All posts by James Cain

Husband of one, father of three, avid reader, headmaster, etc.

Daily Questions

“They do not know him who is the Way, your Word through whom you made those very things they are reckoning, together with themselves who do the reckoning, and the senses with which they perceive the things they reckon, and the mind with which they reckon; yet your wisdom is beyond reckoning.”
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, on prideful natural philosophers (V.3.v)
As a student, I find it easy to forget that my work (or my study, if you will) is an act of worship that is defined by its object and revealed by its telos (goal). So I am faced every day with questions:
  • Will I worship achievement–academic or otherwise?
  • Will I worship work–being better, more efficient, etc?
  • Will I worship acclaim–the approval of those I work with and for?
Or, will I worship the one True God–knowing that all I am and have and know and do comes as a gift from Him; prayerfully working for His glory and good; and trusting Him whatever the result?
Augustine’s prayer of safety in God’s goodness makes perfect sense then.
O Lord our God,
grant us to trust in your overshadowing wings:
protect us beneath them and bear us up.
You will carry us as little children,
and even to our grey-headed age you will carry us still.
When you are our strong security, that is strength indeed,
but when our security is in ourselves, that is but weakness.
Our good abides ever in your keeping,
but in diverting our steps from you we have grown perverse.
Let us turn back to you at last, Lord, that we be not overturned.
Unspoilt, our good abides with you,
for you are yourself our good.
We need not fear to find no home again
because we have fallen away from it;
while we are absent our home falls not to ruins,
for our home is your eternity.
Advertisements

Only the Pop Remains

“Alienation breeds a distrust that corrodes any collective effort. To be “woke” in the alienated culture is to embrace the most cynical interpretation of every situation, to assume bad intent in every actor, to imagine the conspiratorial malevolence of your foes.” (David Brooks​, http://nyti.ms/2rhLkCk)

Both political sides have experienced alienation over the past year: the ‘right’ in the months leading up the election; the ‘left,’ in its aftermath. Both have used it to their advantage. Both continue to use it to fuel their speech and actions.

But I’m not sure one can do much with alienation after it’s spent–usually in acquiring some kind of power. Or whether one can unite a coalition, much less a country, powered by alienation.

It’s like the ‘fuel’ in bottle rockets. Only the ‘pop’ remains.

Streaming Video and McLuhan’s 4 Laws

After reading about the tragedy of a 12-year-old Georgia girl, who streamed her suicide, I have to wonder about streaming technology’s ubiquity. What criteria should we use to evaluate such technologies, which have great capacity for good and evil? Marshall McLuhan, the father of media ecology studies, suggested a Media tetrad, 4 “Laws of Media.” Continue reading Streaming Video and McLuhan’s 4 Laws

Goodreads and the Quantified Self

That trackability—that ability to have a quantified self of the mind—proved to be a draw for many of Goodreads’ 50 million users. Sharing a well-lit photo of a sandwich on Insta doesn’t say much except whether you prefer white or wheat; posting about our reading choices allows people to see the worlds we conjure up in our quiet moments. Is it oversharing? Maybe, but at least we’re reading, right?