Searching for God Knows What. Donald Miller.

I’ve read a few Don Miller books and liked them all, and this one was no different…  While he rambles around a lot, he does provide good insight into issues of the Christian faith in a way not many other authors do (at least, that I’m aware of).  In this book he talks a lot about heirarchy’s in humanity, and how we are always striving to “get ahead,” or as the example in the book states, to be the last one left in the life boat…. And how that is so different from what Jesus portrays our lives should be like.

But rather than get into all that (since I’m so far behind), I just want to include one quote that he had of CS Lewis that really stood out to me:

Most of us are not really approaching the subject in order to find out what Christianity syas:  We are approaching it in the hope of finding support from Christianity for the views of our own party.  We are looking for an ally where we are offered either a Master — or a Judge.

Wow!  How true is that.  And how convicting.  So many of the “arguments” in front of the church today are voiced by people guilty of this.  And I’m certainly not saying I’m not guilty of it!  But that is one of the reasons that standing on 2000 years of church history for your theology may not be such a bad thing.

 

 

 

 

Onward. Howard Schultz.

[ I’ll preface this Reading Notebook post by once again saying how far behind I am on writing about books I’ve read and that I’ll try to catch up.  The one thing I’ve got going for me right now is that I’ve not been reading books as much, so that just might happen!]

I’ve always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with Starbucks, but one thing I do love is the business success story. Imagine starting with a single store just 30 years ago to now seeing one on just about every corner in a big city in the US.  But that is also one thing I don’t love — seeing SBUX everywhere.  Except when I want/need coffee.  🙂

See?  Love/hate.   (there’s more to it that just the ubiquity.. there’s the brew… there’s the sugar and all the things they add to coffee, which is just not necessary for good coffee, etc. etc…)

Anyway, this book documents Howard’s return to CEO after having resigned that role a few years prior, returning at a time when the company was really beginning to falter.  Some problems were due to the global economic crisis, but many problems had started earlier and were deeply interwoven into the company’s fabric.  The success SBUX has had since then has been remarkable, so the book is a good read just for that.

I’ll only comment on a couple of things:

1)  Pikes Place:  Howard raves about this coffee, how they were trying to reach a larger, mostly American population, and how everybody loves it.

Strategically, Pike Place Roast had the potential to be a powerful catalyst for and symbol of our transformation.

Sadly, I have to disagree…  I tried it at least 4 different times just to be certain — but I can’t stand it.  These days, if I’m getting a drip/brewed coffee, I’ll always go for the dark roast — anything but Pike’s!  And if there is not another option, I’ll order an Americano instead.

2) Clover:  I love the clover.  The brew this machine makes is excellent.  Granted, Starbucks only uses their “reserve” beans in it, and that may be part of the reason Clover coffee is so good, but I also think the process has much to do with it.  I was a French press man for years, but then switched to slow drip (since  I don’t brew a pot at home as I’m the only drinker…).  These days I love slow press — unless I’m near an SBUX with a clover.

First and most important, Clover makes a terrific cup of brewed coffee. A cross between a French press and a vacuum pot, Clover sucks water through the bottom of finely ground coffee instead of pressing water through the top, using a very fine filter that lets the coffee retain its best-tasting oils.

The transcendent little coffee machine born in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood produces one of the top five best-selling beverages at the more than 100 stores that serve it in cities in the United States and Canada. Clover is finding its way into more locations, giving customers an opportunity to enjoy the nuances of our traditional blends and the flavors of our exotic, smaller-batch Starbucks Reserve coffees.

I have to include a few quotes:

The Starbucks mission: To inspire and nurture the human spirit one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.

Historically, though, it is times like these, times of disruption, where America seems to discover its greatness.

I do think effective leaders share two intertwined attributes: an unbridled level of confidence about where their organizations are headed, and the ability to bring people along.

But in business as in life, people have to stay true to their guiding principles. To their cores. Whatever they may be. Pursuing short-term rewards is always shortsighted

The Perfect Health Diet

Before I start this post, I just want to note that I am a bit hesitant to use the word diet.  The typical connotation these days is a diet is used to lose weight, or perhaps to gain muscle.  But most of the books I have read and post about, diet is more a long term lifestyle change than a short term change.

With that being said, let me also say that I read this book 6-8 weeks ago — I’m still way behind on writing all my “reading notebook” blog posts!  But I did take about 30-45 minutes to review all my highlights in the book, to try to freshen it up in my memory a bit.  That is always beneficial!  🙂

Of all the Food/Diet/Paleo/Primal books I’ve read in the past year or so, this would be the one I most recommend to anyone asking.   Nina Plank’s Real Food would be up there too, though she is more preindustrial than pre-neolithic.  There’s nothing wrong with that of course, and with the recent move towards “Paleo 2.0,” where you only use evolutionary biology as a framework, while regarding current science and research and results quite high.  I won’t get into all those details here — go read Kurt Harris’s post above!

Of course, there are a couple of things I don’t fully agree with in PHD, which I’ll get to below, but I think this is the best plan overall and perhaps most accesible to both the scientific minded as well as those not quite so technical.

Rather than review the actual content and give a summary of the diet, let me just point you to the web page, which covers the everything in the book and more.  In fact, this link gives a high level overview of the recommendations:

http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?page_id=8

Of course, the book goes into much more detail and the science behind the reasoning, and is well worth the read.

There were a couple of things I did not agree with.  One such example is that they tend to discard egg whites and just eat the yolks, as “egg whites are almost entirely made of protein; we discard them to keep protein levels down.”  But overall, I would certainly recommend this book.

Running with Joy. Ryan Hall.

[ I’m so far behind on my “reading notebook,” but I’ll try to catch up over the next week or two!  Or three… ]

Going in to  this year’s Boston Marathon, I was a little low on running confidence due to slight lack of motivation and subsequent fairly light training load.  The night before I was reading the BAA’s Competitor’s Guide and found an excerpt from Ryan Hall’s new book, Running with Joy.  It was pretty good, so I downloaded the book to my kindle app.  I thought that if I read the introduction and his entry on race day that very night, that maybe I’d find a little spark…

The book starts with a couple of Bible verses, though this one is most relevant:

These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. — JOHN 15:11

Goes well with the 1st catechism in the Westminister Shorter Catechism:

What is the chief end of man?  Man’s chief end is to glorify God an to enJOY Him forever…

Most of the book is Hall’s training journal along with his thoughts and reflections leading up to Boston last year.   Hall is a very devout Christian and walks (runs?) with God in all he does, as he reflects on his running, racing, and life as he journals his training.

The final entry covers the actual 2010 race for Hall, when, though he didn’t win, he found what he was looking for — Joy in running.  I do think the book helped me find my own Joy in the 2011 race.  I ran much faster than I expected I would (could!), and I had joy for most of the race!  The final six miles were a bit of a slog, but I only slowed a little and I’m still quite happy with how I ran.

A few quotes:

  • My body responds best when I go to the well only on race day.
  • Being okay with running slower than I have before and being patient enough to not force all my workouts to be at that same level is very challenging.
  • The only way to prepare for the pavement is to practice on the pavement.
  • In a world where it is all about the guy on the top step of the podium and we are defined and define ourselves by the time on our watch, at the end of the day I am trying to spread the word that it ultimately isn’t all about that.
  • Enjoyment is a big part of unlocking our hidden potential.
  • Pushing yourself to the brink is an acquired skill. It develops with time and practice and takes self-confidence and the boldness to test the body’s limit.

In the Heart of the Sea. Nathaniel Philbrick.

My good friend Chris G. suggested I read this — in fact he bought it for me and dropped it off in my mailbox one day.  🙂   As far as survival stories, it started a bit slow compared to Unbroken and Endurance.  But once it got going, it was really good.

The Whaleship Essex and its tale are the basis of Herman Melville’s Mobey Dick.  The funny thing is, the whole time I was reading this book, the story seemed so familiar.  I thought that was due to me having read Mobey Dick, but it turns out, according to my “reading notebook” from 2000, I read it all the way back then!  See this web page — before there were blogging tools.  In fact, at that time, this book inspired me to read Mobey Dick, which I wrote about here… Again, before there were blogging tools.  Here is what I wrote about Mobey Dick back then:

Wow, finally done!  The dates listed above are correct — it took me about 7 months to finish this book.  (Of course, I did read many others in that time!)  I decided I really wanted to read this after reading “In the Heart of the Sea,” which is a true story of a whale ramming a ship and causing it to sink (and likely Melville’s inspiration for Moby Dick).  I had to read a few chapters of this back in high school, but I don’t remember much of it anyway, and if I did do much back then, it was probably with Cliff Notes.  The book is definitely worth the read — I’m not sure there is anything else quite like it.  It is certainly not an “easy read,” though, and that is why it took me so long.  I often put it down for a month or more at a time.   There is so much detail on so many things — often chapters of several pages devoted to something as simple as a rope, or more complicated as the whole study of whales as known to Melville in his time.  But often these chapters are filled with symbolism of humanity, life, religion, etc.  Again, worth the read, though it’s not easy.

If you like adventure stories and stories of survival in extreme circumstances, In the Heart of the Sea is an excellent read.

Radical. Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream. David Platt.

Wow, I  started this post almost 2 months ago and forgot it… I’m so far behind on posting in my reading notebook category!

David Platt became “the youngest megachurch pastor in history,” a claim he may dispute but likely is true.  At 28, he became the pastor of a  4000+ church.  Amazing story of someone who is living an amazing life.  This book is well worth the read for any Christian in America.  It really makes you question a lot of things about your faith and how that relates (does it?) to the American Dream.

  • We live in a church culture that has a dangerous tendency to disconnect the grace of God from the glory of God. Our hearts resonate with the idea of enjoying God’s grace. We bask in sermons, conferences, and books that exalt a grace centering on us. And while the wonder of grace is worthy of our attention, if that grace is disconnected from its purpose, the sad result is a self-centered Christianity that bypasses the heart of God
  • Here we stand amid an American dream dominated by self-advancement, self-esteem, and self-sufficiency, by individualism, materialism, and universalism.
  • I could not help but think that somewhere along the way we had missed what is radical about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable. (Emphasis mine)
  • We were settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves.
  • We are giving in to the dangerous temptation to take the Jesus of the Bible and twist him into a version of Jesus we are more comfortable with. A nice, middle-class, American Jesus.
  • As long as you and I understand salvation as checking off a box to get to God, we will find ourselves in the meaningless sea of world religions that actually condemn the human race by exalting our supposed ability to get to God.
  • The dangerous assumption we unknowingly accept in the American dream is that our greatest asset is our own ability. The American dream prizes what people can accomplish when they believe in themselves and trust in themselves, and we are drawn toward such thinking. But the gospel has different priorities. The gospel beckons us to die to ourselves and to believe in God and to trust in his power.

Unbroken. A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption. Laura Hillenbrand.

This book was mentioned to me, somewhat in passing, by my old physical therapist.  My wife has a knee injury and is now seeing him, and I wanted to go to listen in on the diagnosis and prescribed exercises.  While I am a layman compared to a PT or a Doctor, I became a bit of a knee expert in my own when I went through so many problems in the past.  His description sounded intriguing, so I immediately picked it up, which in today’s terms means I downloaded it to my kindle app on my iPad.  🙂   I was instantly hooked.

The story is of Louie Zamperini, who was a kid struggling to stay out of trouble, when he discovered running. Within a short time, he had broken the national high school record in the mile at 4:21 in a 1934 preliminary meet.  He did not qualify for the Olympics in the mile so decided to try the 5k, and on his 3rd race at that distance, finished in a dead heat with world-record holder Don Lash.  While he only placed 8th in the 5k at the Olympics, his last lap was so fast (56 seconds!!) that Hitler asked to meet him personally.    In 1938, he won the NCAA Championship in a time of 4:08.3 — while his opponents tried to slow him.  He finished with a cracked rib, punctured shins, and an impaled toe!  Many thought he would be the 1st to break the 4:00 barrier in the mile, but along came World War II.

In World War II, Louie became a bomber in a B-24.  On one of his flight missions, the plane goes down and Louie and two others drifted on the pacific for 47 days, catching birds and fish as best they could, and rain water in small tins.  (One of the three died before they were rescued.)  Unfortunately, the rescuers were Japanese, so Louie then spends a lot of time in various Japanese POW camps, under abhorrent conditions.

I guess if I tell much more of the story, you may not read the book.  It is so worth reading… Fantastic book if you like running, US history, World War II, or biographies that read like novels.

As always, a few quotes:

Given the dismal record of raft-bound men, Mac’s despair was reasonable. What is remarkable is that the two men who shared Mac’s plight didn’t share his hopelessness. Though Phil was constantly wondering how long this would go on, it had not yet occurred to him that he might die. The same was true for Louie. Though they both knew that they were in an extremely serious situation, both had the ability to warn fear away from their thoughts, focusing instead on how to survive and reassuring themselves that things would work out

  • Without dignity, identity is erased. In its absence, men are defined not by themselves, but by their captors and the circumstances in which they are forced to live.
  • Dignity is as essential to human life as water, food, and oxygen. The stubborn retention of it, even in the face of extreme physical hardship, can hold a man’s soul in his body long past the point at which the body should have surrendered it.
  • The paradox of vengefulness is that it makes men dependent upon those who have harmed them, believing that their release from pain will come only when they make their tormentors suffer.
  • All he had left was his alcohol and his resentment, the emotion that, Jean Améry would write, “nails every one of us onto the cross of his ruined past.”
  • His conviction that everything happened for a reason, and would come to good, gave him a laughing equanimity even in hard times

 

The Paleo Diet for Athletes. Loren Cordain and Joel Friel.

Rather than do the kind of review I normally do (which aren’t typical reviews anyway), I’m going to highlight the points in this book that I find different from current paleo/primal views of folks like Robb Wolf and his Paleo Solution (PS) and Mark Sisson and his Primal Blueprint (PB).  Both of those books have been published in the past year or less, while The Paleo Diet for Athletes (PDA) was published back in 2005.  I do understand that Cordain is working on a new book, so I think it will be quite interesting to see what his take is on a few items that are much different in Wolf and Sisson.

The 1st differences I want to talk about are those between endurance athletes and the typical people PS and PB are addressed to.  While Sisson comes from a background as an endurance athlete (competitive Ironman triathlete and marathoner) he now thinks that kind of cardio is bad for you.  In fact, he dubs it Chronic Cardio and outlines the problems associated with it, at least as he sees them(*).  Wolf has more of a background with strength and crossfit type of exercise.  So in both cases, they are pretty high on low carb., which is much different than PDA.  I should note that on Wolf’s podcast he often talks about using carbs such as sweet potatoes and yams immediately following a workout, so that part is not different.  But PDA is much higher on fruits in general.  PDA specifically outlines periods of carb consumption as high as 50 percent, and at some limited periods 60%, of total caloric intake.   I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Wolf give a specific percentage — he’s pretty much against calorie counting for the most part (though there are times he sees the benefits), and Sisson talks of 100 – 150 carbs max as ideal (and sometimes suggests much less).  Even at 2500 calories, 150g of carbs would be 25 percent of intake, so you can see the large difference.

The other recommendations that I am really surprised by are listed below, because these seem quite different from current recommendations:

  • the recommendation of canola oil by PDA.  while PS doesn’t mention it specifically from what I recall, PB is adamantly against it
  • PDA recommends to steer clear of saturated fat, while it seems like the current paleo folks are ok with it, particularly if it is grass fed organic meat.  PDA recommends trimming all visible fats before cooking.
  • PDA recommends lean meats over fatty meats… This is one I’d like to dig more into to see what PB/PS/paleo folks are saying… All I recall are that any meat is ok, and in fact at least one blog (hunter gather love ??) talked about why lean meat won’t cut it on a truly paleo diet.  Seems like most current paleo thought is that fatty meat is actually good and necessary (to get enough caloric load)
  • PDA recommended agains canned fish like sardines and herring, while PS and PB both seem to be for it.
  • PDA says 15 minutes of sunlight per day is enough for adequate vitamin D, even in the winter, while both PB and PS are big into supplementation — as much as several thousand mg per day of D3.  (but both recommend regular blood testing as vit D can be toxic)
  • As mentioned above, PDA is high on any fruit any time, while PS and PB want to limit fruits due to their insulin load.  I do take it from Wolf that this is more individualized, and that if you are lean and healthy, more fruit is ok.  I sure hope so!  🙂
  • PDA has ZERO mention of coconut oil from what I can find, while PB and PS are high on it.  I’ve really enjoyed learning to use it the past couple of months.
  • PDA says to limit eggs to no more than 6 per week.  I explicitly recall on the PS podcast recently that they don’t agree with this unless you have some kind of allergy; otherwise, they are all for lots of eggs.  I make 5 egg omelets for breakfast sometimes!  I definitely eat more than 6 per week most weeks.

Finally, I would just say I was really surprised by PDA’s talk of following the American Heart Associations recommendations of limiting saturated fat to less than 10% of overall calories and limiting dietary cholesterol.  Maybe I’m too deep into Gary Taube’s “Good Calories Bad Calories” right now, which seems to blow apart this hypothesis, but it also seems to go agains PB and PS and all the other paleo blogs out there!

(*) Suffice it to say that I don’t fully agree with Sisson on his views of Chronic Cardio.  I do think that for people that work out 5-6 days per week at 90%+ maximum heart rate, there is a problem.  You definitely need to mix it up with lower effort level aerobics as well as short sprints and “lifting heavy things.”  I wonder if he would be cool if I explained to him my view that my ultra running is part of my “play time.”  🙂

The 4-Hour Body. Timothy Ferriss.

When I first started to hear the buzz about this book, I really was not interested.  I had a feeling I wouldn’t like Tim Ferriss — the title of his first book, which was a best seller, was “The Four Hour Work Week.”  That kind of put me off, for some odd reason.  And while I still have not read that book, I understand now that it s more about time management than actually working just four hours a week, so that changes my initial uninformed thoughts.

Anyway, back  to the buzz.  I really wasn’t interested, even though the original, working title was “Becoming Superhuman.” (Who’s not interested in *that* kind of book?)  But the publishers wanted to play off the success of his first book.  What really got me was the interview Tim did with Robb Wolf and Andy Deas on the Paleo Solution, when Tim started talking about “pre-hab” and the exercises he used to find and correct imbalances in his body.  That has long been a fascination of mine, due to what I already know are weaknesses (imbalances in strength) but weaknesses that I’ve found hard to correct.  It is my assumption that those imbalances are what causes a body to be injury prone — thus the notion of “pre hab.”

So I broke down and bought the book.  It is best to view this book as a reference book.  Read the 1st two chapters or so, and then pick out what you want.  For example, there are chapters on losing all kinds of weight.  I don’t need to do that.  There are chapters about putting all kinds of muscle on, and I also don’t need to do that.  There are chapters on going from a 5k to a 50k in twelve weeks, which were quite interesting to me, though not that useful (since I have already run that distance).  There were chapters on holding your breath for really long periods of time, which were interesting.  (Way back when — when I was a swimmer — I held my breath for 2 minutes 20 seconds.  On my 2nd try with Tim’s method, I hit 2:30!  I’m sure I could go over 3 with a few more practice attempts.)

Tim basically was a self experimenting machine for the past 10 years, and this book recounts his successes (mostly, with a few failures), with all kinds of crazy things that are much outside of conventional wisdom.  I myself find “CW” is often not right, so it was definitely an interesting read, though I’m not sure it is for everyone.  Definitely on the geeky side of things with the science behind the experiments.  (He talks about why new technology is often out of reach of the masses, much of it due to economics.  The cutting edge scientists, with new methodologies and treatments, are maybe 20 years ahead of the mainstream.  They are a limited resource, so it is those with money that get the treatments.  Typically professional athletes and hollywood stars. It takes time for these technologies to trickle down.)

I’m still playing with the pre-hab movements, of which he only gives 4 — the 4 that will have the best effect on the wides audience — and the chop and lift and single arm standing dead lift definitely show what I already know (my right side, especially the hip stabilizers, is week), but I am quite intrigued by having a real “Functional Movement Screening,” done which looks for imbalances and gives specific exercises (beyond the main 4 that Tim discusses) for each such imbalance/weakness.

Some quotes:

  • Does history record any case in which the majority was right? —Robert Heinlein
  • “The future is already here—it is just unevenly distributed.”
  • “Fifty percent of what we know is wrong. The problem is that we do not know which 50% it is.”
  • Somewhere along the line, we seem to have confused comfort with happiness. —Dean Karnazes
  • Ugly, and ultimately painful, postural compensation is unavoidable when wearing shoes that elevate the heels. This simple observation somehow escaped me for 30 years, until CrossFit Chicago instructor Rudy Tapalla introduced me to Vibram Five Finger shoes, which look like gloves for your feet.
  • absorb what is useful, discard what is useless, and add what is uniquely your own. — Bruce Lee
  • Motion is created by the destruction of balance. —Leonardo da Vinci
  • The Cartesian separation of mind and body is false. They’re reciprocal. Start with the precision of changing physical
  • All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

I didn’t know there was such a thing as a trailer for a book, but there is, and here’s 4hB’s trailer:

A much longer (and better!) review is located here.

Proper Confidence. Lesslie Newbigin.

This was a fantastic read, though I have to say the 1st half was much better than the 2nd.  The 2nd half, in the conclusions, was a bit of a let down for me personally.  Perhaps after such a well-reasoned and well said introduction, where everything just clicks and makes sense, the second half didn’t lead to any new and startling revelations (for me).   However, I would say it is still worth it for any Christian that wants a better understanding of the world views that existed pre-Christianity in the Western World (namely Greek and Jewish thought), how Christianity challenged and changed them, and how the Enlightenment really changed the game and led us to where we are today.

Newbigin starts with the differences between Jewish and Greek thought, especially with respect to knowledge (epistemology), what changed with Christianity, and then goes through the early centuries following Christ, tracing the changes with respect to knowledge over time.  For example, for Plato, “the ultimate realities were ideas, which are more or less fully realized in the various entities which are the objects of our experience.”  By grasping these ideas and participating in them, the soul attains its true being and salvation.  (The idea of “Good” is the apex of this hierarchy of  ideas.)  Yet, Augustine said “credo ut intelligam,” or “I believe in order to know.”  There is an element of (biblical) faith in knowledge that is lacking in Plato and is a radical departure from Greek thought.

Along came Descarte (many centuries later, of course, but we don’t need to dig too deeply into the Dark Ages, do we?), who had a goal to build indubitable knowledge on the foundation of skepticism.  He says “I think, therefore I am,” and now all knowledge starts with the individual.  (I’m skipping huge chunks of the book and moving fast, but you should be able to see that such a believe leads to post modernism, the lack of objective truth, and relativism.)

Newbigin then follows Western thought through Kant, and Kant’s arguments for God and ultimate reality based on moral and aesthetic experience.  And through the Enlightenment (The Age of Reason), where our view (humanity’s) became that Reason is the only path to reliable knowledge.  (In Deep Church, Belcher talks about Foundationalism, and that was the 1st time when I started to be able to put into words what I had felt for some time — that we sometimes need something beyond Reason — to describe things such as certainly in Faith. (But then again, there is a problem with “Faith without Doubt…”)

He goes on to argue that we are in the midst of a great collapse of confidence due to the ramifications and limitations of the models of the Enlightenment, including the collapse in European culture as well as the collapse of the confidence in the validity of the church’s worldwide missionary enterprise.  (At least he goes after his own…)

Ok, this could get really deep and long if I’m not careful.  That’s not the purpose here.   Maybe the above, along with a few more tidbits below, will be enough to entice you if you like to read this kind of book.

Random thoughts and quotes:

I liked both of these — let’s look for the good on both sides!

From the point of view of the fundamentalist, doubt is sin; from the point of view of the liberal, the capacity for doubt is a measure of intellectual integrity and honesty.

In addition to ascribing these accusations, labels, and genuine differences over doubt to both sides in this quarrel, it is also right to ascribe moral virtues to them: Liberalism at its best is marked by an open mind which is humble and ready to learn. Fundamentalism at its best is marked by a moral courage which holds fast to the truth even when it is assailed by counterclaims from without.

I don’t know why, but the subject object duality that first entered my life in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance keeps popping up in strange and unexpected places:

The second dualism, closely related to the first, is that dualism expressed by the words “objective” and “subjective.”

I feel like I am strong on gratitude, but after reading the following quote I wonder if I fall short on Trust:

But it the biblical story is true, the kind of certainty proper to a human being will be one which rests on the fidelity of God, not upon the competence of the human knower. It will be a kind of certainty which is inseparable from gratitude and trust.

I still haven’t figure out why this is the case (:-/):

Kurt Godel’s demonstration that the fundamental axioms of mathematics are not self-justifying does not seem to have weakened the influence of the idea of mathematical certainty.

And a few more:

But we are left in a world which the Chinese writer Carver Yu has summarized in the phrase “technological optimism and literary despair.” Looking at contemporary Western society from his standpoint as a Chinese philosopher and theologian, he sees not only the unstoppable dynamism of our science-based technology but also the bleak nihilism and hopelessness that is reflected in the literature, art, and drama of our society.

With hindsight, it is now easy to see how many of the self-evident truths of the Enlightenment were self-evident only to those who were the heirs of a thousand years of Christian teaching. They were not self-evident to the peoples of India or Africa.

The modern antithesis of observation and reason on the one hand versus revelation and faith on the other is only tenable on the basis of a prior decision that the whole cosmic and human story has no purpose and therefore no meaning. It is possible to make this assumption, but it is not necessary.  The question whether the cosmos and human life within it have any purpose other than the individual purposes we seek to impose on things is one that cannot be decided by observation.