Article: Teaching Human Evolution at UKy: Some students I’ll never reach

This is a fascinating read for many reasons, and I commend it to you on this rainy Monday:

Teaching human evolution at the University of Kentucky: There are some students I’ll never reach.

The author, James Krupa, details his experience teaching non-major biology at University of Kentucky, a state where the tussle over teaching evolution as part of biology has been roiling since 1921. (Beat that, Tennessee!)

The article interests me epistemically – both his accounts of angry Christian students shouting at him from the back of the room, and his own epistemic certainty as a scientist.

I also think it’s interesting how creationists tend to separate evolution into “micro” and “macro” (to acknowledge the incontrovertible evidence of microevolution within species like fruit flies or moths but reject evolution as the origin of humanity) while evolutionary biologists use micro as a proof for macro.

Anyway, interesting read.

Regardless of anyone’s position on the topic, I’m stunned that we’re producing a generation of kids who’ve been taught that a theory is, itself, satanic. And how this exemplifies the problem in all civil discourse these days – a lot of shouting of positions, not much listening, and definitely no allowance for differing opinions.

Article: “Goodbye Evangelicalism” | exhaleinexhile

This blog post really resonates with me right now.  Recommended. Feel free to dialogue via comments.

Goodbye Evangelicalism.

“Historically, this fixation on absolute certainty is a rather recent development in the course of Christianity. It is primarily the result of the Enlightenment and the evangelical response to scientific evidence. But for me, there is much more uncertainty in this world that has to be acknowledged within us before true transformation can occur. Being “right” rarely has anything to do with being true. And, the more I studied the earliest Christians, the more I found that they were less preoccupied with believing the “right” things and were primarily concerned with loving each other as an expression of the truth they found in a Person rather than fixed ideas. This led me to conclude that I could no longer exchange the essential art of critical thinking for foundationalist epistemology.”

Music Monday: Soundtrack to my life

Like most people, I can write a biography from the songs that have accompanied my journey on this green orb.

Sweet tones of a guitar form some of my earliest memories. I grew up on my dad’s acoustic versions of Johnny Cash and Hank Williams Sr, plus his collection of records and 8-tracks for performers like the Nashville Brass and Jim Reeves. Dad played both the guitar and harmonica, self-taught. He owned a beautiful powder blue Fender electric guitar and amp which he sold for money shortly after losing his job.  At the time, I didn’t realize just how sad that was. Anyway, his trusty acoustic served for the Cash and Hank Williams covers, providing companionship for his low tenor.

Country music and church music were the staples of my upbringing, with classical piano music squarely at the center of my piano lessons …. plus whatever music entered my head from listening to WCVI radio in the mornings as the household got up and got moving.  WCVI is the epitome of the local small-town radio station. The DJs had thick local accents; the news was shocking only to the extent that you probably knew the people being mentioned in the crime reports; the music generally hit the Top 40 mix, like this gem from my middle school memory:

My parents weren’t Fundamentalists. They were just truly “old-school.” My dad loved 40s and 50s pop music, so he listened to the one station in the area that defined “oldies” older than any station I’ve ever encountered.  As a man in his 30s when the Sexual Revolution of the 60s upended everything familiar, rock music just wasn’t where his heart felt at rest. For him, it was taste.  Michael Jackson’s brilliant moonwalk provided a curiosity rather than an offense, but he still wasn’t impressed.

My half-brother nearly sent my dad into apoplectic fits with his KISS records in 1979. Since Dad married into fatherhood of two teenage boys in the mid-70s, and since that whole transition was a wee bit rocky, I think Ed took the chance to rattle Dad’s cage. Thumping bass and squealing guitar riffs shook his end of the house (which was literally across a 2 foot hallway from my dad’s bedroom door). Inevitably there would be a lot of arguing and a lot of shouting and some door slamming.  Thus I was introduced to hard rock. (Metal, maybe? KISS seems so tame now!)

Confession: At 4, I thought Ed’s music was pretty cool.  Plus he had these awesome blue and orange lights hanging in his room. It was dark and interesting and loud. LOUD. Very loud.  “Stan’s music” I was told. The pentagram and makeup confirmed it. I guess my dad was influenced by the Christian vibe around him after all. And I  grew up in a world with nothing but piano and organ hymns on Sundays and country music on the weekdays, punctuated by angry sermons about the evils of rock and roll.

College is often a time for expanding one’s musical tastes. Since I went to Bob Jones, where rock music was Satan and anything more exciting than Yanni was banned (actually, Yanni was banned too for being “New Age”) my musical tastes didn’t expand by much there either. My roommates introduced me to soundtracks for films I’d never seen (Man from Snowy River) and films that I loved (Patrick Doyle’s soundtracks for Henry V and Much Ado About Nothing), and others that didn’t stand up to repeated listening (Gettysburg).

I encountered most pop tunes and mainstream rock as a matter of daily life until my move to BJU. Though I went home in the summers during my undergrad years, grunge wasn’t on my radar (except that all the Korean kids at college were wearing flannel that looked like they’d slept in it, so BJU made a rule banning “Grunge” clothing). By the mid-90s I had fallen into a deep cultural black hole.  For me, watching I Love the 90s is an educational endeavor.

i_love_the_90s_281x211

We crawled out of Greenville and into a new life around 2002, and as my conscience unwound itself from the strictures of Fundamentalism, we began to explore the radio dial.  My students were listening to pretty much everything, so I mounted an expedition into Top 40 to figure out what was going on. I don’t think Matchbox 20 or Dido counted as “edgy,” but one must start somewhere.

Not usual in the life of a teacher, my students became my guides through music both on the dial and off. I met plenty of hip hop and country and mainstream pop, but the fireworks really went off when someone played me an album by From Autumn to Ashes, a hardcore emo band. The “emo” part of the music wasn’t particularly appealing, but I loved the sound: driving drums topped with guitar riffs and a tenor vocalist, punctuated by screaming. It took a long while to acclimate, but that’s where I found my taste for metal/hardcore.

Later, thanks to friends with excellent musical tastes, I also discovered Radiohead, (old) Muse, the Chili Peppers and eventually excellent but lesser-known acts like The Bad Plus and Snarky Puppies.

And that explains why a 2013 list from last.fm of my “top artists played” looked like this:

This was last updated in 2013, I think

Don’t laugh, but I didn’t listen to truly great bands like Zeppelin until well into the 21st century. *looks ashamed* Maybe my cultural malnutrition serves as the drive to experience and enjoy the best of what’s out there.

It’s definite that if you  start talking while “Stairway to Heaven” is playing, I’ll shoot you a dirty look and probably consider disowning you as a friend if you can’t shut up.

And this doesn’t take into account what we’re all able to discover now on Spotify or iTunes radio or the stuff I track down on YouTube. Like right now. (Currently listening to the Hyperlight Drifter soundtrack. It’s great.)

And really, that brings up the question, In this world where music is all around us, seeping into our lives on every front and every moment thanks to radio in the car, earbuds at work, iPhones in our pockets, what challenges us forward in our musical tastes? 

Are we stuck in the trenches of our favorite genres? Locked into whatever the music services decide to shove into our ears?

I still have so much to learn (but at least I’ve picked up some knowledge of classic grunge).  Like ….Jazz. I need to learn more about jazz…..  Our resident musician loves polyrhythmic, progressive stuff ranging from Periphery to Tigran Hamasyan.

I’ll even begrudgingly acknowledge now that not all Christian music sucks. Just most of it. A post for another day.

It’s pretty amusing to look back at my own musical biography.  Maybe you’re still listening to the classics of your childhood. Thanks to our 2015 world, we can put our hands on playlists built by mood, geography, genre, or friends’ preferences.

We consumers live charmed lives blessed by technology and access.

Get out there and listen.

Link: For the well-meaning Christian: humility in listening.

An excellent read for many reasons.I’ll list this one:

I think many of us Christians come across as more interested in “being right” than in truly loving other people. Dani’s post about how to really listen in humility to someone who has left the faith may challenge your long-held habits — an even better reason to read it.

For the well-meaning Christian: humility in listening..

For St Patrick’s Day

 

Lorica
Written by St. Patrick in 377 A.D.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth and His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In preachings of the apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.
Christ shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that reward may come to me in abundance.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

St. Patrick (ca. 377)

 

▶ The Cambridge Singers – A Prayer of Saint Patrick – Conducted by John Rutter – YouTube.