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November 20, 2006

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Brian,

Your blockhead skills could use some honing, take it from an expert. Allow me to demonstrate.

If I may venture a defintion of blockhead based on Lucy's insight, it would seem that blockheadmanship is the art of making people mad. Lucy got mad at Charlie and identified him as blockhead. She knew the right response to anger, that words can't hurt me, or as tao would say, they are "merely words." In other words, ignore it.

But alas, she could not control herself and shouted in anger and frustration. We don't know from the cartoon what Charlie did to deserve her scorn, that was probably in the previous frame. Nonetheless, it is important to note that Charlie is the blockhead, not Lucy.

But it doesn't really matter what Charlie did because real blockheadmanship is quite versatile. It can be adapted to almost any situation.

Here's the kicker.

Schultz was a life-long Christian, though his faith may have waned in his latter years. His work has been identified with the values and teachings of Christianity by Robert Short, who published the best-selling "The Gospel According to Peanuts," which illustrated various Christian teachings in Schultz's work. Yes, it was a shallow piece of kitsch. Regardless, it is fairly well established that Charles Schultz used his own life as the model for Charlie Brown. It is much more likely that Good Ol' Charlie Brown was a Christian than a Taoist sage. That doesn't effect the profundity of Charlie Brown's insights, but sources are important. As a writer, you should understand that.

The truth is, Brian, that you have hold of the blockhead stick by the wrong end. It is most definitely not the practice of coffin-like meditation or trying to intellectually emulate a block of wood that is the defining essence of real blockheadianism. No one gets mad at people who don't think anything or who don't do anything. No one will yell at someone lying in a casket, particularly not at someone who has made a life-long practice of not thinking or doing. ...Well, it's rare.

Nonetheless, the real art of blockheadmanship is the refinement of critical and analytical sensitivities. Critical thinking skills are the foundation of a well-rounded blockhead, but true blockheadianism requires more than critical thought. It requires well-formed expression. But alas, even good communication skills are insufficient for becoming a master blockhead. For those who may be interested in going to the pinnacle of blockheadiality, there is one more important element.

Perspective. You see, if you just express critical thinking from your usual run-of-the-mill humanistic perspective, no one will be irritated. No matter how good your critical thinking skills may be, no matter how well you have refined your communication skills, you efforts will fall short if you limit yourself to humanism or any of its religious or philosophical variants.

Why? Because humanism is the natural condition of human beings. They are born that way, and that's they way they expect the world to be. Humanism just doesn't irritate humans. As I suggested, some of these humans like to think that they are "spiritual," the quotation marks are important in that they distinguish true "spirituality" from mere spiritualism. But the truth is that the only measure that they can use is humanity. Thus, their love of humanism in all of the rich and variegated multiplicity of its forms.

So, the true blockhead will develop critical thinking skills that can engage humanism, but which rely upon a different measure -- a better measure, a higher measure, a truly infinite measure. The best and most readily available measure to insure maximum irritation of humanists will always be the Bible. Serious blockheads, as opposed to blockhead wannabes, will always put a lot of time into Bible study. And the closer you can get to the real truth of the Bible, the more irritable you will become. And becoming is where it's at! The result is that you will not only be known far and wide as a passionate blockhead, but your blockheadmanship skills will be genuine.

And it's not bad in terms of practice for death, either. It will definitely provide you with a good handhold.

Phil
P.S. I do hope that you all understand that I'm half joking ...which means that I'm also half serious.

Phillip, I'll respond to the part of your comment that is half serious. Since my post, as well as the other half of your comment, was half joking, we can just laugh together on that end.

I've never thought that the art of blockheadmanship is to make people mad. You read the "Peanuts" strip a lot differently than I do. I see Charlie Brown as just living his life simply and innocently.

Lucy gets ticked off at him, but that's her problem, not his. You say that Charlie is more Christian than Taoist. Well, there are Christian Taoists. And I say Charlie is one. You, on the other hand, pretty clearly are not.

So I'm suggesting that you're reading yourself into Charlie Brown. If you can supply comic strip evidence that Charlie devoted himself to, as you put it, "the refinement of critical and analytical sensitivities," please share.

Laying with Snoopy by the dog house, I just don't see that going on.

Also, if humanism is the natural inclination of mankind, why is almost everyone on Earth so religious? You see yourself as bravely swimming against the tide. Since about 90-95% of people in this country believe in God, actually you're traveling with the herd (to mix animal metaphors).

People are attracted to easy answers about the big questions of life. That's what religion provides. Just read the Bible, or the Koran, or some other holy book, and you've got the answers. Supposedly.

To my mind, it is the humanists, agnostics, atheists, and scientifically minded who are striving to reality as it is, not as it is tritely made out to be.

Try running for political office as a humanist agnostic, Phillip. Then you'll see how widely that worldview is shared by the body politic. Then try running as a Christian. You'll find that the mainstream of our culture is religious, not humanistic.

Okay, it may be that we see what we see because there are little people living behind our eyes squeezing our optic nerves when they want, and letting go to wrestle with our sinuses. At least, that's my experience.

Charlie Brown seems most like a millenialist, of whatever stripe:

“I've developed a new philosophy... I only dread one day at a time.”

“That's the secret to life... replace one worry with another....”

“It always looks darkest just before it gets totally black.”

He is not really a bi-polar depressive, since there's only one pole involved, and you gotta get up to get down.

I think Cherlie Brown was modeled after Rainier Maria Rilke, (who didn't want psychotherapy because he feared that if the devils went away, the angels would go, too):

“There are three things in life that people like to stare at: a flowing stream, a crackling fire and a Zamboni clearing the ice.”

Brian,

I thought the subject of your post was blockheadism, not the philosophy of Peanuts. Charlie Brown is a blockheadial piker. To see Peanuts as philosophically deep is a view from the shallow end of the pool. It is for children (1 Corinthians 13:11).

In response to my tirade about the dominance of humanism as the most commonly held world view, you ask, why then are people so religious? The answer is simple. They aren't, not really (See Romans 3). People are deluded, don't believe the polls. Religious humanism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_humanism) has nothing to do with the only God who actually is. It is false religion, or belief in (a) false god(s). It's only natural.

Edward,

Your observation about little people living behind our eyes is exactly the subject matter of philosophical presuppositionalism - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presuppositional_apologetics. People tend to see what their presuppositions posit. It is the blindness that Christ came to cure. To get behind that, to the meta-arguments, is difficult. In biblical interpretation this tendency is called eisegesis, as opposed to exegesis.

Robert Paul,

I'm going to respond to your comment on http://hinessight.blogs.com/church_of_the_churchless/2006/11/reality_or_beli.html#comment-25626636 here as well because my response belongs here, as you will see.

Your efforts to incite my anger and rise to defend my father indicate that you have the potential to become a first rate blockhead. It's not enough to call me names, but you want to question the integrity of my family -- yo mamma! In a bar such comments would likely incite fisticuffs. Focus your efforts on Bible study and you will advance to the next level. Be patient and persistent, it is the most difficult level to attain.

What is a Christian to do? Love my enemies. But how? Generally speaking, the people we love are the people we are most truthful and honest with. Love doesn't mean that you don't have to say that you are sorry, it means that you confess your sins and tell the truth. Why both of these things? Because you can't have one without the other. They are like Siamese twins joined at the Corpus Callosum.

All,

Thank you for the opportunity to stimulate your juices. I ask forgiveness where I have misrepresented the God of the Bible. Your arguments are not with me because the ideas that I have expressed here are not mine. I am of little importance. Your arguments are with God. I pray that you will take them up with Him, and have provided some references for those who will.

I still have to work for a living, and I need to do more of that. So, I'll be taking a leave of absence for a while. If I can, I'll come back sometime and see how you all are doing. In the meantime -- God speed.

May your Christmas manger not be empty.

Phil

To "All,"
Goodness me! I believe we have been summarily dismissed.
Although I don't recall any point in my correspondence with Mr. Ross whereat I called him any names, he apparently believes that I have. Also I'm sorry that he infers that my following the "logic" which flows from his presupposed "axioms" seems to indicate his father's damnation. Goodness me (once more)! I'm not the one who would choose to condemn his father to predestined, ever-burning hell. The "God" he believes in, is. Mr. Ross really ought take up this problem with his "management." I suggest the responsibility lies there, rather than with me.
But, of course, Mr. Ross is simply striving to display (his understanding of) "the mind of God" in his chastising me/us - thoroughly goddamnable as we are. And, in fact, I believe he has displayed the "mind" of his "God." And I do thank that which truly is GOD that Mr. Ross' "interpretation" of the Bible, his "God," and reality are aberrant. But remember: in his opinion I'm not just a "potential...blockhead," I really am (by the exercise of good logic based on his axiomatic presuppositions) just as goddamned as his father seems to have been (at least insofar as what Mr. Ross told us about his father). This is too bad.
At any rate, I can well agree with him in his opinion that: "People are deluded." I see such more frequently than I would prefer. (But, then, I supposedly was/am predestined to be goddamned.)
Robert Paul Howard

Phillip Ross wrote:

"I ask forgiveness where I have misrepresented the God of the Bible."

You might be better to ask forgiveness from those living persons who are manifestations of the living God whom you have misrepreeented, rather than asking from some abstract notion of a supposed Biblical diety.


"Your arguments are not with me because the ideas that I have expressed here are not mine."

They are indeed yours because you have espoused them. It matters not where you got them. Your attempt to shirk the resonsibility which comes with such assertions and the subesquent judgements you make upon others of whom you have little or no knowledge or experience.


"I am of little importance."

Thats funny because it is quite the opposite of the very impression that you have given to myself and others in this group, as has been manifested in your self-assured, self-possessed, and very self-righteous stance. Maybe you should take a good long and deep look in the mirror.


"Your arguments are with God."

I cannot say for anyone else here, but for myself I have no such argument with God. God is totality, and there is no other.


"I pray that you will take them up with Him,"

Perhaps it is more that He has taken His arguments up with you... through us. But then at this point it is unlikely that you could surrender enough to see it that way. It is rather sad that you have come here to teach others, but have learned nothing yourself.

Until you finally discover who you really are, until you awaken into true Self-knowledge, wisdom and understanding will escape you.

Dear Brian,
Just a few days ago I read Harry G. Frankfurt's short, new book entitled _On Truth_ (2006). A portion of it (on pp. 76-79 [very short pages]) reminded me much of my agreement with (and against) Mr. Ross' contention that: "People are deluded...." In the following, please substitute "delusion" for "lie," and "deluded" for "liar." In both cases, then, I consider the following quotation worth while:
"The most irreducibly bad thing about lies is that they contrive to interfere with, and to impair, our natural effort to apprehend the real state of affairs. They are designed to prevent us from being in touch with what is really going on. In telling his lie, the liar tries to mislead us into believing that the facts are other than they actually are. He tries to impose his will on us. He aims at inducing us to accept his fabrication as an accurate account of how the world truly is.
"Insofar as he succeeds in this, we acquire a view of the world that has its source in his imagination rather than being directly and reliably grounded in the relevant facts. The world we live in, insofar as our understanding of it is fashioned by the lie, is an imaginary world. There may be worse places to live; but this imaginary world won't do for us, at all, as a permanent residence.
"Lies are designed to damage our grasp of reality. So they are intended, in a very real way, to make us crazy. To the extent that we believe them, our minds are occupied and governed by fictions, fantasies, and illusions that have been concocted for us by the liar. What we accept as real is a world that others cannot see, touch, or experience in any direct way. A person who believes a lie is constrained by it, accordingly, to live 'in his own world'--a world that others cannot enter, and in which even the liar himself does not truly reside. Thus, the victim of the lie is, in the degree of his deprivation of truth, shut off from the world of common experience and isolated in an illusory realm to which there is no path that others might find or follow."
This is a fine passage about lies and liars. Its content is also appropriate for application to delusions and the deluded.
Thank you for your attention.
Robert Paul Howard

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