Distractions: May 2011 Edition

May 2011 Easter Edition

This has been an extremely busy month for those of us in my household. A move to Davis, CA and the business of caring for three children age 3 yrs. and under, have taken their toll. It has been a challenge to consistently post new material here on Abstract Cathedral. With that said, here are some items of interest for your consideration and distraction.


  • Stream new albums from Death Cab For Cutie (Codes and Keys) and Eddie Vedder (Ukulele Songs)
  • An interview with Buddy Miller and Pattie Griffin on World Cafe
  • An exciting collaboration between Google and the Library of Congress has finally some to fruition. Stream over 10,000 of the earliest recordings of American music that exist. National Jukebox is the name of this Music Anthropologists dream.
  • The history of Classical Music in a few short YouTube videos
  • Happy 70th birthday to Bob Dylan. As a tribute take a look at the funniest Dylan impression I have ever seen.


  • A themed website from Wheaton professor Alan Jacobs. The Gospel of the Trees is an attempt to consider the grand Biblical narrative from the perspective of a tree. Sound interesting? Check it out here.  This is a really fun and interactive site to explore.
  • The Feast of St. Augustine was May 26th. A day in which Protestant and Catholics can look back at a figure both consider a Saint. Here are a series of lectures from Ben Myers about St. Augustine and the Trinity.
  • What should the future of seminary education look like? Here are an intriguing couple of articles from Forbes magazine considering the role that apprenticeship and technology may play in “The Great Relearning.”
  • The Archbishop of Canterbury responds to letter from six-year old.

Cultural Loose Ends

  • Breaking the Psychological chains of slavery: National Radio Project
  • Open Library is hoping to develop a webpage for every book ever published.  Welcome to information overload.
  • Worst PPT Slides contest winners here!
  • 375 free online courses from top universities

And Finally…

This quote from the late Neil Postman has been bouncing around my mind lately. Especially the line, “Technology is the knack of so arranging the world that we do not experience it.” I think it may also be true that technology arranges the world in a way that we don’t normally experience life on a daily basis. Thus, setting us up for disappointment when the world we experience apart from technology fails to deliver the worlds we are in control of creating with the aid of technology.

For like another god, the God who produced a Son and a Holy Ghost, the science-god has spawned another – the great narrative of technology. This is a wondrous and energetic story, which, with greater clarity than its father, offers us a vision of paradise. Whereas the science-god speaks to us of both understanding and power, the technology-god speaks only of power. It demolishes the assertion of the Christian God that heaven is only a posthumous reward. It offers convenience, efficiency, and prosperity here and now; and it offers its benefits to all, the rich as well as the poor, as does the Christian God. But it goes much further. For it does not merely give comfort to the poor; it promises that through devotion to it the poor will become rich. Its record of achievement – there can be no doubt – has been formidable, in part because it is a demanding god, and is strictly monotheistic. Its first commandment is a familiar one: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” This means that those who follow its path must shape their needs and aspirations to the possibilities of technology. No other god can be permitted to impede, slow down, frustrate, or, least of all, oppose the sovereignty of technology. Why this is necessary is explained with fierce clarity in the second and third commandments. “We are the Technological Species,” says the second, “and therein lies our genius.” “Our destiny,” says the third, “is to replace ourselves with machines, which means that technological ingenuity and human progress are one and the same.”

Those who are skeptical about these propositions, who are inclined to take the name of the technology-god in vain, are condemned as reactionary renegades, especially when they speak of gods of a different kind. Among those who have risked heresy was Max Frisch, who remarked, “Technology is the knack of so arranging the world that we do not experience it.” But he and other such heretics have been cast aside and made to bear the damning mark of “Luddite” all of their days.

-Neil Postman, The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School