.

My own journey to healing from childhood trauma has been a long one. Talking and processing past experiences is incredibly helpful for producing insight and taking control of your reactions towards life. But talking isn’t everything. Healing is an energetic activity. I’ve found, recently, that exercise, I’m hopeful that learning a bit more about the role of the body – in storing trauma and postponing traumatic experiences until we are ready to handle them – will help.

BOOKS

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Never take religious freedom for granted

04.14.2018 / Faith

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An email from a former student that illustrates the importance of ongoing gratitude for basic goods. It’s especially important around Easter time, for those of us who are still high on Easter joy. She said:

It’s really sad that we take advantage of our religious freedom in here in America. People do not understand how lucky we are. I just got back over winter break from a Catholic college conference and there was a speaker who told us a story about a missionary in China. He lived in an area where it was illegal to celebrate mass so he would have the mass in hiding for his family and neighbors. He was eventually caught by law enforcement and tortured with electric spears for about a month. All the man had to do was tell the law where their priest was, but the man could not take that away from his family or neighbors. Law enforcement eventually let him go and he and his family decided to move to the U.S. The man was so happy because he was able to celebrate the mass everyday, even multiple times. However, the American culture started to rub on him and he realized that as an American family man, he needed to make more money to provide for his family. He starts working more to make his family happy and can’t go to daily mass, so he goes on the weekend. As time passes he eventually does not go on Sunday’s. He then became one of those people who only make mass Christmas and Easter, but from the speaker heard from this man, he missed Easter too. It’s crazy to think that the American culture was able to pull him away from God, but that the electric torches weren’t.






John Milton on Liberal Arts

04.09.2018 / Classical education

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Dr. Andrew Selby has been lecturing the Trinity Classical Academy staff this past academic year on the “Art of Grammar.” The art of grammar, in contrast to the mere subject, is a skill that enables the practitioner to read and correctly interpret other people’s sentences and to produce one’s own grammatical sentences. We don’t call people “grammarians” (Greek: grammatikos)) very often any more, but it’s still a perfectly good label for the sort of educated person who can read, write, and think well.

One of Dr. Selby’s examples has been “little Johnny” – that is, John Milton.

John Milton is one of the greatest users of the English language, in a class with Chaucer, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, T. S. Eliot, Keats. And surprisingly, his education consisted of primarily learning grammar for seven years. “Grammar school”, a term we also don’t use much anymore, referred to the intensive study of grammar that was rightly seen to be the foundation of all other learning. In grammar school, Milton learned (a) Latin, and (b) the universal grammatical rules and terminology needed to understand both Latin and English. Milton also learned (c) literature by reading Virgil directly. (He was also taught Christian theology and morality during this time.)

Milton did not learn science, math, or history per se during his grammar school education. That’s not how it was done. The medievals did first things first: grammar, then everything else.

The art of grammar is so important that it’s hard to understate the matter. However, grammar naturally leads to other arts: logic, for example, and rhetoric.

The reason these arts are united and yet distinct is clear upon reflection: they all concern the correct use of thinking and speaking. Students (and for that matter, business people, artists, and parents) who can think and speak well are most likely to excel in a class.

So how do the first three liberal arts, the trivium, work together?

Here’s a brief explanation from John Milton:

The general matter of the general arts is either reason or speech. They are employed either in perfecting reason for the sake of proper thinking, as in logic, or in perfecting speech, and that either for the sake of the correct use of words, as in grammar, or the effective use of words, as in rhetoric. Of all the arts the first and most general is logic, then grammar, and last of all rhetoric, since there can be much use of reason without speech, but no use of speech without reason. We gave the second place to grammar because correct speech can be unadorned; but it can hardly be adorned before it is correct.1

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Dosteyevsky Predicts the Internet

03.29.2018 / Culture

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I am reading Dostoevsky’s Demons presently and stumbled across this description of a proto-Google, or proto-internet of information.

Dostoevsky’s idea comes from the character Lizaveta. She imagines a book or series that condenses and makes accessible impossibly vast streams of information into a single, searchable source.

Once upon a time, I hatched a crazy idea for an encyclopedia of human knowledge that people could add to, connecting up questions with answers in a gigantic web of information. I fancy that the idea was a proto-Wikipedia. But of course the genius of Wikipedia is that it actually works. It exists. It’s not just an idea.

(The moral of the story, perhaps, is that good ideas are thought of a dozen, a hundred, a thousand times before the true genius finds a way to implement them. )

The proto-internet is shared for your reading pleasure:

Lizaveta was thinking of bringing out a book which she thought would be of use…

Her literary scheme was as follows. Numbers of papers and journals are published in the capitals and the provinces of Russia, and every day a number of events are reported in them. The year passes, the newspapers are everywhere folded up and put away in cupboards, or are torn up and become litter, or are used for making parcels or wrapping things. Numbers of these facts make an impression and are remembered by the public, but in the course of years they are forgotten.

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Does Peterson Really Believe This Stuff?

03.28.2018 / Politics

Scott Alexander at Slate Stare Codex writes a thorough review of Jordan Peterson’s book and of Peterson’s whole approach to life.

While I don’t agree with the whole review, it’s worth reading. [Also: Language warning]

It definitely might help those who are struggling to understand the Jordan Peterson phenomenon.

What’s so helpful is that the Alexander acknowledges the strengths of Peterson (and explains why people find him useful) while deflating some of his pretensions to religious or even cultic significance.

Alexander interprets Peterson as using the framework of a religion (objective meaning, the idea of redemption, the ideas of sin and repentance) while evacuating some of the realism from that framework. And, Alexander points out, the advice works. It’s helpful.

I’m not so sure that Peterson believes God is just the good feelings and sin is just a psychological underworld. But I’ll admit that Alexander’s interpretation is a plausible one.







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