Tag Archives: happiness

Truth and Political Decay

Congretional Pugilists (1798)
Congressional Pugilists (1798)

What a mess!

The current American political scene is likely to provoke this response from the thoughtful observer. Honesty, civility, and cooperation are almost unheard of. A sense of justice that does not entail revenge seems increasingly rare. Civic duty has given way to power grabs, political maneuvering to outright lies and even violence, and the common good to factional rights. A sense of fair play is all but lost.

But where, the thoughtful person might ask, have we gone wrong? Continue reading Truth and Political Decay

Goodness: Beyond Beneficial

Concordia University’s Enduring Questions & Ideas (Q&I) curriculum looks at the big questions of life through the context of the liberal arts and in the foundation of a Christian understanding of the world. The questions of “What is good?”, “What is true?”, and “What is beautiful?” are at the heart of the first year Q&I courses that students take in Core Biology, Core Theology, Core Philosophy, and, my subject area, Core Mathematics.

Of those three questions, the one that seems to be the most difficult for students to grasp (and for faculty to teach towards) is the question of goodness. Continue reading Goodness: Beyond Beneficial

Defining Happiness

This is the second of two posts on the question of happiness.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The second sentence of the Declaration of Independence is among its most remembered words. Embedded within this sentence is a statement of human rights and of natural law. It is a summary of why America was declaring her independence, even at the cost of war. There are many potential topics of discussion from this sentence that have been examined by philosophers, historians, and political scientists.  Of particular interest to myself, as a psychologist, is the “unalienable Right(s)…the pursuit of Happiness.” Continue reading Defining Happiness

The Comfortable People

tumblr_inline_nlmiz9hdi91qzq0wc_1280This is the second post of a two-part essay on Fahrenheit 451 and its application to colleges and community today.

Reading Fahrenheit 451 sixty years after it was written affords some surprising affirmations of Bradbury’s futuristic vision. Televisions nearly engulf living rooms with 3-D vision and surround sound. Sports occupy center attention. Books are abridged in SparkNotes and WikiNotes. The talking heads of cable news channels prattle incessantly.  Video games bombard viewers with a cacophony of colors, characters, and actions. People have earbuds stuffed in flooding them with sound and chatter.

Of all the prescient points of Bradbury’s book, one that stands out most today is the “comfortable people,” the depressed, suicidal people who shun and burn books that make them face excellence, ideas that contradict their positions, and complicated issues. Continue reading The Comfortable People

How Can You Serve Your Neighbor As a Student?

This is the second post of a three-part essay on the vocation of a student.

How can a student serve her neighbor? You might immediately jump to the idea of service projects or mission trips. True, these are ways to love others while being a student. But a person can do those quite apart from being a student. So the question still remains: how can a student love others through her calling as a student? Continue reading How Can You Serve Your Neighbor As a Student?

Was Chief Beatty Right?

Book_burningThis is the second post of a two-part essay on the Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, core texts, and Truth.

The story-line of the Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is deceptively simple. Bradbury presents a dystopian society in which ubiquitous electronic media inoculate the masses from the emptiness of their, largely externally determined, lives. Most books are banned, but media immersion ensures that most people don’t care one way or the other. The relative few who do care are watched, controlled, eliminated if necessary, and subjected to having their beloved books burned by the so-called “firemen.” One such fireman is the protagonist, Guy Montag. Montag believes himself to be happy, but his unexpected realization that he isn’t drives him on a quest for true happiness. That quest takes him into the forbidden world of books and ultimately away from all that he knows in his sad little world. Continue reading Was Chief Beatty Right?

What Is Happiness?

This is the first of two posts on the question of happiness.

Nestled within the opulence of Orange County, California, Concordia University Irvine has the distinct mission to develop “wise, honorable, and cultivated citizens.” To this end, the university has created a rich Core Curriculum focused on great works. Eight courses, paired with one another over the first four semesters of a college student’s experience, cover biology, history, theology, philosophy, literature, and mathematics. As students sit in classrooms, library, and dormitory rooms surrounded by professors and books, learning and reading about these subjects, it is tempting to naively believe that the students’ focus aligns with the historic mission of the university.

Encompassing the university, in fact, is the 3rd most populous county in the state, behind only Los Angeles and San Diego, with a median family income of $85,009 (the highest of the top 5 most populated counties in the state). Two of the top 10 richest neighborhoods in the US are minutes away from the university (US Census, 2010). Beaches, snowcapped mountains, Hollywood, and Disneyland are all within a short drive. There appears to be a stark contrast between the life of the student attempting to become wise, honorable and cultivated and the larger community of mansions, Mercedes, and Mickey Mouse.

In reality, however, these seemingly disparate cultures share a common motivation: happiness. Continue reading What Is Happiness?