Archive for the 'philosophy' Category


on the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu

I took Tuesday morning off work, to see the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu speak on a panel along with representatives from a number of different faiths on the topic of compassion. Afterwards, I participated in the 600-member choir and orchestra which performed the final movement of Beethoven’s 9th symphony. Thanks to Seeds of Compassion for organizing this event.

The discussion was amazing and I’d encourage any of you interested to check out the complete video webcast which is available here. The one from Tues. Apr. 15 is the one I was at. (You can spot me in the choir at 02:27:43 and a few other moments if you look carefully.)

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One highlight of the morning for me was the following extemporaneous mini-sermon by Desmond Tutu (in response to the question, “How can you learn to not be so hard on yourself? How do you learn to redeem yourself for a mistake?”):

… It would be awful if we didn’t get angry when you see someone, for instance, violating a child. That would be awful! And so it is something to be thankful for when you lose your cool. That is quite important; it says something about a person. If you were to be indifferent, hearing that children were being killed in Darfur, I would get worried about you! And so I’m glad that you get upset.

And about the things that actually get to upset you… I get really angry with God. I mean I’ve…I’ve…rrrrrgggh!! You know…how can you–how can you?!–let this, that, and the other happen, you know. And the God that we worship is incredible, in a way. He says, “Yeah… You know, I gave them a gift of freedom. And they can use it that way. And I can’t do…I can’t do anything! Okay, get mad at me. Get mad at me; I’m glad you’re getting mad.”

And sometimes…I laugh easy, but I cry quite a lot as well…so, I cry. But I want to support you…for goodness’ sake, God has all of eternity to work on you. You and I are a work in progress! And if we slip — this is one of the wonderful things about God! — God doesn’t say (you know, if you make a mistake), “AAH! Good riddance to bad rubbish!” God…God picks you up, dusts you off, and says…Try again! And when you mess it up again, God says…”Tough luck. Come on, let’s try again.” Dusts you off… “Come on, try! Try…and try…” Because this God is a three-miles-per-hour God. Walking at our pace.



on Recent Accomplishments

Good heavens, how can an entire month have gone by with only a measly 2-line post? And now I am taking off for Europe (as in half an hour from now) for a May term Anabaptist History class, so there won’t be much more for a little while yet.

Lest you think that I am frittering away my days in idleness, I offer two products of the final weeks of schoolwork.

First: My physics of music project, investigating ways of tuning oxygen canister bells.

Second: My paper for senior seminar, on the mind-body problem as it relates to consciousness. [MS Word document — sorry, I’ll get it up in HTML once I have more time.] My conclusion is essentially that if one claims to be both a scientist and a Christian, the most fitting philosophy of mind is one that sees the world as fundamentally of one nature yet not understandable solely in terms of low-level physical phenomena. That’s nonreductive physicalism, if you’re up on the lingo.

One of you has requested frequent blogging regarding my class. I’ll see what I can do, but no promises as finding Internet access will be a low priority. (This is the first time I’ve not been on call for work in *ages.*) When I return, look for musings about:
– Thoughts on graduating and where I want to be in 8 years
– Why being a Mennonite makes the world seem small even (especially?) when moving across the country



on the Meaning of Life

from IM:

(11:11:22 PM) Elizabeth: do you have a purpose, an ultimate goal, understand the deep meanings and significance of your life here on earth…
(11:11:32 PM) davisagli: those are all overrated
(11:11:42 PM) davisagli: I’m mainly looking forward to eating some peaches this summer
(11:11:42 PM) Elizabeth: good
(11:11:48 PM) Elizabeth: peaches?
(11:11:54 PM) davisagli: first thing that came to mind
(11:12:01 PM) davisagli: it’s like Hobbes’ desire for a sandwich
(11:12:04 PM) Elizabeth: ah
(11:12:27 PM) davisagli: (if you can’t make an analogy to Calvin and Hobbes, your philosophy is probably suspect)