Corp. Inc. Co. Ltd.

The Corporation is a book and a movie that takes a look at the idea of the corporation and how it has changed through history. We rented it from the library, but you can watch it on YouTube.

I am not recommending it, no more than I would “recommend” that a person who wants to raise animals should learn about animal biology. That is to say, it is more of a requirement. “Smart Consumer” is a term that is gaining in popularity, and this should be on the course list for the Freshman level. But it is not just required for those who don’t mind seeing themselves as consumers (smart or otherwise), but also those have a nagging feeling that there is something amiss, but can’t quite put their finger on what it is.

Be warned, it is not a cursory look, and the entire film is 23 chapters and well over 2 hours long, but it is worth the time.

Symbolism

I ran across this the other day, and although I would not say that I adhere to everything he says, much of it has the ring of truth. I have included the summary points below, but I would recommend reading the entire article.

How we confuse symbols and things

  • We seek “marriage” as though that quasi-legal institution were the same thing as a worthwhile human relationship.
  • We seek “education” as though knowledge could be injected into us like a vaccine without any investment on our part. Failing at this, we then trust the statements of people who possess white, rectangular sporting event trophies called “diplomas.”
  • We seek “religion” as though any worthwhile answers to fundamental spiritual questions could be delivered in encapsulated form, outside the direct experience of nature.
  • We trust the findings of “science” as though science’s principal value could be meaningfully delivered to people who don’t understand science (it cannot).
  • We trust the wisdom of “government” as though, without direct participation by all of us, government could be anything but a dumping ground for aging juvenile delinquents.

What do you think?

Provocation #12

Christendom is a society of people who call themselves Christians because they occupy themselves with obtaining information about those who a long time ago submitted themselves to Christ’s examination – spiritlessly forgetting that they themselves are up for examination.

Provocations are taken from Provocations: The Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard

Provocation #11

What I really lack is to be clear in my mind what I am to do, not what I am to know, except in so far as a certain understanding must precede every action. The thing is to understand myself, to see what God really wants me to do. The thing is to find a truth that is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die. What would be the use of discovering so-called objective truth, of working through all the systems of philosophy and of being able, if required, to review them all and show up the inconsistencies within each system; what good would it do me to be able to develop a theory of the state and combine all the details into a single whole, and so construct a world in which I did not live, but only held up to the view of others; what good would it do me to be able to explain the meaning of Christianity if it had no deeper significance for me and for my life; what good would it do me if truth stood before me, cold and naked, not caring whether I recognized her or not, and producing in me a shudder of fear rather than trusting devotion? I certainly do not deny that there is an imperative of understanding, but it must be taken up into my life, and that is what I now recognize as the most important thing. That is what I lack, and that is why I am left standing like a man who has a rented house and gathered all the furniture and household things together, but has not yet found the beloved with whom to share the joys and sorrows of his life.

Provocations are taken from Provocations: The Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard

Provocation #9 & 10

This puts fire in my belly, and encourages me to pick up my walking stick. The passion to live what I believe feels stifled, the will to act is strong, the fear of the unknown, and the desire to protect my family keeps me in check. But that is where I feel pulled. Is my faith really strong enough to just follow? Just act? I am Peter, sinking in the sea. I have stepped out, and lived a miracle, and now I look down in doubt and call out. I can hear the response.

Christ says: Do according to what I say � then you shall know. Consequently, decisive action first of all. By acting, your life will come into collision with existence, and then you will know the reality of grace. Nowadays we have turned the whole thing around. Christianity has become a world view. Thus, before I get involved I must first justify it. Good night to Christianity! Now doubt has surely conquered. And this doubt can never be halted by reasons, which only nourish doubt. No, doubt can only be halted by imitation. The objections to Christianity may be dismissed with one single comment: Do these objections come from someone who has carried out the commands of Christ? If not, all his objections are nonsense. Christ continually declares that we must do what he says � and then we will know that it is truth.

A conviction is not firmly fixed when everyone presses upon it equally and holds it firm. No, its true stability is revealed when everything is in question.

Provocations are taken from Provocations: The Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard

Provocation #8

It is a proud thing to dive into danger, and it is a proud thing to battle with untold horrors, but it is also wretched to have an abundance of intentions and a poverty of action, to be rich in truths and poor in virtues.

This is something I feel every day, as I drive my 30 miles to work and back 5 times a week, and rarely am out in the world doing what needs to be done. Stay tuned for some ways that we can act and live virtuously.

Provocations are taken from Provocations: The Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard

Provocation #7

Teach me, Lord, that the fight of faith is not a fight with doubt, thought against thought, but a fight for character. Enable me to see that human vanity consists in having to understand. Save me from the vanity of not being willing to obey like a child, and of wanting to be like a grown man who has to understand. Help me to realize that he who will not obey when he cannot understand does not, in any essential sense, obey you at all. Make me a believer, a “character man,” who, unreservedly obedient, sees it as necessary for his character’s sake that he must not always understand. Make me willing to believe even when I cannot understand.

Provocations are taken from Provocations: The Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard

Provocation #6

Faith’s conflict with the world is not a battle of thought with doubt, thought with thought. It is a battle of character. The person of faith is a person of character who does not insist upon comprehending everything. Now comes the conflict. The world insists that to believe what you cannot comprehend is not only blind obedience but obscurantism, stupidity, and so on. The world wants to alarm the believer against such foolishness. This is precisely why faith is a task for the person of character.

Provocation #5

Every once in a while, EZ will ask a question that just cannot be answered. I feel the same way when trying to “explain” my faith. I cannot. Anything I offer as explanation seems to reduce, or dilute it. I can offer a history of those who have also found this faith, I can point to explanations that others have written, but I can not offer any more than my experience, which words still seem to dim.

All the objections to Christianity — what are they, after all, to the person who in truth is conscious of being a sinner and who has experienced belief in the forgiveness of sins and in this faith is saved form his sin? One conceivable objection might be: Yes, but is it not still possible for you to be saved in some other way? But how can one reply to this? One cannot. It is just like a person in love. If someone were to say: Yes, but you could perhaps have fallen in love with another — then he must answer: To this I cannot reply, for I know only one thing, that this is my beloved. As soon as the person who is in love tries to reply to this objection, he is by that very fact not a believer.

Provocation #4

I think that there are many people, from all sorts of backgrounds, that are finding themselves at the tail end of the process given below. That is where I find myself.

The law of existence: First life, then theory. Then, as a rule, there comes still a third: an attempt to create life with the aid of theory, or the delusion of having the same life by means of the theory. This is the conclusion, the parody, and then the process ends — and then there must be new life again.

Take Christianity, for example. It came in as life, sheer daring that risked everything for the faith. The change began when Christianity came to be regarded as doctrine. This is the theory; it was about that which was lived. But there still existed some vitality, and therefore at times life-and-death disputes were carried on over “doctrine” and doctrinal formulations. Nevertheless doctrine became more and more the distinctive mark of being a Christian. Everything then became objective. This is Christianity’s theory. Then followed a period in which the intention was to produce life by means of the theory; this is the period of the system, the parody. Now this process has ended. Christianity must begin anew as life.