Grow Sweeter Each Season as We Slowly Grow Old

One of Toby’s favorite songs for bedtime used to be Toad the Wet Sprocket’s “Walk on the Ocean,” and like all bedtime songs he favors, it had to be sung every night for months.
Current favorites, incidentally, include “She’s an Angel” by They Might Be Giants, “Somewhere That’s Green” from Little Shop of Horrors (which I’ve been singing to him since he was a baby), and The Police’s “Walking in Your Footsteps,” because, of course, it’s about dinosaurs.

Anyway, I remembered this video I made back in July when Toby was about two-and-a-half, singing from the comfort of his then-new big-boy bed. Nice for a peaceful Sunday.

“Spiritually Convinced”

David Kuo, most famous for being formerly of George W. Bush’s office of faith-based initiatives, and for later exposing much of that initiative’s cynicism, submits to Andrew Sullivan’s “ask me anything” videos. The question in this video, which is rather too simplistic for my taste: “Is faith foolish?”

I don’t want to beat up on Kuo, for a number of reasons: He is obviously not, himself, a fool, but a wise, intelligent, well-meaning fellow, and his variety of religiousness is among the most harmless. And, if you’re not aware, he’s also enduring utterly dire medical circumstances.

All that said, I remain baffled by the construction set up by Kuo here, one similar to that used by many of his ilk (such as Sullivan) who despite being rational in all other areas, rejecting unfounded absolutism, claim themselves to be certain of not only God’s existence, but of a particular sectarian variety of God.

Look at the way Kuo describes his certainty, that he is intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually convinced of Christianty’s veracity.

Two of those three, bluntly, are meaningless.

To be “emotionally convinced” of something at least has a real-world manifestation, even if it is empty as a claim to something’s actual truth. I can feel emotionally convinced that a salesperson is being straight with me, or that a job interview has gone well, or that, gosh, there really is a lot of good in this ol’ world, but that wouldn’t be the same as saying that the facts presented to me have made a strong case. It just feels one way or another, and that’s not good enough when we’re talking about whether or not there’s a timeless, all-powerful superbeing lording over us and sacrificing his offspring for us.

But “spiritually convinced”? That is, I think, literally meaningless. You can talk in terms of how your brain, your intellect, has amassed enough data to come to a conclusion, and you can also invoke a kind of dualism in saying that your heart, or your gut, or what have you, have led you in a particular direction. But how does one convince one’s spirit? Even allowing that such a thing exists (it does not), how is that different than one’s mind or emotions? It’s not. It’s rhetorical filler.

I’m sure Kuo would disagree. I’m sure he feels like his spirit really is somehow given assurance of the truth of Christianity. But all I want to say here is that it’s actually redundant, unnecessary, or just plain meaningless to talk about being emotionally or spiritually convinced of grand claims made about the nature of reality.

And if one really is intellectually convinced of the divinity of Jesus, et. al., well, you’re just doing it wrong.

We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change.

The president on Sunday, in Newtown.

Full text here.

Almost unbearable to watch, for the heartbreak.

A few quick observations:

You can see the gravity of sadness — almost the literal gravity — weighing on this man, as though the force of grief itself is pulling on his face. His hair is whiter than ever.

I’ve never seen him more sincere than when he said, “We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change.”

And the line that reminds me why I’m a kid person, the child who assures the adults, “I know karate, so it’s OK; I’ll lead the way out.”

Google Doesn’t Pretend That All of 2012 Has Been Awesome

Kylie just posted Google’s “Zeitgeist” year-in-review video, and I was intrigued. Obviously, its content is loosely based on what people searched for on Google during 2012, and yes, it has a hopeful and inspirational bent, as one would expect, but I was struck by how, well, realistic it was about what actually went down this year. Look:

Storms, disaster, protests, conflict, suffering, war, it was all there interspersed with the achievements, milestones, and derring-do. Usually these kinds of things are so pollyanna, so maudlin, that you can barely stomach them. This felt more like a genuine look at what the hell actually happened, and what people gave a damn about, this year. I think I even saw Malala in there for a split second.

So, I know it’s an ad, really, a piece of branding, but it’s a good one. Kudos.

(Also, I can’t help but notice a none-too-subtle grab at the Apple “crazy ones” mantle with the “here’s to the curious” line. Gutsy, Google.)

I Need to Listen a Little More Slowly

Stephen Fry, with a hat tip to Kylie Sturgess:

A concerto is an argument between an individual and the state. Between an individual and society. It is an individual voice crying out and trying to make a statement of some kind. And it’s often drowned out by the orchestra, and it fights back. And the orchestra fights back. And it fights back. And the dynamic of listening to that is like nothing on Earth.