Thursday, June 28, 2012


The sun was out the other day. It’s not something that can be counted on every day. Growing up in Ireland I learned quickly to be skeptical that the sun schedule was in anyway linked to the calendar. As many Irish people will tell you it seems more closely tied to exam schedules. But when it does appear it causes a change in mood – an elevation of happiness. 

I now live in Buffalo, New York. Not the place to go to chase the sun, but summer days in Buffalo can be almost perfect. 

There is something that seems natural about having a cold on a wintery, November day, or the flu on a frozen, February day, but being sick on a bright, hot summer day, seems a little unnatural - a contradiction of the natural order. 

Even death seems more appropriate in winter. Patrick Kavanagh, the Irish poet, wrote of how “October-coloured weather” reminded him of his dead father. (i)  Perhaps, it is because my father passed in November that summer seems to be correlated with life and not death. 

The aliveness of a perfect June day, when inside is as good as out, makes everywhere a comfortable place. This is the time to enjoy. A day it feels painful to be stuck in the office while the whole world is out playing. Is this a holdover from school holidays or vacations (divided by a common language and all that) that conditions us to want time off?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Why do we want to be accepted and hate rejection so much?  After all, rejection is quite logical.  In most scenarios there are more people trying to achieve a goal they will not reach.  For example, you might want to be a star athlete but there are only so many places on professional teams for you to obtain.  Moreover, just achieving professional status, hard as that is to do, doesn’t guarantee stardom.  You might want to be successful musician or a writer, or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, but the vast majority of people seeking those positions will not achieve them.

It’s true that anyone can start a band, write a book, or form a company, but to make it a success is something else entirely.  The odds are against us.  Still it doesn’t hinder some of us from reaching for the stars.  Hope springs eternal.

There are many who embrace the logic of rejection and don’t try to reach hugely ambitious goals, but they will face rejection from friends and potential romantic partners.  Even if you don’t want to be a corporate titan, most of us are not content to remain on the same rung of the ladder forever.  So even if we shy away from giant goals we can’t completely inoculate ourselves from rejection. 

Are we supposed to become accustomed to not achieving our dreams, and settle for the possible – to surrender to cynicism?  To sneer at those who try?

We seem destined to search for unconditional acceptance in a world where we face constant rejection. 

We know we are not perfect and so we need acceptance in spite of ourselves.  Close family can provide this to a certain extent, but our family members are often just as imperfect as we are. 

If there were a perfect person would they be disgusted by us?  Or would a perfect person be so gracious that only they could overlook our many flaws and accept us nonetheless?

If I were a truly “perfect” person I would likely console myself better that I was better than everyone else as I maintained splendid isolation. 

The Bible tells of a perfect God coming to live with hugely flawed people, some of whom couldn’t stand Him so much that they wanted Him dead.  But He offers acceptance – no matter what we have done.  That is good news.

For some thoughts on whether we are good people click here.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

CSI Effect?

Radical skepticism and unquestioning credulity are strange bedfellows in today’s society.  We can’t rely on our own recollections because sometimes we make mistakes.  We don’t trust the testimony of others.  It’s not that we necessarily think others are liars, it’s just that everyone has their own perspective on the world – their personal narrative.

But at the same time we are experiencing the triumph of scientific knowledge, often to the detriment of other types of knowledge.  Science is concerned with accuracy, verifiability, and certainty.  And science is indeed magnificent.  The problem is that other types of knowledge have been downgraded.  If scientific evidence is triple A rated, other forms of evidence have junk status.

The CSI Effect

Criminal lawyers have commented on the existence of what they have termed the CSI effect.  They have theorized that juries have been influenced by the rash of criminal forensic T.V. shows such as CSI, and now expect heightened scientific evidence to be presented at trial.  Jurors prone to the CSI effect are also theorized to be more likely to dismiss other forms of evidence such as eyewitness or circumstantial evidence.