The Counsel of Trent

writing is thinking

Monday, May 22, 2006

More Augustine

By co-blogger Matthew Mullins is also doing some blogging in the Enchiridion.


Personal: Duathlon

Me in the transition zone during the recent Rochester Spring Classic duathlon (biking and running).


I passed and was passed by people of every age and gender. One lesson from attending these events has been that you can't judge a book by it's cover very often.

In fact, in the home stretch of the final run, I was following a 50 something lady and following me was a long-legged undergrad who works at a bike shop and is very fit. One would have expected the order to be reversed just by looking (I'm in the middle either way). The fifth fastest overal time--among something like 200 people--was a 60 something dude. He must have been the guy who yelled "Commin' through whipper-snapper" on the first bike leg. :)>

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Tolkien and the OED

Three senior OED editors have written a book about J. R. R. Tolkien's involvement with the Dictionary. The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary (published on 27 April), describes Tolkien's work as a member of the OED's staff, and examines how his lexicographical experiences influenced the way he revived, remodelled, and invented English words.

(more from Oxford University Press)

Divine Virtues

On Sundays for the foreseeable future I'll be blogging my way through Saint Augustine's _Enchiridion on Faith, Hope, and Love_ over at X-Catholics.

The triad of Faith, Hope, and Love are called the divine or theological virtues in contrast to the four "cardinal" virtues of Courage, Moderation, Justice, and Wisdom. It's hard to say just what distinguishes the two types of virtue, but Chesterton somewhere says, in _Orthodoxy I think, but I'm not certain, that the difference is that whereas the cardinal virtues represent what Aristotle--the greatest proponent of virtue theory--calls a "golden mean". That is, the all represent some kind of balance.

For example, the cardinal virtue of Courage represents a balance between the vice of Cowardice and the vice of being Rash. It is the displaying of a way of being which can be exercised too little or too much. The activity at work in the courageous individual can grow too strong and push the individual past courage into the vice of rashness.

By contrast, says Chesterton, the divine virtues are all extremist they exemplify a way of being which cannot be lived to much. The activity at work in the loving individual--we're talking about agape/caritas here--has no upper limit, it never becomes a vice no matter how much or to what degree it is practiced.

(the divine virtues)

The actual reflections will be posted at X-Catholics.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I garden.

There. I've said it. I once thought of this as for "old folks" and though my muzzle is more grizzled than when I formed that sentiment I'm not old folks quite yet. I've not gone to pot, not sedentary by any means--duathlon this weekend and triathlon the next--but I have come by, somehow, some *patience*.

It's a plain fact that when I play hockey with teens and undergrads I have to work my ass off to keep up and must rest a little more than twice as often. Gone are the days when--as in High School and undergad--when I would never leave the football field--started both ways--and rarely leave the ice--to give non-starters some ice time. Gone for good I imagine.

But there's still that newfound patience. Patience is a species of waiting and waiting is a species of stillness and stillness is a spiritual discipline. So I see this as a net gain. It's not that I've lost abilities which are *compensated* for by *settling* for something else. I *like* gardening, I wish I'd had the *ability* to do it years ago. Lacking that ability in my youth I *settled* for what I could get, which was unending endurance and energy turned away from malice only be being diverted into mindless sports. Now that I've gained the ability, I enjoy exercising it. Indeed, I now have a gardenish worldview. I began to acquire it along with acquiring my Catholic faith for Catholic evangelism is more like gardening than Evangelical evangelism (which is more like High School sports quite frankly).

The metaphor is so strong and biblically rooted that it now seems hard to imagine how I missed it as a dominant paradigm for so long. No doubt further reflection on this will lead to further bloggage but for now I'll leave you with this link (might only work for the next week) to a nice book review of a book on gardening as a spiritual discipline and with the first stanza of Robert Browning's "Rabi ben Ezra":

GROW old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in his hand Who saith,
“A whole I planned,Youth shows but half;
trust God: see all, nor be afraid!”

(whole poem)

Monday, May 15, 2006

Why home-schooling?

First and foremost because it is my responsibility to raise my child. As I understand my responsibility, I am to do all for my child that I can do effectively. If it is clearly the case that someone other than myself can do significantly better, then I can farm that out to someone else; otherwise it's my responsibility.

My child's health is my responsibility. I am their primary care provider for medical needs. When their medical needs clearly exceed my competence, I take them to the doctor. Except in rare cases, this will be rare, for very few health problems require such measures. For the vast majority of medical needs--certainly day-to-day needs--I am competent to provide them, so I must do so and am amiss if I do not. Even if I could afford it, if I were to have a private nurse on hand to apply Band-aids(tm) and spray Solarcane(tm) on sunburns or take splinters out, I would not be doing my parental duty to be my child's primary care provider and nurturer.

Likewise, my child's education is my responsibility. I am their primary educator. When their educational needs clearly exceed my competence, I will take them to a tutor. Except in rare cases, this will be rare, for very few educational needs require such measures. For the vast majority of educational needs--certainly the day-to-day needs--I am competent to provide them, so I must do so and am amiss if I do not. Even if I could afford it, if I were to have a private tutor on hand to teach how to read or write or do arithmatic, I would not be doing my parental duty to be my child's primary educator and nurturer.

The analogy is not exact (that's why it's called an analogy) but I find it highly suggestive. It is part of an endeavor to express one of the positive reasons behind home-schooling and contradict the charge that home-schoolers only have negative motivation.

Summer Plans

Grades are uploaded, so the semester is officially finished! It was a great semester, but grades are *such* a hassle that it brings on a sensation of relief even for semesters which I would happily have go on.

That is, of course, only one of many negative effects of grades. They are the bane of education. No part of schooling gets in the way of education more than the mire of grades. But more of that later.

Summer plans:
*Reading group with Rich Feldman on epistemic self-trust. I. Self-Trust : A Study of Reason, Knowledge, and Autonomy, II. Intellectual Trust in Oneself and Others.
*Read most everything on epistemic luck with emphasis on Greco and Pritchard.
*Read _A Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist_ by 1920's English priest Abbot Vonier.
*Augustine's Enchiridion on Theological Virtues and Joseph Pieper's commentary.

*Hike/Bike the whole Letchworth State Park section of the Finger Lakes Trail.
*Spend week canoeing in Adirondacks.
*Compete in a few local duathlons and triathlons.
*Spend a few days climbing in Daks.
*Canoe to nearby canal towns.

*Help liberate youngest from training wheels.
*Teach summer session of Logic at Naz.
*Learn nature of various herbs and when to use them, especially Basil, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme.
*Keep my garden weed and disease free.
*Build picnic table.

Monday, May 08, 2006

What Does that Say About Me?

I was recently asked to write a brief bio for something. Such things are always awkward. It could hardly fail to reveal one's self-conception, so analyze away!

Trent came to Rochester to take up a Dean’s Fellowship in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Rochester. He also teaches Logic and Inquiry at Nazareth College. An active inquirer himself, he is a convert to the Catholic Church from evangelical Protestantism. As such he appreciates that which is distinctively Catholic and seeks to encourage those around him to grapple with what it means to be a Catholic. He is active in all outdoor sports in which he usually participates with his wife—Sarah—and two daughters—Fiona (7) and Chesney (5). All members of the family are active downhill and cross-country skiers, mountain bikers, and rock climbers. When he’s not reading C.S. Lewis or Tolkien to his family or writing a paper he is an active Blogger (The Counsel of Trent). Sarah is a full-time, home-schooling Mom, artist, and triathlete, Fiona just celebrated her First Communion and enjoys reading history and building faerie-houses, Chesney likes to draw and dance and dig.

The Crunchy-Cons are Comming

I only heard the term "Crunchy-Con" within the last few months when a book club had this book on its rolls. I thought "Oh, I didn't know we had a movement." Since then I've seen the term used a lot (and I've been accused of being one on more than one occasion). Here's one summary:

Crunchy cons disapprove of abortion rights, same-sex marriage, illegal immigrants, public schools, secular liberals and mothers who work outside the home. But they don't like Wal-Mart, McMansions, suburbs, pollution, agribusiness or processed foods, either.—David D. Kirkpatrick,
"Moosewood Republicans," The New York Times, March 12, 2006

Guilty as charged (although the Wal-Marts does have the low-low prices...).
Well, after so much time just not fitting in I'm quite happy to be in some kind of movement. It seems that a silent majority has begun to speak up. Good for us, I say. However, it seems that Rod Dreher, the default spokesperson for us Crunchy Cons, can come across as quite self-righteous and judgemental, not very crunchy that. As I haven't read the book, I can't say.

I'm not sure there's a proper essence--what Aristotle would call a differentia. It's probably more like the relation of family resemblance: I look like my Dad and I look like my Mom, but my Mom and Dad look nothing alike. So I expect that the Crunchy Con family will include people who only vaguely resemble one another at best. There will always be an indefinable element, for I know a lot of people who aren't at all crunchy who would fit much of the definition on paper.

Crunchy Con-hood is probably not an -ism exactly, but it's probably an ideology. As such there will be certain "attitudinal" elements like *disdain for conventional life*. For example, if you "do" your hair, you're just not crunchy. If you carry a purse or wear a cell-phone on your belt you are almost certainly not crunchy. So it's not all doctrine. It's more like a personal add: "Single white male seeks non-smoking female for conversation, climbing, and composting..." Either you get it or you don't. Mostly. It is, as I have admitted, a vague boundary and so there will be borderline cases. I'm thinking of one right now.

I find all this very interesting and since that's the first time I can remember saying that about a cultural trend I plan to post about this in the upcoming weeks. Lauren Winner has an article in Books and Culture this month reviewing two books on Surviving the Suburbs which has provoked a lot of thought.

Misc. and Links
Synonym: Birkenstock'd Burkean (after Edmund Burke)
Antonym: Lexus Liberal
Often overlaps with Theocon (than which no Greater is Father Richard John Neuhaus)
Crunchy Con Blog (by coiner of the term)