Archive for the ‘Various Memories and Opinions’ Category

A Prayer for 2018   Leave a comment

Above:  My Writing Desk, December 28, 2017

Photograph by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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2017 has been a difficult year in several ways.  Storms, both political and literal, have made it devastating and depressing.  I have continued my retreat into science fiction and books about Lutheran history, for paying too close attention to current events has proven spiritually detrimental.  By “spiritually detrimental” I mean that my frequency (never high) of profanity (in private, with no other mortals present) has increased and I have become more proficient and creative in it.  This has alarmed me.  The less time devoted to learning of the news, the better my spiritual life.  The less news I digest, the cleaner my language.

The fact that this is true is sad.  Nevertheless, there it is.  Distractions ahoy!  How many series can I rewatch and how much can I learn about Lutheran history?  I endeavor to learn the answer to that question.

I pray that, in 2018, the reality of each person’s life will be God’s best for him or her.  I also pray that each of us will take seriously the responsibility to help others along the road to God’s best for them.  Furthermore, I pray that each of us will know what to do, when to do it, and how to do it, then do it, as well as when to stay out of God’s way.

May 2018 be a much better year than 2017.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 29, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FIFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF THOMAS BECKET, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF JOSIAH CONDER, ENGLISH ABOLITIONIST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF AUSTIN FARRER, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF JOHN BURNETT MORRIS, SR., EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

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In Praise of Books   Leave a comment

Above:  Five of My Books, August 3, 2017

Photograph by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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I come from a bookish family.  I recall the old family house in Summerville, Georgia, before my grandmother Taylor died, the structure stood vacant, and vandals burgled it (oddly, without any of the neighbors noticing).  I remember opening closets and finding bookshelves (full of books, of course) built into them.  My love of books is learned.

I, as a one trained in history, harbor strong suspicions of technology without resorting to joining the ranks of Luddites.  Technology provides tools, many of which I find useful.  Other tools, however, do not interest me.  Some of them are counter-productive.  A printed and bound book is, under the proper circumstances, of more value for a longer period of time than any electronic version of a book.  The former certainly requires less technology–such as glasses and a lamp, perhaps–to access it.  Although the Internet is a wonderful resource for reference purposes, when one knows how to use it properly, I prefer reference works when possible.

I notice that many of my students–some of them, by their own admission, not avid readers–seem oblivious to the presence of books as sources for their essays.  It is their loss.  They do not understand the pleasures of holding an old book and smelling the pages or admiring its design.  These students are, to borrow a term, digital natives.  They are not always adept at interpreting information well, analyzing sources properly, and appreciating the riches of well-edited reference works.  I still swear by my sets of Americanas (1962) and Britannicas (1968), encyclopedias more detailed in certain ways than any Internet resources I have found.

Furthermore, despite the digitization of many volumes at websites such as archive.org, an invaluable resource, not everything is there.  And, even when a particular book is there, a hard copy is superior and certainly easier on one’s eyeballs.  The physical book is also tactile; that is a virtue.

Books are superior to the alternatives.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 3, 2017 COMMON ERA

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In Praise of Mere Decency   2 comments

Human depravity is not an article of faith for me.  No, it is a documented and proven reality.  Faith comes into play in the absence of confirmation or contradiction by standard means of human knowledge.  For evidence of human depravity one need to look no further than the comments sections of many websites.  Between those who post incendiary and insulting material for the purpose of stirring the pot, so to speak, and those who mean it I find many reasons for grave concern about human nature.

In contrast I praise mere decency.  One should do x because it is the morally correct course of action, not because one seeks a reward for it.  I praise the simple act of striving to live according to the Golden Rule, regardless of one’s situation and station in life.  The operative status is that of a human being with a pulse.  I extol the virtues of mere decency, regardless of whether one is a neighbor, a teacher, a student, an employee, a coworker, a boss, a private citizen, or a potentate.  I praise decency wherever it is present.  I condemn the absence of decency wherever that is a reality.  This is a matter of principle for me, as I seek, by grace, to be more decent than I am.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 2, 2017 COMMON ERA

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2017/08/18/in-praise-of-mere-decency/

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Happy July Second!   Leave a comment

Above:  Declaration of Independence, by John Trumbull

Image in the Public Domain

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The Second Continental Congress approved the independence of thirteen colonies on July 2, 1776.  That assembly approved the text of the Declaration of Independence two days later.

On July 3, 1776, John Adams wrote to Abigail, his wife.  Part of his letter read:

The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epoch, in the History of America.

I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. — I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. — Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.

Why not have a July 2 party?

Happy July 2!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 2, 2017 COMMON ERA

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Speaking Out of One’s Ignorance   Leave a comment

I make an effort, whether I am speaking in public or in private, or writing on a weblog, to do so out of knowledge.  Toward this end I prefer to do homework and check facts.  In conversation I am not afraid to say something to the effect of

I don’t know the answer to that question, but I know where I can find the answer,

with the intention of doing so and reporting back.  I would rather do that than be inaccurate.  Even better is to know the answer ahead of time.  At a weblog I strive for accuracy also.  If I can find the answer to a given question before publishing a post, I like to do so.  If my sources prove to be inaccurate, I accept factual correction.  Objective reality is what it is, after all.

I am also a fan of science fiction.  My inherent attention to detail, in combination with my fandom, has made me a person full of science fiction trivia, especially with regard to Star Trek, Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, and other franchises.  Recently, when watched the entirety of Lost, I kept track of many details that my viewing partner had missed.  I kept reminding her of scenes from previous episodes or the same episode.

I also know that there is much I do not know, so I endeavor to learn.  Toward that end I consult a variety of sources.  Tor.com, I have found, is a fine source of information about various science fiction franchises, especially Star Trek series, episode by episode.  For Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine the official series companion volume sets the standard for other volumes of that genre.  Certain reviewers who create and post video reviews are also fountains of knowledge.  Many podcasters and reviewers at YouTube, however, routinely speak out of their ignorance.  I have decided to stop listening to a number of podcasters and reviewers there because of this fact.  As I have listened to them profess their lack of knowledge or go off on tangents I know to be baseless in universe I have thought or uttered something to the effect of

I know more about this subject than you do.  Why do you have the podcast?

I have also caught myself correcting them audibly.

One can do homework of these matters easily enough.  I know of websites with detailed information about these series, including by episode and character.  Finding them is quite simple.  One can consult the special features on DVD or Blu-ray sets, if one has those.  I have found special features quite informative.  Commentary tracks have proven especially helpful.

So, those who analyze episodes, series, and movies online, do your homework first, please.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 2, 2017 COMMON ERA

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Spoilers!   Leave a comment

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Above:  The Sled, Burning in Citizen Kane (1941)

A Screen Capture

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The admonition to avoid spoilers is valid for only a brief period of time; it expires, as far as I am concerned, well before a decade after the release of the material in question.  I watch a weekly YouTube series covering Babylon 5 (1994-1998) episode by episode.  The host keeps stating that commenters ought to refrain from making comments about subsequent episodes.  I do not make comments on YouTube videos, but I do consider the admonition to be ridiculous.  The last filmed (yet not aired) episode of the series is nearly 20 years old!  Besides, one can read full details of all episodes on numerous websites and in a set of five books.  By the way, Jeffrey Sinclair is Valen.

In other old news, Rosebud was Charles Foster Kane’s sled and a symbol of his lost childhood (Citizen Kane, 1941).  Also, Leonard Vole committed murder and ultimately got what he deserved (Witness for the Prosecution, 1957), Luke Skywalker blew up the first Death Star (Star Wars, 1977), and Darth Vader was Luke’s father (The Empire Strikes Back, 1980).  Furthermore, Captain Spock died (Star Trek II:  The Wrath of Khan, 1982) and rose from the dead on the Genesis Planet (Star Trek III:  The Search for Spock, 1984).  If that were not enough, the Bruce Willis character did not know that he was dead in The Sixth Sense (1999).  Finally, water has long been wet.

Shall we relax regarding spoilers, especially regarding content more than a decade old?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 23, 2017 COMMON ERA

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Spare Me Your Secondhand Smoke   Leave a comment

No Smoking

Above:  “Smoking Not Allowed Here” (1897)

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-56425

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Among the realities of life in society is that, whatever we do affects not just ourselves but others.  Thus, if we are responsible, we will act of out a sense of responsibility to and for each other.  This principle constitutes one of the foundations of my ethics.

I teach for the University of North Georgia (UNG), a successor of Gainesville State College (GSC), for which I also taught.  Prior to the consolidation of UNG I taught for GSC part of the time on a satellite campus of Lanier Technical College at Winder, Georgia, a short drive from Athens.  I parked my car in the back and entered the building in the rear.  One day, as I approached the building, I noticed an inconsiderate person smoking while standing next to the sign announcing that there was a ban on smoking on the campus.  I pointed out this fact to the young man, but he indicated that he did not care.  At that point I told him precisely what I thought of him.  What came up, came out.  My use of such language has long been rare, but sometimes people have acted in ways that have justified occasional spice in my vocabulary.

There is abundant evidence of the effects of secondhand smoke.  Given that fact alone, I harbor no sense of guilt over choosing to vacate the premises rather than continue exposure to secondhand smoke when I have the opportunity to leave.  I am also physically intolerant of cigarette and cigar smoke; my throat becomes irritated, my eyes water, et cetera.  On certain occasions when I have not been able to avoid exposure to secondhand smoke, smokers have stood in front of me much too long, despite the obvious nature of my physical discomfort.  They have not seemed to care.

I also understand the science of addiction in broad terms.  Furthermore, I have heard and read accounts by smokers (current and former) about their struggles to quit.  None of those factors cancel out or reduce the moral mandate to act out of a sense of responsibility to and for others, especially those in one’s physical proximity.  Smokers, please spare the rest of us your secondhand smoke.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 29, 2016 COMMON ERA

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Posted February 29, 2016 by neatnik2009 in Various Memories and Opinions

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