Meditation for Tuesday of Week 21 in the season of Growth

Making Distinctions

A six-month-old child is in the process of mastering certain distinctions. He picks up a cloth toy and strikes it against his head; then he does the same thing with a wooden block. The child has experienced the distinction between soft and hard.

Nothing clearly delineates hard from soft. Most people probably would say that wood is hard. Yet some woods are said to be soft, as opposed to others that are said to be hard. In science, the distinction may not even correspond to common understanding.

In this model, we are describing distinctions as they correspond to human experience. This makes considerable sense in a model that offers a Way of ethical and religious living. Homo sapiens is a species that employs distinctions as a means of orientation: good and bad, good and evil, wisdom and folly, courage and cowardice, love and hate, and love and indifference, etc.

We are nearly halfway through a model that proposes a framework for a set of such distinctions. My intention is to offer a complete and systematic framework for a religious life grounded in a commitment to the worth and dignity of all persons, and scientific naturalism. All constructive suggestions and criticisms are welcome.

Real

Imaginary

Visual Arts

Music: Composers, artists, and major works

Béla Bartók composed numerous short pieces for piano, each piece expressing one musical idea. To most ears, Bartók’s music is far from simple, yet in their brevity and succinctness, Bartók’s piano pieces capture the idea of gaining knowledge one small step at a time.

Other compositions:

Albums:

  • Third Coast Percussion, “Archetypes
  • Roger Eno and Brian Eno, “Mixing Colours”: each track is titled as a color.
  • Matthew Shipp Horn Quartet, “Strata

 

Poetry

When I died, the circulating library

Which I built up for Spoon River,

And managed for the good of inquiring minds,

Was sold at auction on the public square,

As if to destroy the last vestige

Of my memory and influence.

For those of you who could not see the virtue

Of knowing Volney's "Ruins" as well as Butler's "Analogy"

And "Faust" as well as "Evangeline,"

Were really the power in the village,

And often you asked me,

"What is the use of knowing the evil in the world?"

I am out of your way now, Spoon River,

Choose your own good and call it good.

For I could never make you see

That no one knows what is good

Who knows not what is evil;

And no one knows what is true

Who knows not what is false.

[Edgar Lee Masters, “Seth Compton”]

 

I - Opusculum paedagogum. The pears are not viols, / Nudes or bottles. / They resemble nothing else.
II - They are yellow forms / Composed of curves / Bulging toward the base. / They are touched red.
III - They are not flat surfaces / Having curved outlines. / They are round / Tapering toward the top.
IV - In the way they are modeled / There are bits of blue. / A hard dry leaf hangs / From the stem.
V - The yellow glistens. / It glistens with various yellows, / Citrons, oranges and greens / Flowering over the skin.
VI - The shadows of the pears / Are blobs on the green cloth. / The pears are not seen / As the observer wills.

[Wallace Stevens, “Study of Two Pears”]

This Is Our Story

A religion of values and Ethics, driven by love and compassion, informed by science and reason.

PART ONE: OUR STORY

First ingredient: Distinctions. What is the core and essence of being human? What is contentment, or kindliness, or Love? What is gentleness, or service, or enthusiasm, or courage? If you follow the links, you see at a glance what these concepts mean.

PART TWO: ANALYSIS

This site would be incomplete without an analytical framework. After you have digested a few of the examples, feel free to explore the ideas behind the model. I would be remiss if I did not give credit to my inspiration for this work: the Human Faith Project of Calvin Chatlos, M.D. His demonstration of a model for Human Faith began my exploration of this subject matter.

A RELIGION OF VALUES

A baby first begins to learn about the world by experiencing it. A room may be warm or cool. The baby learns that distinction. As a toddler, the child may strike her head with a rag doll, and see that it is soft; then strike her head with a wooden block, and see that it is hard. Love is a distinction: she loves me, or she doesn’t love me. This is true of every human value:

justice, humility, wisdom, courage . . . every single one of them.

This site is dedicated to exploring those distinctions. It is based on a model of values that you can read about on the “About” page. However, the best way to learn about what is in here is the same as the baby’s way of learning about the world: open the pages, and see what happens.

ants organic action machines

Octavio Ocampo, Forever Always

Jacek Yerka, House over the Waterfall

Norman Rockwell, Carefree Days Ahead

WHAT YOU WILL SEE HERE

When you open www.thisisourstory.net, you will see a human value identified at the top of the page. The value changes daily. These values are designed to follow the seasons of the year.

You will also see an overview of the value, or subject for the day, and then two columns of materials.

The left-side column presents true narratives, which include biographies, memoirs, histories, documentary films and the like; and also technical and analytical writings.

The right-side columns presents the work of the human imagination: fictional novels and stories, music, visual art, poetry and fictional film.

Each entry is presented to help identify the value. Open some of the links and experience our human story, again. It belongs to us all, and each of us is a part of it.

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