Thursday, June 16, 2016

The 19th Century Defines Modern American Society

posted by Rachel Tuley

Image result for NYC skyline

Today's American society is defined by technology, consumerism, and modernism; however, the current state of this country stands as it is today largely due to the effects of the 19th century. Inventions that resulted from industrialization paved the way for many of the commodities that we consider commonplace. Romanticism encouraged many of the religious beliefs found among US citizens today.

Without the 19th century, I feel confident saying that we as US citizens would not enjoy many of the comforts that we do today.

Thoughts About Petrarchan Humanist Philosophy for My Brother

Thursday, June 16, 2016
Dear Rhen, 

This semester, I have learned about the importance of making connections from the past to the present through self-directed learning. In my Rhetoric and Western Civilizations 2 class, Professor Gideon Burton encouraged us to dig into primary sources; experience time periods through a number of hands-on activities, like visiting museums, going to plays, baking food, creating art, or composing music (see Gideon Burton's post A Guide to Self-directed Learning for more details). 

One time period that particularly interested me was the Renaissance because of its humanist philosophy. One of the very first humanist thinkers was Petrarch, a 14th-century philosopher. Petrarch rediscovered Greek classics detailing the importance of human accomplishment but also enjoyed the teachings of recent Christian scholars such as St. Augustine. Petrarch asserted that individual accomplishment enhances rather than detracts from faith. In a world steeped with secular humanism, which asserts that the purpose of life is altruistic human accomplishment and the nonexistence of God, we can look to Petrarch to understand how individual human accomplishment can inspire us to live our faith rather than leading us to believe that God doesn't exist because we don't need Him. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A Thought About Communism for my Sister

I know that you don't care much for socialist ideas that Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels brought about.  I don't even agree with it all myself, but we need to recognize the ideas that have seeped into our own society that actually do work.  The Japanese would say "mottainai" if we completely ignored the ideas they came up with.  

Despite the historical figures like Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin using their "communism" to make themselves head of fascist states, Marx and Engels talked mostly about making the working class strong and not whole dependent on the the rich class that they refer to as the bourgeois.  Some ideas we haven’t adopted like the “Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.” and the “Abolition of all rights of inheritance.” as the stated in their manifesto.  We generally think of this redistribution of land when we think of communism.  However, a few ideas our country and many others have adopted readily.  

Ideas we had that we didn’t realize are communist:

A State of Mind for Peace


In your last letter you wrote about how you are having a hard time getting along with your roommate. While I can understand your point of view, I think that it would be good for you and Tanner to figure out how to better communicate and solve your problems together. Have you thought about why you seem to be getting into arguments? Let me share an insight from an Enlightenment philosopher about social order that will help you to think about your motives and hopefully help you reestablish your friendship on better grounds of communication.  

Please "Romanticize" Your World

Dear Kate,

Remember how you told me the other day about our cousin Sam’s comments during your walk in the woods? How she loved to be “one with nature” and how it made you want to barf? Well, maybe her words and actions don’t always line up, considering she always just wants to take a picture for Instagram and get out of whatever “nature” she’s experiencing, but I DID want to try to help you understand what she meant by her statements. It’s not something to be scoffed at. Nature, I mean. When “becoming one with nature” is done right, it does a lot of good. 

You might have heard of “Romanticism.” It was in full-swing in the early 1800s. Basically, during this time, people focused on being individuals, having new ideas, feeling strong emotions (of all kinds), reminiscing about the past, and loving nature. In my mind, it was a beautiful time of collective vulnerability. In 1854, a man named Henry David Thoreau published a book called “Walden.” It is about his life living in the woods by himself. He spend two years living in cabin near Walden Pond. Here’s what he said about why he did it:

Speak Out

Let Your Voice Be Heard

How many online petitions do you see swirling around social media these days. How many posts plead that we will like and share them so they can get their voice heard.

Why is this? it is because we believe that 
One Person Can Make a Difference

True Love and the Reformation

by Talmage Cromar

Anais mi amor,

I know how much you dislike studying history and reading about dead people who lived long ago because you feel that it has no relevance in your life. I feel differently and wanted to write and tell you why I love history and why I feel that it is relevant to our lives.

Specifically I wanted to talk about the Reformation. On the surface it may sound boring but hold on, it is really important. Before the 1500's, very few people knew what was in the scriptures, specifically the Bible. Literacy was low and the church's stranglehold on its canonical documents was firm. The very concept of religious freedom did not exist yet. Everyone was a member of the state church and had to believe what the priests told them.

All of this changed though when brave men, rebelled against authority to follow their consciences. Men like Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wycliffe and others protested against immoral church practices and sought to translate and disseminate the scriptures to the common people. Gutenburg assembled and invented the printing press and these scriptures were then spread among the people, elevating literacy and personal worship.

Today we enjoy religious freedom and thought and especially religious scholarship that would not have existed without these brave men in the Reformation. I have personally benefited from this as I have the scriptures in my language and additional resources to understand them and have received spiritual answers when I needed them. My personal worship is more sincere because I have studied the foundation of my faith. I am free to believe and exercise my religious beliefs as I choose because the reformation influenced the founders of our nation who established freedom of religion as a right for all people. My life is deeply enriched from all this.

So why does this matter to you? Because you are a deeply religious person and without these men doing incredibly daring things at a dangerous time, you would be unable to express your beliefs. You probably would not even have those beliefs as they would have remained inaccessible to you.

The Reformation was a critical period of time in our world's history. It opened up freedom of belief and thought. With this freedom of religion and thought, we were able to be sealed together in one of God's temples for time and all eternity. A blessing that wouldn't have existed otherwise. So, while you may feel that history has no relevence in your life, think again. Think about our little family and you will remember that we stand on the shoulders of giants.

With love from your husband,

Talmage Cromar