Friday, April 18, 2014

Earth Day Debate

"Is God possible in a dying environment?"

My debating opponent, like me, is on record denying the existence of a creator God.
I don’t believe in a God who created the universe, chose the Jews, gave us Torah, a Promised Land, and 613 mitzvot (commandments). I believe in a nondual reality evolving toward greater levels of complexity and higher levels of consciousness that ultimately gives rise to beings such as ourselves who can begin to understand this reality, and fashion meaning and purpose that promote justice and compassion for all beings. 
So, either one of us will have to defend a proposition he does not accept, or we'll spend too much time debating definitions ("God," "Atheism," "Possible") OR we'll have to change the subject. I vote for the latter. How about:
  • Is God-talk relevant or constructive in guiding our response to the climate crisis? 
  • Can religious piety make us better eco-citizens?
  • Are "higher levels of consciousness" and "meaning, purpose, justice and compassion for all" inevitable?
  • Is the environment (the planet) really dying, anytime soon? Or is it us?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

From atom to cosmos

Tonight's #Cosmos, going deep into the microcosmos of the atom, reminded me of one of my favorite landmarks on the Vanderbilt campus. Gordon Gee spoke eloquently of it, during his tenure as Chancellor, a few years ago:
"One of the best things at Vanderbilt, which, as you all know, is a campus full of “best things,” is a huge Lucite-and-bronze sculpture in a glass case in front of the Stevenson Science Library. The sculpture depicts, in angles and dimensions of Lucite, the unfurling unfoldment of the universe, and within that unfoldment, the interests of science in all arrays: ganglia and galaxies; a plesiosaur skeleton and a cityscape; ammonites and molecular structures; girders and retorts. It all rests on the backs of twisting primeval dragons, and the sun and the moon
The whole form and sweep of the thing takes your breath away, because it is charged with the optimism of atomic-age science, the optimism of space-age science – that amazing, exhilarating faith in the human potential to sound not only the reaches of space, but also the depth of our beginnings, and meanwhile continue to make a more livable civilization right here on this earth. Unfortunately, what one wonders now, gazing at this great jagged glass-and-bronze construction, is whether its dreams and expectations are still current..." 

Vanderbilt University Daily Register

Monday, April 7, 2014

Emily Brontë, Philosopher

We're adding literary lights to our Study Abroad course itinerary. Emily Bronte, for one:
"Enough of Thought, Philosopher; Too long hast thou been dreaming Unlightened, in this chamber drear – While summer’s sun is beaming – Space-sweeping soul, what sad refrain Concludes thy musings once again? – Emily Brontë (1818-1848), ‘The Philosopher’
As one who has spent many a summer’s day reading philosophy in ‘chambers drear’, I can empathize with Emily Brontë’s poem. For several years now I have made use of her poetry when teaching Introduction to Philosophy classes, in order to show that some of the deepest issues in this discipline can best be expressed in non-prosaic terms..."
Emily Brontë – Philosopher | Issue 90 | Philosophy Now

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Baseball in Literature and Culture

Agenda for 19th Annual Conference
Baseball in Literature and Culture, 4 April 2014

Hosted by MTSU

7:45-8:15 Registration and Breakfast

8:15-8:30 Welcome Warren Tormey, Conference Coordinator

Dr. Tom Strawman, Chair, Department of English

8:30-9:15 Keynote Address: Mr. Skip Nipper, Nashville TN.
“The Emerging Era of Middle Tennessee Base-Ball.”

9:20-10:20 Concurrent Sessions A

Session A1:
Location: Hazlewood Chair:
 Dan Anderson, Dominican University: “’An Important Course in the
Curriculum of the Institution’: Competing Loyalties and Ideologies in the Harlem
Renaissance Newspapers Coverage of the Negro Leagues”
 Katherine Walden, Vanderbilt University: “’Take Me Out to the Ball Game’:
Music, Community, and Sustainability in Minor League Baseball Affiliates in
Southeastern Music Cities”
 Steve Andrews, Grinnell College: “Annie Dillard in the Contact Zone: The
Place of Baseball in American Childhood”

Session A2:
Location: Dining Rm. C Chair:
 Andrew Hazucha, Ottawa University: “The Uses of Biography: Jane Leavy,
The Last Boy, and the Problem of Enuresis
 Michael Pagel, Northeast State University (Johnson City, TN): “The Politics
of the Call”
 Ron Rembert, Wilmington College: “Basking in the Sun and Burning at the

10:30-11:30 Concurrent Sessions B

Session B1:
Location: Hazlewood Chair:
 Gerald Wood, Carson-Newman University (emeritus): “Little Giants, Big
 Andy Bennett, Tennessee Court of Appeals: “August 20, 1955: A Precedent-
Setting Beanball in Chattanooga, TN”
 David Veve, Dalton State University: “Take Me Out to the Suburbs: Aspects
of the Braves’ Upcoming Move to Cobb County, GA”

Session B2:
Location: Dining Rm. C Chair:
 Amanda Bales and Christopher Murphy, Northeastern State University
(Tahlequah, OK): “Collaborative Fiction on the 19th Century Game”
 Philip Theibert, University of Alabama-Birmingham: “Hitting a Home Run in
the Classroom”
Phil Oliver, MTSU: "Coming Home: Reflections on Time, Memory, and
Baseball's Eternal Return (Prompted by the Revival of Nashville's Sulphur

Session B3:
Location: Faculty Senate Chambers Chair:
 Sarah Bunting, “Casting Bullpen: The Next Great
Baseball Biopic”
 Nick Bush, Motlow State Community College: “’Mookie Wilson—That’s a
Thing, Right?’—Pitching, Parody, and Perfection in How I Met Your Mother’s
‘Perfect Week’ Episode”
 Bryan Steverson, Knoxville TN: “’42’ By the Grace of God”
11:40-12:05 Concurrent Sessions C

Session C1:
Location: Faculty Senate Chambers Chair:
 Bob Johnson, Eastern Kentucky University: “The Captain of the Drive”

12:15-1:30 Luncheon and Willie Wilson Talk
Tennessee Room
12:00-12:45 Lunch
12:45-1:30 Willie Wilson Talk (~20 min. talk + 10 min. Q&A)
Book Signing in James Union Lobby to follow talk
Former MLB all-star Willie Wilson discusses autographs at MTSU event (VIDEO)
2:00-3:00 Concurrent Sessions D

Session D1:
 Warren Tormey, MTSU: “From Field to Grounds to Ballpark: Space into
Commodity in the Game’s Early Years”
 Ben Morrill, MTSU: “The Emergence of Minor League Baseball in Late
Nineteenth Century Knoxville”
 Josh Howard, MTSU: “The Gentleman’s Sport in a Professional Era:
Alternatives to Professional Baseball in the South During the Late Nineteenth

Location: Dining Rm. C Chair:
3:10-4:00 Concurrent Sessions E

Session E1: Reenacting the 19th Century Game: A Demonstration
 Michael “Roadblock” Thurmon, Nashville Maroons
 Jeff “Skeeter” Wells, Stewart’s Creek Scouts
 Jeff “Cornbread” Jennings, Stewart’s Creek Scouts
Walnut Grove, outside James Union Building (weather permitting). Alt. Location
TBA Accelerating Intelligence News