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Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

The title of this poem is an oxymoron.  That’s the point.

Jacques Derrida–the Father of PoMo

THE LOGIC OF POST-MODERNISM

“Logic’s nothing but a verbal trick,”

Post-Modern thinkers often like to claim.

They work quite hard to make that judgment stick.

All those who don’t agree are simply thick,

Incompetent to play the language game

Where logic’s nothing but a verbal trick.

It’s all a plot by Dead White Males to kick

Non-Westerners and keep them meek and tame?

Well, that’s one way to make their judgment stick.

“Is there a Text in this class?”  Don’t be quick

To ask if there’s a prof to ask the same,

For logic’s nothing but a verbal trick.

All truth is surreptitious rhetoric,

For words call only other words by name;

The will to power makes this judgment stick!

You say it all sounds just a bit too slick?

Shh!  Shh!  Don’t give the game away—for shame!

If Logic’s nothing but a verbal trick,

What logic then can make that judgment stick?

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016), An Encouraging Thought: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018), and The Young Christian’s Survival Guide: Common Questions Young Christians Are Asked about God, the Bible, and the Christian Faith Answered (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2019)!  Order from the publisher or Amazon.

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Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

 The trivium is grammar, logic, and rhetoric.  Why are they the foundation of all learning?  Because grammar is the art of how to say something, logic of how to say something valid, and rhetoric of how to say something well, applied to what Matthew Arnold called “the best that has been thought and done in the world.”  Our own educational system has not improved since we moved it off of that foundation.

THE GOAL OF THE TRIVIUM

Commentary, Proverbs 9:1-6

Old mysteries await fresh revelation.

Such ideas ought of right to be presented

In royal garments, rich and ornamented,

Befitting their high lineage and station.

Heraldic manuscript illumination

In Celtic knotwork swirled and brightly tinted

For metaphors and the meanings they have hinted:

The setting beckons us, an invitation.

 

What now seems quaint and esoteric lore

Was once the simple bedrock of our thought:

First principles and their elucidation.

That’s partly what the wondrous words were for—

Despite our darkness, they can still be caught:

Faint echoes of the ancient Conversation.

This post is highly logical.

Donald T. Williams, PhD

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016) and “An Encouraging Thought”: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018)!

Appearance or Rationality?

Yesterday I posted the following comment as my status on Facebook:

“After several years of getting drawn in to various debates on Facebook, I have come to a conclusion. About 95% of the people commenting care nothing whatsoever about evidence or chains of reasoning or the search for truth. They are concerned only with what statements will make them appear cool, intelligent, or with it to whatever group they are trying to impress.”

Not a person I was describing.
Not a person I was describing.

The response–an unusually high number of “likes” and not a few comments–suggested I had hit a nerve.  All of those commenting basically agreed with me.  Either I was in the group they were trying to impress, or I had just attracted all the rational exceptions to the rule.  (Either generalization would probably be dangerous!)

The bottom line is that, while there are many exceptions, the level of rational discourse of which our contemporaries seem capable is distressingly low.  Many apparently think that assertion is evidence, insult is rebuttal, shouting is argument, and repetition is exposition.  It’s not just that they try to get away with these substitutions; they apparently really cannot tell the difference.  They respond to the caricature that is already in their head of the position they are arguing against, ignoring the actual argument that has just been placed before them.

Shakespeare's Grammar School.  He learned to read Latin there.
Shakespeare’s Grammar School. He learned to read Latin there.

How is it that more people are consuming more higher education than ever before while getting so little benefit from it?  There are many reasons.  The expansion of educational opportunity in itself brings a lowering of standards.  Addiction to electronic media has decimated attention spans.  Public figures set terrible examples.  (The entire senate race my state is currently living through consists of one candidate implying that the other is a closet communist and his opponent characterizing him as a Robber Baron; each has called the other a liar, though not in so many words.  Discussion of any actual issues or political principles has been notably absent.)  The media reinforces a focus on soundbytes over reasoned civic discourse. Too many parents no longer teach their kids to practice self-discipline or to take responsibility for their time and be accountable for their actions.  So what’s even a good teacher to do when they get to school?  A climate of Post-Modern relativism cultivates cynicism about truth with a corresponding reluctance to engage in the rigorous disciplines required seriously to pursue it.  All these things make it harder to overcome the basic intellectual laziness and dishonesty that is our legacy from the Fall of Man.

No comment necessary.
No comment necessary.

If you have not yet completely fallen prey to these enemies of the mind, push back against them when you have the opportunity and set a better example when you can.  You’d better.  Otherwise these logic-deficient, evidence-impervious, educated morons that annoy you on Facebook will be the people sitting on our juries and electing our next congress and president.  Oh, wait; it’s worse than that.  They already are.

A book that fights back against the encroaching darkness.
A book that fights back against the encroaching darkness.

Donald T. Williams is R. A. Forrest Scholar at Toccoa Falls College and President of the International Society of Christian Apologetics.  To order his books from Lantern Hollow Press, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/

God and Truth

God is a God of truth. He cannot lie; He cannot contradict Himself; He will not fail to keep His word. You can depend on these truths when living your life or when constructing your theology.

Lewis at work
Lewis at work

C. S. Lewis did so with confidence because he understood that what to us are “rules” of logic and truthfulness (like the law of non-contradiction) are simply the practical articulation of who He is as a God of covenant faithfulness. He therefore “owns” those rules in a far more profound sense than just having arbitrarily made them up and imposed them. And that is why Aslan can ask the searching rhetorical question, “Do you think I wouldn’t obey my own rules?” (VDT 170).

Interested in the case for God?  For more on the Christian world view, check out Dr. Williams' book REFLECTIONS FROM PLATO'S CAVE, in the Lantern Hollow E-store.
Interested in the case for God? For more on the Christian world view, check out Dr. Williams’ book REFLECTIONS FROM PLATO’S CAVE, in the Lantern Hollow E-store.