Facts Are Stubborn Things

From The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey:

Each of us tends to think we see things as they are, that we are objective. But this is not the case. We see the world, not as it is, but as we are— or, as we are conditioned to see it. When we open our mouths to describe what we see, we in effect describe ourselves, our perceptions, our paradigms. When other people disagree with us, we immediately think something is wrong with them. But, as the demonstration shows, sincere, clearheaded people see things differently, each looking through the unique lens of experience.



This does not mean that there are no facts. In the demonstration, two individuals who initially have been influenced by different conditioning pictures look at the third picture together. They are now both looking at the same identical facts— black lines and white spaces— and they would both acknowledge these as facts. But each person’s interpretation of these facts represents prior experiences, and the facts have no meaning whatsoever apart from the interpretation.

The more aware we are of our basic paradigms, maps, or assumptions, and the extent to which we have been influenced by our experience, the more we can take responsibility for those paradigms, examine them, test them against reality, listen to others and be open to their perceptions, thereby getting a larger picture and a far more objective view. [bold emphasis mine]

Indeed. That is who I decide to be: a person of integrity who takes responsibility for himself with a firm grasp of reality. It is not easy and Lord knows I fail probably more often than I’d care to admit. (Anger is a powerful drug.) If you have ever had a passionate discussion on politics or religion with someone, this difficulty should be apparent. As responsible adults we can overcome this. (You must if you wish to be an effective person by Covey’s lights.)
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The Resurrection and the Life

I recently finished up re-reading the book The Resurrection: Myth or Reality? by Episcopalian bishop John Shelby Spong that totally consumed my “free” time over the last couple of weeks. Being that it’s Lent, I wanted to, as I got my ashes on Ash Wednesday, “turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel.” Reading religious books (beyond The Good Book of course) is one way I chose to stop and reflect on my faith and what better book than about The Resurrection of Jesus Christ? Spong has always spoke directly to me and help me put words to a faith I find difficult to describe.

I realized that I never really confronted exactly what I positively believe about the resurrection and afterlife. I tend to dismiss literal interpretations of sacred history recounted in The Bible, but that’s a negative affirmation: what I don’t believe. As a Christian, I believe that Jesus is in fact risen and alive though not as I am. He’s alive in a way I’ve struggled to put in words beyond a vague spiritual description, but Spong does better.

It was as if scales fell from his eyes and Simon saw a realm that is around us at every moment, a realm of life and love, a realm of God from within which Jesus appeared to Simon.

As I expected, Spong confirmed that resurrection is not the sort of thing you film and playback on a DVD much less narrate.

Was it real? Yes, I am convinced it was real. Was it objective? No, I do not think it was objective. Can it be real if it is not objective? Yes, I think it can, for “objective” is a category that measures events inside time and space. Jesus appeared to Simon from the realm of God, and that realm is not within history, it is not bounded by time or space.

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Answer the Question!

Watch Palin dance. Facts are tough!

Style vs. Substance

Transcript of Palin, Biden debate – CNN.com:

PALIN: People aren’t looking for more of the same. They are looking for change. And John McCain has been the consummate maverick in the Senate over all these years.
He’s taken shots left and right from the other party and from within his own party, because he’s had to take on his own party when the time was right, when he recognized it was time to put partisanship aside and just do what was right for the American people.
That’s what I’ve done as governor, also, take on my own party, when I had to, and work with both sides of the aisle, in my cabinet, appointing those who would serve regardless of party, Democrats, independents, Republicans, whatever it took to get the job done.
Also, John McCain’s maverick position that he’s in, that’s really prompt up to and indicated by the supporters that he has. Look at Lieberman, and Giuliani, and Romney, and Lingle, and all of us who come from such a diverse background of — of policy and of partisanship, all coming together at this time, recognizing he is the man that we need to leave — lead in these next four years, because these are tumultuous times.
We have got to win the wars. We have got to get our economy back on track. We have got to not allow the greed and corruption on Wall Street anymore.
And we have not got to allow the partisanship that has really been entrenched in Washington, D.C., no matter who’s been in charge. When the Republicans were in charge, I didn’t see a lot of progress there, either. When the Democrats, either, though, this last go- around for the last two years.
Change is coming. And John McCain is the leader of that reform.
IFILL: Senator…
BIDEN: I’ll be very brief. Can I respond to that?
Look, the maverick — let’s talk about the maverick John McCain is. And, again, I love him. He’s been a maverick on some issues, but he has been no maverick on the things that matter to people’s lives.
He voted four out of five times for George Bush’s budget, which put us a half a trillion dollars in debt this year and over $3 trillion in debt since he’s got there.
He has not been a maverick in providing health care for people. He has voted against — he voted including another 3.6 million children in coverage of the existing health care plan, when he voted in the United States Senate.
He’s not been a maverick when it comes to education. He has not supported tax cuts and significant changes for people being able to send their kids to college.
He’s not been a maverick on the war. He’s not been a maverick on virtually anything that genuinely affects the things that people really talk about around their kitchen table.
Can we send — can we get Mom’s MRI? Can we send Mary back to school next semester? We can’t — we can’t make it. How are we going to heat the — heat the house this winter?
He voted against even providing for what they call LIHEAP, for assistance to people, with oil prices going through the roof in the winter.
So maverick he is not on the important, critical issues that affect people at that kitchen table.”

(Via CNN.com.)

Look at the contrast in the responses of Sarah “Toothpaste Ad” Palin (friends words can’t take credit) vs. Joe “Gaffe Master” Biden. Which had style? Which had substance? Well, for my money robotic talking points are just not up to snuff. There’s too much at stake.

McCain Suspends Campaign | Views | TheRoot.com

McCain Suspends Campaign | Views | TheRoot.com:

“In the after-swirl of John McCain’s campaign-suspension gambit Wednesday, one analyst offered this assessment: ‘It’s the longest Hail Mary pass in the history of either football or Marys.’
Okay, it was just a Facebook status update from a declared liberal in Pennsylvania, but in a very real way it captures the desperation that seemed to envolope Camp McCain yesterday. Now that we know the chronology of the day’s events, it seems that a more apt football analogy for McCain’s move would have been ‘intentional grounding,’ a deliberate attempt to look like you’re making a play when in fact you’re just getting rid of the ball to avoid an imminent and costly loss of yards, known in the parlance as getting sacked.”

(Via The Root.)

More McCoward? Looks so.

Obama rebuffs McCain’s call to delay debate – Yahoo! News

Obama rebuffs McCain’s call to delay debate – Yahoo! News:

“‘This is exactly the time when the American people need to hear from the person who, in approximately 40 days, will be responsible for dealing with this mess,’ Obama said in Clearwater, Fla. ‘It’s going to be part of the president’s job to deal with more than one thing at once.'”

(Via Yahoo! News.)

Priceless. A friend called McCain “McCoward” for this. Harsh, but true.

How to Disagree

I just read a great article that details disagreement that actually elevates a discussion’s participants far better than I have ever done. This is why I’m not a fan of rhetorical battle which on the DH scale is approximately DH3.5. It’s pretty and can convince those dazzled by eloquence or volume, but it’s not really substantive. Sophistry is what it is. And we are all guilty of it from time to time. That’s human.
For example, we cannot argue about matters of faith for reasons best given by example.
P1: The Bible is the Word of God.
P2: No it isn’t.
–or–
P1: I know God.
P2: So do I.
The second statements should be completely true for P2 who contradicts P1, but without evidence to back P2 up she/he hasn’t made a convincing argument for either one’s veracity. That’s why I try to be very picky about how and why I argue things about faith, the Bible, politics, etc. Evidence requires substance and empirical observation. I can make a convincing argument based on evidence that the Bible doesn’t refer to itself at least the Bible. That’s cut and dry like saying that John begins with “In the beginning, was the Word.”
What’s more interesting, is that I can make a convincing argument that the Bible and the Word of God are not the same things provided I define them well. Based on those definitions which are real empirical things, I can construct an argument that differentiates them. That is a subtle but very important difference from proving the statement: “The Bible is not the Word of God.” A faith assertion that is not subject to rational argument. Faith is not argued; it is confessed.