Calling all Tolkien nerds!

Though it was late in getting posted, PHIL 4250 Tolkien and Lewis on Myth and Truth will be offered Fall 2020.  Please spread the word to fans of Tolkien and Lewis!

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March for Life 2020

Today is the March for Life in Washington DC.  I have previously discussed how the March for Life is wildly underreported in the major media despite it being one of the biggest demonstrations of the year in DC, so you will have to dig for stories on it today.  Many statewide marches are being held around the country, many of them tomorrow.  That is the case with the Utah March for Life in Salt Lake City.  The USU Students for Life club is arranging carpools to and from the SLC march for USU students and others who wish to attend.  Meet at 10:30 am on Saturday Jan 25th at the USU bus loop (near LDS Institute).  They will carpool down for the march (1:30-3:00) and then head home.

I was struck by this article today.  In it Robert Royal invites us to accept materialism and utilitarianism for the sake of the argument and then proceeds to lay out some shocking numbers.

The philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe blocking the entrance to an abortion clinic and later being carried off by police for doing so.

Consider, for example, that around the globe about 55 million people a year die.  We spend, quite rightly, enormous amounts of time, energy, and resources trying to decrease mortality rates in the hopes of reducing any of those deaths which were premature or avoidable.

But that number does not include the number of people killed each year by elective abortion.  That number is about 56 million. So, to quote Royal, “as many innocents are slaughtered each year in the womb as there are deaths from all other causes in the entire world.”

Let that sink in for a moment.

Or consider that the some 60 million abortions performed in America since Roe was decided equals roughly the entire population of the UK or France.  Again, let that sink in for a moment.

We rightly wring our hands over injustices done each year around the globe – economic injustices, lack of clean drinking water, political injustice, discrimination in the workplace.  But it is a sign of grave moral confusion that so much more attention is given to those injustices than is spent wrestling with the fact that we intentionally kill more people a year than die of natural causes or accidents.  

The scientific debate is over and has been over for a long time.  We know that life begins at conception, that at the moment of conception there is a unique human individual on the scene.  For those that accept this but then still support abortion, we should (to quote John Paul II) “speak by its proper name” what they are supporting: They are supporting the intentional killing of innocent human individuals.  They are deciding that some human lives are not worth living.  The more sophisticated will argue that some human individuals do not qualify as persons with a moral status.  But, as Pope Francis once noted, “Last century, the whole world was scandalized by what the Nazis did to purify the human race [thinking that some humans were not really fully persons].  Today, we do the same thing but with white gloves.”  

Let that sink in for a moment.

I hope you will set aside some time today to contact a legislator about this and then to pray for the end of abortion.  The plight of the unborn around the world is, in my view, plainly the gravest moral and civil rights issue of our time.  We must seek a culture of life rather than of death, which is to say a culture which promotes the creation of life and supports those mothers who bring those lives into the world.

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USU Students for Life

There is a new chapter of Students for Life at USU.  Students for Life is a national organization whose mission is to promote respect for the dignity of all persons (pre-born and born) and to support the pro-life generation in changing our culture.  The USU chapter plans on doing education, awareness raising, and fundraising to support pro-life causes (in particular the Logan Center for Pregnancy Choices, which supports women with pre-natal care, adoption support, maternity and infant supplies, and more).

USU Students for Life will hold its inaugural event on Wednesday October 16 from 6:00-7:30 in Main 115.  There will be pizza, an introduction to Students for Life, and then I will be giving a lecture entitled “Are the Unborn Persons?”

All are welcome!

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Music release from a former student

One of my best former students, USU Philosophy alum Dan Tate, has released his first album of original music, called Maybe Love.  The album release describes it thusly, “Spanning many genres—jazz, musical theater, folk, and pop—Maybe Love explores endings, new beginnings, and the elusive nature of love.”

Maybe Love is available online anywhere you buy or stream music, but the best way to support Dan would be to buy a CD (since major music platforms don’t pay artists squat).  You can download or buy the CD for $15 by clicking here.

And here is a music video of one of the songs.

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Theology on Tap

I will be the presenter for the Theology on Tap – Logan group tonight.  My topic is “Tolkien and Faierie Theology”.  All are welcome.

Beehive Grill, 6:30pm

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Humanae Vitae documentary

This year is the 50th anniversary of one of the most significant and controversial encyclical letters of the last several hundred years – Humanae Vitae.  In that encyclical, Pope Paul VI reaffirmed Catholic teachings regarding marriage and family, most notably reaffirming the prohibition of any use of contraception.  The encyclical was, and remains, quite divisive within Catholic circles.  And given the large role the Catholic Church plays in social services and medical care, the encyclical has reverberated throughout the culture for the last 50 years.

The USU Catholic Newman Center is sponsoring a documentary film and discussion on the topic.  On Wednesday, Oct 3, from 6-8pm, we will watch “Unprotected: A Pope, the Pill, and the Perils of Sexual Chaos”.  Eccles Sciences Learning Center, room 053.  After the film, there will be a discussion time led by Dr Sherlock and Dr Kleiner.

All are welcome.

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Two-Spacers, rejoice!

Readers of this blog may know that there is a fiery debate out there in the grammar world about whether you should have one or two spaces after sentence ending punctuation.  This seems to be, in part, a generational issue.  My experience is that those who were born in the 1970s or earlier tend to use two spaces, since they learned to type on typewriters (typesetting standards led to that convention).  People born in the 1980s or later are a mixed bag, but are often taught to use only a single space, since computers do proportional typesetting which no longer requires the extra space.

As with many grammar debates (such as the debate over the ghastly practice of pairing a plural pronoun with a single noun), the proper approach is to pick a side and then fight to the death for it.  For the record, I am decidedly on the side of two spaces.  But this is increasingly a minority view.  While style guides are mixed on the question (Chicago requires one space, Modern Language encourages one but allows two, whereas the APA style guide actually changed back to the two space convention in their 6th edition though they defer to publisher standards for final manuscripts), overall publication practices favor one space.

But I think they are wrong.  A sentence end is a full stop, and the reader should be alerted to this by having an extra pause (space).  My experience as a reader is that this make the text more readable.  And Two Spacers can rejoice, since Science appears to be on our side.  Specifically, a recent study looking at the “psychophysics” of reading suggests that readers read faster and with better comprehension when sentences end with two spaces.  Read about it here.

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