30 March 2011

Knowledge and Politics

I have just posted a new book review on a fascinating topic.

Among the topics I continue to read, concepts of Knowledge and Knowing fascinate me immensely. The official name for ideas of knowledge and learning is Epistemology. This is a whole branch of Philosophy and is a huge segment of modern Neurolinguistics and Neurophysiology.

Psychologists, Physiologists, Neurologists, Biochemists, Linguists, Anthropologists and Philosophers are among the specialists who study how we learn, how we know, and how we can verify and be sure of the certainty of our perceptions.

The relation between physical perception and mental understanding is a growing area in virtually every area of science today.

I have reviewed a recent book on this topic, additionally fascinating because the author looks at concepts of government and society. This book is a study of the political philosophy of Eric Voegelin's Political Theory.

Voegelin analyzes political systems and theories reflect concepts of Reality and our perceptions or assumptions about Reality. You will learn a lot about how political movements over the last 200 years relate to each other and our lives today.

Voegelin was a very practical thinker, but could see the trends and implications often overlooked in today's media madness of hype and dazzle. He analyzes concepts of knowledge, of epistemology. In short, this means he investigates the different ideas people have proposed about how we learn and know and how we can trust our sense of knowledge. How valid are our perceptions; how well can we trust what we think we know about reality?

My review links to other articles I have written on how we learn, know and conceive of Reality.

"The underlying theme all through this volume is Epistemology, the core of Voegelin's philosophy. Epistemology is the science or philosophy of knowledge, how we know, how we can substantiate, verify, and understand ourselves and the external world. Voegelin analyzes theories of worldview and consciousness, and deals with the role of religion in the problems of consciousness and government."
-- "Self and the World, Knowing Reality," my review of The Balance of Consciousness: Eric Voegelin's Political Theory (University Park/London: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1990. 194pp.)

19 March 2011

The Tutsi People

The unbelievable genocide in Rwanda was one of the landmark events of the 20th Century. At that time I wrote a short comment on the cultural background of that event. Discussion continued and a serries of articles developed, interacting with various people of different African ethnicities.

A reader in Uganda recently wrote with some thoughts on modern history involving invaders from the north that led to a dispersal of the ruling dynasty into various places in East Central Africa.

This led to a background piece on the deep pre-history of the Tutsi-Hutu conflict, focusing on possible origins of the Tutsi. In our discussion I tried to put in perspective the various waves of immigration that contributed to the current ethnicities around the Great Lakes of Africa.

Read that latest article in my Tutsi series, Tutsi and Chwezi: History and Pre-History.

For more on the Tutsi, Hutu and related peoples, see my other articles:

Hima, Ham and Cush
The Hima People of Eastern Africa
How Did the Tutsis Conquer?
The Nyankore of Uganda
Tutsi, Hutu and Hima – Cultural Background in Rwanda
Tutsi, Hutu and Germans
Tutsis – the Ethiopia-Somalia Connection

Read my review of the book on which Hotel Rwanda was based. True story by Paul Rusesabagina:
Anything But Ordinary

10 March 2011

Ash Wednesday Funeral

About 1500 worshipers in Arlington, Texas, observed Ash Wednesday, 9 March 2011, by attending the funeral of slain pastor Clint Dobson.

Clint was a very good friend. When Edith and I came back from Africa two years ago, Clint joined our sons and their families to meet us at the airport. We quickly grew close. I picked up my role as sax player in the church worship team, where I had participated over the years when we were in town. Clint and I would have coffee periodically and talk about books, study topics and his plans for the church.

This past week has been a torture of surrealism. The whole of Arlington and the broader Dallas-Ft Worth Metroplex were shocked at the initial news of Clint’s murder and the brutal beating of Clint's ministry assistant Judy Elliot in the church building, on Thursday 3 March 2011. The story was national news.

Friends and church members found themselves in various video footage of unfolding events as the news media kept the public informed of the developing story. In two days the Arlington Police had one perpetrator in custody, and before long tracked down the second, with the help of concerned local citizens who knew him.

The Arlington Pastors and Police Association, a chaplaincy and community relations group, with whom Clint had been active, comforted us as in a public prayer vigil on the front steps of NorthPointe on the night following the murder. The staff and members of the parent church, First Baptist Church, Arlington, led by Pastor Dennis Wiles and Pastor of Administration Terry Bertrand, enfolded the small NorthPointe family in care and support.

Edith and I are very thankful for a special gift whose import we could not have known the weekend before Clint was killed. Clint came by the house to return a book he had borrowed from me. This whole experience has been eerie, like reality has been suspended. At times still, when I think through this, when I remember discussions with Clint, when I think back to his precious last comments in our home that Saturday before his death on Thursday -- I am thankful, I am angry, I am puzzled, I am amazed, I am sad.

Clint was a voracious reader, he was always thinking, exploring, envisioning. When he and I would meet for coffee, he would talk about the authors he was reading, the current topic he was exploring and theological and social questions important to him.

I enjoyed sharing theological speculation and historical reflection with him. He was interested in perspectives we had learned from other cultures in our decades of life primarily in Africa. Clint liked to see different and fresh ways God was speaking into our human existence in His active Love.

Clint took Jesus' words seriously. He lived by faith and he loved people. He had a special rapport with children. Thank you, God, for the rich times we had with Clint, before he was taken from us.

Obituary and Condolence Book for Clinton Roderick Dobson

The Associated Baptist Press
Slain pastor laid to rest

Mourners filled First Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, March 9 to celebrate the life of a young mission pastor cut short by murder, while more than 500 others watched live on the Internet.

Funeral of Pastor Clint Dobson
NorthPointe Church Worship Service after Clint's murder
Clint's Last Blog on the NorthPointe Website
Memorial by Dr. Dennis R. Wiles, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church Arlington
Facebook Page Pray for NorthPointe

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