Resolutions in Context

January 15, 2015

Considering the Past & Resolving for 2015.

Yes, here I go again. My life revolves around self-examination and reflection, desires and ambitions – all of it very conceptual. These endeavors aim at accomplishing something of greater than ordinary importance even though I know by now – the year in which I turn 75 – that I seldom achieve what I set out to do.

I am always looking for context and how I might fit in or differ from what is ostensibly going on around me. Coincidentally as I went about my annual mulling of time and the attempts it offers us, Parade, the Sunday supplement (January 4, 2015) came to the door. This issue features the talkers on the Today Show as though I am supposed to know them, but I do not. Firstly, I do not watch commercial television and have no time for what is “popular.” I have seen spots of Today when someone else is running it at Snap Fitness or in the Toyota of Maplewood service waiting room. Normally, I am focused at that time of day on one of my endless projects and turn my attention elsewhere.

Nevertheless, here fell another chance to checkup on myself for comparison’s sake. Today’s people offer their thoughts on resolutions, expressed in positive terms (“Do” this) and negative ones (“Don’t” do that).

Savannah Guthrie says practice gratitude and don’t lose perspective. Lately, I’ve noticed in church and elsewhere the brain research people find that by routine expression of gratitude, people become more grateful in thought and action. Seems like a case of res ipso loquitur to me. For sure, gratitude is not automatic; we have to appreciate good fortune and seek to share it. I learned gratitude mostly from my parents. Mother continued stalwart in unending support of the family. Dad gave much of his time to public causes and shared the fruits of a disciplined life with  others. I grew up aware of many relatives, teachers, neighbors and other church and community members who made my life better. Thereby, becoming the same kind of transmitter seemed natural to me. A proper sense of perspective – an accurate recognition of the beneficent surrounding world – sets us up for gratitude.

I have long practiced a sense of gratitude, one of the drivers of my life. I live each day for a fuller perspective on my own operations and my place in the wider world.

Matt Lauer says enjoy today and don’t delay adventure. I’m glad he said “enjoy.” I have a low opinion of fun, something I regard as inferior to enjoyment. Games may be fun, but not to me. I go for a greater range of deeper emotions brought on by artful music, arresting art, and skillful literature or their human equivalents. So I bond with his use of enjoy. By adventure, Laurer indicates the exceptional, such as Machu Picchu and Easter Island, seemingly adventures of the spirit that take some effort and depth of experience. For myself, I get as much adventure out of planning to visit a place as actually going there. The adventures, I favor, are in ideas and representations, identities that I can travel to any time I want and which I find especially rewarding.

Contemplation including the experience of the arts are my regular enjoyment and have been for decades. These same enjoyments I take as my adventures.

Al Roker says feed your passions and don’t fuss over setbacks. I gather he means pursue what keeps you going without being thrown off track by any obstacles, whether or not you anticipated them. Sounds like solid everyday advice: he is, after all, the weatherman. My passions mostly revolve around learning – both an everyday and long-term commitment – and pursuit of the conceptual subjects that feed learning for me. Philosophy takes the forefront in my hierarchy of passions as well as religion, psychology, culture, history and their theoretical aspects as well as those of the social sciences, education, the arts, communication, literature, and science. My professional core, the organization and use of knowledge, threads through all these disciplines.

Natalie Morales says take time for yourself and its converse – don’t overtask. Such retreats intend to be holistic, wholesome, and renewing where our refreshments enhance without self-exhaustion. While I spend most of my time alone and largely focused on myself, I never feel that I have enough time and I feel guilty when I take a break and want diversion. I berate myself for my slow rate of progress towards my goals and the failure to prepare ahead and complete assignments: the world’s deadlines turn all other interim stuff into daily priorities. Worst of all, after nearly 60 years of trying I have yet to complete a novel to my satisfaction and thereby dread that I have wasted my life in this pursuit when I may not have the right psyche for novelizing.

Today’s other hosts advise on the more mundane aspects of our lives – our stuff, our email, our fitness, our diet and nutrition, our finances. Yes, these facets are important, and I could do better in these areas. However, I remain focused on the more transcendent, not the everyday.

How did I fare in 2014 and what will I do in 2015?

1. My Time. As the year progressed, I attained habitual time blocks for writing and pre-writing. I’m still best in the early hours and now wear out in the later afternoon unless highly motivated. It is not unusual for me to spend at least 8 hours a day at my computer. I try to get up and move around at least once an hour, but often whatever I do engrosses me. I even forget to set the timer that enlivens my attention when embedded in some routine entrapment. I feel I am in a better place now as far as time use. Because of certain health issues during the year, reality has hit – I may not live as long as I thought and ought not waste time.

2015: Stick to work habits that perform. Keep priorities. Monitor events and deadlines.

2. The Company of Seidor. As I got busy on Company, I discovered numerous problems in the writing. Although I developed a detailed character description of Seidor, other questions bothered me. I do not have a complete sequence of plot elements; story tensions evade me; the environment that ought to exemplify the Vennosi people remains underdeveloped; the time shifts of the story require distinct differences in tone and narrative style while remaining integral to the story as a whole; typical with me empathy never gains the foreground over idea. Mostly, I could never wrestle my lack of confidence to the ground. I never stop thinking about Company, but I have recessed the story in order to work on the background as I keep reaching for detail insted of the story. I am trying to calculate how much more groundwork I have to do before I confidently return to narrative.

2015: Bring background up to story timeline. Write first draft by the parts that work.

3. My Reading. It suffers. I seldom complete anything anymore unless it is for book club, grabs my attention, or becomes necessary for some presentation. I have identified priority lists of things to read necessary to enlighten inquiries and to propel me towards deeper thinking and writing. I have also identified some non-fiction work I want to do this year: Aristotle, library philosophy, essays on the first century, Magna Carta. I gave up wanting to write something in response to the 750th anniversary of Dante’s birth, but found him more majestically important, complex, and elusive than I could manage to resolve.

2015: Identify the best reading times. Read every day.

4. My Blogs. I have done more with my Ceptsform library-related bloging than anything else. Also, I have tried to revive my bibliography, indexing, and poetry work by publishing them in blog format.

2015: Finish Ceptsform inventory.

5. My Work Environment. I started the year well by reducing clutter by at least a few inches each day up to a foot. I did establish more convenient filing systems to bring order to utter randomness, aka known as piles of stuff. Except for book acquisition and organization, I seem to be falling farther behind in all the other areas. All in all, my archival mentality keeps me fighting for “file, don’t pile” and losing.

2015: File every day so as not to lose ground. Take advantage of down times.

6. My Exercise. I managed a little stretching, some walking and a fair amount of bicycling, but have gone a whole year without weight resistance exercise. I have reduced to 150 pounds but lost a lot of the muscle tone I had developed. I am once again enrolled at Snap Fitness and expect to resume a regular schedule.

2015: Exercise every other day – 3 or 4 times per week. Bicycle in good weather.

7. My Stories. I have some story concepts and experimented with various story techniques of little literary value, but quickly stalled. The thought of a literary retreat intrigues me.

2015: Work on at least one good story possibility. Investigate retreats as The Clearing.

8. My Gardening. I enjoyed the patio once again though the summer was never as warm as I wanted. I did most of the gardening at the Heinseens and got a lot of lettuce, tomatoes, onions and green tomato pickles out of it. I am at my worst coordinating the Pilgrim Garden and must give up that.

2015: Quit coordinating Pilgrim Garden. Do the Heinseens’ again.

9. Language Learning. Totally postponed, but I have another year to get ready for Norway.

2015: Start on Norwegian with Nancy Arsvold’s book.

10. My Money. I am hopeless at saving money. I have contributed $50.00 a month towards taxes, but saved nothing from month to month thanks mostly to purchasing books, office supplies, and lunches with a discussion group and friends, primarily Beverly Voldseth when we get together for reading Poetry each month.

2015: Spend on magazine subscriptions instead of browsing for books. Use library loan more. Aim for saving $30 per month.

All the above follows the view that I am grappling with reality and the limits of endurance and must gain control and confidence in my life over my options.

© Copyright 2015 by Roger Sween.

I welcome comments on blog posts. Send personal comments to me at my email address.


Additions 2015

January 10, 2015

Ceptsform Library Acquistions in 2015.

Updated 29 December 2015

This listing follows earlier Additions posted during previous years. See the links under My Library. I cite selections as a public glimpse at my ongoing interests as well as keeping a brief record for management purposes. Acquisitions are the business records of library additions. Accordingly, each following citation carries only enough information to identify the title’s addition to the collection and is not bibliographically complete as the fully complete classification records show. However in Additions, I try to clarify what each book is about if its title is not specific or potentially misleading. Limited data elements include date of acquisition and source, a distinguishing accession number, abbreviated author, brief title, edition if distinctive, and cost. Accession numbers may appear out of sequence when numbers are inadvertently skipped or reused from discovered duplicates or reused for replacement copies, noted by an “r” suffix.

Note on sourcesAmazon, the major “fulfillment” company does not often attract me, unless I cannot obtain a book elsewhere or I can get one amazingly cheap.  Barnes & Noble [place] The major surviving  big-box bookstore moves on to digital marketing besides toys, cards and other trivia. I go to the ones that have discounts and used books. In Madison WI and Roseville MN, the two largest B&N stores I know have used book areas, rather crowded and poorly organize, but offer the lowest discounts if you have the patience to search through them. Bookbyte supplies used books, even recent ones, through discovery on the Amazon website. Canal Park Flea Market in the most touristy part of Duluth has a lot of stuff and a few books, crowded into a closet. Cy Chauvin is s long-time friend who shares similar interests in literature and novels of manners. Content Bookstore in Northfield MN is the new face of what was Monkey See – Monkey Read, moved a block or so and across Division Street. This mix of used, new, and book ordering benefits from a knowledgeable proprietor who knows the collection enhanced by an in-store database. Fair Trade Books has become in its first year the lone book store in Red Wing MN, which gives credit for used books accepted and sells a n increasingly quality-prone collection of many used books and will order new ones. Also a venue for public readings. Goodwill [place] is a widely placed thrift, but in my experience seems to vary with its local environment. Sometimes the books enjoy broad and jumbled categories as close as they get to a helpful order. I look awhile until I tire. Half-Price Books [place] is the thriving used book and remainder chain, well-organized and well-stocked with titles moderately priced and clearance titles greatly reduced. I visit outlets routinely. Robert E. Hanson (Ko Shin), a friend of mine since 3rd grade shares books with me out of a common interest in poetry and religion. This summer I helped edit his latest publication. Hennepin County Library Friends Central has sold out its bookstore. I was there on the last day but found little among the jumble. Luther Seminary Book Store (Minnesota’s best-kept secret) supports the learning of its seminarians and the needs and interests of the wider church. Last year it relocated in the building it shares to the main floor and refocused itself more towards course support. Books are typically discounted and always some on clearance. Norwegian American Genealogical Center & Naseth Library, a membership organization located in Madison WI, provides resources and assistance for family searches. A few related books are for sale. Norwegian-American Historical Association, of which I am a life member, distributes copies of its publications to members.    Norway House, located in Minneapolis, promotes Norwegian heritage through exhibits, events, and cooperation with other organizations. A small gift store sells a few books. Norwegian American Historical Association, of which I am a life member, publishes research into the culture and provides translations of Norwegian literature. Ramsey County Library Friends are volunteers who sell donated and withdrawn books at incredibly low prices to raise funds for library related-programs. Saint Olaf Book Store, besides providing materials for courses, the works of faculty and alumni and other selections, keeps two book carts of remainders stocked. Sixth Chamber Used Books, operating in River Falls WI and Saint Paul, shares a common database with many books in storage.I love to browse, but since the shelves are crowded, searching the file is also very helpful. Ray Stubbe whom I knew in college. SubText, formerly a lower level bookstore in the Blair Building, is now the only bookstore in downtown Saint Paul. It features well-chosen books and engaging atmosphere thanks to its conversational owner. They also order on demand. This independent bookstore became my favorite, one that I patronize whenever I can. Patricia A. Sween transfers to me books that have come to her but she doesn’t want. Swingles, that is the Sween-Dingle family, on the alert for books of interest to me.  Unique [place] is a thrift store with some used books in broad categories at moderate prices and additional discounts. Value Village on White Bear in St. Paul, a thrift outlet of ARC, has some used books at low prices; color-coded tags relate to the items that are half-off on a particular day. Beverly Voldseth, a Minnesota poet with whom I meet monthly to read Poetry aloud and discuss the poems, also gives me books.

Added: 8 January, Half-Price Books, Maplewood.

#15958 J. Alter, The center holds: Obama and his enemies. 3.25

#662r H.A. Johnson, The Chief Justiceship of John Marshall. 3.20

#15959 Romanesque Art (Pocket Visual Library). 2.15

 Added: 19 January, Half-Price Books, Saint Paul.

#15960 N. Branden, My years with Ayn Rand. 8.60

#15961 N.F. Cantor, Antiquity. 3.25

#15962 D.P. McNeil, D.A. Morrison, H.J.M. Nouwen, Compassion. 2.15

#15963 T.Mallon. A book of one’s own: … diaries. 2.15

Added: 26 January, Value Village.

#15964 J.E. Lendon, Song of wrath: the Peloponnesian War begins. 2.40

#15965 O. Pamuk, Istanbul: memoires and the city. 1.60

Added: 27 January, Ramsey County Library Friends, Maplewood.

#15966 J.N. Rakove, Revolutionaries: … the invention of America. 1.00

Added: 2 February, Half-Price Books, Saint Paul.

#15909r J.C. Miller, The wolf by the ears: … Jefferson and slavery. 2.15

#9184r T. Zeldin, An intimate history of humanity. 2.15

Added: 2 February, SubText.

#15967 W.K. Krueger, Ordinary grace: a novel. 17.25

Added: 11 February, SubText

#13069r The readers companion to world literature; 2nd ed.; rev. & upd. (Hornstein, Edel, & Frenz). 10.70

Added: 17 February, Half-Price Books, San Antonio (Broadway)

#15968 D. Jones, The Plantagenets: … who made Englaind. 9.70

#15969 H. Vickers, The royal line of succession [in Britain]. 5.40

#15970 The writings of the Apostolic Fathers (Foster). 10.85

Added: 18 February, Thrift, Fredricksburg TX.

#15971 J.C. Furnas, The Americans: a social history … 1587-1914.

Added: 18 February, Half-Price Books, San Antonio (Huebner).

#15972 R.E. Brown, The churches the apostles left behind. 4.35

#15973 W.A. Simmons, Peoples of the New Testament. 14.05

Added: 25 February, Half-Price Books, San Antonio (Huebner)

#15974 H. Mount, Carpe diem: … Latin in your life. 2.15

Added: 27 February San Antonio Museum of Art.

#15975 The San Antonio Museum of Art: guide to the collection (Powers & Johnston).  27.00

Added: 6 March, SubText

#15976 S. Crane, The red badge of courage (Binder). 19.30

#15977 D. Hammett, The Maltese falcon. 15.10

Added: 14 March, SubText.

#15978 N. Vincent, Magna Carta: … short introduction [and text]. 12.90

Added: 14 March, Sixth Chamber Used Books, Saint Paul.

#15979 [Dante] The figure of Beatrice, by C. Williams. .55

#15980 A.E.D. Howard, Magna Carta: text and commentary. 5.35

#10400r N. Pevsner, An outline of European Architecture. .55

#15982-15983 K.F. Reinhardt, Germany: 2000 years; 2v. 1.10

Added: 4 March, 4 March, NAHA

#15981 O.S. Lovoll, Across the deep blue sea: … early American immigrants. membership

Added: 3 April, Half-Price Books, Maplewood.

#10326r F. Copleston, A history of philosophy: v.1, Greece and Rome. 8.55

Added: 4 April, Half-Price Books, Saint Paul

#15984 E.S. Morgan, The genuine article: … looks at early America. 3.25

#15985 A.L. Poole, From Domesday Book to Magna Carta, 1087-1216. 8.60

Added: 6 April, SubText

#15986 J.A. Michener, Tales of the South Pacific. 17.20

Added: 13 April, Luther Seminary Book Store

#15986 The Christological controversy (Norris). 3.50

#15987 Documents for the study of the gospels (Cartlidge & Dungan). 8.30

#15988 N.C. Habel, Literary criticism of the Old Testament. 5.40

#15989 P. Rousseau, Pachomius: … [monastic] community in fourth-century Egypt. 3.50

#15990 S.M. Sheeley & R.N. Noah, The Bible in English translation. 3.50

Added: 6 May, Half-Price Books, Saint Paul

#15991 R. Arenas, Before midnight falls. 2.15

#15992 C.M. Carmichael, Sex and religion in the Bible. 3.25

#15993 E. Millgram. Practical induction [rationality]. 2.15

#15994 Passionate hearts: the poetry of sexual love (Maltz). 2.15

#15995 Philosophy in history: essays on the historiography … 2.15

#15996 D.C. Steinmetz, Luther in context. 1.10

#15997 J. Story, A familiar exposition of the Constitution of the United States. [1st pub 1859] 3.25

Added: 12 May, Fair Trade Books

#16014 A. Etzioni, The moral dimension: toward a new economics. 8.55

Added: 15 May, Barnes & Noble, Madison, WI: West Towne

#15998 M. Bishop, The Middle Ages. 1.35

#15999 Change we can believe in: Barack Obama’s plan … 1.05

#16000 N.Chomsky, Necessary illusions: thought control … 1.05

#16001 A.C. Desmond, Cleopatra’s children. 1.05

#16002 The dictionary of global culture (Appiah & Gates). 1.05

#16003 M. White, The Pope and the heretic: … Giordano Bruno… 2.10

Added: 18 May, Luther Seminary Book Store

#16005 Bible. New Testament. A new New Testament: … combining traditional and … discovered texts. 25.85

#16006 J.L. Crenshaw, Old Testament wisdom; rev. & enl. 8.35

Added: 23 May, Hennepin County Library Friends, Central.

#16007 Bible. O.T., Ancient Israel, the former prophets (Alter). 1.95

#16008 C. Brooks, The well wrought urn: … structure of poetry. .65

#16009 C. Randall & M. Makowsky, The discovery of society; 3rd ed. .65

#16010 J.W. Gardner, Morale. .65

#16011 K.A. Kersten & M.B. Pearlstein, Close to home: … America’s experiment in freedom. .65

#16012 Late nineteenth-century American liberalism: selections, 1880-1900 (Filler). .65

#16013 J.C. Courtney, The problem of God [history of doctrine]. .65

Added: 3 June, Half-Price Books, Saint Paul

#16016 D.W. Kling, The Bible in History. 2.75

#16017 A parsing guide to the Greek New Testament [verb forms] (Han). 4.20

Added: 10 June, Fair Trade Books

#2565r D. du Maurier, Rebecca (Beauman). 4.20

#3096r G. Eliot, pseud., Silas Marner (A Beka Book). 3.40

Added: 13 June, Robert H. Hanson

#16018 Gui de Cambrai, Barlaam and Josaphat  (McCracken). gift

#16019 L. Herring, The writing warrior: … free your true voice. gift

Added: 23 June, Unique, Saint Paul (Sun Ray)

#16020 Confucius, The Wisdom of … (Lin Yutang). 1.60

#16021 J. Mirsky, The westward crossings: Balboa, Mackenzie, Lewis and Clark. 1.60

Added: 24 June, Fair Trade Books

#2420r J.F. Cooper, The last of the Mohicans. 6.95

#16022 J. Steinbeck, East of Eden. 9.10

Added: 5 September 1993, reclassification

#? Confucius, The analects of … (Waley). 5.95

Added: 24 June, Patricia A. Sween

#16024 W. Sundberg, A Seven-session course on Martin Luther. gift

Added 24, June, Ray Stubbe

#16025 R. Stubbe, Our “scientific” culture: … a future philosophy … gift

Added: 1 July, Norway House

#16026 K. Langeland, Norwegians in America, some records of the Norwegian emigration to America [1888] (Raneng, Huntrods/Lovoll). 16.15

Added: 5 July, Sub Text

#4453r E. Welty, Complete novels (Ford). 37.70

Added: 25 July, Half-Price Books, Saint Paul (Highland)

#16027 W.J. Bernstein, Masters of the word; how media shaped history … 2.15

#16028 The best American spiritual writing (Zaleski) 2005. 2.15

#16029 S. Biel, Independent intellectuals in the United States,1910-1945. 2.15

#16030 C.A. Butcher, Man of blessing: … St. Benedict. 2.15

#16031 T.F. Eagleton, Reason, faith, and revolution: … the God debate. 2.15

#16032 M. Godwin, Who are you? … seeing yourself. 2.15

# 16033 H. Marcuse, Eros and civilization: … inquiry into Freud.2.15

Added: 31 July, Half-Price Books, Maplewood

#16034 M.R. Beschloss, Presidential courage. 1.05

#16035 J.A.G. Man, Alpha beta: … shaped the Western world. 2.15

#16036 J.J. Palen, The urban world; 8th ed. 2.15

#16037 O. Pamuk, The naïve and the sentimental novelist: … when we write and read. 2.15

#16038 A. Rippin, Muslims: … beliefs and practices. 2.15

 Added: 8 August, Barnes & Noble, Duluth

#16039 R. Aslan, Zealot: .. life and times of Jesus … 7.60

Added: 10 August, Canal Park Flea Market

#16040 W.P. Webb, The Great Plains. 3.25

Added: 12 August, Goodwill, Cottage Grove

#16041 H. Innes, Scandinavia. 1.60

Added: 13 August, Content Bookstore

#16042 H. Bornkamm, Luther in mid-career,1521-1530. 10.75

#16043 P.J. Palmer, A hidden wholeness: … toward an  undivided life. 8.60

Added: 13 August, Saint Olaf College Bookstore

#16044 J. Stauffer, Giants: … parallel lives of Douglass and Lincoln. 6.45

Added: 17 August, Half-Price Books, Saint Paul

#16045 J. Simpson, Sciences and the self in Medieval poetry. 2.15

Added: 17 August, Half-Price Books, Saint Paul (Sun Ray)

#16046 D. Knowles, The religious orders in England: v.2, The end of the Middle Ages [1334-1485]. 3.25

Added: 29 August, Ramsey County Library Friends, Maplewood.

#16047 M. Faust, Remember–no electricity! .5o

#16048 L. Fowler, The Columbia guide to American Indians of the great plains. 1.00

#16049 S. Greenblatt, Will in the world: … Shakespeare became Shakespeare. 2.00

#16050 A. Nash & C. Strobel, Daily life of the native Americans: from post-Columbian through 19th century … 1.50

#16051 The speech: race and Barack Obama’s “A More Perfect Union” (Whiting). 1.00

Added: 1 September, Half-Price Books, Maplewood

#2589r G. Eliot, pseud. Janet’s repentance (Hughes). 4.30

#16052 G. Eliot, pseud. Mr. Gilfil’s love story (Gunn). 4.30

#16053 P.D. Wellstone, The conscience of a liberal. 2.10

Added: 3 September, Barnes & Noble, Roseville.

#2596r G. Eliot, pseud. The Mill on the Floss. 11.80

Added: 5 September, Robert E. Hanson (Ko Shin).

#16054 R.E. Hanson (Ko Shin) Somewhere between Yubari and Cold Mountain [poetry] (Sween). gift

Added: 10 September, Barnes & Noble, Madison (West Towne)

#16055 D.A. Leeming & M.A. Leeming, A dictionary of creation myths. 1.05

Added: 11 September, Norwegian American Genealogical Center & Naseth Library.

#16056 C.A. Culbertson & J. Paulson, A research guide for Norwegian genealogy. 15.00

Added: 11 September, Half-Price Books, Madison (East Towne).

#16059 A. Plowden, Danger to Elizabeth [I and Catholicism]. 2.15

Added: 25 September, Half-Price Books, Maplewood

#16058 B.C. Crosby & J.M. Bryson, Leadership for the common good. 2.15

#16060 E.L. Doctorow, Andrew’s brain [novel]. 6.40

#16061 E. Post, Emily Post’s etiquette; 16th ed. (P. Post). 2.15

#16062 G. Wills, Henry Adams and the making of America. 2.15

Added: 23 September, Beverly Voldseth

#16063 D. Walcott, Omeros [poems]. gift

Added: 3 October, Content Bookstore

#16064 Documents from the history of Lutheranism, 1517-1750 (Lund). 10.75

#16065 The origins of Christianity: sources … (Key). 5.35

Added: 3 October, St. Olaf Bookstore

#16066 M.A. Caws, Virginia Woolf. 4.35

#16067 Eyewitness Travel:: Stockholm. 10.75

Added: 10 October, Norwegian-American Historical Association.

#16068 H.C. Heg, The Civil War letters of Colonel H.C. Heg (Blegen). Membership

Added: 13 October, Amazon.

#16069 F.E. Peters, Greek philosophical terms. 13.35

Added: 14 October, Bookbyte.

#16070 J.D. Bessler, The birth of American law. 6.05

Added: 12 November, Half-Price Books, Madison, WI – East Towne

#16071 Confessing the one faith: … explication of the Apostolic faith … 2.10

#16072 S. Hook, From Hegel to Marx. 2.10

#16073 C.M. Radding & F. Newton, Theology, rhetoric, and politics in the Eucharist Controversy, 1078-1079. 2.15

#16074 K.J. Torjesen. When women were priests: … early church … 2.10

Added: 1 December, Luther Seminary Book Store

#16075 M. Casey, Strangers to the city: reflections on [the Benedictines]. 3.50

#16076 T. Otto, Oriented to faith: … conflict over gay relationships. 3.50

#16077 R.F. Rea, Why church history matters. 3.50

#16078 J.G. Stackhouse, Need to know: … Christian epistemology. #5.40

#16079 J.H. Walton, Ancient Near Eastern thought and the Old Testament. 3.50

Added: 4 December, Amazon Books

#16080 Aristotle, Selections (Irwin & Fine). 27.00

Added: Half-Price Books, Roseville

#16081 A. Robinson, The story of writing. 2.15

#16082 M. Stone, Ancient mirrors of womanhood: a treasury of … lore … 2.15

#4221r H.B. Stowe, Uncle Tom’s cabin (Ammons). 8.60

#16083 A. Wroe: The perfect prince: [Perkin Warbeck] and deception in Renaissance Europe. 2.15

Added: 16 December, Friends of the Ramsey County Library

#16084 T. Standage, An edible history of humanity. 1.00

Added: 21 December, Cy Chauvin

#16023 P. Lively, Dancing fish and ammonties: a memoir. gift

Added: 24 December, Swingles

#16085 A. Lincoln, The literary works of … (Van Doren). gift

#16086 London in Dickens’ day [sources] (Korg). gift

Added: 29 December, Barnes & Noble at HarMar, Roseville

#2277r P.S. Buck, The good earth. 17.15

#16087 Dictionary of 20th-century history. 1.10

#16088 A.D.S. Johns, The nature of the book. 5.35

#16089 C. Murphey, God’s jury: the inquisition … 1.05

#16090 A.J. Reichley, The values connection [to religion]. 1.05

Editions 2015 is closed. To continue, see Additions 2016.


My Religious Beliefs

January 1, 2015

Responses When Prompted by a Survey

Revised 3 July 2017

I have no established idea of how religion or questions of faith relate to psychological type. I know that as an INTJ, I am intellectual about religion as a viable subject of study and reflection. Attentiveness to religion depends upon recognizing that the subject differs from others in one significant way. In matters of faith, basic beliefs and tenets escape proof in the evidentiary way common to other arguments.

In the post-enlightenment era, we have lost our ready acceptance of transcendence. Religion originates outside nature in sources beyond human knowing; revelation operates instead. This lack of provability and reliance on belief in the absence of proof is what makes religion a matter of faith.

Therefore, my views and the comments following come from personal background and experience. For a time in my adolescence, I had some difficulties with Christian teaching as I found puzzlements over views of self and related ethical questions. I was never bothered about questions of the supernatural: my motto was, “It is as easy to believe in one miracle as another.” My uncertainties lasted a couple years. Then, most of my theological problems receded by reading Aulen’s The Faith of the Christian Church; 4th edition (1948) and Tillich’s The Courage To Be and Love, Power, and Justice, and thanks to the excellent teaching of Frederick Bainton for whose class I read these books. Even earlier I had acknowledged the existential differences between eternity, time and the fullness of time thanks to Schnackenberg (1957) upon the subject.

This domain of belief rebounds from my life as a Christian and one of the Lutheran persuasion. Being of Norwegian descent, I say that I have been Lutheran since the late middle ages when Lutheranism came to Norway by way of Denmark. Norway was at that time attached to Denmark, a step away from the Reformation wrought by Luther and his colleagues in Germany. I have attended church since the womb, Sunday School from pre-school days, release time instruction through the years of public school, Luther League, confirmation and morning matins in my senior year.

In junior and senior high, I became the perennial Pocket Testament League secretary. I read both the King James and Revised Standard versions of the Bible straight through and wrote a pageant of the Bible story for Luther League performance.

Then I attended four years at St. Olaf, a college of the church, and subsequently became an active member of congregational life. I have since teen age years continuously studied history, then Bible, theology and philosophy and viewed my denomination (currently the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, thanks to a century of mergers) as mainstream in Christian life and thought.

Over the years, I have worked to explore my faith in terms of a systematic theology as far as I could endeavor to comprehend and apply it. For me, theology is a rational and exegetical means of seeking and forming an understanding of what is beyond full comprehension and experience in matters of faith. Admittedly, theology establishes itself consequential from what a believer takes as the basis of faith. My theology remains dependent on a “deep reading” of Biblical testimonies and a deliberate effort to comprehend the growth of Biblically resonant theology over the ages. I do not see theology as dogmatic, but as exploratory, wrestling with matters of faith in order to better appreciate, receive and employ them.

The prompt for my responses at this point comes from an older book, one I acquired in April 2000 because of its title: Challenge of a Liberal Faith (1980) by George N. Marshall; revised, updated, and enlarged. When I recently chose to read it, I discovered that it comes from the Unitarian Universalist tradition. I have worked in interfaith collaboration on social justice with members of this denomination: as a result , I know them to be progressive and eager to seek equality for others. Mainly, I have been ignorant of their religious beliefs that appear broad to me without ever having the need to explore, let alone, understand them.

The book is both narrative and instructional and prior to the lessons requires a “Self-Inventory of Religious Attitudes.” Before I began to read anything else in the book, I took the inventory. I had not gone far when I realized responses depend on the understanding of the terms used and how understanding them likely varies with context. I find this to be a common challenge in completing any survey or public opinion poll.

My understandings or clarifications to the following survey particulars appear in brackets [].

I. I believe that God is: [Use of “God” is one familiar word humans use as reference to divine, transcendent being.]

a) a person – yes [God has personhood, however distinct from humankind, and distinct from being an operating principle or force.]

b) a spirit – yes [God exists as otherness, neither physical nor corporeal.]

c) a superhuman power – yes [God’s power transcends the human experience and the human consciousness, and because of otherness is without measure.]

d) a mystery – yes [We may attempt to comprehend God; however, God remains beyond our ability to fully frame any accurate concept.]

e) an impersonal power that rules the Universe by natural laws – no. [Contrary to a.]

f) a fiction created by wishful thinkers to console themselves – no. [People are free to think God is fictional or as true, even when others charge that belief is wishful and emotionally motivated.]

g) the creator of the world as stated in the Bible – yes [As long as we understand that the Genesis accounts use mythic forms to illustrate God as beyond time and space. God calls all worlds into existence.]

h) in some sense the creator and preserver of the best we know – yes [As long as this means an ethic of love of God and all creation that God makes possible, intends, expects, engenders and sustains.]

i) an outgrown idea in a age of science – no [Science is a human invention based on our ability to seek knowledge; God is beyond knowing through scientific investigation or any human means.]

II. I believe that people are:

a) basically good – no [Although not clear what is meant by basic or good, my understanding is that if we were basically good we would not have the great amount of ill-will, prejudice, and injustice that we have in the world. We would work harder to live together though deep-seated cooperative endeavors and without force.

b) basically sinful – yes [In the religious sense, sin means our separation from God in nature and will. Despite whatever goodness we manage, we are still distant from the power of goodness and love that represents God.]

c) weak and indecisive, and needs help to do anything worthwhile – no [The statement offers an all or nothing choice. Human actions are inconsistent and mixed. Of course, we ought to give one another as much help as we can manage. God’s gift to us is perpetual love and forgiveness.]

d) good, but still need God’s help – no [God gave this world and calls us to action. See the answers in II a-c.

e) the highest form of earthly life – yes [If by highest is meant most capable, thanks to the ability to intend and attend.]

f) beings that are able to choose between good and evil by their own native wisdom – yes [Generally we do have this ability as God has endowed us. Whether we utilize such ability and to what extent remains a matter of great difference between individuals and societies.]

g) capable of building a better world – yes [As in II f.]

h) created by God to aid in the progressive betterment of the world – yes [As in II f, g.]

III. I believe that Jesus:

a) was a son of God in some special sense – yes [Except that the personhood of Jesus always was and will be an agency of God.]

b) was a prophet, like Amos or Isaiah, but for a later time in history – yes [As long as we understand “prophet” as one who professes God and God’s works.]

c) was a human being like ourselves – yes [Understanding that like ourselves, Jesus as incarnated on Earth was truly human while being truly God, something that is the deepest of mysteries.]

d) was the greatest human being who ever lived, whose teaching and example sum up the best we know of the good life – yes [Of course the “greatness” of Jesus consists in the strength and efficacy of divine love professed and lived through teaching and example.]

e) was only one of many great leaders, like Confucius, Buddha, Mohammed, Gandhi, Schweitzer, etc. – no [Many other humans evidence greatness and goodness as regards paths of faith and action: yet, Jesus transcends all others as stated in III d and is not to be reduced or otherwise confined.]

IV. I believe that the Bible is:

a) true as no other book is true –yes [The Bible is a source of faith and a carrier of revelations of God from creation to the end of time.]

b) either all true or all false – no [The Bible is a collection or “scrapbook” of various literary forms composed and edited over millennia and in consequence varies in truth and application from part to part and carries the past and current limits of human knowledge and accuracy.]

c) a collection of both good and bad, plus some that is indifferent – no [The use of “good” and “bad” and even “indifferent” is not clear. As stated in IV b, the Bible varies in content and the utility of its parts and other related texts.]

d) interesting chiefly for historical reasons, like other old books – no [The Bible does provide some history, but is not chiefly historical unless history is understood as the story of God through created and human time.]

e) a valuable record of the search for God, or for enduring truth, full of the fascinating story of our upward growth toward maturity in religious understanding – yes [Actually, the Bible is invaluable to faith-formation. Through the story of the faithful, the Bible revolves around the work of God in the world in order that we humans may live and act to the fullest of our capacity. I will question whether there is much “upward growth toward maturity” in a consistent fashion.

f) a rule book for daily life – no [Neither am I sure what “rule book” means. The Bible has commandments, holiness codes, and other laws many of which have specific applications. At basis the greatest and transcendent of such commands is to love God and all other humans while caring for creation.]

g) a general guide to our own faith – yes [As expressed in IV f. Our task is to diligently read the Bible and take direction from its thematic and contextual message.]

h) a unique library of religious books, produced by a people who gave the world more basic individual and social religion than others – yes [These are claims as far as I know or can judge without having read all other scriptures or pertinent texts in other faiths.]

V. I believe that prayer is:

a) a means whereby people can really talk to God, and receive help – yes

b) a technique for taking stock of ourselves – yes

c) talking to oneself – no [Certainly not exclusively. It has been said “If we want God to hear our prayers, we must first hear them ourselves.”]

d) a merely formal way of influencing other people’s thoughts, as used in church services – no [Community prayers have value as to sharing concerns, enlarging recognition of the needs of others, affirming the union of those called together.]

e) a power that can actually change the course of events – yes [Of course, this does not necessarily mean every event at every time. Prayer is more likely observable to change those who pray.]

f) a way of consulting one’s own conscience – yes [Prayer encompasses both self-examination and admission or confession of needs and errors.]

g) I am undecided – no [I ought to pray more and more regularly and with greater articulation. I should move beyond general reliance on liturgy (which I dearly love and enjoy), routine and rote.]

VI I believe that the church is:

a) the best means we have of bringing religious influence into life – yes [Presumably “church” means the body of those on the path of faith – that is, the called of God – a term that has local, institutional, finite, historical, and eternal dimensions. Thus “church” is both particular and transcendent. Church is the vehicle to engage and join individuals into this community. It is also eternally inescapable.

b) an old-fashioned institution that should be superseded by some newer and more efficient form of teaching religious and moral truth – no [As an institution, the church is always changing and widely varies in particulars from place to place. My personal view is that churches have never plumbed to the core how religious and moral truth are best learned and what their role is in nurturing that learning.]

c) still useful as the guardian of our moral and spiritual welfare, but should not be placed first in a busy person’s life – no [A statement like this posits that the church is “them” when it is in faith terms “us.” Church is not so much the guardian as it is the home and family of our welfare.]

d) important to the word-wide effort to secure peace and democracy – yes [Presumably in the world context, peace means concord and harmony among all people and democracy means the participation of all people in the process of living together. Love, community, and justice are all basic components of God’s will for humanity. Our challenge is to follow and exercise that will.]

e) indispensable to the attainment of a worldwide community among people everywhere – yes [As in VI d.]

f) badly needs to be improved – no [What is the sense of “badly?” Improvement is always desirable. All worship communities and all individuals outside of their institutional settings can do far better in committing and working towards our common good.]

g) all right as it is – no [As in VI f.]

VII. I believe:

a) that all people are of equal value in the sight of God or of history regardless of color, race, creed, or class – yes [Except I would prefer “sight of God and of history.”]

b) that some people are inherently superior to others – yes [Assuming that “superior” refers to characteristics or attributes that vary among individuals accounting for our differences. The importance of community is that we differ and we need one another’s talents or gifts for the common good.]

c) that while all people are equal, conditions today make racial equality impossible to attain, and that we must wait – no [Rather, we must act by examining ourselves against the call to love the neighbor and work towards greater association and inclusion of all people.]

d) that the attainment of inter-racial good will is the first objective of the church today, especially the liberal church – no [Race relations are one aspect of our lives together while the first objective of the “church,” however situated, is to proclaim the gospel. That is the good news of God’s love, forgiveness and command.]

e) the church should say nothing about politics in any form – no [Given that politics is the understanding and actions necessary to foster our lives together, the church has the charge to speak out for love, peace and justice – all necessary components of politics.]

f) that while the church should avoid party politics, it should express itself courageously on great social and moral questions that are being discussed by the agencies of government – yes [From the foundation as in VI e.]

g) the church should never engage in controversial discussions, regardless of their moral significance – no [As in VI e, f., never is a long time and contrary to the church’s existence.]

h) the church should not hesitate to take a stand on controversial questions in which the physical, moral and spiritual welfare of all people is at stake – yes [Exactly; unfortunately not all church bodies agree or even all members of the same body.]

All the above illustrates how I have worked through faith issues over my lifetime. Most of my adulthood, I have remained consistent but still questioning. I continue to recognize that I can increase my understanding as well as the actionable aspects of my faith.

This is where I am now.

© Copyright 2015 by Roger D. Sween.