Thursday, November 01, 2007

Blessed All Saints

And a blessed Feast of All Saints and following octave thereof to all of you out there in readerland.

One of our autumn traditions around here is taking a walk on All Saints Day or thereabouts, preferrably kicking through the leaves on the sidewalk, and singing "For All the Saints" at the top of our lungs. I have this silly telling-stories-to-yourself fantasy: Imagine some elderly man who used to be part of the Anglican church in England when it was a lot better than it's gotten since and is living out an embittered retirement, for whatever reasons, in the U.S. Sitting in his quiet, lonely house one beautiful autumn day, he hears young voices outside the window singing a song he recognizes. He can scarcely believe his ears. He sticks his head out the window...Anyway, like that. Where we encourage someone. But so far we're just encouraging ourselves, which is good, too.

I love the hymn, but I haven't the energy to type out the many verses of the words. So here's the cyberhymnal link. This is the best cyberhymnal link I've heard yet--they really let you hear that great continuo written by Vaughan Williams. I'd never seen the third through fifth verses given here. Golly! That would be even longer than it is now.

Perhaps my favorite line in the hymn is "thou in the darkness drear their one true light." I always think of the persecuted Church when I sing that. This year the person I especially think of is Helen Berhane, beaten to the point of being crippled and imprisoned in a shipping container in Eritrea for two years in an attempt to get her to forsake her faith. She had plenty of "darkness drear," and in it He was her one light. She has finally found asylum in Sweden.

Here is the collect and proper preface for the day.


Anonymous said...

Wasn't it Denmark? What an awful story in any case.

Some of the commenters were claiming that she was being forced to recant, but not by Muslims. Spencer's post implies that it was by Muslims. Were you able to figure it out?

Lydia McGrew said...

If I knew more about Eritrea, I'd probably be able to answer that. I know that Eritrea has a name as one of the worst Christian-persecuting nations around, but my impression before had been that they were anti-religion generally. On the other hand, Ethiopia gets all manner of warlike trouble from its near neighbors, of which Eritrea is one, and that trouble appears to be of an Islamicizing sort. So I don't know. Her church affiliation was evidently of an unregistered sort, and that was a big part of the problem. Clearly whatever else was going on, it was one of these totalitarian regimes that gets _very_ upset if you belong to an unregistered church. Like the communists and the Baptists in the Soviet Union.

Sorry if I got the country of asylum wrong. I was writing too fast, probably.

Forward Boldly said...

Just stumbled across your blog and homepage. Wonderful. I've added a link to my own blog.

Forward Boldly said...

I'd be interested to know some of your cursory thoughts on Quine's holism and his maxim of minimum mutilation.

Tim said...


Quine's radical confirmational holism in "Two Dogmas" does not appear to be the outcome of any decisive line of argument. Though there are clearly cases where a single sentence does not stand at the bar of experience directly, it does not follow that no sentences ever do so. When I met Quine in the summer of 1990, the year that Pursuit of Truth came out, he was quietly backing away from his earlier views and speaking openly of "stimulus analyticity" -- the "stimulus" part being put in there, I suppose, to sooth his behaviorist conscience. For an example of his backpedaling, see Pursuit of Truth, p. 14.

The maxim of minimum mutilation sounds fine as far as it goes, but it is not a very helpful substitute for a more robust set of rational norms. Both Lydia and I find a combination of strong, old-fashioned foundationalism with objective Bayesianism more enlightening. You might want to check her webpage for our FEW 2006 contribution and a forthcoming article in Erkenntnis where we explore this in some detail.

Lydia McGrew said...

Hi, Christine,

Thanks for your kind comments and the link. I didn't mean to be unfriendly but haven't been on the ball and just saw your comment today. I'm an anti-Quinian. Tim's a lot quicker on the draw with the history and literature than I am, but I believe in both the a priori _and_ analyticity, so I'm on the other side of both of the "two dogmas." This makes me sort of the opposite of a holist. :-)

Dr. Michael Bauman said...

Interesting idea -- "the opposite of a holist." I'm trying to process it. (But being a theologian, I have my limitations!) So far, all I've gotten to is: You are a tree-ist. Some see the forest, others see the trees. To tree-ism you add analytic philosophy.

How far off am I? Small words, please. Remember who you're dealing with!