Presentation at George MacDonald Gathering

My friend, Ollie Perry, recently uploaded a video he took from when I spoke at the George MacDonald Gold Country Gathering 2018. The purpose of this gathering was to launch my father’s new biography of MacDonald, A Writer’s Life, and to celebrate the release of The Cullen Collection. I spoke about my own experiences growing up with a writer as a father, and the important role that George MacDonald’s books have played in my own Christian life. I was joined by my friend Dave Hiatt who spoke about the spiritual potency of MacDonald’s imaginative vision, and MacDonald’s relationship with Charles Dodgson, the author of Alice in Wonderland.

Further Reading

The Beauty of Critical Thinking Skills

In Episode 4 of “The Robin and Boom Show,” I observed that our goal as parents is not just to help our children develop critical thinking skills, but to help them grasp the beauty of critical thinking. Here’s what I said.

“…we can show the beauty of critical thinking to our children if critical thinking is seen and taught and lived out as a subset of wisdom. It’s very possible to, and indeed necessary, to show our children that wisdom is beautiful. This comes across in the wisdom tradition of the Hebrew Scriptures where wisdom is portrayed as a beautiful woman and with metaphors that show that wisdom is not just the right thing to do – it’s not just the right thing to do to go and get wisdom – but this is what a beautiful flourishing life looks like. If as parents we raise our children with a holistic lifestyle where we’re living out what we’re teaching them, where we’re showing them that wisdom and critical thinking are part of the good life, part of what human flourishing looks like, then critical thinking can be situated within this larger context where they see it as beautiful.”

Humility in the Wrong Place

“…what we suffer from to-day is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt — the Divine Reason. Huxley preached a humility content to learn from Nature. But the new sceptic is so humble that he doubts if he can even learn. Thus we should be wrong if we had said hastily that there is no humility typical of our time. The truth is that there is a real humility typical of our time; but it so happens that it is practically a more poisonous humility than the wildest prostrations of the ascetic. The old humility was a spur that prevented a man from stopping; not a nail in his boot that prevented him from going on. For the old humility made a man doubtful about his efforts, which might make him work harder. But the new humility makes a man doubtful about his aims, which will make him stop working altogether. At any street corner we may meet a man who utters the frantic and blasphemous statement that he may be wrong. Every day one comes across somebody who says that of course his view may not be the right one. Of course his view must be the right one, or it is not his view. We are on the road to producing a race of men too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table. We are in danger of seeing philosophers who doubt the law of gravity as being a mere fancy of their own. Scoffers of old time were too proud to be convinced; but these are too humble to be convinced. The meek do inherit the earth; but the modern skeptics are too meek even to claim their inheritance.” G.K. Chesterton

Getting Beyond the Hot Take

On Saturday, Jason Van Boom wrote a Facebook post to introduce the Facebook page associated with our new podcast. Because Jason’s post managed really to capture the essence of what we’re about with this podcast, I wanted to share his words here.

My friend Robin Phillips and I have launched a podcast! Robin and I (and usually a guest) discuss topical news stories and current events from the perspective of classical and medieval philosophy and patristic theology. We also bring in insights from contemporary psychology and neuroscience, and anything we find interesting.

Our purpose is to go beyond “the hot take”. Our digital media economy encourages to react mindlessly. We want to encourage stepping back and thoughtfully looking at things from a bigger perspective, while also having fun.

You’ll also get updates in my world travels. (In about a month we’ll have an episode on my coming spring break trip to Siberia!)

 

Daniel Hannan on Brexit

In an article that appeared last Monday, Daniel Hannan raised concern that the UK remainers are prepared to tear down Britain’s democracy (including the precedents that form the essence of its constitution) to keep Britain tethered to the EU.

It’s hard not to sympathize with Hannan, for the pieces are all being put in place so that a reversal of Brexit can be presented as the only solution. Let’s not deceive ourselves here, for a permanent customs union would be a de facto reversal of Brexit, as Hannan explains in the video below.

Wisdom From St. John of Kronstadt

“Do not fear the conflict, and do not flee from it: where there is no struggle, there is no virtue; where there are no temptations for faithfulness and love, it is uncertain whether there is really any faithfulness and love for the Lord. Our faith, trust, and love are proved and revealed in adversities, that is, in difficult and grievous outward and inward circumstances, during sickness, sorrow, and privations.”

                                             —St. John of Kronstadt (1829-1909)

My Survey on Printing Services in Academic Libraries

Having written about the dangers of too much screen time, as well as the fact that we approach digital text differently to printed text, I’ve found it interesting that academic libraries are increasingly offering less printing services to students. University libraries are also increasingly replacing physical holdings with their digital equivalents.

But is a page read on the computer equivalent to the same content read in physical form? That is a question I’ve begun exploring in research with the University of Oklahoma. To assist my research, I have created a survey people can take about their own preferences and learning styles when it comes to print vs. digital. Here is a link to my survey. Feel free to take it.

Take my Questionaire 

 

Valentine’s Day and Feminism

In my Salvo article, ‘The Massacre of Valentine’s Day‘, I show how the hostile response that many third-wave feminists have to Valentine’s Day illustrates the strange metamorphoses that feminism (now in its fourth-wave) has undergone. Much modern feminism is now working to achieve a state of affairs that earlier generations of women activists would have unhesitatingly condemned as misogyny. Read about this at the following link:

 

Website Back Online

Welcome back to my website (you can call it a blog if you like, but I agree with Nicholas Carr that this is a most undesirable word).

I want to apologize to my readers that this website was down for the last four weeks. As part of a website redesign at Salvo Magazine, it stopped being possible for my blog to be parked at their web space. I am very grateful that Salvo let me keep my blog at their site for five years, even after I stopped writing about Salvo-type things. I remain on good terms with the people at Salvo, who have been working with my webmaster to get all the content transferred over to a new domain and server.

As you may have noticed, the new domain for my website is now www.robinmarkphillips.com. Salvo is working on putting redirects in place so that all the old links will automatically throw you over here.

Eventually the theme, layout and title of this website will become more of a conventional author website, especially after my next book comes out. I also plan to start a separate website for my resources about health and wellness. But for the immediate future, I have tried to preserve everything as close as possible to how it looked over at Salvo.

Please feel free to browse the archives on the left, and don’t hesitate to send me an email if you notice any problems.

A Dangerous Vacuum

From my article, “The Republican Retreat to Identity Politics,”:

Historically, nations are held together by common memories, customs, symbols, myths and legends. In its most rigorous and consistent form, classical liberalism de-emphasizes or ignores these deep-seated cultural-symbolic underpinnings of civil society and attempts to secularize the public life, often migrating transcendence to the claims of the state. This creates a dangerous vacuum in which citizens find themselves without the basic building blocks of national cohesion. This inevitably results in human beings looking to their most basic and primitive bonds for cohesion, and thus reverting to a raw tribalism. A secular and materialistic society offers little scope for the type of roots that humans innately long for, with the result that the most plausible roots become race and ethnicity.

Keep Reading