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Plebian Design: Blog

Church is Our Classroom Part VIII: Abundant Life Church

Posted by eric | June 4th, 2009 | 2 Comments »

Abundant Life Church
Pentecostal
May 31, 2009
http://alccambridge.org/

It was a perfect Sunday morning. I had gotten there first and was definitely nervous opening the door. Based on the website, out of all the churches we’d been so far, I knew that our outsider status would be most obvious here. The second I stepped inside, a man greeted me with a firm handshake and a “Good morning, brother.” And then another past the vestibule. As I went to sit somewhere near the back, a woman gently ushered me up the aisle, inviting me to get closer. Read the rest of this entry »

A Center-Centric—Centered Blogpost about Centerness

Posted by eric | June 4th, 2009 | 3 Comments »

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Several weeks ago, we paid the Central Square Theater a visit to see The Life of Galileo, a readaptation of Berthold Brecht’s play. For the most part, this particular piece of theater fell short of emotionally penetrating me. In the second half, though, it’s ordered turbulence did trigger a series of bifurcations in my musings. Amid all this talk of heliocentrism and geocentricism, the question hit me, What’s so great about being in the center? People were burned at the stake for saying that man was not at the center of the solar system. It feels like a great place to be, but why? We feel important there, but why? Read the rest of this entry »

Future Commerce Hypotheses

Posted by dan | June 3rd, 2009 | 3 Comments »

You can set up shop anywhere you want.

You can set up shop anywhere you want.

Everything is changing they say. So what is next? If we wanted to make some guesses about the future of commerce, what would they be? Or what would we hope might arise? There would be 2 sides to the questions, 1] what we hope(value judgments) and 2] what we think might be forced by the changes in connectivity(practical observations).
These will try to focus on the practical observations.
Read the rest of this entry »

Church is our Classroom VII: Mass in Washington National Cathedral

Posted by jeff | June 2nd, 2009 | No Comments »

A very boranj report to get some thoughts out.
Washington National Cathedral
Episcopalian

Went to DC to attend a wedding of an old roomate and friend Jack Holloway, and also to check out mass at the Washington National Cathedral. Read the rest of this entry »

Grandpa’s Information

Posted by jeff | June 1st, 2009 | 13 Comments »

A guest post by Danielle Applestone.

rhett in my laundry basket

rhett in my laundry basket

This happened about six months ago, and I just had to get up in the middle of the night and write it down. My son was about 3.5 years old at the time.

*************

Last night, while my son and I were laying in bed, we were talking and then he fell silent. I was glad that he was finally relaxing. Then he said, “momma, where are you when you die?” I’ve been thinking about what I would say to him for several weeks now. I thought I would just tell him things that were concrete. It occurred to me in a microsecond that if I tell him about ‘heaven’ and all that, that is what he will probably believe his whole life. I realized that at this moment, whatever comes out of my mouth is going to turn into complete reality for him, at least for many many years.

This is how our conversation went, more or less:
Read the rest of this entry »

Science is My Life Coach

Posted by eric | May 30th, 2009 | 7 Comments »

Conversations about science and religion often begin with the statement that science doesn’t provide us with ways of and codes for living. That is the role of religion. The falsity of this statement grows by the day for me. Science can - and does - provide us with ways of living. Science provides us with the seeds of cultural elaboration and the shared myths by which we live our lives. We can and do grow the tissues of experiential existence on the reductionist ribs of science.

The scientific and technological models of the era always have a way of shaping the societies’ collective models for the world. This is demonstrated by our changing models of human anatomy through the stages of industrialization and modernization. From the mechanical to the hydraulic to the electric to the digital \ computational, etc. It is what Ken Wilber gets at in his four quadrant model as the evolution of worldviews. From physical to protoplasmic to vegetative to locomotive to uroboric to typhonic to archaic to magic to mythic to rational to centauric and so on…
Read the rest of this entry »

Bias Blind Spots

Posted by eric | May 28th, 2009 | 3 Comments »

A list is a powerful thing. Wikipedia is full of them. I am working on a poster version of this one. These are cognitive biases, some crucial characteristics of what we might call human nature. Imagine how self-aware we could become if we internalized this list?

In these modern times of political correctness, peace, and unity, the word bias has gotten a bad rap. As you read this list though, keep in mind that at some point in our evolution each of these biases was most likely an adaptation of some kind that conferred survival advantages to those who displayed it. Inhabiting organismic time and space, we had (and have) to make quick decisions. These tendencies allow us to make such on-the-spot decisions. We are heuristic beasts.
Read the rest of this entry »

Plebian Book Club: An Ecopoetics of Beauty and Meaning

Posted by eric | May 27th, 2009 | 5 Comments »

Turner, Frederick. “An Ecopoetics of Beauty and Meaning” Excerpted from Brette Cooke & Frederick Turner, ed., Biopoetics: Evolutionary Explanations in the Arts (Lexington, Kentucky: ICUS, 1999), 119-138.

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What follows is a relatively unedited stream of direct quotations and paraphrases most salient to me while reading this essay.
Read the rest of this entry »

The word God

Posted by dan | May 27th, 2009 | 6 Comments »

Main Entry: God
Pronunciation: \ˈgäd also ˈgȯd\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English; akin to Old High German got god
Date: before 12th century

1 capitalized : the supreme or ultimate reality: as a: the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe bChristian Science : the incorporeal divine Principle ruling over all as eternal Spirit : infinite Mind 2: a being or object believed to have more than natural attributes and powers and to require human worship ; specifically : one controlling a particular aspect or part of reality3: a person or thing of supreme value 4: a powerful ruler

This NPR “This I Believe” entry is one of the first things I posted to my facebook page, an essay from Penn Gillette on being an atheist. I really enjoy this piece a lot, it struck me.
I posted it and several other atheist writings to my facebook page and got some interesting discussions with religious friends. It was the first time I really felt like facebook delivered something valuable to me. A truly different opinion than I was used to getting from people in cambridge or nyc…

But lately I would say I do believe in God. It’s not a statement I would have imagined myself making but it’s true, I do believe in a supreme or ultimate reality. A being or a principle seem to be the same thing to me in this area.

Read the rest of this entry »

Frights and Flights of the Imagination

Posted by eric | May 26th, 2009 | 3 Comments »

We all have fears. Some are raw and strike us as obvious—heights, lions, tigers, bears, dark places. Others are strange and entangled with threads upon threads of culture. We can all literally scare the shit out of ourselves, with a little help from our imaginations. I would like to share two fear inducing flights of the imagination that, to this day, make my whole body tense up. In fact they do so on a regular basis. Let’s call the first one the pool shark, and the second one, the dark-basement grandpa.
Read the rest of this entry »

There’s a Zoo in Us

Posted by eric | May 21st, 2009 | 4 Comments »

I recently came across this old Sesame Street cartoon. I wonder if the writers knew the real depth of what they were saying with this.

What better way to get kids pumped on evolution? There’s a zoo in us! We are full of animals. Through the cumulative processes of evolution, we became who were are. There were many steps along the way, which we can see, somewhat frozen in time, at the zoo. It is hard for some to admit, but if we allow ourselves to look in the mirror that is the zoo, so many of the behaviors we see are ours. In most cases they have been elaborated upon by our imaginative minds and through the cumulative feedback loops of culture. So many of these emotions and behaviors continue to operate in us, animating and guiding the acquisition of this culture.
Read the rest of this entry »

Church is Our Classroom, Part VI Church of Latter Day Saints

Posted by eric | May 18th, 2009 | 4 Comments »

Church of Latter Day Saints
Mormon
May 17, 2009
Website

There was a light rain as we ascended the the stairs into the Church. Jeff noted that the building looked more like a school than a Church. It did, with its solid white Jeffersonian columns. Inside the pews were packed. We did not know at the time, but today was a special event. Almost four hundred people were there to participate in a thirty-four state wide conference being simulcast from Utah. We grabbed the last row in the balcony section.

Their mastery of technology was impressive; the live media show was carried out with precision. A small digital clock counted down on the projection screen as a Church official carried on with public thanks and votes of hands. There was much talk of brothers, wards, high priests, and voting on various offices. When the clock hit 00:00, Bruce D Porter of the Seventy took the podium onscreen and began his speech, all the way from Utah.
Read the rest of this entry »

Kinesthetic Sculpture

Posted by eric | May 14th, 2009 | 13 Comments »

I like standing in subway trains. One day in March, as I was subway surfing, I allowed myself to observe my body as it reacted to the train’s unpredictable, yet periodic movements. Next time you are on a subway train, I encourage you to try this experiment; really let your body do its thing and watch from the inside. In my mind, the relationship was suddenly reversed and I realized that the subway was putting movement into my body. This led me to ask the question: Can we create machines that put choreographed movements directly into the body? Machines that move you and move with you.
Read the rest of this entry »

Church is Our Classroom: Part V Harvard-Epworth United Methodist Church

Posted by eric | May 14th, 2009 | 4 Comments »

Harvard-Epworth United Methodist Church
http://www.gbgm-umc.org/harepumc/
May 10, 2009 (Mother’s Day)

Looking at the small cavern above the altar for the organ player, it occurred to me that organists were some of the original DJs. Up there in their little chamber, fingers jamming on the keys, looking out over the crowd, putting the pedals to the metal, dropping bass lines.

Jeff couldn’t make it this week, so initially I thought I’d skip Church. But I actually wanted to go. I’m noticing that it is becoming less of burden to wake up on Sunday for church. I was looking forward to this structured time set aside to think about things. What new connections would I make? What previously recorded material would be accessed, unhinged, and layed down anew in my brain?
Read the rest of this entry »

Tribes and Fear

Posted by jeff | May 14th, 2009 | 4 Comments »

As always, everything here is an opinion, one that I feel strongly but am ready to drop immediately based on any alternative thinking. This is based on lauren’s comment to the previous entry about our church visit last week. It centers around two themes: the notion of fear and anxiety as a driving force, and the notion of religious (and tribal) exclusivity.

fear

Fear is considered one of the most basic, primeval emotions we possess, so leveraging fear seems to be one of the most utilitarian ways to go if you want to get someone’s attention. But to be a little more specific, I would say it’s anxiety, not fear, and there seems to be a distinction.

I’ll paraphrase my currently favorite explanation for the evolution of religion: Read the rest of this entry »