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Books God Libraries Religion Teach Me How to Dewey

DDC 210-219: Are you there, God? It’s Melvil

A Teach Me How To Dewey production

This Is How We Dewey:

  • 211 Concepts of God
  • 212 Existence, attributes of God
  • 213 Creation
  • 214 Theodicy
  • 215 Science & religion
  • 216 No longer used—formerly Evil
  • 217 No longer used—formerly Prayer
  • 218 Humankind
  • 219 No longer used—formerly Analogies

Once again we’ve got a number of winning Ghosts of Dewey Past. Perhaps it’s fitting that formerly evil is in the section about God. Whether by divine intervention, miracle, or the fortuitous maneuverings of an OCLC employee, Dewey #216 is no longer the damnable hellscape of sin and evil it once was, and I for one am thankful. I was pleasantly surprised to find a quite varied field of God-related books: some that argue for the existence of God, others that aren’t so sure, and some that make a federal case out of their certitude either way. Personally, I’m more interested in the former than the latter. Doubt, like any tool, serves an important purpose in its right context, so leaving some room for it, I think, is a healthy way to look at the world.

But what do I know anyway?

The Dew3:

Einstein’s God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit
By Krista Tippett
Dewey: 215
Random Sentence: “But ‘wonder’ for St. Augustine was a religious experience that drove back to a creator.”

Divinity of Doubt: The God Question
By Vincent Bugliosi
Dewey: 211.7
Random Sentence: “I’ve said that I don’t believe Jesus was insane.”

Galileo Goes to Jail: And Other Myths About Science and Religion
Edited by Ronald Numbers
Dewey: 215
Random Sentence: “As Stark sees it, chimneys and pianos, and all the more so chemistry and physics, owe their existence to Catholics and Protestants.”

Categories
Media Nature Science Travel

Silence Is Beholden

2013-09-17 12.42.28

I was on a solo hike a few weeks ago on a beautiful northern Californian day in Shasta Trinity National Park. It was a weekday morning, so I had the place to myself. I followed the Waters Gulch trail for about a mile or two as I trekked the path toward Packers Bay. The river (pictured above) was low, exposing the golden sediment beneath the thick green trees. It wasn’t long into the trail when the bustling world outside the Park faded and the world hushed. Though I knew I was walking through a vibrant and wild ecosystem of life in many forms, I was awed by its absolute silence.

Not a car. Not a plane droning above. Just my boots on the gravel. It was divine.

I wanted to capture that moment to take with me back into civilization, but I knew that some moments are better left uncaptured, free to roam on in time for the next eager seeker in need of some bliss. But I think some ought to be documented, if only because places like that — where noise doesn’t intrude on the soothing symphony of nature — are an endangered species.

And that’s why I suspect Gordon Hempton has the best job in the world. He’s an “acoustic ecologist” who records rare nature sounds and the few places on earth where silence still rules. He’s also the founder of One Square Inch of Silence, a research and advocacy project to protect the naturally silent habitats of the Olympic National Park in Washington.

I learned about Hempton through On Being, a podcast hosted by Krista Tippett I recently started listening to. It’s a great interview series featuring makers and doers of many stripes. Some recent guests include a Zen master and poet, a mathematician, a physicist, a pastor, and an oceanographer. Each has their own area of expertise and interest, but what I like about the series so far is how each show, despite the varying subject matter, still lives within the same sphere held together by the centripetal forces of truth, discovery, beauty, and meaning.

Tippett’s conversation with Hempton was so serene and poetic and enlivening. He defines silence not as merely the absence of sound but instead as “silence from all these sounds that have nothing to do with the natural acoustic system.” He sees the world as a “solar-powered jukebox” and links our modern world’s lack of silence to our inability to listen.

I don’t need an excuse to seek out quiet. My introversion calls for a degree of separation from the world in order to recharge, and often that separation leads me to a quiet place, where I can only hear waves overtaking shoreline rocks, or rain falling on leaves. It’s so hard in an urban setting to escape the noisiness of the world, but it’s important to do so. Quiet, as Gordon Hempton says, is a “think tank of the soul.” We don’t have natural ear-lids for a reason.