Sunday, October 19, 2014

Robert Farrar Capon on Wine

The following is from Robert Farrar Capon's magnificent little 1967 book The Supper of the Lamb, pp. 89-93. Everything below the break (including the stuff in square brackets) is found in the book.


     One might have hoped that, with so gracious a creature as wine, even the most ardent religionists and secularists would have have made an exception to their universal custom of missing the point of things. But alas, between teetotalism on the one hand and the habit of classifying it as an alcoholic beverage on the other, they have both lost the thread of delight.

     Consider first the teetotalers. They began, no doubt, by observing that some men use wine to excess--to the point at which, though the wine remains true to itself, the drinker does not. That much, I give them: Drunks are a nuisance. But they went too far. Only the ungrateful or the purblind can fail to see that sugar in the grape and yeast on the skins is a divine idea, not a human one. Man's part in the process consists of honest and prudent management of the work that God has begun. Something underhanded has to be done to grape juice to keep it from running its appointed course.

     Witness the teetotaling communion service. Most Protestants, I suppose, imagine that it is part of the true Reformed religion. But have they considered that, for nineteen centuries after the institution of the Eucharist, wine was the only element available for the sacrament? Do they serious envision St. Paul or Calvin or Luther opening bottles of Welch's Grape Juice in the sacristy before the service? Luther, at least, would turn over in his grave. The WCTU version of the Lord's Supper is a bare 100 years old. Grape juice was not commercially viable until the discovery of pasteurization; and, unless I am mistaken, it was Mr. Welch himself (an ardent total abstainer) who persuaded American Protestantism to abandon what the Lord obviously thought rather kindly of.

     That much damage done, however, the itch for consistency took over with a vengeance. Even the Lord's own delight was explained away. One of the most fanciful pieces of exegesis I ever read began by maintaining that the Greek word for wine , as used in the Gospels, meant many other things than wine. The commentator cited, as I recall, grape juice for one meaning, and raisin paste for another. He inclined, ultimately, toward the latter.

     I suppose such people are blessed with reverent minds which prevent them from drawing irreverent conclusions. I myself, however, could never resist the temptation to read raisin paste for wine in the story of the Miracle of Cana. "When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made raisin paste . . . he said unto the bridegroom, 'Every man at the beginning doth set forth good raisin paste, and when men have well drunk [eaten?--the text is no doubt corrupt], then that which is worse; but thou hast kept the good raisin paste until now.'" Does it not whet your appetite for the critical opera omnia of such an author, where he will freely have at the length and breadth of Scripture? Can you not see his promised land flowing with peanut butter and jelly; his apocalypse, in which the great whore Babylon is given the cup of the ginger ale of the fierceness of the wrath of God?

     The secularists, on the other hand, are no better. They classify wine as an alcoholic beverage, which makes about as much sense as classifying cheese as a salted food. Alcohol occurs all over the place; bread has its share, rotten apples do very well by it, hard cider is amply provided with it, and distilled spirits are full of it. How foolish, therefore, to encourage people to think of alcoholic content as the principal identifying note of wine. The general classification, of course, is legitimate enough as far as it goes. But it is hardly more than slightly relevant. Apart from an intellectual fascination, I have no consuming interest in alcohol; nor, I think, does any sane man. It is tasteless, odorless, indigestible, and, in sufficient doses, blinding. Far from being the only, or even the most notable, ingredient in wine, it is simply one member of a vast committee--and not the most responsible member at that.

     Nothing appalls me more than to hear people refer to the drinking of wine as if it were a forbidden and fascinating way of sneaking alcohol into one's system. My flesh creeps when I hear the legitimate love of the fruit of the vine treated as if it were a longer-winded way of doing what the world does with grain neutral spirits and cheap vermouth. With wine at hand, the good man concerns himself, not with getting drunk, but with drinking in all the natural delectabilities of wine: taste, color, bouquet; its manifold graces; the way it complements food and enhances conversation; and its sovereign power to turn evenings into occasions, to lift eating beyond nourishment to conviviality, and to bring the race, for a few hours at least, to that happy state where men are wise and women beautiful, and even one's children begin to look promising. If someone wants the bare effects of alcohol in his bloodstream, let him drink the nasty stuff neat, or have a physician inject it. But do not let him soil my delight with his torpedo-juice mentality.

     Wine is not--let me repeat--in order to anything but itself. To consider it otherwise is to turn it into an idol, a tin god to be conjured with. Moreover, it is to miss its point completely. We were made in the image of God. We were created to delight, as He does, in the resident goodness of creation. We were not made to sit around mumbling incantations and watching our insides to see what creation will do for us. Wine does indeed have subjective effects, but they are to be received gratefully and lightly. They are not solemnly important psychological adjustments, but graces, super-added gifts. It was St. Thomas, again, who gave the most reasonable and relaxed of all the definitions of temperance. Wine, he said, could lawfully be drunk usque ad hilaritatem, to the point of cheerfulness. It is a happy example of the connection between sanctity and sanity.

     Once wine is defined as an alcoholic beverage, however, sanity is hard to come by. As a nation, we drink the way we exercise: too little and too hard. Our typical gala dinner party is a disaster: three or four rounds of martinis followed by a dinner with two tiny glasses of middling Burgundy. The food is wolfed without discernment, the wine is ignored, and the convivialities come on so early that no one is up to the profundities when they arrive.

     How much better if we would forget, at least in our dinnering, the alcoholic idiocy--if we would provide our guests with long evenings of nothing but sound wine, good food, and fit company. Try it sometime. Sherry or Cinzano or Dubonnet--or, best of all, a good rainwater Madeira before dinner. No gin, no whiskey--and, in the name of all that's holy, no vodka. More importantly still, no dips, no crackers, no de-appetizers at all. Only a mercifully brief aperitif, followed by a long and leisurely meal, with one wine or many, but with whatever wine there is dispensed with a lavish wrist: a minimum of half a bottle per person, if you are dealing with novices, or a whole bottle if you have real guests on your hands. Your party will reach an O Altitudo, an Ecce, quam bonum!, to which wine is the only road. Hard liquor is for strong souls after great dinners; it is the grape that brings ordinary mortals usque ad hilaritatem.

     And ordinariness is the right note on which to sum up the case for wine. It is precisely the foolishness of classifying wine as an alcoholic beverage that keeps so many of us from taking it with our lunches, suppers--and even breakfasts, if you like. Whiskey, gin,and rum are sometime things. A man who takes them too often courts disaster. But wine is simply water that has matured according to nature's will. It is the ordinary accompaniment of a grown man's food. How sad, then, that the secular conscience sweeps Sherry into the same category as vodka and looks on Zinfandel as liquor. God gave us wine to make us gracious and keep us sane. The light aperitif en famille, and the half bottle or bottle split by husband and wife over cold meatloaf and brawling children, are not solemn alcoholic dosages. They are cheerful minor lubrications of the frequently sandy gears of life. Properly underrated--that is, taken for what they are, and not as great problem-solving idols--they are on the side of the angles; they can hardly be overrated at all. A ta Sante!

Tuesday, July 01, 2014


[Everything below is ranked, roughly, from what I take to be least important to what I take to be most important. So if this is too dang long for you, skip to the end. But really, the whole thing is brilliant, eloquent, and probably life-changing.]

I was so not going to do this. And I was mainly not going to do it for reasons of intellectual integrity: I haven't read the decision in the Hobby Lobby case carefully, and I haven't read the dissenting opinion at all. I'm willing to say publicly that--to the degree I understand it--I think SCOTUS got this right. It's at least possible, however, that I might change my mind, and even if I don't, I think it must be acknowledged that some of the salient questions are genuinely difficult ones; I don't find it at all obvious, for instance, that the law should treat corporations (even closely held corporations) as persons, nor do I find it obvious (because insurance payments are fungible) that AHCA imposes a substantial burden on employers who are required to pay for services they find objectionable.

So why weigh in at all? Well, while I don't take myself to be competent to weigh in on the subtleties of the decision, I am genuinely alarmed by the state of the discourse surrounding it. At first, I thought it was just the card-carrying Team Democrat folks in my Facebook feed who were generating an amount of noise out of proportion with their actual numbers. But then I made the mistake of listening to NPR's "On Point" [Aside: I like NPR a lot and generally find it to be as unbiased and trustworthy a news source as we have in America] as I was running errands this morning, and got the sense that some of the things which I was taking to be "fringe" views may be quite a bit more mainstream than I had hoped. And if I may be so bold, I think that my professional training and experience put me in a reasonably good position to assess that discourse. That is, even if I have no business weighing in on what people are talking about, I might have some business weighing in on how people are talking about what people are talking about. In that vein, I offer the following:

There's an ever-increasing tendency to understand religious freedom--a First Amendment right, you'll recall, which has typically been taken to be fundamental to our existence as a pluralistic society--as mere freedom of worship. That might sound like a merely terminological difference, but it's important to notice that the free exercise of religion is far more expansive than merely being permitted to gather in private with like-minded folks and sing the songs you happen to like. Now, like any other negative claim right, the right to free exercise of religion has to be balanced against the rights of other people. It does not, should not, and must not be understood as the freedom to do whatever you want to other people and then to be excused on the grounds that "it's my religion."

(1a) There's a surprising blind spot on the part of many left-of-center folks (including many self-described religious believers) who seem to think that religious belief and practice must be utterly private. The assumption seems to be that it's okay to have religious beliefs, but those beliefs must never, ever, in any way, shape, or form, impact the way you live in society, including the way you conduct business or how you think about social policy (unless those beliefs are already in conformity with what the law says, or with what the law is changed to say).
What this assumption fails to appreciate is that, for most of us who are serious religious believers--and there are still a few here and there!--obedience to God is understood as a holistic, life-shaping commitment. It is *impossible* for many devout believers to simply cut off their "religious life" from everything else they do.

[Aside: This is the part where people start complaining about what terrible things religious people have done, and about how Hobby Lobby is hypocritical because they invested in firms that profit from some of the very products they're unwilling to provide to their employees. On the first of these: the fact that some religious people are insincere or wicked is just totally irrelevant to this issue. There are a lot of very decent, very sincere religious people in the world, Christian and non-Christian alike, and the question of how their interests should be protected is what's relevant here. On the second point (Hobby Lobby invests in the products they don't like): I haven't read up on this. Assuming that it's true, I absolutely agree that it's hypocritical (if the Green family knew it), and that the Green family cannot be taken seriously if they don't immediately sell the stock in question. They should be ashamed. But... in defense of the Green family, they do run a retail business and yet choose not to open their stores on Sundays. This fact gives us all pretty good reason to hesitate before condemning them as money-grubbing hypocrites. More importantly, however, that fact too is irrelevant to the question of what the law should say. Now back to the main thing I was saying.]

And they shouldn't be asked to do so! This is for two reasons:

(1b) Because of the way in which religious belief often, and rightly, shapes a person's sense of self, we should support public policies that maximize individuals' freedom to live in accordance with their beliefs.

(1c) Sincere religious faith often pays dividends for society as a whole, including to the benefit of those who don't share it. Are "religious" people universally and unequivocally good citizens? No, of course not. Should every religious belief and practice be endorsed? No. Don't be silly. Life is complicated and the devil is in the details and blah blah blah. But look. If you take some of the secularists' words seriously; if you think that religion has no legitimate role to play in shaping how people conduct their lives in public; if you insist on a perfectly "naked" public square; if you go in any of these directions... then you are going to have a very difficult time endorsing either the abolitionist movement or the ministry of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. You are going to be forced to conclude that much of what Dr. King said in his speeches and much of what he wrote involved unconstitutional violations of the separation of church and state. And. That. Would. Be. Crazy.

Oh, speaking of crazy, here's the real reason I felt like I had to write this post.

No, seriously, you guys have got to stop this. And you intellectual types need to lead the way. I'm trying to do some of the work over on the cultural right: I'm exhorting folks in my tribe to think carefully, to pay attention to what's being claimed and what isn't, to interpret others' positions charitably, to look for common ground, etc., etc., etc. Can you help a fella out? We can work together, you know. It won't be easy. On every side of every issue, there are people who are going to demonize the people who disagree with them. And there are many, many people who are convinced that there is no such thing as a "common good;" they see American political life as a competition between groups whose interests are often incompatible, and the goal of politics not as the health of our society but as crushing defeats over those with whom they disagree and on whose throats they want to step. If that's you, then you can stop reading now. But if it's not, then please...

Stop pretending like words mean things they don't. Seriously: STOP IT. Are you worried about the *precedent* set by yesterday's ruling? That's fine. I get that. I think there are lots of interesting things to be said about it. Do you think it's crazy to think of paying for abortifacient drugs as a form of complicity in abortion? I get that, too. There's definitely room for debate there. Does it seem unjust that men have greater "reproductive freedom" than women? Again, I hear where you're coming from. I think we as a society need to keep wrestling with this, because equality between the sexes is a matter of genuine importance. And so on and so forth.

But look.

If employer X refuses to buy A for employee Y, X is not, not, NOT thereby "preventing" Y from having A.

If X has religious beliefs on the basis of which X refuses to buy A for Y, X is not--contrary to the very words used by the host of the NPR show I was listening to--"forcing employees to live in accordance with their employers' religious beliefs."

You should pause for a second and read that again. Think about it. Let it soak in. We live in a society where the host of a national radio show, on a network that is widely respected as a source for thoughtful, intelligent commentary, can speak of the refusal to pay for some kinds of birth control (4 out of 20!) as equivalent to forcing another person to live in accordance with one's religious beliefs. Friends, this is lunacy.

The basic point I'm making here should be obvious.

No, it *is* obvious.

It is painfully obvious.

It's a matter of basic English and rudimentary logic. This kind of thing has got to stop. Please. Anyone who says that Hobby Lobby is denying women access to birth control (and people really do say this! like, people who went to college! people who are serious presidential candidates!) is guilty of either extraordinary ignorance or willful dishonesty. Either way, such statements are harmful to our political discourse. Please stop saying such things, and please don't let others get away with saying them either.


Friday, July 05, 2013

On Misogyny and Name-Calling

One of the things that drives me crazy about the way we talk about controversial social issues is that folks on both sides of every debate are quick to impugn the motives of their opponents and choose sloganeering and name-calling over rational discussion.* Witness recent debates over attempts to ban abortion after 20 weeks in Texas and to make abortions more difficult to obtain in Ohio.

Now, contrary to what many of those who know me assume, I'm not easy to pin down as a liberal or a conservative. (And things get really complicated when you notice that there's a distinction, or can be, between one's views about what is morally right and one's views about what should be legally permitted. Sometimes my opinions about morality are reflected in my opinions about the law, and sometimes they are not. I am large. I contain multitudes.†) So here's a quick reference guide to some of my beliefs about controversial issues. Most people would consider me a liberal with respect to affirmative action, the death penalty, drug laws, gun control, access to health care, immigration, and the welfare state. Most people would consider me a conservative with respect to abortion, euthanasia, genetic engineering, marriage, and whom you should be having sex with.

I could be wrong about any of those things. I'm not an infallible guide to moral truth. The most I can assert is that my beliefs are honestly come by, or so I hope, and that I've actually thought about some of these things rather deeply. My conclusions may be mistaken, but, unless I'm delusional and/or being utterly dishonest with myself, none of my views is motivated by hatred or even dislike of any person or any group of people. Thus it disturbs me greatly to read a majority opinion in a Supreme Court case which suggests that attempts to legally define marriage as a heterosexual union are, or rather must be, grounded in "a bare desire to harm a politically unpopular group." And it troubles me to no end to see my Facebook newsfeed blown up by persons, whom I take generally to be persons of good will, using the phrase "hate(s) women" of those who attempt to restrict late-trimester abortion and to regulate abortion clinics.

The purpose of this post is not to persuade anyone that my views about these issues are correct, or even, for that matter, rationally defensible. (I've written on marriage here; if you want to examine the case for a conservative view of abortion, you might do well to start here and here.) All I am insisting upon is the following:

It is simply and undeniably false that the pro-life position is motivated by hatred of women. 

Consider: the baby in the picture below is no more than 24 weeks past conception.

In case this image doesn't speak for itself, here's a version of the core argument that motivates many pro-lifers to push for the kind of legislation being discussed in Texas:

1. It is wrong to intentionally kill a human infant.
2. There is no morally significant difference between a 20 week-old human fetus and a human infant.
3. Therefore, it is wrong to intentionally kill a 20 week-old human fetus.

If you think that a person must hate women in order to accept this argument, then you are mistaken. If you say that people who accept this argument hate women because they accept this argument, and you know that this is not true, then you are a liar. You should stop. And you should tell your friends to stop.

Look, there are reasons why some people think that it is morally permissible to intentionally terminate a pregnancy after 20 weeks. There are reasons why some people think that abortion should be legally permitted throughout pregnancy. I know this. I've been teaching college classes on the subject since 2003. But the notion that the only possible basis for rejecting those reasons is misogyny is not merely false, but obviously false. Indeed, it's dishonest and libelous.

I guess what really worries me is the sense that more and more people -- intelligent, seemingly informed people, I mean -- find it so easy, and so appealing, to accuse their fellow citizens of being hateful bigots. This is dangerous ground, I realize, because some people are hateful bigots, and I certainly don't want to say that we should never identify them as such. But when it comes to the issues that are currently generating so much "discussion" (a term I use loosely in the present context), the charge just can't be made to stick. For crying out loud, President Obama, of all people, unequivocally said in 2008 that "marriage is the union between a man and a woman" and that he was "not somebody who promotes same-sex marriage." He also indicated that it would be perfectly legitimate for individual states to define marriage as they see fit. Is there anyone -- anyone at all -- who seriously thinks that President Obama was, at that time, motivated by hate? Yet here I sit, less than five years later, affirming precisely the view he endorsed at that time (viz., marriage is an essentially heterosexual institution, but civil unions for same-sex couples are a good idea), and I find myself reluctant to express my views in public because I'm an untenured professor at a state university and worry for my career if I'm labeled as a homophobic misogynist (which is the risk one runs in expressing those views). As far as abortion restrictions are concerned, the proposed legislation would lump Texas together with such regressive societies as France (abortion banned after 12 weeks), Germany (very heavy restrictions after the first trimester; counseling and a three-day waiting period are required), The Netherlands (banned after 24 weeks, 22 weeks in practice),and Sweden (special permission required after 18 weeks, abortions must be performed by licensed practitioners in approved health care facilities). May we conclude that the legislative bodies of these nations are engaged in a war on women? If not, then perhaps it's time for American abortion rights supporters to rethink their rhetoric.

We live in a pluralistic society. If we cannot all agree about what is right and what is good, as it seems we cannot, then our best hope lies in respecting our fellow citizens. We need to listen to each other, and we need to assume the best of those with whom we disagree. This does not mean that we refrain from critiquing their claims. It does not mean that we refrain from trying to persuade others to reject their claims and agree with ours. It simply means that we treat others the way we wish to be treated: fairly, with an open mind. Some of our interlocutors may prove, upon careful investigation, to be arguing in bad faith. They actually are full of hate. They actually are indifferent to evidence and argument. We do not act wrongly or disrespectfully when we call them closed-minded bigots, for that is what they are, and it is good for them to be known as such. (As a rule of thumb, however, we could probably do ourselves a lot of good by making it a priority to "out" the bigots on our own side before worrying about the bigots we oppose.) What careful investigation will also reveal, however, is that there's quite a lot more concern for goodness and justice on "the other side" than many people assume. Let's look for it, and make that our starting point. 

Leave the name-calling to the idiots and jackasses.

*I'm not saying that this is a uniquely American or 21st-century phenomenon; maybe it's the normal human condition. Either way, it's not a good thing.

†I hope, however, that I do not contradict myself.

My colleagues will, I hope, take it as an expression of my confidence in their generosity of spirit that I've decided to post these thoughts under my own name. I can't think of a soul with whom I work who would object to my doing so, even among those who I am pretty sure disagree with me about the issues themselves. So, thanks, AUM. Love ya.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

I guess my life is pretty much downhill from here...

Michael Symon retweeted me over a month ago (January 7), and I didn't even notice.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Question about Christian Theology

I've been thinking fairly seriously about the differences between Protestantism and Catholicism for some time now -- the topic has occupied rather a lot of my attention over the last two years. I've been meaning to post the following question for a while, and with today's big news being the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, this seems like as good a day as any. Here goes.

Every thoughtful Christian has to deal with theological questions at two distinct levels. There are first-order questions about theology per se; and second-order questions about the relative importance of particular theological issues, the way one ought to relate to those with whom one disagrees about theology, etc. The problem isn't as esoteric or abstract as that description may make it sound. As a Christian, I may ask questions about who Jesus really is, what "saving faith" looks like, how to understand the doctrine of hell, and a host of other issues. Those are all first-order questions. I may also ask whether it really matters if someone rejects the doctrine of the Trinity, or whether I can truly have Christian fellowship with someone who understands justification differently than I do. Those are second-order questions.

Got it? Okay.

What's on my mind is a second-order question about the division(s) between Catholics and Protestants. 
A friend with whom I was discussing this issue referred me to the following comment made by a fairly well-known Christian author. (I am not providing a citation here, because I don't want the author's name to affect anyone's assessment of what he or she wrote. If you know who the author is, please keep that information to yourself.) It has been claimed that:
"The process whereby ‘faith and works’ became a stock gag for the commercial theatre [in the sixteenth century] is characteristic of that whole tragic farce which we call the history of the Reformation. The theological questions really at issue have no significance except on a certain level, a high level, of the spiritual life; they could have been fruitfully debated only between mature and saintly disputants in close privacy and at boundless leisure. Under those conditions formulae might possibly have been found which did justice to the Protestant—I had almost said the Pauline—assertions without compromising other elements of the Christian faith. In fact, however, these questions were raised at a moment when they immediately became embittered and entangled with a whole complex of matters theologically irrelevant, and therefore attracted the fatal attention of both government and the mob. When once this had happened, Europe’s chance to come through unscathed was lost. It was as if men were set to conduct a metaphysical argument at a fair, in competition or (worse still) forced collaboration with the cheapjacks or the round-abouts, under the eyes of an armed and vigilant police force who routinely changed sides. Each party increasingly misunderstood the other and triumphed in refuting positions which their opponents did not hold: Protestants misrepresenting Romans as Pelagians or Romans misrepresenting Protestants as Antinomians."
The italics here are mine, and it is the italicized sentence which interests me. What do you think?

All relevant comments from interested parties are welcome; please be gracious. I don't promise to chime in, my ownself, and I don't promise not to.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The Marriage Controversy

With CA Proposition 8 in the news again (having been found unconstitutional), I thought I'd post some of my thoughts about the marriage debate. I'm leery, however, of making quick comments of the kind suitable for a blog; they're too easily misconstrued. The only thing I'm willing to say in this format is that it is shocking to me how ill-informed so many people are about this topic. (Take that as you will.)

So, here's a link to the essay version of a talk I gave a couple of months ago titled "Liberal and Conservative Views of Marriage."* It's long. It's boring. It's mostly unoriginal. There are no pictures. Nevertheless, if I may say so, I think that it's a pretty dang good overview of the issue. The shockingly ill-informed person may read it and still be ill-informed. But he or she will not be shockingly ill-informed, and I think that counts as real progress.

Comments are welcome; please keep things civil, and if it is your conviction that someone would have to be stupid to be a marriage liberal or stupid to be a marriage conservative, please save yourself the trouble and refrain from commenting. I'd be especially glad to hear from anyone who thinks that I've misrepresented either position, or who thinks that I've overlooked an important point. I promise to read and consider all comments. I do not promise to respond.

*Update 26 March 2013: A slightly revised version of this talk has been published in the Summer 2013 issue of Think. The citation is as follows --
 Matthew Carey Jordan (2013). LIBERAL AND CONSERVATIVE VIEWS OF MARRIAGE. Think, 12, pp 33-56. doi:10.1017/S1477175613000067.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lecture on God and Morality

Below is the flyer for a talk that I'm giving this Thursday at AUM. For folks who live in Montgomery and are especially interested in this kind of thing, I will be teaching a whole course on this topic in Fall 2011.

“God and Morality”

An MLA Lecture by Dr. Matthew Jordan

Many people—theists and atheists alike—think that morality must depend upon God. This idea is often expressed with the slogan, “if God does not exist, then everything is permissible.” But is that right? If atheism is true, then would there be nothing wrong with theft, torture, or murder? In this talk, Professor Jordan will discuss some of the philosophical issues surrounding ideas and questions like these.
Thursday, April 28, 6:20-7:35 in Goodwyn 110

Dr. Jordan’s lecture, which is part of the MLA lecture series, is free and open to the public.  Everyone at AUM and from the community is welcome to attend.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

MLA Lecture Advertisment

I can't attend this because I agreed to dislocate my knee and probably break an ankle play in a student/faculty basketball game at AUM the same evening, but many of my Montgomery friends may be interested to know about this event.  (Aaron Cobb is the other philosophy professor at AUM.)

Christianity and the Question of Authority in 18th-Century England

An MLA lecture by Dr. Aaron Cobb 

"The Protestant Reformation caused a crisis in Christianity in Early Modern Europe.  In this presentation, I will address one difficult question engendered by this crisis: who or what is the proper authority for religious belief?  Addressing this question provides a fruitful approach for distinguishing the various branches of Christianity at this time and for understanding the bitter divisions in England between Roman Catholics, Puritans, and members of the Church of England at the turn of the 18th Century."

Monday, February 7, 6:20-7:35 in Goodwyn 110
Dr. Cobb’s lecture is free and open to the public.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Fifteen Minutes of My Life That Are Gone Forever

Welcome to DISH Network Chat.
Alvin (ID:  6C2): How may I help you Matt?
Matt Jordan:  Hi! There's a problem with my bill.
Alvin (ID:  6C2): Sure I'd be glad to help you setup autopay with paperless billing on your account.
Matt Jordan:  The problem is with the amount.
Alvin (ID:  6C2): Sorry for the typo.
Alvin (ID:  6C2): I'd be glad to assist you with the bill explanation, could you please tell me which part of the bill is confusing?
Alvin (ID:  6C2): For security purposes, can you please verify the last four digits of the Social Security Number on the account?
Matt Jordan:  XXXX. Every month, I get a statement saying that my bill is $54 and change. But it's supposed to be $47. I talked to Jason (5J0) on August 9 and to Rachel (F39) on November 30, both of whom confirmed this.
Alvin (ID:  6C2): All right.
Alvin (ID:  6C2): Yes please, I have checked your account.
Matt Jordan:  And...?
Alvin (ID:  6C2): One moment please.
Alvin (ID:  6C2): As of now your monthly charges are $52.99 plus taxes.
Alvin (ID:  6C2): Your actual monthly charges are $73.99 plus taxes.
Matt Jordan:  There should be comments on my account from both Jason and Rachel,explaining that I'm supposed to have an additional $7/month credit for the first twelve months.
Alvin (ID:  6C2): But as you have $15 credits on the account and also $6 credit for the service plan are being applied on the account.
Alvin (ID:  6C2): Therefore the monthly are lower than the actual monthly charges.
Matt Jordan:  Um, okay. Those are indeed among the credits I was promised. But there should be another $7/month credit for the first twelve months.
Alvin (ID:  6C2): Yes please, there are additional $7 credits also on the account.
Matt Jordan:  Okay, so it should be around $47, right?
Alvin (ID:  6C2): Yes please.
Matt Jordan:  Yes please indeed.
Alvin (ID:  6C2): You have been charged for the charge of $47.40 only.
Matt Jordan:  Excellent. Is there a way to ensure that this is what my electronic statement says from now on?
Alvin (ID:  6C2): Only $47.40 was deducted from your account.
Matt Jordan:  Great. Will my bills reflect this from now on?
Alvin (ID:  6C2): Yes Matt, you can view the credits and charges applied on the account on your online account bill statement.
Matt Jordan:  Okay.
Alvin (ID:  6C2): Sure, your bills reflect this from now.
Alvin (ID:  6C2): I appreciate your co-operation and understanding in this regard.
Alvin (ID:  6C2): To view the statements online, please try the following steps once you log-in:
Alvin (ID:  6C2): • Please login to your online account and select 'Billing'. This will take you to the Payment and Statements page.
Alvin (ID:  6C2): • For previous statements, please select the Past Statement option and select a billing date (available for the last 12 months). Select View Activity to view the selected monthly statement.
Matt Jordan:  Thank you. I appreciate your co-operation as well. I will do those things you say.
Alvin (ID:  6C2): You're welcome.
Alvin (ID:  6C2): Thanks for the compliment.
Alvin (ID:  6C2): Please take the brief survey to rate the impact I had on your issue after you end the chat session.
Alvin (ID:  6C2): Is there anything else that I can assist you with?
Matt Jordan:  No, thank you very much. But this has been fun.
Alvin (ID:  6C2): You're welcome.
Matt Jordan:  Have a nice day.
Alvin (ID:  6C2): Thank you.
Alvin (ID:  6C2): You too Matt!!!!!!!!!!!
Alvin (ID:  6C2): Thank you for chatting with Dish Network, have a wonderful day!
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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thomas Society Homework

If you're participating in the Quincy Thomas Society reading group, and you're interested in thinking some more about the topic of religious exclusivism, it would be worth your while to listen to this talk by Alvin Plantinga before our meeting on Thursday evening.

Of course, if you're not participating, but you're interested in thinking about religious exclusivism (can there be just one true religion?), you too should listen to the talk.

And if you're neither participating nor interested, what's wrong with you?