That night we had a few unanticipated experiences. Jay and Abby brought with them on the trip some instruments, thinking it would be kind of fun to sit around the fire and make music, and as it turns out, they were right. Over the course of half an hour to an hour, we took turns playing different instruments, ranging from a djembe and maracas to a banjo. We started each song with one person getting the groove going and everyone else falling in. Sometimes one of us would start singing, just making something up, or we would all hum, or just play the instruments. No matter what we did for each song, it was a lot of fun, because it was not serious and everyone was able to play a part, whether they had advanced musical training or could not hold a tune in a bucket. After all that excitement ended, things started winding down as we put food away and prepared for sleep. Unknown to us, though, there was still excitement in store.
After we were in the tents and getting ready for sleep, a thunder storm erupted, tearing apart the night sky, spewing forth a torrential downpour and shooting bolts of lightning with blinding brightness. At first I was enjoying this storm. It was fun to listen to the rain pound down on the tent, the thunder roar and see the lighting flash brilliantly. After some conversation (which involved raised voices, not out of anger, but to simply be heard) we went to sleep. Not more than 2 hours later, we were rudely awakened by the intrusion of water into our tent. One thing led to another, and after discovering some soaked sleeping bags and pajama pants, it was decided that we evacuate the tent and head for the cars. To our dismay, when the tent was opened, we were greeted with the sight of a "lake" that had enveloped the tent I was in and the one next to us. We gathered our stuff (at least that which was dry) and trudged through the six inches of water to the cars. In the cars, some of us slept better than others, but at least we were dry (and so were the folks in the other tent, as the water did not overrun their sleeping space). The next morning, we discovered that where our tents were located happened to be the ONLY place where there was enough of a dip in the ground that all the rain water would gather together. At that point, there was not really anything we could do other than laugh and gather up the wet stuff. The few that had to be back early Sunday headed out and the rest stayed and gathered the leftover supplies. And that, my friends, is the saga of the first Honors Camping Trip.
Now, how does this relate to what we have learned in Honors? Well, for me there are at least a couple clear connections to the ways of knowing. The music we did was a fun way to practice aesthetics, and see that it was more than a concept from class, but something applying to our lives. We used the scientific method when reviving the fire. Alex and I hypothesized that we could get the fire going with what we had around us, tested the hypothesis and were successful. We also recognized that we could work with nature rather than add something artificial to it to get results. We also used reason, on a basic level, when we determined it would be better to move to the cars to sleep, rather than stay in the soaking wet tents. Clearly than, the ways of knowing apply to our everyday live. And, as always feel free to leave any questions or comments.
Tuesday March 29th I, along with fellow students, faculty and staff, and general guest had the privilege of listening to President of Concordia University, St. Paul, Robert Holst ,speak as part of the Poehler Lecture Series. In his address called "Faith, learning and Jesus? Prayer -Luke 11: 2-4" President Holst went through the Lord's Prayer as it is recorded in the Gospel of Luke. The President separated the prayer in to sections and spoke on his thoughts regarding each section. Instead of reiterating the whole address for you I would rather share a few things that struck me personally.
One of the first things he shared with us was a couple of acronyms he uses to help teach, CIA and TNT. CIA stands for Curious Imaginative Accurate and TNT stats for Try New Terms. I don't remember exactly how he used CIA (perhaps it is mentioned in some of the other honors blogs) but I do remember his example of TNT. President Holst and his wife served for many years as missionaries in Papa New Guinea (the first Christian missionaries to go there in fact), and while serving there they were presented with many obstacles to overcome. One such obstacle was the language barrier. In order to communicate with the tribal people there, President Holst and his wife of course had to learn the language. Yet simply learning the language was not enough, because when sharing the gospel the president ran into a couple of problems, God and Love.
God and love of course were not problems, but determining how to best convey their meaning, and in that pursuit he learned a few things. When trying to find a word for God, the President started by looking at the names of the different gods the native people had. After going through some the names of the different gods he realized none of them would be adequate. The native people's gods were seen as beings to be appeased, kept away, and that directed the native people to fight each other. The names of those gods then would clearly not serve well to represent the one true God.
This predicament led President Holst to apply one of his acronyms, TNT, he tried a new term, God. That is to say, he simply added the name God (with an accent appropriate to the region) to the natives' vocabulary and from there worked to describe God to the people. He described God as not a god to flee from, or appease or who directs his people to fight each other, but one who loves deeply for his people dearly and therefore died to pay the penalty of their sins.
The other word that provided President Holst with a learning experience and gave him some insight into the society from which he came, was the word love. For the native people love described action. A man would not simply say "I love my wife", but instead would say "I work in the garden with my wife" or simply "I spend time with my wife" and as the President learned more about the actions that were love he realized how cheap of a word it is in our society. One may say "I love pizza" or "I love watching re-runs of Friends" or "I love when I find a couple extra dollars in my pocket", and people would think nothing of it. The term "Love" in our society is so often used simply to convey the idea that one really likes something and nothing more. Would one who says "I love pizza" be willing to die for that pizza, sacrifice everything for that pizza, spend time with that pizza, put that pizza before oneself? I find it doubtful. So, to describe how God loves the world President Holst told the people how God cares for and about the world, and then went on to describe the actions he has taken and continues to take which convey his love.
I was also struck by the passion with which President Holst spoke, particularly when it came to the community at Concordia. I have him quoted as saying "Concordia can't create community, the people of Concordia create community. Concordia is an institution." When speaking about his genuine desire that there be a true community here at Concordia for all those that attend, one could hear the passion in his voice and see it in his tear welled eyes and I was stuck by it I hope to live out and speak about my passions in the same way, as I go through life.
I, with my fellow honors students, am embarking on another adventure filled semester of Honors here at good ol' Concordia University, St. Paul. To kick off this semester, we were instructed to read 3 Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. I could provide a summary of my own, however I think the one on the back of book does a more than sufficient job, so I will supply that one, "In 1993 a mountaineer named Greg Mortenson drifted into an impoverished Pakistan village in the Karakoram mountains after a failed attempt to climb K2. Moved by the inhabitants' kindness, he promised to return and build a school. Three Cups of Tea is the story of that promise and its extraordinary outcome. Over the next decade Mortenson built not just one but fifty-five schools -- especially for girls -- in the forbidding terrain that gave birth to the Taliban. His story is at once a riveting adventure and a testament to the power of the humanitarian spirit". From that summary one gets an idea of the premise of the book. I enjoyed reading this book; the more I read the better it got.
For me, this book was particularly striking because I have a sort of soft spot for stories of people who persevere through struggles and adversities to eventually triumph. Mortenson, in this case faced a great deal of trials ranging from, being left by the woman of his dreams (or so it seemed at the time) to having to put his school building plans on hold and return to the United States because of exhausted financial resources. Yet, through all the struggles, he was able to win the hearts of the people with whom, and for whom he worked. One of the ways in particular he seemed to "win their hearts" gave me pause for thought. I find it admirable and necessary to respect the cultures and religious traditions of other people, especially if I expect the similar respect from them, but I struggled a little bit when he bowed down and prayed with the Muslims he was with in Pakistan. In our discussions we spoke about placing ourselves in that position. Would it be OK as long as we were praying to the Christian God, not Allah? Would it be more important for us let everyone know we are Christians, and therefore we will not kneel and pray with them so as to avoid any confusion? Would the devote Muslims respect Mortenson, if he, because of his religious convictions decided not kneel and pray with them? After our questions and discussions we still didn't come to any absolute conclusions, so I want to open it up all those who are reading, what are your thoughts on the issue? Feel free to be as controversial or non controversial as you wish.
"terrorism", is defined by The New International Webster's Collegiate Dictionary as "The act or practice of terrorizing, especially violence committed for political purposes, as by a government seeking to intimidate a populace or by revolutionaries seeking to overthrow a government, compel the release of prisoners, etc."
"wrong", is defined by The New International Webster's Collegiate Dictionary as "not morally or legally right"
"pre-emptive war" as I have come to understand it is, one military force, fighting on behalf of a group of people, striking another military force before suffering what appears to be an imminent attack in order to prevent the greater ramifications that would result from inaction.
Always is a Strong Word
In a world with so few absolutes, context is very important. Context governs the choices we make on a daily basis. Context helps parents determine how they should discipline their children, helps police officers decide whether or not a person should receive a speeding ticket, and helps professors decide whether or not to give an extension. In all situations, one moves toward making a decision after establishing what they perceive to be the context to be. To say that something will always occur in the same way or that one should view an issue the same way every time, neglecting the context, would be folly. Based on this understanding, I am hard pressed to find justification for the statement that "Even in an age of terrorism, pre-emptive war is always wrong." Because, in order for this statement to be true one must reject the possibility of pre-emptive war ever being justifiable, an action I see as premature.
Often times when people argue against pre-emptive war, one of the reasons they provide for condemning it is, one can never know for certain if an attack is imminent, therefore one should not act. This line of reasoning however is intrinsically flawed. To say that one should not act because one cannot be absolutely certain of a specific outcome, is absurd. In all decisions we make, there are unaccounted for variables and unforeseen circumstances, and to say that one should not act because of that reality is entirely unreasonable. For example, if one were to say "I do not know what is on the other side of my front door, therefore I will not open it until whatever is on the other side presents itself to me" one would very likely never venture outside and would therefore be deprived of many opportunities in life. This also exemplifies the idea that acting with the evidence we have is better than waiting for more conclusive evidence. To continue the analogy, if one is sitting in one's house and receives a phone call from a friend saying, "It is a nice day for walk outside, would you care to join me?", one would do better to take the friend up on the offer than to wait for more conclusive evidence that it is in fact a nice day out. If one were to wait, one may forgo the opportunity all together. One does not know all the other variables, whether the friend can only walk for a little bit, but will soon have to leave for work, or if the friend may change their mind or if one may be injured by walking with the friend, or all the many other variables. The only thing one knows with some degree of certainty is that by going out and joining the friend, they will most likely be able to go on a walk together and enjoy the nice day. Furthermore if one ever wants to do anything other than just sitting motionless until death, one must act on the evidence one has, because one can do nothing more. We can never know for sure how something is going to turn out, so we act according to what we do know, or we don't act at all, but simply wait and see. This reality is even more important to consider when one is in a position to defend another.
When making a choice that affects only oneself, or at least one self most significantly there is certainly a degree of liberty to be had in what choices one makes. However when making a decision that directly affects another, one must consider the other before making said decision. In the case of pre-emptive war it is the military that is acting on behalf the population of the state which they represent. When the governing authorities of said state have evidence that the population of the state and its interests are in danger, it is duty of the military to protect the interests of people of that state. Specifically with the US Military, according to their website, their "primary mission is to provide necessary forces and capabilities to the Combatant Commanders in support of the National Security and Defense Strategies.". In protecting national security the military is protecting the interests of the American people. Even in a more general sense, if one is in what seems to be a position to defend another person who will most likely come to harm if nothing is done, it is that person's duty to take preventative action. This duty is not only related to the position one holds, but also the inability of the person or people being defended to defend themselves. For example, if I, being a brother of three sisters, see that one of my sisters is about to be attacked by a man with a bat, and they do not see the attacker or are not in a position to defend themselves, I will act. After acting of course, I will have to deal with the consequences of my actions, and with the possibility of being wrong. However if it didn't act and I wasn't wrong the resulting consequences would far outweigh those that would result from my misinterpretation of the situation. Furthermore, theologically, some would argue that as Christians, we are not taught to strike first. In Mathew 5:39, Jesus says, "Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.", this statement of Jesus' however, is not entirely applicable. The context in which Jesus was speaking, applied to Christians individually, in a situation involving a Christian and one other person. The issue of pre-emptive war is different in that it does not merely involve two individuals, but instead it involves two military forces fighting on behalf of those who cannot immediately defend themselves. So, if Jesus were to have instructed his followers to stand idly by as another person, in their charge, is afflicted by an attack that they saw coming and may have prevented, than I would certainly agree with using that teaching in favor of opposing pre-emptive war, but since he did not, I do not agree with using the teaching he did provide to argue against pre-emptive war. In all this though, one must neglect the influence of perspective.
In the sentence around which the essay is structured, one of the imperative words is "wrong". Although there is an objective definition of the word "wrong" that objective definition is applied subjectively. The objective definition is this, "an injurious, unfair, or unjust act: action or conduct inflicting harm without due provocation or just cause", according to Merriam-Webster's online dictionary. When applying this definition, one does so according to the evidence one has. In the case of the terrorists who took part in the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, on September 11, 2001, the evidence they were given by their leaders led them to apply the word "wrong" to behaviors of the American people. At the same time, based on the evidence compiled by and for the American people, the word "wrong" should be applied to that act of terrorism. Moreover, to say that pre-emptive war is "always wrong" would be to say that everyone agrees on what is "wrong" in all contexts, which is clearly not the case. In order for something to always be a certain way, it must stay the same regardless of the situation or circumstance.
Because of the sinful world we live in we are often faced with difficult choices, and unfortunate consequences when we make the wrong ones. In making these choices we must remember that there are always guidelines we can follow. In the case of pre-emptive war, in making the decision to take this action one would do well to remember that, one need not have absolute evidence, because such evidence is unattainable. One must remember too, that when making a choice that effects another in one's charge, one must weigh the options and make the choice that best serves those in one's charge. Also, when looking at an issue and using one's moral views to determine whether or not a choice should be made, one must consider the fact that these views may not be shared with those around oneself but those dissenting views, and do not determine whether it is right or wrong.
Landau, Sidney I.. The new international Webster's collegiate dictionary of the English language . International encyclopedic ed., 2002 ed. Naples, Fla.: Trident Press International, 2002. Print.
"United States Army Posture Statement 2005." The United States Army Homepage. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Dec. 2010. <http://www.army.mil/aps/05/>.
"Wrong - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary." Dictionary and Thesaurus - Merriam-Webster Online. Encyclopedia Britannica , n.d. Web. 4 Dec. 2010. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wrong>.
 Reason: People often use deductive reasoning to justify their position on an issue, "Because such and what is true, I conclude this about so and so."
 Emotion: People often use emotion to make decisions to act in a way that feels right.
Determining what feels right is generally a result of past experiences.
 Revelation: People often use biblical truths, revelation, to justify a position they are taking, right, wrong, or otherwise.
 Science: Coming to know something through the scientific way of knowing necessitates the use of concrete standards.
 Aesthetics: One of the ways people gather evidence or develop reasons for doing what they do or believing what they believe, is through how the visually perceive situations. In the case the attacks on September 11, many people determined the wrongness of the acts after seeing all the death and destruction.
Directed Writing 5
In the Spring of 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. found himself being detained in the Birmingham City Jail after having been arrested for leading a parade without the proper permits, the "parade" of course being a "peaceful...protest" (Letter From Birmingham Jail) to further the Civil Rights movement. This apparently illegal "parade" was an act of civil disobedience as part of the militant non-violence Martin Luther King Jr. was implanting to, again, further the Civil Rights movement. While being detained, King felt compelled to write a letter to his fellow clergymen regarding their inadequate support of the movement. In this letter, commonly known as "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," King presents some of his views on militant non-violence, religious faith, and civil disobedience. In his letter King introduces a number of historical figures whose thoughts and philosophies were relevant to the points of his ideas regarding the aforementioned themes. Among those were Martin Luther, instigator of the Protestant Reformation Thomas Aquinas, a man who attempted to marry reason and revelation, and though not included but still relevant, was a man by the name of Jean Jacques Rouseau, who wrote about, among other things, civil religion. All these men have in common, the fact that their thoughts and philosophies are related to King's ideas.
Martin Luther King Jr., consistently pushed for the implementation of civil disobedience through militant non-violence. King employed peaceful protests and led many marches to further the cause of suppressed African Americans'. Throughout his letter King discusses the events and behaviors that instigated the movement. These causes range from his personal experiences of having to explain to his children why they can't go to a certain theme park or why "'white people treat colored people so mean'"(Letter From a Birmingham Jail), to general hardships such as "whites only" signs posted in restaurant windows and the blatant disrespect and degradation of people based purely on the color of their skin, disregarding their age, gender, and character. King discusses how this mistreatment and oppression can only be effectively counteracted through civil disobedience by means of militant non-violence. As he nears the end of his letter, King makes a more direct appeal to his fellow clergymen and the church at large, pertaining to their lack of sufficient action in regard to the movement, encouraging them to be bold as the early Christians were. One of the many issues brought against King and members of the Civil Rights movement was the apparent "willingness to break laws" of its members.
King addresses this "great deal of anxiety" felt by opponents of the Civil Rights movement by suggesting that lack of justice in the laws being broken justifies breaking them. First quoting St. Augustine, King suggests "'an unjust law is no law at all'", he then goes on to explain how one might distinguish between a just and an unjust law. King defines a just law as "a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God". In defining an unjust law King refers to St. Thomas Aquinas's definition in his writing "The Summa Theologica", "an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law". Aquinas exerted a great deal of effort to unite reason and revelation in his "Suma Theolgica". Similarly King's arguments in favor of civil disobedience were based to a significant degree on reason. In discussing why members of the Civil Rights movement are right in disobeying the laws, King is appealing to the reason of his readers. King also appeals to the reason of his readers when explains to them why the time for action is now. He discusses how African Americans have "waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights" and "there comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair...". Aquinas discusses how for one to receive and understand divine revelation one must have a firm grasp on reason, so it would seem he would relate well to King's philosophy in that King appeals to people's reason in an effort to attain these rights given to them by God's authority. A man who also sought to give to people what God intended for them to have, but were being deprived of, was Martin Luther.
King and fellow members of the Civil Rights movement were apparently labeled extremists despite their efforts to bring about the change they desired through militant non-violence. In light of this accusation King puts forth a few examples of "extremists" from Christian history, included among them was the monk turned reformer, Martin Luther. These men found themselves in similar situations when trying to attain their goals. Martin Luther worked to free the average Christian from the oppression of indulgences and the heretical church doctrines and traditions of the time so that they might fully understand the gift of grace and the gospel as a whole in the way God intended them to, just as Martin Luther King Jr. worked to bring to African Americans the rights they deserved to have as American in their fullness. Martin Luther, in his attempts to reform the church, worked through non-violent means. He posted his 95 Theses on the church doors so that they may be deliberated and discussed in a formal debate setting, however people translated his writings and distributed them amongst the people of Wittenburg and eventually all over Germany. Luther was also taken into the safe keeping of Prince Fredrick III under guise of being dead or captured. After those events took place Luther had less control over the direction of the movement it went in a direction he did not intend. The peasants took his ideas regarding relics and indulgences to an extreme and revolted. In the same way, King intended the Civil Rights movement, not to be a violent revolution and destruction of the current social system, but merely a reformation of the system so that it would be functioning properly giving African American's the same rights other Americans enjoyed. Based on the similarities of their situations and the approaches they took to achieving their goals, it is clear that Martin Luther would have related to and agreed with King's philosophy. Jean Jacque Rousea writes about Civil Religion and how the state government and religion of the state should relate to one another in unity, similar to how King was attempting to unite the moral laws with the state laws.
In his writing about Civil religion Rousea presents three types of religions, that best being that which unites religion and state, not having the state over religion or vice versa. King had a similar idea in that he wanted to unite the "law of God" with the law of the state. King's desire to unite these laws would help assure that rights guaranteed by the "law of God" would not by suppressed by laws established by the state. Rousea too, did not think the state and church should be in conflict.
In King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" he appeals to his fellow clergymen for more support and gives them an insight into the plight of African Americans at the time. King explains why the Civil Rights movement is going the way it is, in regard to civil disobedience and militant non-violence and his philosophy on those things and religious faith becomes clearer to the readers. Looking back through history, one finds that other historical figures such as St. Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, and Jean Jacque Rousea dealt with similar issues and had similar philosophies to that of King. Based on these similarities and the implementation of these similar strategies and holding of similar philosophies one might stand to reason that the techniques used and the philosophies held were effective and will continue to be effective for years to come.
What's the Point?
The sentence "This sentence serves no logical purpose" may be viewed from many different perspectives, understood in many different ways to mean many different things. Due however to set parameters, the author will be addressing this sentence from one specific point of view, postmodernism, and based on his understanding of this movement in the history of ideas, will discuss how this sentence illustrates postmodernism.
In order to orient the reader with some of the subject material of this essay and to begin deconstructing this sentence the author will present a few definitions, beginning with modernism. According to the encyclopedia Britain and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History "The term 'modernism' encompasses a diversity of artistic and cultural movements that erupted across Europe, found focus in London, and launched the careers of a number of expatriate US artists and writers during the period from 1890 to 1930". Some of more commonly known characteristics of the modernism include, the desire to establish order from chaos, to build a frame in which all things fit, to gain knowledge through reasoning, and to know truth through scientific knowledge. Having defined modernism in this way the author will refer back to this definition later when discussing the sentence. Defining post modernism poses a greater challenge, because "'There is no unified postmodern theory, or even a coherent set of positions'"(qtd. in Best and Keller 2). Postmodernism would not encourage creating an absolute definition, and some would even say there "may be just as many postmodernisms as there are postmodernists" (qtd. in Featherstone 207). While some of the trademarks of modernism are establishing order, creating systems in which things fit and using a scientific approach to discover truths, postmodernism stands in stark contrast. Commonly accepted trademarks of postmodernism include, but are not limited to, skepticism of things established i.e. truths and authorities, focus on the marginalized, and being a response to advanced consumer capitalism. As is its nature, postmodernism can mean many things and be applied to many disciplines, not all of its meanings though are applicable in the present situation. Those which are, postmodernist skepticism and postmodernism's connection to consumer culture, will be discussed further. Another well known aspect of postmodernism is deconstruction, a term coined by Jacques Derrida, which the author will view in more depth while discussing how the sentence "This sentence serves no logical purpose" illustrates postmodernism.
Deconstruction, often associated with post-modernism, is a noodle in the bowl of soup that is post-modernism which the author would like to take out and examine in relation to the sentence being examined. Deconstruction, in short, says that no truth or meaning is stable, it is instead always changing, and according to The Columbia Encyclopedia, "meaning includes what is left out of the text or ignored or silenced by it". In relation to the sentence around which this essay is formed, it is difficult for one to determine what or if anything is being left out and how that would affect the meaning of it. With the word "purpose" for example, a definition of which can be "the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc." (dictionary.com) one could easily say the "purpose" of the sentence is to explain that it has no purpose, proving the sentence to be untrue but confirming the truth of the postmodernist philosophy of deconstruction. If then, there is information that was left out of the sentence the author could conclude that the purpose would be made clear with that information included. This conclusion, this statement of purpose of the sentence, could prove entirely unsatisfactory to someone who is an ingrained part the consumerist society that seems to fit right in with postmodernism.
Looking at this sentence as someone who adheres to the parameters of a consumerist society, one may say that the sentence is true, because it does not serve a purpose, in that the reader of the sentence gains nothing from it. With this take on the sentence, based on Blake's theory, the sentence illustrates postmodernism by offering nothing useful to the consumer in the same way that postmodernism "has nothing positive to offer educational theory" (Cole, Hill, Rikowski, 195). If the author were to look at this sentence as one who adheres to modernism, and stands opposed to postmodernism, the illustration there of would be even clearer.
As a modernist, one would likely use reason to define the sentence as a paradox. The paradox being, that simply by existing the sentence serves some purpose. As the reader can see, postmodernism opposes all that modernism is, and offers an alternative
Based on the author's understanding of postmodernism, the focused upon sentence illustrates postmodernism through how it connects to deconstruction, advanced consumer capitalism, and loosely how it opposes modernism.
While reading through Becker's "What is evidence?" and Woodward's "On Believing What One Reads" I was presented with two fairly different views of history. On the one hand Becker defines history, in its most basic form, as memories of things said and done. He then goes on to illustrate how everyone is technically a historian (or at least goes through the same processes for analyzing history) and thoroughly breaks down what history is how all humans interact with it on a continual basis. On the other hand Woodward focuses primarily on how information found in history is used and abused, how things are twisted to fit agendas, and how history is always changing. Woodward also, towards the end of his article, makes known the "misgivings" he has toward Becker's relativist view of history and discusses the dangers he sees as being associated with it. Because of the differing views the two authors have on history in general and particularly in their articles, they seemed to emphasize different challenges, though it they still face the same challenges.
Despite their differences of opinion in regard to History, Both Becker and Woodward addressed the issue of misconstrued evidence. The difference comes in with, Becker proposing that misconstruing of information is done unintentionally and results from having faulty information to begin with or memory failure. Whereas Woodward seems to present his information in such a way so as to lead the reader to believe that it is done intentionally to further an agenda. Both
Probably the biggest obstacle Woodward discussed in regard to using evidence to reconstruct the past was how people intentionally misrepresent the evidence to meet their own ends. This, of course, takes place on a daily basis on both large and small scale. In a school yard fight, both sides are going to want to present the information detailing what happened in the fight in such a way as to put themselves in a good light. Also, depending on the audience the way the information is presented and what information is shared changes. When talking to a teacher one boy may claim the other boy started the fight, while the other boy tries to justify his action by accusing the one boy of antagonizing him, both leaving out the fact that it was a fight for pride and neither side would back down until the fight was stopped or one was the clear victor. However, when the boys tell their friends about this past event they will undoubtedly try and make themselves appear as the victor, the "tough guy", neither admitting that they may have just been scarred so as to earn more respect from their friends. On the larger scale, this often takes place in politics. Woodward provides examples of numerous political parties, from Democrats and Republicans to the Progressives and the American Communist Party that claim famous American leaders as one of their own. Another of Woodward's examples is relations between France and the United states. When it suited America's need, they seemed to disregard France's past as being a much more absolute Monarchy than Britain and viewed them only as a powerful ally and used their aid to defeat the British. Yet, some years down the road when what was "good" for America changed, they viewed France as an enemy, conveniently forgetting that fact that France played a key role in British defeat. Becker though, in a sense, lets people in general off the hook, because he proposes that when someone provides false information it is a result of faulty memory or misinformation as opposed to an intentional act intended to help further one's agenda.
A challenge Becker addresses in his article more so than Woodward in his article, is the challenge of sifting through all the stored up information and finding what's relevant. Becker illustrates it by describing all the evidence, all the experiences Mr. Everyman has in his mind and how he subconsciously sifts through it all at some times and deliberately at other times to create a picture of the past. A point Becker makes, that Woodward would most certainly disagree with this that, it is not so important that the picture be accurate as long as it is helpful to Mr. Everyman.
Although different people view and define history in different ways, just as Becker and Woodward, we are all faced with similar challenges when trying to reconstruct the past. They do however, because of these differing views, address these challenges differently and focus on certain ones more than others, as I hope to have displayed in this essay. But, regardless of how one does or does not view history, this fact remains, history will continue growing whether we perceive it correctly or not and every day we are making history affording ourselves and others new opportunities to learn and grow.
Horace Bushnell was born in 1802 and lived until the ripe old age of 74. Bushnell "spent most of his adult life as a pastor of the North Congregational Church in Hartford, Connecticut. He held to the believe that children could "grow steadily in Christian love and did not have to sink deep into sin before a dramatic conversation experience" (353). "Bushnell saw God's spirit at work in every aspect of both nature and history" (353), and in this reading he lays out his views and explains how "we are to know our callings" (353). In response to the question "How do I simply live as a Christian?", Bushnell would probably respond with something along the lines of "find where God is calling you, and stay there". And in response to the question "Is my life's work a 'calling' or a 'job' " Bushnell would likely respond by saying it is much more than simply a job, but it is a divinely determined calling.
Bushnell's argument that everything in creation from a grain of sand, to a star in the sky to man, has a specific purpose and if that purpose is not fulfilled the "nicely balanced" (p.355) system would be thrown off completely, even "One grain, more or less, of sand would disturb, or even fatally disorder the whole scheme of heavenly motions" (p.355). I have trouble completely agreeing with his argument. I mean, it just seems like it would be incredibly difficult to keep everything in its absolutely proper place, unless of course, God predetermines everything that happens (which I from what I read, does not some like something that would be too far out for Bushnell to believe). I agree, that everything, more or less, has an intended purpose, and that when we humans mess with that, there are usually some ill-effects, but I very much doubt that cutting some trees (not to belittle deforestation) is going to through off the whole universe but...I could be wrong. If Bushnell's argument was completely true, it would be a very serious burden. I suppose I can only speak for myself, but I think there would be a lot of worrying about making sure everything stayed in its proper place, and it would probably come to a point when I decided to either sit somewhere and never leave, or just go about life and not worry about throwing of the balance of the whole universe.
Basically, to try and some up his practical advice for finding one's calling I would say, go to God, look at the strengths you have, seek guidance from those close to you, and again go to God. I would say his advice is somewhat helpful. He seems to view things in a fairly pre-determinist way, saying that everything is absolute, and once one is called to a certain vocation they cannot veer from said vocation. The work I have been doing with my project this year has been work that people who know me well would probably say I am well suited for. It is in the realm of a ministry in which I am interested, and feel that God may be leading me to.