On Measurable Outcomes


Beware of evil Data!

Wow. Os Guinness really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really does not like measurement of outcomes.

Not some specific, inappropriate measurement of outcomes, mind you. Separating the good from the bad, keeping the baby while throwing out the bathwater, would require him to exercise some self-restraint and careful logical analysis. Why do that when you can simply wallow in the pleasure of demonizing things that annoy you?

I guess he won’t be asking his publisher how many copies his new book has sold.

Or for a royalty check.

Point of Comparison (or, Why I Am Not A Turnip)

The act of defending any of the cardinal virtues has to-day all the exhilaration of a vice.  GKC

Note the essential similarity between the logic of Sartre (as discussed in a previous post) and the logic of Chesterton in the following two passages.


when we say that man is responsible for himself, we do not mean that he is responsible only for his own individuality, but that he is responsible for all men. [... I]n choosing for himself he chooses for all men. For in effect, of all the actions a man may take in order to create himself as he wills to be, there is not one which is not creative, at the same time, of an image of man such as he believes he ought to be.

(source: Existentialism is a Humanism, Jean-Paul Sarte 1946)


Man can be defined as an animal that makes dogmas. As he piles doctrine on doctrine and conclusion on conclusion in the formation of some tremendous scheme of philosophy and religion, he is, in the only legitimate sense of which the expression is capable, becoming more and more human. When he drops one doctrine after another in a refined scepticism, when he declines to tie himself to a system, when he says that he has outgrown definitions, when he says that he disbelieves in finality, when, in his own imagination, he sits as God, holding no form of creed but contemplating all, then he is by that very process sinking slowly backwards into the vagueness of the vagrant animals and the unconsciousness of the grass. Trees have no dogmas. Turnips are singularly broad-minded.

If then, I repeat, there is to be mental advance, it must be mental advance in the construction of a definite philosophy of life. And that philosophy of life must be right and the other philosophies wrong. Now of all, or nearly all, the able modern writers whom I have briefly studied in this book, this is especially and pleasingly true, that they do each of them have a constructive and affirmative view, and that they do take it seriously and ask us to take it seriously. There is nothing merely sceptically progressive about Mr. Rudyard Kipling. There is nothing in the least broad minded about Mr. Bernard Shaw. The paganism of Mr. Lowes Dickinson is more grave than any Christianity. Even the opportunism of Mr. H.G. Wells is more dogmatic than the idealism of anybody else. Somebody complained, I think, to Matthew Arnold that he was getting as dogmatic as Carlyle. He replied, “That may be true; but you overlook an obvious difference. I am dogmatic and right, and Carlyle is dogmatic and wrong.” The strong humour of the remark ought not to disguise from us its everlasting seriousness and common sense; no man ought to write at all, or even to speak at all, unless he thinks that he is in truth and the other man in error. In similar style, I hold that I am dogmatic and right, while Mr. Shaw is dogmatic and wrong. But my main point, at present, is to notice that the chief among these writers I have discussed do most sanely and courageously offer themselves as dogmatists, as founders of a system. It may be true that the thing in Mr. Shaw most interesting to me, is the fact that Mr. Shaw is wrong. But it is equally true that the thing in Mr. Shaw most interesting to himself, is the fact that Mr. Shaw is right. Mr. Shaw may have none with him but himself; but it is not for himself he cares. It is for the vast and universal church, of which he is the only member.

(source: Heretics – Christian Classics Ethereal Library)

I suggest that it is worth meditating on how such a similarity comes to be.

A Pause for Thanks

Manuscript of Handel's Messiah

As some readers will doubtless know, the last week has been eventful in the Oklahoma City area.  Not, I urge, eventful in the same register as Ferguson, Missouri, or the ever-churning region from the border of Egypt to the edges of Turkey and the foothills of the Hindu Kush range.  In a manner not one whit less real, though, there has been an important conflict playing out.

I will continue my Nihilism case study series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3), which I think was made exigent by these circumstances, and in that I will explain the responses I could see as justified, and why, including the genius of this legal response.

For now, though, I want to provide some links to give fuller understanding and background information to those who may be interested.  I am, of course, a committed partisan in this matter–but I hope that all people of good will can see something of interest and of use in this confrontation with reality.

Let there be peace.  Let us make peace.  Let us understand what makes peace possible.

All in all, a most instructive episode.  Thanks be to God that the worst seems to have been averted!  And let us be concerned that it can so easily come to this, these days.


Luminous Matter

My last night in Tripoli, I had my first Internet connection in 44 days and was able to listen to a speech Tom Durkin gave for me at the Marquette vigil. To a church full of friends, alums, priests, students and faculty, I watched the best speech a brother could give for another. It felt like a best man speech and a eulogy in one. It showed tremendous heart and was just a glimpse of the efforts and prayers people were pouring forth. If nothing else, prayer was the glue that enabled my freedom, an inner freedom first and later the miracle of being released during a war in which the regime had no real incentive to free us. It didn’t make sense, but faith did.

(source: Phone call home | Features| Marquette Magazine)

Requiem aeternamin hora mortis nostraeAll of us.

“I wish I had more time. I wish I could have the hope for freedom to see my family once again,” he can be heard saying in the video.

(source: ISIS beheading U.S. journalist James Foley, posts video – CNN.com)

Obama was briefed about the video, and “he will continue to receive regular updates,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.

(source: ISIS beheading U.S. journalist James Foley, posts video – CNN.com)

“James was an innocent civilian who was bravely performing his job as a journalist,” Ayotte said. “This barbaric and heinous act shocks the conscience and highlights the truly evil nature of the terrorists we confront, who must be defeated.”

(source: ISIS beheading U.S. journalist James Foley, posts video – CNN.com)

Compare and note well:

I applaud for the Academy for wanting to honor the life and work of Robin Williams. By all accounts, this comedic genius was also an incredibly gentle and giving soul, and will be missed immensely.

But consciously or not, that image of a freed Genie calls to mind these pessimistic and ultimately dangerous conclusions – not only that suicide can be a valid escape, but that the world itself may be an invalid snare.

(source: Gnostics in the Bottle | Word On Fire)

The difference is clear.


Reasonable People Stand Up When Irrational Evil Acts Out

The general indifference to ISIS, with its mass executions of Christians and its deadly preoccupation with Israel, isn’t just wrong; it’s obscene.

(source: Who Will Stand Up for the Christians? – NYTimes.com)

Good people must join together and stop this revolting wave of violence. It’s not as if we are powerless. I write this as a citizen of the strongest military power on earth. I write this as a Jewish leader who cares about my Christian brothers and sisters.

(source: Who Will Stand Up for the Christians? – NYTimes.com)


Thank you.

(what’s on your agenda, folks?)