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LOST PIECE: Volume II - Issue II

LOST PIECE an undergraduate journal of letters

VOLUME II, ISSUE II

On A Darkling Plain
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an undergraduate journal of letters

Copyright, Lost Piece; All rights reserved. No part of this journal may be used or reproduced by any means,

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ing, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the EditorInChief except in the case of brief in this journal are printed with explicit permission of their authors. quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. The works included

Lost Piece: An Undergraduate Journal of Letters The University of Notre Dame Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

LOST PIECE: Volume II - Issue II

LOST PIECE an undergraduate journal of letters


VOLUME II, ISSUE II

On A Darkling Plain

Stephen Lechner Raymond Korson Josef Kuhn Conor Rogers


Editors

Editor-in-Chief

an undergraduate journal of letters

Something of a Mission Statement


From the Editors

Lost Piece exists to facilitate undergraduate reading, discussion, and writing of an intellectual nature beyond course curriculum and without distraction from the grade point average. Lost Piece seeks to help undergraduates to complement and even unify what they learn in their classes with their own personally driven intellectual pursuits. The goal of Lost Piece is to combat mediocrity in all things, and particularly in all things intellectual. Lost Piece holds that the goods proper to intellectual activity are ends in and of themselves and are to be sought regardless of whatever recognitions may or may not be extrinsically attached to such activity.

LOST PIECE: Volume II - Issue II

Table of Contents

Lost Piece: Volume II, Issue II

Something of a Mission Statement From the Editors ..........................................................................4 Meet the Writers Lost Piece ......................................................................................7 To an Overwhelming Question Stephen Lechner ............................................................................9 Matchstick Leah Coming ................................................................................13 The Abyss of Reason Gabriel MacDonald ......................................................................15 Life Does Linger Taylor Nutter ................................................................................23 God, Evil, and Evolution Dylan Belton.................................................................................25 Ophelia Christina Mastrucci ......................................................................39 Fiction and I Nicolle Walking .............................................................................41 That Rare, Random Descent Brittany Bergeson ..........................................................................45 Faith James Schmidt ...............................................................................47 Sliced n Diced Josef Kuhn .....................................................................................55 Stern Chase John Ashley....................................................................................57 Sliced Claire Kiernan .............................................................................61 6

an undergraduate journal of letters

Contribute to Lost Piece


Please consider writingwhether essay, poem, story, or what-haveyoufor the Fall 2011 Semester of Lost Piece. Write what you think is pertinent to the life of a student, whatever that might be Pose a question Or offer an answer Write at whatever length you need But write well. Submit your work to Steve Lechner at slechner@nd.edu by April 30th.

LOST PIECE: Volume II - Issue II

Meet the Writers


These groups have contributed to the writing of the Fall 2010 Edition of Lost Piece. We encourage you, as an undergraduate, to contribute your writing to future editions whether individually or as part of any such intellectual society. You can send your writing and feedback to the editor at slechner@nd.edu. E

The Program of Liberal Studies: So it turns out that PLS students dont only like to talk about such trivial things as free will or the meaning of life as approached through the lens of certain Great Books, but they also like, even need, to engage ideas wherever they can find them. Thats why a few of them got together to watch movies every week, first as a social event and later more as a discussion group. They like to think they are staying true to the spirit of the word seminar (which literally means seedbed) by holding profound conversations on their own from which they hope to bear the fruits of new ideas, serious dialogue, and lasting friendships.
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Istum: (Also called That Thing) Three years ago, a group of friends decided to get together every weekend to start a literary society. Its members include students from the Colleges of Arts and Letters, Science, and Engineering, but strangely none from the college of Business. They write, simply put, despite the obvious fact that they are only tyro writers, and they criticize each others writing as best they can. One of their goals is to bring back the essay (which literally means an attempt) as a form of writing and as a rhetorical work of art. The group takes its name from one of Ciceros orations.

an undergraduate journal of letters

T: T is a group of undergraduates who meet together to discuss issues of importance, ranging from theology to philosophy to current issues in any and all fields. It is a casually structured, socially engaging event that welcomes the opportunity to find both common ground and a multitude of opinions on topics. And they drink tea, too.

The Philosophy Club: The Philosophy Club is a group of a few dozen undergraduates who enjoy arguing, using big words, attempting to answer lifes great questions, asking more questions, and arguing.

The Orestes Brownson Council: As a club, OBC is focused on better understanding the Catholic intellectual tradition and its interaction Mustard: with philosophy, politics, Mustard is Notre Dames and culture. It takes its undergraudate creative writing name from the American club. They share their writing Catholic political thinker with each other and offer who is buried in the crypt constructive and friendly criti- of the Basilica of the Sacred cism of their work at their 9:00 Heart, Orestes Brownson. PM Wednesday meetings in the Gold Room of La Fortune. Writing is encouraged, though not required for participation, and new members are always welcome. Email mustard@nd.edu for more information.
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LOST PIECE: Volume II - Issue II

To an Overwhelming Question
Stephen Lechner Class of 2011 Editor-in-Chief

An Introduction

Heres a story: tell me if Ive told it correctly. Once upon a time, in a world called The West there was a vast culture of people which somehow, not altogether clear as to how, found itself believing in God. At some point in time, a lot of people in the West began to ask whence they got that belief, and for some reason, not altogether clear as to what reason, a lot of those people decided that they didnt like the answer they got as to whence they got that belief in God, so they decided to stop believing in God. Then a madman with a ferocious mustache ran around the West holding a lantern looking for God, and when everyone told him that there was none to look for, he shouted that God is dead, we have killed him, leaving many people very confused. Many people laughed at him and for 10

a long time nobody made much of the poor fool, but eventually people began to realize that if God is not around, then there is no obvious moral, political, or otherwise social authority to the world that they inhabit, and no obvious reason to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Having lost God, they all went ballisticsome went into hiding in their upper rooms and waited, perhaps, for the wind to blow, others built little castles which they named the world and proclaimed themselves as God of the world, and some took up lanterns and ran off to search the highways and byways to compel God to come back to the West whether he liked it or not. And that is the state of the West today. Make what you like of this story, for it is just that, a story, and stories are by their nature fiction. Sometimes they attempt to be factualand factual is a useful description

an undergraduate journal of letters

for certain storiesbut if its a person whos telling it, then a story is fiction and there is nothing to be done about that. Abraham Lincoln was shot in 1865. Thats fictionif for no other reason than that 1865 cannot be anything other than a subjective evaluation of time. Somebody once decided that that should be the year 1865 A.D. and everybody agreed and still does agree with that person. Of course Abraham Lincoln was shot in 1865 is true, and anybody who says it is not true should be told that they are wrong, but whoever said that fiction should not be true does not know what fiction is about. No one will deny that The Little Prince is fiction, but there is far more truth to that story than there is to most any history book printed today. My intention in telling this story is to present a not-unusual account of our own cultural passage from

Medievalism to Modernity to Postmodernity. But what are Medievalism, Modernity, and Postmodernity? Like 1865, they are terms of subjective evaluation, but unlike 1865, they are far less clearly communicative. Modernity and Postmodernity are especially obscure. Their meanings change depending on their contextsa philosopher will use them in one way but a political theorist, a sociologist, and a literary scholar will each use them in a very different way. And this probably owes to the terms themselves. Modern is, properly speaking, a synonym of contemporary, though according to this not-unusual story that I have tried to present, Modernity began sometime in the 16th century and Postmodernity began in the late 19th. If Postmodernity started then, are we living after what is post-contemporary? And 11

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what will happen when people decide to distinguish themselves from Postmodern? It seems we have spent our prefixes. Some readers may protest, Why does ones belief or disbelief in God define whether one is modern or postmodern? In fact, ones belief or disbelief in God does nothing of the kind. What I suggest defines someone as either being modern or postmodern is their response to their belief or disbelief in God. The people in the West who decide not to believe in God are

modern not because they deny Gods existence but because they are comfortable with a life without God;1 the same people having gone ballistic are postmodern not because they believe in God, but because, whether they believe in God or not, they are uncomfortable with a life without God. Such a life leads them to what T. S. Eliots The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock called an overwhelming questionwhy? They are postmodern because they have made Prufrocks realization, that...

No! I am no prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be; Am an attendant lord, one that will do To swell a progress, start a scene or two, Advise the Prince; no doubt, an easy tool, Deferential, glad to be of use, Politic, cautious, and meticulous; Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse; At times, indeed, almost ridiculous Almost, at times, the Fool.i
1 I dont suppose, however, that we should just let the theist go on this oneit may very well have been a wrong kind of theistic comfort at life with God, a thing very difficult to prove, that inclined the modernist to disbelieve in God.

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The pieces in this issue are many and different, but they are linked together by what Matthew Arnold once described as a darkling plain. These are pieces that react, in some way or another, to Modernitya time where humanity ruled supreme, unchallenged by mystery, a time of interesting and important progress, a time of seeming order and stability, but a time that brought what was for Arnold and Eliot a terrifying emptiness. These pieces are decidedly Postmodern, for what is found in them is the realization that ruling the world is a big chore, and that who- or whatever may or may not be in charge, humanity is not in charge. That, at least, is my own subjective evaluation.E

i Eliot, T. S, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, in Collected Poems 1909-1962; Harcourt, Inc., New York, 1991, page 7; It isnt fair to reduce Prufrocks overwhelming question to why? Part of what makes it overhwleming is that it is a difficult question to formulate. But why is an approach to it. The whole poem, in fact, is an attempt to pose the question, and thus the poem is a very good exemple of a postmodern reaction to the world.

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Matchstick
Leah Coming Class of 2013 Mustard

A Poem

I will not tell you that my aimless vigil before the electric lamp provoked the anxiety which was determined by a child picking futilely at leprous sores.

I will tell you that I propped against the pole, a spectator to the fulfillment of the previous instants portent and the streetlight nodded awake at its accustomed time.

The pregnant certainty circulated as lymph and humor through the dirty pipes of a matchstick girl, on her knees in immigrant streets even as she whistled her exile her craterous lips attested that Id be agonizing over how to say 14

an undergraduate journal of letters

I squeeze the prophesies out of every patch of ground my feet compress.

I cant reconcile this belief that whatever happens is determined with my unwavering investment in life.E

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The Abyss of Reason


Gabriel McDonald Class of 2012 Philosophy Club

An Essay

For the last three or four hundred years, it has been fashionable to consider all of ones beliefs the product of reason. Were it not enough that we human beings had to go under the distinction of rational animals, we now even live in what Enlightenment pop culture has dubbed the Age of Reason. Though that title properly only refers to that period in history, starting sometime in the 17th century, when a class of bourgeois intellectuals first concocted this notion that no human belief is valid unless it can be shown to stand up to this nebulous concept of rationality, this was really only the beginning. The Age of Reason has not ended, has in fact only proliferated; what was once just an upper-class fad has now grown and infested every segment of human society all 16

over the globe, and while many consider this a great victory for our species and for the cause of establishing a utopian society in which the poverty gap is eliminated and niceness reigns supreme, the painful truth is that this triumph of reason is, at best, nothing new, and at worst, the greatest disaster in human history. Allow me to present my reasons for saying this. First, the obvious question: What is reason and what about it inspired our illustrious Founding Fathers to worship it? Put simply, reason is the process by which we determine whether a given set of statements can be true. To give the most basic example imaginable, we know the statement Dog ulterior cavort definitely cannot be true because its not even a coherent statement. To get slightly more complex, we can take the two statements Il Gattopardo was written by Luchino Visconti, and Il Gattopardo was not

an undergraduate journal of letters

written by Luchino Visconti, and determine that, for all we know, either statement could be true, but they cannot both be true.1 And how did our human reason allot us such profound knowledge of the universe? Its really quite simple: This little gimmickknown as the Law of Non-Contradictionis built into our language system. We decided, by inventing language, that we werent going to allow people to assert something and assert its negation at the same time, because that would just be confusing. Its not like we had to go out and hunt down that knowledge on our own, we gave ourselves that knowledge thousands of years ago, kind of as though we put it in a time capsule for future generations. How clever of us. There are two important things to note here. First, reasonor rationality, if you willis an inherently linguistic concept. It is a function of language and not of the world

that our language is meant to describe. Secondand this is the real atom bombjust as our language is arbitrary, the laws of reason are arbitrary too. Just as we didnt have to use the word squid to describe an animal in the genus architeuthis and could just as easily have called it a parlor grand piano, the syntactical rules which tell us how sentences must be set up and which ones guarantee the truth or falsity of which others, all these are just as arbitrary. The point of these rules is to have a convenient way to infer a whole bunch of other true statements from just one statement. For example, when Jacqueline tells us that her car is red, we know that it isnt green, that it isnt brown, that it isnt blue, and a plethora of other facts about it without having to do any research at all. We didnt have to allow
1 For those of you who were dying to know, the second is true. Il Gattopardo was written by Giuseppe di Lampedusa. Luchino Visconti directed the 1963 film version.

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ourselves such bold inferences, but if we hadnt our language would be pretty pointless. If all of this sounds to you like a lot of stupid hogwash that nobody cares about, youre probably right, but remember that the decision to base human knowledge on reason is often compared to the invention of the wheel when people discuss its importance in the development of human society. Its important to remember that, while these principles may seem so basic and obvious to us that it feels like we knew them in utero and didnt need to have them painstakingly explained to us as I just attempted to do in the last two paragraphs, they have not always been unanimously accepted. In ancient Greece, it was common practice to determine truth by finding out who could shout their opinion the loudest, or by just accepting whatever the conquerors claimed to be true, but then a mischievous neer-do-well 18

named Socrates came along and suggested that we all argue using reason for a change, and he was executed. But his legacy lived on, and his commitment to using reason in human discourse eventually became the norm, totally unthreatened until Nietzsche showed up more than two thousand years later and said that Socrates was actually a total jerk and we should all go back to determining truth by seeing who shouts the loudest. But fortunately this idea was dismissed as the ranting of a syphilitic nutjob and reason has stayed in vogue. It is important at this point for me to clarify that, despite my uncharitable remarks about the Founding Fathers earlier, I wholeheartedly agree that Socrates rationalist project was a big step forward for humanity, and I am fully committed to his goal of using reason in all argumentation, no matter what the subject or who is arguing. But now

an undergraduate journal of letters

it comes time for me to draw the fundamental distinction between the Socratic rationalist project and the Enlightenment rationalist project. Remember that all the rules of logic, championed by Socrates and later formalized by Aristotle, despite their longevity and the fact that none of them have ever been seriously contested, are fundamentally arbitrary. This means that, while we can use them to compare statements against one another and to juice further statements out of one statement, it is impossible to use reason to conjure a truth right out of thin airwith the exception of totally vacuous truths like the rules themselves. Aristotle himself readily acknowledged this and never claimed that any of his logical rules or categories by themselves could give anyone knowledge, but could get you off the ground if you start by accepting some truths as given.

This sort of modesty was totally alien to the gentlemen of the Enlightenment, who were presumptuous enough to claim that they could come to indisputable truth about the universe by means of reason alone. Though they all inevitably failed to do so in spectacular fashion, this method of thought has inexplicably lingered and continues to corrode society to this day. It bears mentioning why they thought they could build this Tower of Babel in the first place. The one-word answer: Science. Advances in science at the time of the Enlightenment had done wonders as far as giving people knowledge that they were confident to declare objective, much more so than the dominant mode of thinking: Just believe whatever the Church tells you. It is imperative to remember that, contrary to popular belief, Socratic rationalism had not in any way diminished at this time, and 19

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people were still challenged to employ reason in determining their beliefs. For example, one might argue for the existence of God by saying that you should believe in God because if you dont God will damn you to hell. This argument may sound like crap to us, the enlightened of the 21st century, but if you think about it, it is actually a perfectly well-reasoned argument. The statement You should believe in God does in fact follow from the statement God will damn you to hell if you dont believe in Him. The only residual problem is where you got that premise from. Back during the times leading up to the Enlightenment, higher-ups in the Catholic Church were more than happy to give the hoi polloi all the truths they wanted to use as premises for their arguments. This system worked splendidly for more than a millennium and only broke down because eventually 20

there came some people who didnt accept these truths. The intelligentsia of the 17th century, even the churchy ones, didnt like using the truths they were given by the Pope and his minions, because they found another source that they liked more: scientific experimentation. Rather than just accept that the moon was perfectly round because the Church hierarchy, who believed everything that St. Thomas Aquinas told them, who believed everything that Aristotle told him, said it was, they figured it was more reliable to just look at the moon and manifestly see that it is not perfectly round. I must insist, however, that the only thing making this method a better source of truth than the Church method is that people were more inclined to accept it. Certainly there were valid reasons people were more willing to accept itit was based on repeatable experiments, it

an undergraduate journal of letters

matched our sensory experiences, it was more useful for technological purposes, etc.but this did not necessarily make it any truer, it only made it more widely accepted. Again I find nothing to object to. I too prefer the scientific method of mapping the lunar surface to the believe whatever the 16th century bishop tells you method. The problem comes when these Enlightenment bastards decided they could use this scientific method to learn every possible conceivable truth about everything. This would be kind of like if Toyota were to find a hot chick who was so good at attracting customers to a sports car exhibition that they decided to make her CEO of the entire company. In their irrationality, they somehow forgot that all they had actually done was find a better way to design windmills, and here they thought they had found the font of all

knowledge and immortality. That was their first mistake. The second was confusing science with rationality, an absurdity which persists to this day. Again, this was all a result of their intoxicated overconfidence; they were so convinced that this new science thing was such an incontestable source of truth that they dubbed any refusal to accept the truths of science somehow as a logical fallacy. The problem with this way of thinking is that, while this whole science thing is terrific at answering questions like Why does the red Aurora Borealis require colder temperatures than the green? and What is the atomic mass of a tungsten atom? when it comes to questions that most of us find more pressing, questions like Why am I here? What does it mean to be a good person? and Why cant you turn right at a red light in Quebec? science turns out to be astonishingly inept. This did 21

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not upset the Enlightenment thinkers in the least. Since they had already made the egregious flaw of identifying their scientism with rationality the next (il)logical step would be claiming that all truths, even non-scientific ones, could be derived from this same rational process that they had invented. The most shining example of this can be found in Thomas Jeffersons wildly influential The Declaration of Independence. In it, he starts off right away by deeming all the truths he is about to proclaim self-evident. This is the staple tactic of the Enlightenment; since there is absolutely no scientific evidence for the existence (or even coherence) of the concepts he recklessly puts forward here, the only possible way he can make them fly is by declaring them to be self-evident. That is, since there is never anything binding anyone to accept something as a basic truth, 22

human beings being mentally capable of refusing to believe whatever they want, the only way he could use these ideas as the basis for his argument was to claim that only ninnies reject them, just as with the empirical truths of science. It was a brilliant move, considering how his ideas were so self-evident that he was the first person in history to come up with them, and here, ironically, marks the first time in human history that irrationalism had become the dominant mode of thinking. What is the cost of all this? The most important consequence of this or any other system of thought is its effect on ethics. As I said from the outset, the mildest outcome the Enlightenment view of rationalism could possibly have produced is that nothing important has changed. One could argue that the ethical theorists of the Enlightenment merely used their new system to justify

an undergraduate journal of letters

ethical preconceptions and then tweaked a few in order to adapt it to modern conventions. Of course, theres no scientific basis for any idea of morality or ethics, so whenever anyone goes around declaiming that we all need to believe in science and rationality and once we do well all start being nice to each other, what he means is that we all need to believe everything he believes, beliefs which are of course all self-evident when examined under the light of reason, and then everyone will be happy. In this view, nothing has changed, and todays political pundits are just carrying on the old tradition of all societies who have insisted that everyone convert to their ethical system because thats what their God wants everyone to do. But perhaps Im being too nice to the Enlightenmentia. Perhaps its not so innocuous to try and base all our beliefs about morality and justice

on this fictitious concept of scientific rationalism. To base such beliefs on God is perfectly coherent, since the idea of God is of a being who is actually invested in human morality and social justice. If no God exists, it might not be in our best interest to base our morals on such an idea, but even then it would be better than trying to base them on an irrational view of rationality, one which not only has nothing to do with ethics or morality but is directly in conflict with them. To do that would be to act just like Wile E. Coyote, walking out over this empty abyss of reason, only able to stay in the air because were all too stupid to realize that theres nothing holding us up. I only hope we can find a better support for humanity before somebody thinks to look down.E

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Life Does Linger


Taylor Nutter Class of 2014 Philosophy Major

A Poem

Life does linger it seems Sometimes Upon the frailty of an hour Upon the creases cut of an old mans face Upon the petals fallen of a flower Time does creep it seems Sometimes Upon the patter of a wave at shore Upon the unseen glance of a strangers stare Upon what lies behind a solitary door But passion resounds sometimes It seems Upon temerity Upon the one so meek, so mild Upon the one who sees It is the ephemeral That seeps Into eternityE

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God, Evil, and Evolution


Dylan Belton Class of 2012 Philosophy Club

An Essay

I have been thinking about evolution. In fact I do quite a bit of thinking about evolution, as it is my intention to make a career writing about its theological implications. The question I would like to address in this reflective paper is this: are we able to harmonize a Christian view of suffering and beauty with the evolutionary view of creation where death and suffering has played such a crucial and prevalent role? There is a tension here, and it is one that cannot be swept under any rug, for there is no rug big enough to hide this specific problem. This is, I believe, one of the many issues raised by evolution that has yet to be adequately addressed by Christians. Indeed, a harmonizing of the theory of evolution with orthodox Christian 26

doctrine is an absolutely crucial issue facing Christianity in the 21st century, and one that needs to urgently be addressed by a new generation of Christians with the same fervency that characterized the early Church fathers as they defended the faith against all odds. Let me further add that I believe this harmonization must be accomplished in order to stem the tide of an ever-growing secularism and diluted spiritualism that is infecting modern Western society with an astonishing moral degeneration and general mediocrity. With that said, I must forewarn the reader that this paper is more of a reflection on the problem than a systematic analysis, and will, therefore, not offer a thorough solution to the problem highlighted. These are thorny issues and I would not dare to suppose that I am intellectually

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capable of solving them. Before getting started, it is best that I make a few confessions. I am not a Catholic; I am not even sure if it is permissible to call myself a Christian, for at this point in time I find myself unable to intellectually surrender to all of what Aquinas called the Mysteries of the Faith. I am revealing this because I believe it to make all the difference in the world; it means that I am not approaching this issue with what St. Anselm called an experienced faith, a faith that is lived and breathed so that it quite literally animates and shapes the very manner by which one views the universe. This no doubt serves as a crucial disadvantage, as I am indeed trying to grapple with the question from an inside perspective. I have read enough theology to realize that this may by all means be

a futile endeavor. But I will nevertheless attempt it. I am so profoundly and deeply moved by the Christian image of God and the Christian worldview that it is in my eyes the only alternative to the deeply and inherently pessimistic and nihilistic naturalist worldview that currently holds sway in academia. This essay, then, is not being written in a tendentious spirit. In fact, I believe the default position of someone in my position is to humbly accept the limitations of my young and eager mind and the fact that I am by all means in a state of spiritual infancy. The problem may not be with the Christian response but simply with my intellectual and spiritual incapacity. How Came the Problem? Now that we have some preliminaries out of the way, I would like to begin by 27

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addressing a specific claim made in an article in a previous edition of this publication. Indeed, it was this claim that served as the impetus for the issue that this paper is an attempt to highlight. It may seem that I am veering a bit off topic, but bear with me. I think that by reviewing how it was that I came to write this paper that the reader will be able to grasp more clearly the issue at hand. In his piece Everything is Beautiful, Ray Korson made the following daring statement: everything is objectively beautiful.i What could this mean? And why is it that someone would hold this position? The answer, it seems, stems from an adherence to a certain Christian metaphysical frameworknamely, a Thomist metaphysical framework. Korson provided the following succinct summary of Saint 28

Thomas Aquinas take on the abstract notion of beauty: all of creation shares the property of beauty because it shares the same creator, God, who imparts the attribute of being to all members of reality, which partakes in the truth, goodness, and beauty of being as such.ii The idea is that simply by virtue of partaking in the Being of God, all of creation is imbued with beauty. This is, I believe, the primary reason for why one would make the bold claim that Korson made and just what it is meant to mean. However, I was not satisfied. My initial reaction to the claim was this: the claim that everything is objectively beautiful can, as far as I can see, be understood in two ways. First, it could mean just what it seems to mean at face value. The dance of the falling autumn leaves is beautiful; the doorknob

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on my flat door is beautiful; the suffering of innocent children too. But this, I am sure, is not what was meant. So perhaps Korson meant something more like this: there is such a thing as objective beauty, but it does not follow that everything is beautiful. How so? Think of objective truth. The definition of something being objectively the case is that it does not depend on our human perspective for making it so. For example, propositions are statements that we affirm as being either true or false, so, presumably, propositions are objectively true or false. But we can make a distinction within the category of objectively true propositions. Firstly, there are necessarily true propositions. For instance, that 2+2= 4, or that no man is taller than himself, are necessarily true: they are true in all possible worlds. But there

are also propositions regarding the actual world that we would lump into the objectively true category. For instance, that Mount Everest is the worlds highest peak, or that dinosaurs roamed the earth millions of years ago. Yet from the observation that there are such a things as objectively true propositions, it does not follow that every proposition is objectively true. Some propositions are just flat out false. The proposition Gandhi was the cause of World War II is certainly not objectively true. Korson perhaps, then, has something similar to that in mind, although applied to the concept of beauty. Perhaps we should rather say that although absolutely everything is not objectively beautiful, there is such a thing as objective beauty and we simply have to search deeper to find it. Beauty will differ, of course, 29

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in that beauty is a quality to be found in a vast array of things. We describe many objects in the external world as being beautiful (paintings, forests, statues). We also describe certain events as being beautiful. An event could be anything from a parents first look at his or her newborn baby, to a rousing performance of the first movement of Beethovens 5th symphony. There is some quality to these objects or events that moves us deeply; this quality, I presume, is beauty. If one agrees with Korsonand I agree with him on thisthen it is not simply that we project our own culturally constrained subjective notions of beauty onto these objects or events; rather, it is that beauty is a feature to be found in them that we perceive. Or to put it in a more Platonic tone, these objects and events participate in Beauty. 30

The Problem That was, then, my initial response upon reading the paper. It dawned on me, however, that my response was inadequate and that there is a deeper issue at hand here. Recall that within Aquinas metaphysical framework, all of creation is deemed beautiful merely by virtue of its participation in the Being of God. So how is it that one can make a distinction between things or events that are beautiful and things or events that are not? They are beautiful simply by being things or events in the actual world. So what are we to do with the suffering of sentient creatures? The suffering of a sentient creature is, I take it, an event of some sort; but it not an event we are quick to place in the category of beautiful. Yet if everything is beautiful by virtue of simply being, then the suffering of a sentient creature, as an

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event, must be beautiful. But we usually take the suffering of a sentient creature not to be an event possessing the quality of beauty. Most of us, I hope, are reluctant to watch a suffering creature and call it beautiful. These events strike us as intrinsically not beautiful. One could, of course, simply concede that this vast amount of sentient suffering was, and is, beautiful. This is perfectly fine, but it is surely not a conclusion that spontaneously flows out of us. Nor, as we shall see, does this response align with the traditional Christian response. So how are we to fit this specific Christian conception of beauty and suffering into the evolutionary framework where the death and suffering of sentient creatures has been so prevalent and essential to the evolutionary processes?

Christianity has always had a response to the issue of suffering and its place in the universe. The orthodox Christian response has been that death and suffering are an unwelcome consequence of sin; they are perversions of the natural order that did not feature in Gods initial plan for creation. In Aquinas words: the penalties, such as hunger, thirst, death, and the like, which we suffer sensibly in this life flow from original sin.iii The early Christian response to death was one of pure hatred and disdain for what was considered, through Christs self-offering sacrifice, a defeated foe. We find this quite explicitly in the writings of Athanasius, that champion of Christian orthodoxy. In his On the Incarnation of the Word, Athanasius writes, by the Word made Man, death has 31

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been destroyed and life raised up anew.iv The general idea is that death and suffering are a result of sin and to be overcome once and for all when the process of recreation has been fulfilled. The biblical narrative represents what in literature is called a U-shaped-comedy plot (comedy in the technical sense, not the common usage indicating humor). The plot follows this pattern: Creation (perfection)>fall (suffering, death, etc)>election>Christ event>renewed creation (perfection). Imagine this pattern in a U shape beginning with creation and ending in renewed creation. This is the orthodox Christian picture of creation and its explanation of suffering, as I presently understand it. If one accepts this view, then one could respond that the suffering of sentient creatures is a perversion of the 32

natural order and can therefore not be deemed beautiful by virtue of its being a perversion. This is where the issue of evolution becomes particularly pertinent. Evolution paints a radically different picture to the U-shaped plot and renders the notion of suffering and death as a perversion quite untenable if we take the Christian message to be cosmic in scope. Evolution flattens out the U and leaves us with a zig-zagging line that either represents a meaningful desperate, dramatic striving and struggling ascent toward greater meaning and beauty as creation draws ever nearer to a Divine Omega-point, or it represents a meaningless scribble moving towards utter nothingness. Creation certainly did not start out with what we usually take to be perfection. If there is one thing that evolution has shown us quite conclusively, it

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is that the death and suffering of sentient creatures has been occurring for far far longer than any of our pre-Darwinian ancestors could have possibly imagined (I am dulled by the usual pessimistic tone that this tale is usually recounted in, but bare with me for now). The suffering of sentient creatures was in existence far before we homo-sapiens arrived on the scene, so it is not possible that human sin was somehow the cause of all suffering. Death and suffering seem to not be a perversion that entered creation due to human sin into a state of initial perfection. Indeed, the death of unfit individual creatures and species is what drives the evolutionary process. This historical prevalence and importance of death and suffering in the evolutionary history of life seems to render the traditional Christian response to suffering

unsatisfactory. If this is correct, then one cannot maintain that death and suffering are not beautiful because of their being a perversion of the natural order, for they appear to have played a critical role in the development and diversity of life. Response Now an obvious response would be to simply note that I am presently guilty (admittedly so) of a grossly simplistic and literal reading of the bible, and that the ramifications of the fall are clearly not cosmic in scope. One could say that the Christian narrative is one where the only participants are man and God, so that the death and suffering that entered in with sin clearly pertain strictly to a unique form of human suffering and death. One would simply point out that there is no tension here at all, for the 33

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biblical narrative has nothing to say at all about naturalistic explanations of creation and the suffering of non-human creatures. There can be no conflict between evolution and tradition or the bible because, while the former deals with the natural world, the latter deals with the human condition and salvation as it pertains to mankind. I would add (acting as my own opponent here) that I have neglected mentioning the great apostles creed, or what is sometimes called the rule of faith, i.e. the essential doctrines of the faith. And if one turns to the essential doctrines, one will find nothing regarding the suffering of all creatures or a detailed account of creation. The bible and the creeds are simply silent on the matter, for, you might say, they are dealing solely with the human condition, salvation, and mankinds relation to God. 34

This is a fair answer and in many ways solves a lot of problems, and I would take something of this approach to the problem myself. But I would like to point out a few things. First, if creation is imbued with beauty by virtue of its participation in the being of God and only human suffering is to be deemed a perversion of the natural order, then we are still stuck maintaining that the death and suffering of all sentient life beside human suffering and death is beautiful. Again, this is perfectly fine, but it is not something we seem willing to affirm . Second, take this passage from Saint Paul: we know that the whole [of] creation has been groaning in labor pains.v Although humans were no doubt at the center of Pauls understanding of the Christian gospel, he did understand salvation as

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having universal implications. The whole of creation is moving towards re-creation. This seems to hint that the suffering and death in all of life will be wiped away. By shrinking the Christian message into a purely anthropocentric one, we extract humans from a much larger universal narrative drama that has been, and is still, unfolding. I am afraid that I cannot as yet offer any systematic positive contributions to this discussion, as these are issues I am grappling to come to terms with. With that said, I would like to present a few conjectures. These are mere musings that I think are worth pondering over. I will be leaving the issue of beauty aside, as it is beyond my ability to even begin to deal with; I will only offer some thoughts on this issue of suffering. Firstly, I think a point that is quite easily forgotten in this

sort of discussion is that the evolutionary history of life on this planet has been more than just a bloody and ruthless battle for survival within, and among rival, species. There has been, and is, plenty of harmony and cooperation within and between species, especially as one ascends the evolutionary tree to the more complex creatures that have reached what may be called a higher level of consciousness. I am sure that we have all watched footage of some mammal taking care of its newborns, or of dolphins playfully whisking through the ocean waves. There is a playful and harmonious element to life that has arisen through the evolutionary processes, which gives us ample reason to suppose that there is far more at work than inter- and intraspecies carnage. I mention this because there is this enormous 35

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unwarranted tendency for us to focus on the more sinister side of the evolutionary process. But back to Christianity. This problem of suffering has been, and still is, particularly problematic for the Christian who is committed to maintaining that love is the defining characteristic of God. This brings the obvious and tedious question of why it is that a God of Love could allow such suffering. I do not wish to address this issue. It is a mystery we simply have to live with. What I want to highlight is the fact that the Christian claim that God is Love was, and remains, not nearly as scandalous as the Christian claim that God has taken on the form of man, lived among us as one who served others, and suffered a gruesome and humiliating death at the hands of the beings whose very existence He held in being. This 36

is surely the most scandalous claim ever to have been uttered by human lips. For many an ancient (or modern) pagan, the extreme and revolutionary nature of this claim was and is enough to render it laughable. After almost 2000 years of Christianity and 300 years of Enlightenment intellectual propaganda, all too many of us moderns have lost all touch with the scandal that is Christianity. So what does this have to do with evolution? Well, let me put it like this: God suffered. God identified Himself with the suffering of sentient creatures. In other words, we are not alone in our suffering. I cannot say much more about this, for it is a mysterium tremendum. I ask only that the reader reflect on the claim that God suffered, and what it could mean in the context of evolution. I think it perhaps holds the very key to

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harmonizing the vast suffering of sentient life and the Christian image of a God of infinite Love. The question, of course, is how would this change anything given the problem with the traditional Christian response to suffering? Did Christ affirm the goodness or beauty of suffering? Surely not. Or is it simply a way to provide humans with hope? Perhaps. But this seems a little vapid. It certainly does not appear to get us out of the problem of all of creation being beautiful by virtue of being. These are questions for another time. In Closing To many, the evolutionary history of life on earth provides knock-down proof that the universe is void of meaning and purpose, let alone beauty. This is an intellectually bland and spiritually shallow response.

It is within this evolutionary framework that we must find purpose. In On Christian Doctrine, Saint Augustine made clear that what was worthy in paganism ought to be adopted by Christianity in the service of the faith.vi The wisdom of the philosophers, for instance, provided Christian thinkers with an opportunity to shed light on the faith. Christianity cannot lose this mindset. Like the wisdom of the ancient philosophers, the findings of modern science, especially when it comes to evolution, must be embraced and incorporated into the Christian worldview. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that unless we manage to sanctify this evolutionary image of life, mankind is sure to sink slowly and nonchalantly into the swamp of nihilism and a numb despair whilst this planet marches forth on its 37

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path toward cold lifelessness after our sun finally burns out. It would be a sin to end on

such an ominous tone, so let me end on this quote taken from Darwins Origin of Species:

There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and wonderful have been, and are being, evolved. But that is not quite uplifting enough. I think the next passage from Isaiah 52:7 will do the trick:

How beautiful upon the mountains Are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, Who brings good news, Who announces salvation, Who says to Zion, Your God reigns! E

i Korson, Ray. Everything is Beautiful. Lost Piece 1.II (Oct 2010). Print. Page 26 ii Korson, Page 27 iii Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Theologica, III q. 1 a. 4 ad. 2

iv Athanasius. On the Incarnation. Trans. A Religious of C.S.M.V. New York: St. Vladimirs Seminary Press, 1944. Print, Page 37 v Romans 8:22, emphasis added vi Augustine. On Christian Doctrine. Book II, xl-xlii

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Ophelia
Christina Mastrucci Class of 2011 English Major

A Poem

on a Spartan cot her body breathes that sleep of death. on a bed of blood her mortal coil shuffles, aching to be healed, or else shed. she feels simply too old to die. though some say too young is the crime, a greater age yields a greater grasp on that unspoken, blacked out sky we call dying. humanist, existentialist, idealist: her mind is climbing that mountain (from which no traveler returns) for a spark of understanding. realist, empiricist, nihilist: she finds no flame at the summit (no undiscoverd country) of something to call home. ergo, to her, that home cannot exist. what then is the brook by the willow but a sirens kiss? 40

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yet she cannot rise to meet the water, for her limbs fail her. still she can see the charming brook through her prison window. if she does not see the flame, is there not a spark? dualist: her doubt cannot persist; she wants either the fire or the dark. she must see it to believe it. she must feel it to perceive it. her mind, if it explain not, it says there is nothing to explain. 1 it does not matter. no difference. not even thoughts of endless depth can keep her skin from crumbling. More water, nurse, more water. not even water can revive a heart refusing to live. Its getting dark. but it is day. the shade falls down around her as she gazes, one last time, at the light dancing on painted stars and the words expire from that tired soul who only yearns to be born.E 41
1 Bram Stokers Dracula

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Fiction and I: Coffee and Cigarettes


Nicolle Walkling Class of 2011 Program of Liberal Studies

A Play

The date is December 16, 2010. The setting? A poorly lit corner of an almost empty caf. The air hangs thick and warm with the smell of espresso. Nicolle sits down at the small table, weary. Fiction looks up from its mochaccino. Fiction: Whats wrong, Nicolle? Nicolle: Oh, just finals week. The biannual barrage of tests and papers, the endless memorization of facts that I will surely forget in a month or two, the pairing of caffeine binges and sleep deprivation driving me surely ever closer to madness Fiction: You know you dont really talk like that. Nicolle: I know. How have you been? Fiction: Thats what I wanted to talk to you about today. Ive just been feeling, oh I dont know, neglected. By you. Maybe neglected isnt the right wordIm just confused 42

about our relationship. Nicolle: What do you mean? You know I like you. Adore you even! I mean, just look at how long weve been together! The Boxcar Kids back in elementary school Fiction: Boxcar Children. Nicolle: Whatever. Boxcar Children. But do you remember that historical fiction period that I went through in junior high? Oh, and all of that Lord of the Rings fan fiction I wrote in high school? Fiction: How could I forget? You learned Elvish! Such dedication. But thats where my insecurities come in now. Where is your dedication? Nicolle: You know Im afraid of commitment. Fiction: Oh God, based solely on the number of phases weve been through, I know that. Also, on a somewhat related note, no more experimental surrealist phases, okay? That was some freaky shit.

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Nicolle: You know I cant promise that. And you were totally into it. Fiction sighs heavily, looks distressed. Fiction: Basically, what Im asking is this: what do you want out of this relationship? Nicolle: Thats a big question. Fiction: Its an important question. Nicolle: Okay, okay. I guess I want you to always be there for me Fiction: I am always there for you. Nicolle: Um, I wasnt finished! Ive barely begun, really. I want you to be there for me, to be the one to whom I can relay my fears, my doubts, my joys, and my dilemmas regarding the shortcomings and strengths of humanity. I want you to help me work out these ideas, to help me present them to the world in hopes that others might also recognize and celebrate our inextricably intertwined,

shared human experience. Fiction: Well thats fair enough, but isnt that what you use your Twitter account for? Nicolle: Oh, shut up. You know I only use Twitter to keep track of whats relevant in the pop culture world, which, by the way, is still part of that shared human experience I was talking about. Fiction: Pop culture? So now youre going to use me to make others understand the joys and tribulations of Lady Gaga? Oh, great. Nicolle: Thats not exactly what I was going for, but thats not a bad idea. No, but to get back to what I was saying, I want you to explore the human experience with me, the world with me. And I dont care how we do it. Modernized fairy tales exploring gender roles? Awesome! Postmodern pastiches depicting loneliness in the suburbs? Sounds great! Small town mentalities 43

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scrutinized in stream-of-consciousness narratives? Lets do it. I want us to try it all. Fiction: This seems like a very lofty goal. Nicolle: All I want to do in life is make good things and love everyone. Easy-peasy. Fiction: Um, okay? Nicolle: Never mind. Fiction: No no, I think I understand what youre saying. I need to be there to help you express yourself and your ideas about the world around you. And you intend to do this in any sort of form that aligns to your personal whims at the time. Nicolle: Yeah, basically. Fiction: I can do that, but I also have a request of you. If you want to get something out of me in this relationship, you have to give something too. Nicolle sighs heavily, looks distressed. Nicolle: Okay, shoot. What is it? Fiction: I want for you to 44

spend more time on me. You love writing, I know you do. Remember all those afternoons in London when you would sit in the grass at St. James Park and write for hours in your notebook? Those are some of your fondest memories of last year! But think about how much time youve wasted lately poking mindlessly around all corners of the Internet or listening to Tom Waits instead of developing that idea about the girl cutting her hair in the mirror. I like that idea. Youre not going to become a better writer if you dont dedicate a significant amount of time to me. You know Im right. Nicolle: You are right, but you know I love Tom Waits. Cant I listen to him and write at the same time? Fiction: This isnt an open relationship. Nicolle: WaitIve got a great idea: the girl in the mirror idea but in the style of a Tom

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Waits spoken word piece: bleak, disturbing imagery paired with colloquial phrasing and rhythmic sentence structure. Fiction: Oh, I like it. Nicolle: I knew you would. Fiction: Okay, fine. Music has a welcome place in our relationship, as do the visual arts. Nicolle: And pop culture? Fiction: Only if Im allowed to grumble about it from time to time. Nicolle: Deal. Im glad we had this talk, Fiction. Fiction: I am too. I feel much better about the direction in which were heading. Want to grab a smoke after this? Nicolle: You know I dont smoke. Fiction: In this story you do. Nicolle: I love you, Fiction. Fiction: I like you too, Nicolle. Nicolle and Fiction exit the caf, pulling cigarettes and lighters from their coat pockets as they go.E

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That Rare, Random Descent


(I think I made you up inside my head)
Brittany Bergeson Class of 2011 Mustard

A Poem

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Faith

James Schmidt Class of 2013 Istum

An Essay

If you are curious about what someone is doing usually a good way to satisfy that curiosity is to look at them. So I peer around my desk and find that my roommate has his book open in front of him and his face is oriented toward it. I say, without much thinking about it at all, that he is reading. But what about actions that are primarily or essentially mental phenomena? He may be looking off into space (whatever that means, since what he is looking at is obviously not space), but I would not say he is looking off into space. At least if I did, it would not be an accurate account of what he is doing. What he is doing is gathering his thoughts for a paper or recalling the delightful dinner he had with that girl last evening. In those cases perhaps the best thing to do is ask: what are you doing? 48

Thinking. Well obviously, I didnt really think you were just staring off into space What are you thinking about? After all, the object of which one is thinking determines the kind of thinking he is doing.1 So lets say the mental action in question is prayer. I want to look at it in a manner that is accessible to people who do not think prayer is what pray-ers think it is. If we ask someone what he is doing he may say I am praying, but the very question I am calling to mind is What is that? To which he will probably say talking to God and this answer is the one I want to examine, even if we do not accept that he really is talking to God or that there is such a thing that someone can talk to (in the first case we could merely think him a hypocrite or babbler without denying the existence of the perceived
1 I find the connection between the object of our actions and our actions very interesting. I hope to pursue the question at some point.

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object). In that case, we would not describe what he is doing as talking to God but as talking together with thinking that what he is talking to is God. So if I am conversing with a friend part of what drives me is the belief that he is here. But you is here, and so that question doesnt play a role in my inquiry. But when someone is talking, it is usually directed at someone and the person talking should be able to say something about who it is directed to. No doubt we see a difficulty because my talking to you doesnt involve any questioning that I am indeed talking to you. But talking to God is different because talking to him is not only something that atheists doubt the authenticity of, it is one that seemingly believers have no ostensible way to validate. So if someone asks, Who are you talking to? I will pull my friends arm and say Look here. The same cannot be done with God. I suppose part of the reason is because

of the way one talks to him. I asked a friend what prayer is and he told me that we set up a projection of what we believe to be God in our mind and talk to that. I think it is a good description,2 except that those who believe in God would not say they are talking to a projection but that we are talking to God. So how can we reconcile the statement, I am talking to myself, (which is manifestly not God) with the statement, I am talking to God? They seem to utterly contradict. This is an interesting problem, but I think the apparent contradiction is a superficial one and one that is practically unavoidable in common language. Say a person is sawing a plank and also making a squeaky noise with the saw.3 He is not doing

2 It is the one I want to use to bridge the gap between an atheist and someone who thinks he is really talking to God, because I think it is a description that both can agree with. 3 I take this example from Anscombes Intention, and the spirit of it, namely an action posited under certain descriptions.

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these two things separately, but we need not describe both together in order to describe what he is doing. He is sawing a plank. Whatever else he may be doing in sawing the plank is not the critical issue at hand when we ask What is he doing? Let me return to the original question with another an example.4 Suppose you are talking to a friend on the phone. The description you will probably give of what you are doing is just that: talking to a friend. But I say that is not all you are doing: you are holding something in your hand and you are speaking words into some inanimate object- a phone- which receives your words, transmits them, and spits them out somewhere else. But it happens in such a way that I dont really quibble with you when you say you are talking to a friend, even though, properly speaking, what you are talking to is hopefully not your friend. Presumably the example is meant to show the plausibility 50

that a projection in our mind can serve- in the way a phone can- as an intermediary for our communication with God. Now the important question becomes how I can justify that such an intermediary must be used in order to communicate with God. With a friend over the phone, you can in theory, validate his existence by e.g. going over to his house. In addition you probably didnt begin your friendship by calling him up; you met him. For now I will just deal with the justification for the use of intermediary. For a person who prays, the claim is that God can be validated by experience. Now this is awfully peculiar because it cannot be done in the same way that I pull my friend over to you and say Here he is! But that just means that the validation, if it is anything, is a different kind of validation. For example,
4 I owe the use of this example to a friend, though I am not sure he knew at the time the significance to be found in it.

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you live in Chicago and I say you should meet my friend Joe (I do not live in Chicago). I cannot pull him over and show him to you. The best I can do is tell you where to go and whether you do that or not is your prerogative. Since talking to God takes place with your projection of him in your mind, the best I can do is tell you how to get to it. What happens, in theory, is that that projection is validated in the prayer. This too is strange since the thing to be validated must to some degree already be affirmed. It is not that case with my friend. I say I have a friend and you say I do not believe you. Then I say Fuck you, here he is. But say it is midnight and I come to you in your room and say, Youll never believe who I saw just now at the library: Taylor Swift! The only way you can verify what I said is to go there yourself. But it is midnight and you are tired so the only reason you would go is if you have a reasonable

amount of certainty that I am not messing around with you. That certainty (in what I say) is really a certainly that she really is at the library. So it is not always ridiculous that a certain level of trust in a claim is needed in order to validate it. I say a certain level but I do not know what that level is. If you asked a praying Christian, Do you believe that you are really talking to God? they would probably say yes, but I have no idea if they would say that they know it. And I agree that saying something can be a very different thing from being right while saying it; I know plenty of people who make claims that I think are straight up stupid. But that is irrelevant: I am saying that if it can be known, then the way it is to be known is by trying it out, which admittedly involves a bit of pre-knowledge belief in the thing to be validated, and the only way my claim can be validated (if it can be) is by doing what I say, not thinking about it. Luckily for 51

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me, this also means that my argument cannot be invalidated (probably because if you failed I could say try harder... I have a feeling something like this was going on in Platos cave analogy: You couldnt see the Good? That must mean you arent a philosopher!) Even if this is true, it is entirely appropriate to ask why it should be that way. After all, if there is an infinitely powerful being, he could have made the world in a way such that his existence needs no antecedent belief to be known. I dont doubt this for a moment. And I see this as a great problem in the philosophy about Christianity: if it is true (as I believe it is) then why didnt he make it in that way. It seems there is an impasse at this point, because I certainly do not have the answer, though an answer to this question probably would be the very thing that would convince people faith is something worth having. I will try to approach the problem 52

from a human perspective. Say that you have grown to love someone (so not e.g. your parents or siblings) and at some point in your relationship you express this love, for example by saying I love you. We could call this a critical point: the response to that expression determines everything. It could be something like, I love you too or I, on the other hand, do not love you or, perhaps, But how do I know that you love me? Perhaps you can try to prove it5 by taking over the world for that person, but it is pretty easy to see the difficulty of proving such a claim in the way that you would e.g. prove a mathematical proposition. The best you can do is offer evidence
5 For an interesting reflection on this idea I encourage my reader to read or see the play Proof. Some people think it is about a crazy mathematician or a mathematical proof. My opinion is that it is actually about the basis of assent to the truth of a claim, which in this case, is trust in a person, and the basis of that

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for the claim but even then For example you say, I will be faithful to you for the rest of my life, and your fidelity up to this point is offered as evidence for the claim. Maybe it is evidence, but I think a very poor kind of evidence (though I guess better than if you had cheated already), since the way you will be in ten years is very difficult to determine (I mean impossible) by the way you are now. This fact should cause people to question what level of knowledge they should have in a person before they get married. I have heard people justify cohabitation for this reason by saying that only by it can you have sufficient knowledge of the person you are dedicating yourself to. It is interesting to note that the success of marriages is found more on the side of those who dont make use of such verification. And I think the reason is because such verification simply cannot be found. To think that it can is to deceive oneself about the

basis of human relationships. The basis of them is trust in a person; trust, not knowledge, that that person will not betray you. But they very well could, and that is the thing that makes vulnerability such a painful thing to deal with when it is exploited. But it is the vulnerability that makes the acceptance of their trusting surrender mean something. If you say I love you and I say Ah yes, of course you do. I know this because x. Therefore, I love you too my response to you is not a response to you, it is a response to my mathematical deliberation over x. If a person withholds giving or receiving love for or from another until they have mathematical certitude about the security of that investment (of their self ), that person is going to live a solitude that borders the loneliness of hell.6
6 In the Popes book Introduction to Christianity, he sets up the machinery to establish this conclusion, that love is impossible without faith. He does it much more elegantly and thoroughly, but it is also more theological.

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Mathematicians are crazy people and it would do well for humanity to keep math caged up in its box (perhaps mathematicians too!), and limit the expectations for that level of certitude only to those things from which we can reasonably expect it. To fail in this with respect to human relationships would be to miss sight of what they are ultimately about. My impression is there is something like this going on with divine faith. The only questionable thing is that my faith in my friend is faith about his character, which is based- as least in its early stages- upon my history with him, a history that has no doubt about his existence. The question I have not covered is why existence [of God] is one of those things about which we are supposed to also have faith. On this point I have nothing to say now.E

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Sliced n Diced
Josef Kuhn Class of 2011 Program of Liberal Studies

(dont we love our salads and plastic surgery) A Poem

The state of the Arts and Sciences today is sliced up diced up. Pick your occupation from the slate Dr. Chef will prepare it for you just wait for your weekend vacation on a plate prescribed vocation spread-eagled Man in a circle laid out on a dissection table. No, I dont want to be sliced up diced up. Mix your colors. Emancipate your palate! 56

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But Reality demands it Practicality demands it Modernity demands it University demands it Economy demands it Taxonomy demands it The Progress and Wealth of Nations brigands it. Back back in the age of Man in shacks, or before shacks the Noble Savage dreamt by ceiling painters back in the day of lions CuisineArt chunked chicken did not exist. The flesh was roasted, the body eaten whole. (Renaissance Man may be a myth.) But you could yet exist

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Stern Chase
A Story
John Ashley Class of 2011 Philosophy Club

Its a terrifyingly bright day. The sun blazes like a white-hot quarter. And theyre coming. But they shouldnt be. They dont come out during the day. They dont come out during the day! Theyre supposed to stay under the ground. Why cant they behave, like good little terrors of the night? I walk, more quickly. Sweat pops out on my forearms. I stay out of the shadows. Thats where they hide, now. First, they lurked in the tunnels, in the sewers, places where no sunlight could be found. Then the dead of a new moon night was good enough for them. Then any night, dark, stormy, or clear. Now the shadows cast at noon. I turn the corner, onto the square. Its desolate. Everyones elsewhere. Somewhere. Not here, where they should be. 58

My mind trips, stumbles. I fall to the ground. I can see them, but just, in the corners of the corners of my eyes. So faint, but just there enough to throw normality off the rails, like a long-lasting nausea, a vile stench for the minds nose. I get up, recover. Deep breaths. Balance returns. I dont move and screw my eyes shut. I open them again. Theyre gone. Gone! I want to shout and scream, but dont. That might bring them back. I realize, then, that I will not survive till tomorrow, unless I take action. I have to run. And more than run. Flee. Escape this town-gone-mad. I start walking again, sticking to the middle of streets weirdly empty of cars, taking the most well-lit if not most direct way back to my house. My mind firms in resolve, at times even daring to suppose that they couldnt have been

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following me. After all, they dont come out during the day. They just dont. And the one time that they did...my mind retches at the memory, and I think I pass out. Just for a moment, though, and Im still in the middle of the street. The forces of my sanity blow their horns, sounding a regroup, and then a counter-charge. Plans start to form. Ill pack quickly, get in the car, and drive out. As quickly as I can, and good luck to Sheriff Fort if she tries to stop me. If shes in his pocket. In their pocket. Who knows? But she did stop David, took his license and keys for... something. And Ill be safe, too. Its bright day, not night. I wont end up like Rick and Molly, at the base of the seaside road... I walk past the church, then, and look up out ofwhat? Reflex? Curiosity? But it undoes me. The church is bright, empty except for the preacher leaning on the wall. He looks at me and

smiles, like a hound. He raises a hand in greeting. It seems like the gesture that ends the world. I run. And I see them. Theyre following me. Following him. The preacher starts walking, still smiling his demons smile. I despair. I nearly stop. The temptation that oblivion, though inevitable, might be painless, is strong. Overwhelming. I want to end it. Resolve, a candle against the dark, propels me. Not by his hand. Not on their terms. I will not go willingly to their torments. I run faster. The houses of Lymans Crossing blur past me. Im running so fast; I shouldnt be able to run this fast. No one should. Logic: my mind is trying to block them out. Suddenly, my house. Sanctuary. I bolt inside, close the front door, then close all the doors and windows. They cant 59

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get past without breaking in. And Ill be prepared for that. I collapse in a huddle on the kitchen floor. I still have time. I run to my room, grab a pack, and start throwing stuff into it. My life, in its most precious and memorable parts, goes into the bag. My life cannot hold any longer. It is falling in around me. The knock is a cannon blast. It shell-shocks me, and I cower against the wall. It comes again, and I hear a distant sound, like keening speech. Doom knocks thrice, and I see the end before me; not in glory or in glorious sacrifice, but in dismal defeat. I stagger to the kitchen and take a knife from a drawer. It is time to stand. I go to the front door. Through a window, I see that clouds have come suddenly, overcasting the day. I see the preacher at my doorstep, and them, behind him, fading into discernibility. I cannot make sense of them. Only a mad 60

poet could do so. Their sight is a blast of disgust, and I duck out of sight of the window. The preacher knocks for a fourth time as I come to the door. I open it. He stands there, still smiling that wolfhound smile of his. Are you alright, Rob? He starts to extend his hand. I snarl and slash at him with the knife. A thick line of red drips across his face. The smile is gone. Shock and fury replace it. I stab him full in the chest, and he totters backward. They shriek and barrel forward, just as I slam the door and fall back against it. Outside, the sky purples and blacks. The door bucks as they slam into it. I run back, into the kitchen. The front of my house explodes away, the pieces falling up into the sky. They begin their attack, growling in a tongue that burns my mind

an undergraduate journal of letters

to hear it. But it is too late for such things. My end has come. As I steel myself for it, I remember, oddly, an afternoon

from my days at the college in the green wood. A fragment of poetry comes with it, wafting words to soothe my wounds.

The jaws of death snap, scant feet from my refuge. They slouch toward me, now things grown to unnatural size, things which should not be. I bolt up from my hiding place, and gaze upon them in their insanity. My mind begins to shred, and I see the preacher, standing, smiling, blood on his face and darkening his shirt. I shout my war cry, and charge. Oblivion comes, spreading through my limbs and chest and head, numbing. Darkness, then, and nothing. A last thought: I have triumphed. Then a shriek in the shadows.E

The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.

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LOST PIECE: Volume II - Issue II

Sliced

Claire Kiernan Class of 2011 English Major

A Poem

Whether the Grecians took a slice Four times a-day, or only twice, We know not;

we do know, however, that one worthy Prince James the seconde, a fancy man of fancier speeches, was slayne by the slice of a great peece of artillerie, which by ouercharging chanced to breake A Slice of the Alps, which came down

and buried him quite. Tell me:

upon him,

What happens when you make

a substitution of a homogeneous slice of life for the old theatrical sandwich relief?

of sentiment and comic

You get this

a costume picture, not a slice-of-life drama, but here is how you can mend it: You must haue also a brasen slice

to scrape away the sugar from the hanging bason, that unnecessary masquerade of ornate diction.

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an undergraduate journal of letters

Here you can succeed where good Prince James failed: With this flat slice of iron, A long piece of Wood

loosen the skin of these excessive words from within the flesh. and thats convenient

(cut after the manner of a Slice which Deary-women use about their Butter)

Your slice (a left-handers) will move to a right-handers backhand, for slitting open your sentences and trimming away the fat.

The Pellican hath a beake broade and flat,

much like the slice of Apothecaries and Surgions with which they spread Boats do slice,

their plaisters.

where Ploughes did slide of late. And look at that man yonder, He stands.snipping and slicing at the sheepskin in his mouth. All have discovered the secret to the sleek shape of a silver tongue. Be that man,

The one of whom people say,

He would haue sliced his body of words

into as many parts as there be dayes in a year. It is only through their skin With scourges slycet, must the bare bones of words be seen.

E
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LOST PIECE: Volume II - Issue II

LOST PIECE an undergraduate journal of letters

VOLUME II, ISSUE II

On A Darkling Plain
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an undergraduate journal of letters

Colophon: This journal is compiled entirely from the works of undergraduate scholars at The University of Notre Dame. The editors of Lost Piece: An Undergraduate Journal of Letters are indebted to Dr. Cecilia Lucero for her invaluable assistance on behalf of The Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement. The editors also extend thanks to the Deans Fellows, directed by Assistant Dean Joseph Stanfiel And the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies, directed by Dr. Christopher Fox. Stephen Lechner, Editor-in-Chief Raymond Korson, Josef Kuhn, and Conor Rogers, Editors Lost Piece was designed in Adobe InDesign, CS5; its body copy is set in 12 pt Adobe Caslon Pro. This publication was compiled by Stephen Lechner, 11, slechner@nd.edu The Cover, front and back, was designed by Nathalia Silvestre, 14, nsilvest@nd.edu

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