Aldon Hynes's blog

Two Types of People

It is an old cliché, “There are two types of people…” Those who divide the world into two types of people, and those who don’t. I tend to think more in terms of continua and less in terms of binary oppositions. Nonetheless, it is a valuable rhetorical device.

One such example is the quote attributed to Helen Keller, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” It is tempting to head off on a direction about the life of fear that seems to grip so many in our nation today, and the life of adventure. I choose adventure.

This came to mind this morning as I was reading some of Scott Cairns’ “Short Trip to the Edge”. On page 178, (at least in my copy of the book), he says,

Sometimes I think there are two Orthodoxies (as, perhaps, there are two Christianities) – the mystical faith of those who glimpse how little we know (and are drawn and driven by love), and the cranky faith of those who appear to know everything already (and wish the rest of us would either agree with them or disappear).

This resonates with me on several levels. It seems that those of us drawn and driven by love and willing to admit not knowing everything are too few and far between in politics. Likewise, it feels like the discernment process, at least in my branch of the Jesus Movement, fails to embrace those of us drawn and driven by love who admit to not knowing everything.

It feels like allowing God to shape and change me doesn’t fit with institutions that want to do the shaping themselves, perhaps out of fear of confronting changes they need to look at.

Yet again, perhaps we are confronting a false dichotomy. It is not binary oppositions, it is a continua. Our journey is to recognize what we don’t know, where we aren’t as loving as we could or should be and asking God change us in these areas.

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The Daily Examen - June 15-17, 2017

Daily Examen, Thursday, June 15, 2017

Waiting for friends to complete tasks
I need of them
I think of the tasks
other friends
need of me.

Daily Examen, Friday, June 16, 2017

Death waits at the doorstep
as candles honor
the addict gone to soon
and a phone call announces
another friend
unexpectedly deceased.

We eat
and pray
as we seek
to hold back
the forces of death.

Daily Examen, Saturday, June 17, 2017

Poems.
The dump.
A nap.
Dinner.
Reading.

A day of rest,
mostly,
with much to think about.

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Poetry of Everyday Life

Just saw
the Young Helfenbein’s
at the transfer station.
Not talking
about an emerging band
at a new concert venue;
simply observing
the youngest
seemed pretty content
in the driver’s seat
leaving the heavy work
to her brother.

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Googling Foucault

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook, “Why are there leftists who think Google is an appropriate means of anti-capitalist, anti-oppression pedagogy?” The first comment started talking about learning algorithms, as if such algorithms could somehow be politically, perhaps more importantly, contextually neutral.

Part of the discussion included the question, “If an encyclopedia reports reasonably accurately on, for example, slavery, does that make it pro-slavery or anti-slavery” and went on to say, “Google is a source of data, and in some cases, information”.

This of course leads to the question of whether learning algorithms are truly. One person shared a link to the bookWeapons of Math Destruction. I added to the discussion with a link to AI programs exhibit racial and gender biases, research reveals.

It seems to me that learning algorithms reflect the social context in which they were constructed. Unless there is some conscious effort by their creators, they end up re-enforcing the dominant narratives. This is than exacerbated if they factor in the choices of the users emphasizing the filter bubbles we all live in.

I must admit, most of what I know about Foucault comes from Googling him and reading various Wikipedia articles, but it seems like part of the response to this discussion is that people should Google Foucault; maybe even throw in some Deleuze, Guattari, Derrida, Fanon, Lacan, and others.

Then, as we move past learning algorithms, social constructs, and dominant narratives, perhaps we need to Google Freire as well, but that probably deserves its own blog post.

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What's Eating at You?

Young men
breaking their Ramadan fast
saw their building
consumed by flames
and sought to save
the world
by saving their neighbors.

An older man,
consumed by rage
began shooting
at congressmen;
another
at ex co-workers.

At mid-day mass
the faithful gathered
to be consumed
by God’s Love
as they tasted
the Body of Christ,
the Bread of Heaven.

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