Archives For Reflection


Preserving Absence

A Reflection on this new book and what it means for Christians:

The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in A World Of Constant Connection

Michael Harris

Hardback: Current, 2014
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reflection by Michael J. Bowling

[ Watch brief video intro to the book ]


We are flooded with presence! Twitter, Facebook, unlimited texting, smart phones, WIFI and a host of mobile devices put us in constant touch with nearly everyone on the planet. Maybe, this is a bit of an exaggeration today, but not so much in the near future. Some would respond, “What’s wrong with that?” After all, don’t we value presence? We want open and useful communication with others. Being present is at the core of Christian faith, right?

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“Becoming What One Is”

A review of
Examined Lives: from Socrates to Nietzsche

By James Miller

Reviewed by Michael Kallenberg

Examined Lives: from Socrates to Nietzsche.
James Miller.
Hardback: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

EXAMINED LIVES - James MillerPhilosophy is defined in the Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy as the “study of the most general and abstract features of the world and categories with which we think.” As James Miller (professor of political science and liberal studies at the New School for Social Research) notes, this definition exposes the contemporary understanding of philosophy as an academic discipline of technical inquiry and theory for what it really is: a truncation of the classical ideal of a true philosopher as a lover of wisdom who practiced self-examination as a way of life. In his sagacious collection of twelve short biographies of various ancient and modern philosophers entitled Examined Lives: from Socrates to Nietzsche, Miller seeks to redress this modern neglect of the considered life and consequent diminution of philosophy. Or to put it another way, he shows his readers that character really matters by illustrating how the details of the lives of philosophers are pertinent to understanding and appraising their professed views. Continue Reading…


A Brief Review of

Gardening: Cultivating Wisdom (Philosophy for Everyone Series).
Dan O’Brien, editor.
Paperback: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

As one of the newest volumes in their eclectic “Philosophy for Everyone” series (a intriguing concept of itself, as the publisher seems not only to target an audience of everyone, but also to tackle a list of topics that covers just about everything), Wiley has offered us a delightful volume on the topic of gardening.  Although the series is titled as philosophy, and although there is indeed much here to spur philosophical reflection, this volume also offers as much on the history of gardening (and the history of thinking about gardening) as it does on philosophy of gardening.  Aptly subtitled, Cultivating Wisdom, this superb volume covers much ground from exploring “the virtues of gardening” to the role of gardens and gardening in the work of philosophers both ancient (Plato and Epicurus) and modern (David Hume).  One of my favorite essays in the collection was Gary Shapiro’s piece on “The Philosophy of Central Park,” an aesthetic argument that “what are variously called gardens, parks, earthworks, or perhaps most generally land art should be acknowledged once again as major forms of art” (149).  Such an argument is not unfamiliar to me, as our art editor, Brent Aldrich, has often made similar arguments in these pages (most recently in this review).  However, I was delighted to find that Shapiro takes as his case study, Central Park, the quintessential urban park, and forms a poignant and convincing argument around the features of the place.  Helene Gammack’s essay on “Food Glorious Food” and Michael Moss’s essay on “Brussels Sprouts and Empire” were also among the highlights of this fine volume.  If you garden, this volume will undoubtedly provide much food for thought as you work the land; if you don’t, this volume may just provide some convincing evidence that would compel you to give it a go.  Either way, it is an engaging and enjoyable read, and readers of the ERB will certainly want to stay tuned for future volumes in this diverse – and apparently all-encompassing – series!