Wednesday, January 2, 2008

We'll have sponge cake

The show with Rachel Naomi Remen Krista Tippett did on Speaking of Faith, was so wonderful, I proceeded immediately to listen to the full, unedited interview (download) and found in that one even more gems of thought.

Rachel Naomi Remen is a medical doctor who has discovered how much healing is different from curing and how it needs to involve listening, what she calls generous listening - let the patient talk as long as he needs. Apart from explaining how this works, she really delves into the essential roots of this and that is how we deal with loss, or alternately with the imperfections of our lives. That, of course, is more universal than just disease and dealing with being ill, or the illness of a close one.

What she insists is that we can have the good life, even if it doesn't seem perfect, easy, or in any way exemplary, heroic, successful or whatever grand goals we are taught to strive for. In her opinion we do not need to be perfect and the next step is even more important. What does it mean if we do not need to be perfect; it means our wounds, our imperfections, our failures and drawbacks are an integral part and we are still exactly what is needed. That is not just consoling (one should hope), but is also pulling us back to our own responsibility to actively live the life we live.

There is so much more to say. You must hear Remen explain the importance of stories, you must hear two specific stories. One of these stories involves the sponge cake and unfortunately it has been cut from the broadcast parts of the interview. Hence, listen to this podcast and also, please do, to the uncut interview.

More Speaking of Faith:
New Evangelicals (2) On Rick and Kay Warren,
New Evangelicals (1) On Jim Wallis,
V. V. Raman,
Reinold Niebuhr.

More on curing, healing and how we deal with it:
The Popperian Pathway,
The Four Humors,
A useful map into Bio-Ethics,
Stem Cell Research: Science, Ethics, and Prospects,
The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe.

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Iran - to strike or not to strike

Adam Garfinkle editor of The American Interest spoke at the University of Texas, the LBJ School of Public Affairs, about an American strike on Iran, the likelihood of such a strike and the measure to which such a strike would be good or bad. UChannel Podcast recorded and published the lecture.

The first part of the question is answered very briefly: no. The US is not likely to strike Iran. There are too many uncertainties around such a venture; the chances of success, the amount of time it would take and the effects it may have. The government and the president himself will not want to go on such a path and rather 'hedge' as Garfinkle calls it. I understand he means by this a policy of small backstage activities and wait and see.

A much larger part of the lecture is spent on the question whether the US should attack Iran. The point of such a strike would be to prevent Iran becoming a nuclear power. This questions receives neither a clear negative, nor a clear positive answer. The frightening thing is that one gets the feeling a pre-emptive strike in order to maintain the delicate balance in the region, might seem the better option. The risks are not downplayed at all, the risks of allowing Iran to acquire even a weapon, though nuclear, of negligible power, appear worse. Too many other players around who'd press for the same. Too many elements to disturb the balance.

Previously noted UChannel podcasts:
The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,
The Popperian pathway,
Less Safe, Less Free (Losing the War on Terror),
Beyond the Genome: the challenge of synthetic biology,
Israel, Iran, terrorism (UC podcast).

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