Sunday, January 25, 2015

RACE REPORT: 2015 Mountain Mist 50K

WAFF 48 Overnight Pinpoint Predictor
A light snow awaited the sunrise on Monte Sano for the 2015 running of Mountain Mist 50K. A half inch of rain the day before the race also made for some muddy conditions.

A five time veteran of Mountain Mist said, "I've run 5 Mountain Mists. Today was the worst I've ever seen the course. It really showed it's teeth today."

I've run two, myself, and I can already say that MM is like a box of chocolates--you never know what you're gonna get. Everyone is warned at registration to "expect anything and that includes cancellation." Last year it was 7 degrees when the shotgun start blasted. This year it was 32 degrees.

Leaving the warm fireplaces inside Monte Sano Lodge, runners exit onto Nolen Ave. for about a half mile until the pavement ends onto a smooth trail on the plateau of the mountain. The first two miles allows the 300+ runners to spread out. Our beloved photographer, Gregg Gelmis, awaits us about a mile into the race.

Might As Well Jump (G. Gelmis)
Gregg asked me if I planned to jump today when he snapped my picture, and I told him I would do my best. I knew that if I planned to jump in some pictures that I'd better do it early.

This would look really cool if I could photo shop a witch's broom into it! Needless to say, I would not have this much energy by the end of the race. Mountain Mist is known to be a difficult, or technical, race course and nearly half the elevation gain of 3,700 feet is in the last seven miles.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Understanding The Enlightenment (Part 3): Politics & Religion in The American Revolution

William Bristow writes:

"...Controversy regarding the truth-value or reasonableness of religious belief in general, Christian belief in particular, and controversy regarding the proper place of religion in society, occupies a particularly central place in the Enlightenment."

"It's as if the terrible, violent confessional strife in the early modern period in Europe, the bloody drawn-out wars between the Christian sects, was removed to the intellectual arena in the Enlightenment and became a set of more general philosophical controversies..."

"Alongside the rise of the new science, the rise of Protestantism in western Christianity also plays an important role in generating the Enlightenment. The original Protestants assert a sort of individual liberty with respect to questions of faith against the paternalistic authority of the Church. The “liberty of conscience,” so important to Enlightenment thinkers in general, and asserted against all manner of paternalistic authorities (including Protestant), descends from this Protestant assertion. The original Protestant assertion initiates a crisis of authority regarding religious belief, a crisis of authority that, expanded and generalized and even, to some extent, secularized, becomes a central characteristic of the Enlightenment spirit."


"The tendency of natural science toward progressive independence from metaphysics in the eighteenth century is correlated with this point about method. The rise of modern science in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries proceeds through its separation from the presuppositions, doctrines and methodology of theology; natural science in the eighteenth century proceeds to separate itself from metaphysics as well... The characteristic Enlightenment suspicion of all allegedly authoritative claims the validity of which is obscure, which is directed first of all against religious dogmas, extends to the claims of metaphysics as well. While there are significant Enlightenment thinkers who are metaphysicians – the general thrust of Enlightenment thought is anti-metaphysical..."

"John Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690) exerts tremendous influence on the age, in good part through the epistemological rigor that it displays, which is at least implicitly anti-metaphysical. Locke undertakes in this work to examine the human understanding in order to determine the limits of human knowledge; he thereby institutes a prominent pattern of Enlightenment epistemology... Locke exerts great influence in the French Enlightenment..."

"Thomas Reid, a prominent member of the Scottish Enlightenment, responds to this epistemological problem in a way more characteristic of the Enlightenment in general. He attacks the way of ideas and argues that the immediate objects of our (sense) perception are the common (material) objects in our environment, not ideas in our mind. Reid mounts his defense of naïve realism as a defense of common sense over against the doctrines of the philosophers. The defense of common sense, and the related idea that the results of philosophy ought to be of use to common people, are characteristic ideas of the Enlightenment, particularly pronounced in the Scottish Enlightenment..."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Why Christians Need to Understand The Enlightenment (Part 2)

William Bristow writes:

"The Enlightenment is most identified with its political accomplishments. The era is marked by three political revolutions, which together lay the basis for modern, republican, constitutional democracies: The English Revolution (1688), the American Revolution (1775–83), and the French Revolution (1789–99). The success at explaining and understanding the natural world encourages the Enlightenment project of re-making the social/political world, in accord with the true models we allegedly find in our reason..."

"Enlightenment philosophers find that the existing social and political orders do not withstand critical scrutiny; they find that existing political and social authority is shrouded in religious myth and mystery and founded on obscure traditions. The negative work of criticizing existing institutions is supplemented with the positive work of constructing in theory the model of institutions as they ought to be..."

"We owe to this period the basic model of government founded upon the consent of the governed; the articulation of the political ideals of freedom and equality and the theory of their institutional realization; the articulation of a list of basic individual human rights to be respected and realized by any legitimate political system; the articulation and promotion of toleration of religious diversity as a virtue to be respected in a well ordered society; the conception of the basic political powers as organized in a system of checks and balances; and other now-familiar features of western democracies.."

"However, for all the enduring accomplishments of Enlightenment political philosophy, it is not clear that human reason proves powerful enough to put a concrete, positive authoritative ideal in place of the ideals negated by rational criticism. As in the epistemological domain, reason shows its power more convincingly in criticizing authorities than in establishing them."

"Though the Enlightenment is sometimes represented as the enemy of religion, it is more accurate to see it as critically directed against various (arguably contingent) features of religion, such as superstition, enthusiasm, fanaticism and supernaturalism. Indeed the effort to discern and advocate for a religion purified of such features – a “rational” or “natural” religion – is more typical of the Enlightenment than opposition to religion as such. Even Voltaire, who is perhaps the most persistent, powerful, vocal Enlightenment critic of religion, directs his polemic mostly against the Catholic Church in France..."

"In this era dedicated to human progress, the advancement of the natural sciences is regarded as the main exemplification of, and fuel for, such progress..."

Monday, January 19, 2015

Why Christians Need to Understand The Enlightenment

Understanding The Age of Enlightenment that laid the foundation for America is crucial for understanding our own assumptions. Enlightenment Thinking (ET) replaced religious thinking in an attempt to govern the world better. 

What preceded the Age of Enlightenment was The Renaissance and The Holy Roman Empire (Medieval Christianity) which was itself a mixture of State and Church that the American Revolutionaries attempted to separate. 

A vital part of understanding why we believe what we believe is based on the assumptions we make--the questions we ask at the beginning of our thinking processes that lead to our conclusions or fixed beliefs. 

We need to define our terms and seek to understand all we can about those definitions and the assumptions upon which they are built and this goes far beyond looking up words in a Greek or Hebrew lexicon, for example:

Q: When the Founding Fathers used the term 'God' what did they mean?
A: The Deist God

Q: How long has Deism been around?   
A: Since Ancient Greece

These previous two Qs & As are vital to us for two reasons.

One is because the Deist God is an absentee landlord image of God. A god who unlike the God of the Bible, is unconcerned with the affairs of this world, has set creation in motion, and left men to work it all out. This is what Enlightenment thinkers believed and applied to the God of the Bible.

This is why they believed God judged nations in real time history. They did not want an "afterlife" governing the present life. It's why the First Amendment in the U.S. Constitution says that Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion. They believed they could run the world better than the Catholic-Protestant Church had.