Greetings Russell and Friends,
Much of my reading and writing this week has been in the comments concerning my last post on God’s goodness or lack thereof. That is a new and exciting way to interact with our new friends – – something that we’ve seen modeled on several of their blogs. Much of the content in these blogs is in the comments. So we’re slowly addressing your reasons for doubt and unfolding the map to your intellect and heart. I find your mind to be fascinating, likely because it is very different from mine. I also find it fascinating when you and your wife J (aka CC) write each other from the same room. Fascinating, and completely valid. She said the following after you apologized for the length of your comments.
Your napkin drawing (that happened on paper, but same idea) was far more effective. Even if you has said the same thing in many thousands of words, I think fatigue would have prevented me (and perhaps others) from getting it. Are there readers who skip your comments altogether because of the length (knowing that they don’t have time in the Subway line)? You have so much to offer that I don’t want it to be missed for that reason.
I need to accept your apology and resist my impulse to reassure you that apologies are never needed. That impulse does not honor the reality of friendship. When I apologize I would rather have that apology accepted than deferred. Why do I accept your apology? Because I recently found myself in a Subway line trying to engage the blog content and I couldn’t attend to your very good comment, primarily because of length. I read and scrolled, scrolled and read, gave up, then ordered a six-inch wheat black forest ham toasted with pepper jack cheese, green peppers, red onions, black olives, banana peppers, spicy mustard and a little bit of sriracha sauce. I woke at four this morning intending to read every single one of your comments. I’m actually a slow, plodding reader – – speed reading is anathema to me. And I did, but it took two hours to do so thoughtfully. Smaller bites and clarifying questions is good advice from your bride.
What about napkins? That is a favorite strategy of ours when we meet for breakfast. Back of the envelope analogies fail because the only envelopes I seem to have contain junk mail and I rarely have them at breakfast. Likewise, we have never eaten together at a restaurant with cloth napkins. I’m not saying that we couldn’t write on those napkins, just that it could get a little strange or tense. In the napkin above I’ve illustrated a general taxonomy which may or may not be correct. The horizontal axis represents a way of thinking – – like you or me. The vertical axis represents a skeptical or theistic belief. I’ve taken the liberty of asserting that you think the most like you and I think the most like me. We serve as paradigmatic members of the quadrants: you the Russell-like skeptic, me the Pascal-like theist. Then I’ve assigned several of our more active writers to the quadrants as I see them. I chose Madalyn for my way of thinking, albeit with very different beliefs, primarily because I find her writing style very easy to read. I chose Howie for your way of thinking because when he first came by I thought you had adopted another pseudonym. And so forth – – it’s a bit like picking teams for dodgeball. It would be better for people to assign themselves – – then I could redraw the napkin, although I did find the creative effort to be draining.
Why a tangential discussion about napkins? Because I’ve taken so many tangents this week trying to see how we see things differently. Did you know that Bertrand Russell was an opponent of coherentism as an epistemic strategy? I did not. Did you know that Soren Kierkegaard requires too many special characters in the correct spelling of his name to be my favorite philosopher? That was a joke (although true). He’s not my favorite philosopher because I don’t have one yet. Kierkegaard valued the subjective in his understanding of truth. I didn’t know that, but I’ve encountered him before in many readings and it is probably time to go to the source. My tangential responses to your comments and your linearity help me to learn and also to respect that I many not ever be able to reply to you in kind. I understand your objections, I just don’t process the world that way. And that is okay. I’ll do my best. Let’s have breakfast this week.
For our friends — which napkin quadrant would you place yourself in? Any takers for the lonely square? If you are one of the 8-in-ink and consider yourself misdrawn I am prepared to revise.
photo credit: the napkin on the table, Pascal, my own work Creative Commons share and share alike