Thursday, April 30, 2015

Hope everyone's ready!

i will be presenting my final paper in progress today in class. I am writing about religion in the 16th century and now. I've noticed my paper has kind of veered off into self expression but what I wanted to look at from the beginning was 'have we lost religion or is it changing?' I'll need some input from you philosophy students in regards to some of the information I have picked out for the paper so speak up!!!! 😊

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

"As Shaky as a Fiddler on the Roof"

Throughout much of their history, the Jewish people have been forced to live amongst those with different religious and cultural convictions; the children of Israel have proven resilient, however, surviving numerous hardships while maintaining the faith of their fathers. This struggle can be seen at the forefront of the 1964 Tony Award-winning musical, Fiddler on the Roof.

At the musical’s onset, we are greeted by the Russian-Jew Tevye, who bursts into song proclaiming the value of tradition within the context of his Jewish community; he reflects on how the members of his village go about their daily routines, balancing the numerous trials associated with living in early 20th century Russian society as a Jew. The villagers, Tevye says, are akin to a fiddler who composes tunes from the shaky heights of a rooftop who is trying to maintain his footing. What allows for the villagers to remain grounded like a fiddler on the roof? Tradition. Without tradition, the inhabitants of Anatevka would surely succumb to the many problems and influences that are present within an ever-changing world; their lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof. 

(Note: This shakiness is representative of the fragilization experience by those in modern secular society; the Jewish people of Anatevka are cross pressured, though they resist the influences of the outside world by falling back upon tradition)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Journal Entry #5 (Taylor, 171-218)

Within this specific selection from Charles Taylor's magnum opus, A Secular Age, he introduces the idea of a social imaginary. According to Taylor, a social imaginary is "broader and deeper than the intellectual schemes people may entertain when they think about social reality in a disengaged mode [. . .]" A social imaginary is "[. . .] the way ordinary people 'imagine' their social surroundings, and this is often not expressed in theoretical terms, it is carried in images, stories, legends, etc." (Taylor 171-172). As mainstream society has become increasingly secularized over an extended period of time, the human social imaginary has changed in countless ways. As a result of the modernization of civilization, the belief in God has merely become one option among many (in terms of the expression of faith by human beings). As a result, emphasis has been placed on the individual, rather than the community. Therefore, citizens have continued to call morality into question. George Orwell's groundbreaking book, Nineteen Eighty-four, proclaims, "War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength" (Orwell 4). Humanity has enslaved itself to fundamental features of the political process, including: equality, freedom and liberty, among others. The evolution of humanity's social imaginary is predicated upon individuality (at the expense of authority). Religion continues to be viewed (by some people) as a strict set of standards to be followed without reservations; however, it is much more than this. I firmly believe that mankind's modern social imaginary hasn't lost a sense of the sacred; however, the focus has shifted from transcendence to human flourishing. This isn't detrimental to Catholicism; in fact, it has helped pave the way for the Catholic faith to become stronger in mainstream society.

Journal Entry #4 (Smith, 122-139 & Taylor, 1-22, 146-171)

In the introduction of his magnum opus, A Secular Age, Charles Taylor explores humanity's innate desire to discover a strong sense of purpose behind life. He emphasizes the differences between human flourishing and the transcendent, stating, "We all see our lives, and/or the space wherein we live our lives, as having a certain moral/spiritual shape. Somewhere, in some activity, or condition, lies a fullness, a richness; that is, in that place (activity or condition), life is fuller, richer, deeper, more worth while, more admirable, more what it should be" (Taylor 5). The multitude of cross pressures faced by every single individual on a consistent basis causes them to attempt to uncover the meaning of life. As a devout member of the Catholic faith, I firmly believe I must use my life to completely commit myself to the sacraments, serve others before myself and to spread the word of God in order to experience salvation. From my personal perspective, the meaning of life comes from loving everyone else without reservation and serving God to the best of my God-given abilities. Countless citizens have gravitated towards a secularized lifestyle because of the "lack" of evidence for the existence of God; however, He is always with us (especially through the numerous miracles He performs). The members of BarlowGirl, an American, Christian and all-female rock band, express their discontent with God's absence (presumably when they needed him the most); however, they continue to have faith in spite of the cross pressures they continue to face. This holds true for many of the 1.2 billion Catholics across the globe. Mankind will continue to strive for a sense of meaning in its existence through religion and spirituality alike.

The Beat Generation

This is the interview we we discussed in class of Jack Kerouac.
A little background on the Beats were that they were commonly referred to as the Beatniks. They consisted of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Lucien Carr, and Neal Cassady. They were a group of authors in the 1950s who wrote about everything mainstream society was against. Mainstream society in the 1950s thrived on family and wholesome values. The Beats however thrived on sex, drugs and travel. They made treks across the US multiple times looking for work and a good story to write about. Taylor talks about this in the Religion Today section  of A Secular Age. You can draw a line between these Beats and the reason the value system of the 50s fell apart and the values system we have now eventually came into play.  I also think it is interesting how they keep asking about the difference between this and the "hippy movement". The truth is, they just fed into one another. From the later Beat generation stemmed Ken Kesey, author of One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, who was a VERY prominent member of both the Hippy and Beat movements. This essentially started the shift from the older values to the ones we have now. I agree with Professor Langguth that Jack Kerouac in particular, would be a very interesting person to study in regard to Charles Taylor.

Monday, April 27, 2015


I was reading the immanent frame blog and came across a post about the spread of western secularity of Europe to places such as the United States. It spoke about the nonviolent protests being brought from this part of the world. In light of the Baltimore Riots, i thought it was very relevant and pertinent information. It made me think what has changed since the time of Martin Luther King that we resort immediately to violence instead of coming together and peacefully marching for a cause that we all believe in.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Living in the AA

On page 84 of Smith he talks about the Age of Authenticity (AA). This is post '60's and is defined by the book as "an expression of 'what speaks to me.'" Most people today can relate to this as we are constantly looking for new things to introduce into our lives. We are always looking for new rituals and practices that will fill the void from the Age of Mobilization (AM). Our options have changed as Smith says and it isn't only that but also our everyday lives. We all express ourselves differently and that is what the AA allows us to do. You do not have to conform to the outside model and are able to realize your own humanity for yourself. You can be individualistic and explore the many options that the Nova Effect created. I think that this is a good time to live in. We are able to see so many different expressions of ones self so that we can better understand ourselves. We don't always have to go the same way as everyone else. We are able to try out new things and decide for ourselves if that's what we want to be. But in the end whatever you do decide, there is nothing wrong with it, you are just expressing yourself.

Nova Effect = Cross Pressures

In Smith on page 62 he talks about the Nova Effect and how cross pressures have turned from the more medieval model of the buffered self to a more porous self. I think this is most people today and we are have kind of become open to more things that lead us away from our faith. This section in Smith is titled The Nova Effect: Fragilization from Cross-pressures, where fragilization means that your particular faith begins to come into question and becomes fragile. This is the result of the cross pressures from the Nova Effect. We see these everyday in our culture with music, TV, and many more things. A lot of peoples faith nowadays comes into question when confronted about it. Some people are either uneducated about their faith or just simply don't care and they begin to question it. I think it is good to have a buffered self but also at the same time can have negative effects. You don't want to close yourself off to so many things that you begin to dismantle relationships. People need to find an equal medium of the two and be concrete with their opinions and what they do and don't allow into their lives.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Journal Entry #3 (Smith, 79-121)

In this specific selection from James K. A. Smith's How (Not) To Be Secular, he discusses the development of the secular age in which we live. Humanity has continued to gravitate towards a strong sense of individualism, rather than the notion of authority. Due to the fact we're living in the Age of Authenticity, where the institution of religion has been reduced in favor of an expression of individual identity. Therefore, individuals begin to adopt a wide array of "spins" (in which we cannot consider the plausibility of other ideas) and "takes" (in which we are able to consider the plausibility of other ideas). Furthermore, humanity exists within closed world structures, which are aspects of common culture that tip our immanent frame towards a closed construal. It is extremely difficult for individuals to be involved in a debate or a discussion because of our innate desire to always be right; however, the field of philosophy effectively fixes this issue. With its logical, organized approach to fundamental problems plaguing the general public, philosophy strives to study the nature of existence, knowledge and reality and to resolve the problems plaguing mainstream society. By taking a step back and examining a secular age from a neutral perspective, I wholeheartedly believe we can come together to make a better world not only for ourselves, but for future generations to come.

Journal Entry #2 (Smith, 47-78)

Within this specific selection from James K. A. Smith's How (Not) To Be Secular, he continues to analyze the evolution of religion over an extended period of time. Through the process of immanentization, in which meaning lies within an enclosed and self-sufficient society without reference to transcendence, humanity has shifted its focus from religion to reason. Originally, intellectual elites, leaders and scholars sought out to explain the ultimate plan for humanity (in which our success isn't accessible in our material world); however, through the work of Adam Smith and John Lock, among others, the notion of human flourishing was developed (in which our success is accessible in our material world). As a result of the multitude of options which exist for us to express our faith, our own system of beliefs, personal convictions and values are called into question. Countless citizens are caught inside of a web of cross pressures, which impedes their ability to come to terms with their individual identity (in regards to religious affiliation). As a devout Catholic, sometimes I find it fairly difficult to deal with the problems plaguing mainstream society. While I am inclined to act in a certain way, the Catholic Church is comprised of a set of standards, which are to be adhered to at all times. Moreover, I must admit the relative difficultly in growing in my faith because of the cross pressures that affect my existence on a daily basis; however, this doesn't deter me from passionately pursuing the truth (which I firmly believe I've found through Catholicism). Although I fell away from my faith in high school to focus on other activities (academics, athletics, etc.), I deeply desired to come back to it. Recently, I became a part of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults at Thomas More College. By participating in this process, I intend to increase my level of faith and involvement in the Catholic Church. I may be deeply influenced by the process of fragilization, but I couldn't be more confident in pursuing objective truth within Catholicism.

The Peggy Lee Axis

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Journal Entry #1 (Smith, 1-46)

As a brilliant, well-written reading guide to Charles Taylor's magnum opus, A Secular Age, James K. A. Smith's How (Not) To Be Secular ultimately provides us with a detailed synopsis of the development of mainstream society. It breaks down the dense nature of A Secular Age, introducing us to the key concepts within its pages. Through How (Not) To Be Secular, a larger portion of the human population is encouraged to read Taylor's groundbreaking account of secularization in the western world. In the opening pages of his worthy work of literature, Smith discusses the problems plaguing common culture, which are attributable to the secular age in which we currently find ourselves in. It is extremely difficult to determine a strong sense of individual identity because we have a multitude of options in order to express our faith (from traditional Christianity to modern Atheism). Due to the emergence of a wide variety of options, the process of fragilization has continued to influence the lives of every single individual. The level of commitment by a human being into one particular faith is called into question (if humanity doesn't come to a consensus on objective truth, the individual begins to doubt his/her beliefs, personal convictions and values). Furthermore, the process of secularization has not only made religious belief into one option among many others, it has also shifted our focus from a sense of the sacred to an earthly domain. As obstacles to unbelief were broken down over an extended period of time, disenchantment completely changed the landscape of the social order. By integrating aspects of Taylor's ideas into his own book, Smith is able to effectively explain how the evolution of a secular age took place (similarly to Taylor, Smith isn't quick to contest countless issues; he allows his theories and thoughts to be organized in a logical manner). In my personal opinion, these selections accurately and effectively expanded upon the idea of the secular age in which we live. As a devout member of the Catholic faith, I find Smith's analysis of Taylor's book to be fascinating because it allows me more closely identify with members of the faith community (who continue to develop the Christian doctrine even today) and it clearly explains his ideas. At this particular point in time, this book has greatly increased my interest level in Taylor's work. It doesn't coerce the reader into accepting a particular worldview, but urges him/her along in a journey of self-discovery. Similarly to the field of philosophy, this book wants to resolve numerous issues within our world.

more phylisophical

If we don't believe in God do we need to fill that void by believing in monsters?
Sure monsters are really glorified in Hollywood and in the movie theaters but is that why its laced into our culture? So if people don't believe in God, why would monsters be the 'new thing'? I mean, there's no concrete proof that Big Foot lives in our back yard, there's no proof that vampires and werewolves are fighting in the sewers like portrayed in Underworld, yet some people would rather believe in that than in a supernatural transcendence. Of course there's no scientific proof of God but there isn't really any undisputable evidence of Big Foot, vampires or werewolves. If were replacing transcendence with science, why is it that our we believe in creatures science can't prove?

The Fourth Kind

Someone in class today (forgot who) brought up a paper topic of aliens and monsters replacing religion (roughly). I've watched this movie, The Fourth Kind, and it documents, kinda, a woman in Alaska's experience with aliens and she questions Gods existence. How could God let these aliens abduct her child? How could God allow these aliens to do whatever it is that aliens do to innocent people? These are some of the common questions asked by people who believe in aliens. It raises controversial topics, whether the movie is fake or real. Even if you're not writing your paper on aliens its an interesting movie to watch.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Can one experience enchantment in a secular age?

I found this webpage that give a great viewpoint to reading the how (not) to be secular book that we read earlier in the semester. I particularly enjoyed the quote "wake up and smell the disenchantment."

Monday, April 13, 2015

I want to Disagree with Taylor: Music

I have a little bit of a beef with Taylor on his association with the Nova Effect of Ideas occurring in conjunction with a nova effect in music, the rise of absolute music etc.  Namely, I think the nova effect in music should really be placed long after the beginning of the Nova Effect of Ideas.  At the time Voltaire was writing and had a large following - the early-mid 18th century, music was still relatively static - 4-part orchestras, string quartets - these were all standard 'acceptable' venues for people to attend.   New genres of widely admired music (namely Jazz and a little later, blues, swing, rock) did not come about until the early 20th century.  I would go so far as to say that the only things that spawned musical variety were:
     A) musicians/composers needing less support from aristocratic patrons
     B) The electric era - recording, effects, new possibilities for instruments (first electric guitar was manufactured in 1932)
     C) instruments, music, and free time more widely accessible due to increasing wealth in the west

Considering it took 100 years for music to catch up with Taylor's Nova effect, and considering that sheer unimpeded human innovation seems like reason enough that new music should arise, Taylor might be mistaken on the point of music. Certainly music would later go on to express the nova effect in both words and mood, but does this mean that the wide variety which now exists spawned only because people became more receptive to the idea of doubting God?

Curious as to what your folks thoughts on this are...

Also, two ridiculously unique styles:

Animals as Leaders (8-string guitar instrumental metal)

Andy McKee and his harp guitar:

Friday, April 10, 2015

Buffered and Porous self

found this browsing the web. I really like the post on buffered and porous self. Gave me a better understanding of the terms and opened my views to topics that were discussed in class. I like the quote about the enchanted world of the lives of those 500 years ago and what the world we live in now is like.