"The glory of God is man fully alive, and the life of man is the vision of God." -St Irenaeus of Lyon

Archive for June, 2010

Poignant thought

As I am adjusting to a new community, I find myself rapidly approaching the “disenchanted” stage of cultural entry.  It’s easy enough to know the process as I have survived through it many times.  Needless to say, this quote from St Jerome struck a chord.

A friend is long sought, hardly found, and with difficulty kept.
-St. Jerome



So I find myself in the awkward place of trying to encourage people to be brilliant while simultaneously finding myself in over my head.  It’s unfortunate when so much of my education is theoretical because I’m attempting to construct hands-on activities that engage my students where they are with a good time.  I want desperately to succeed as their instructor as their success as a student generally is contingent on my success as a teacher.

I resume my digging around, trying to find ways to empower my students to think creatively and flexibly.  It’s hard to stay out in front of them.

Reportable engineering

I find myself teaching engineering at the introductory level this summer.  It’s quite fun.  I have considerable control over what I do in a given day while working with motivated students.  Both features make teaching solidly wonderful.

I read the news pretty faithfully.  Because I’m teaching this class, I’ve been looking for good engineering headlines.  The oil spill, green energy initiatives, new electronic gadgets, and the discovery of minerals in Afghanistan have been predominantly featured in the news as of late.  But the relatively few topics that make the news actually seem to propagate misconceptions in engineering by defining a narrow domain for engineers to work.

So I’m trying to do what I can to expand the box, helping my students understand what counts as engineering across an array of domains.  We’ll see how this goes.

On moderation

A hunter in the desert once saw Abba Antony enjoying himself with the brothers, and he was shocked. Wanting to show him that it was necessary sometimes to meet the needs of the brothers, the old man said to the hunter: “Put an arrow in your bow and shoot it.” So he did. The old man then said: “Shoot another arrow.” And he did so. Then the old man said: “Shoot another arrow.” But the hunter replied: “If I bend my bow so much I will break it.” Then Antony said to him: “It is the same with the work of God. If we stretch the brothers beyond their measure, they will soon break. Sometimes it is necessary to come down to meet their needs.”

St Anthony the Great, courtesy of the Orthodox Preachers Institute

Lead singers can be weird

People do interesting things for attention.  Seeking the spotlight can cause us to do things that we otherwise would not do.  Indeed, we can distract from something else of substance. 

Yet I think we all struggle with the idea of over-the-top performance that calls undo attention to ourselves.  It can be really challenging to remember that this life is not all about us.

Friday Forum: Revisiting Love Requires Restraint

Over the course of the week, I have been thinking about the idea that love requires restraint while simultaneously running myself into the ground.  It is very easy to place ourselves in situations that we would never advocate for other persons.  When set against the idea of love requiring restraint, our tendency to overextend ourselves speaks to the restraining quality of loving ourselves.

Many people advocate towards self-love.  Loving one’s self is a tricky task as the idea lends itself to prideful self-absorption that renders other persons as servants.  However, loving one’s self seems to take on a different sort of character when paired with the idea that love requires restraint.

For instance, over-filling my schedule to the point of consistent sleep imbalances does not feature the restraint required to care for myself.  Pursuing all options does not feature restraint.  “No” enables us to practice restraint, but very rarely do we practice this word.  We also need to consider our priorities and simultaneously prioritize keeping our priorities in their proper order.  It can be difficult to exercise appropriate restraint when everything comes crashing down at once.

Conference strangeness

The conference I attended recently had a party game that involved an haiku creation contest.

In the spirit of the party game, I decided to summarize my talk about a research methodology in haiku.  Here is my original composition inspired by the observation that “Domain analysis” has 5 syllables for you all to enjoy.  Feel free to be totally overwhelmed by my nerd status.

Domain analysis
Questions, questions and questions
Directions emerge

Locate site to work
Remember study’s purpose
Very important

Connect the questions
Deepen our understanding
And locate the gaps

Main goal of method
Practical and relevant