Category: geography

second installment Aristotle for Everybody

by Andrea Elizabeth

Is it art or nature? Aristotle says art unless it occurs in nature by itself. A fire started by lightning is natural, a fire purposely, not accidentally, started in a fireplace is art. The author says Robinson Crusoe pitted man against nature, but Aristotle was more interested in man with nature. I wonder if this was due to there being less technology in Aristotle’s day.

To me the lines are more blurred. Some houses are natural, which Aristotle denies, such as caves and beaver dens. And even man-made houses use natural materials, so art is more about organizing and controlling nature than making something unnatural. Then what is the difference between a city, a farm, and an uninhabited natural area? I would say the amount of human organization. The science behind skyscrapers utilizes a more atomic understanding of nature than that behind farming, but atomic processes, albeit not understood, are still occurring in cultivation. This is evident in the author’s discussion of green vs. red tomatoes. A natural process, but what if a man shines an ultraviolet light on tomatoes without the sun? Art, right? But it’s the same chemical process. Metallurgy and gunpowder concocting are natural processes. Glass made when lightning hits sand is an example of how new substances can occur in nature. Volcanoes also make new things. So acts of God can be similar to acts of man. The Calvinists would say that acts of man = acts of God. I am not sure, but since God made chemical properties, did he also mean for all the combinations to be discovered? Possibly, but man’s free-will purposefulness is the balancing component. What is unnatural then? That which is bad. Lightning hitting a dry forest can be considered bad, as can lava flows, but forestry is now understanding that fires can be beneficial. And Hawaii is a beautiful place. Historically man has respected where “dangerous” processes occur and avoided them. Recently man says he can control nature with dams and earthquake proof structures in the midst of them. It is pretty amazing how relatively few casualties occur in America with these acts of God.

I suppose with the population as it is high tech resource management is necessary. But I think a necessary evil because it is soooooooooooooooooooooooooo depressing. This is why good stories have a non-tech setting, such as Harry Potter and Revenant, which I still haven’t seen. And Star Wars is cool because of the force and Luke ditching computer guidance.

Aristotle for Everybody

by Andrea Elizabeth

As my daughter, son and I were on our 1 1/4 hour drive home from Denton yesterday evening, my husband called and said he downloaded Aristotle for Everybody on his audible account and was finding it interesting. I was surprised, and don’t recall if he said what prompted it. But what surprised me more was that my daughter was listening on speakerphone and said she wanted to listen to it. She said she thinks it’s interesting. She knew Aristotle was the student of Plato and the teacher of Alexander the Great, but I have never heard her express interest in philosophy before. My kids haven’t really engaged in talking about it with me, and I have given up on monologues with them. So we listened for the remaining 45 minutes of the trip, and then I asked her if she liked it. And she said yes. This morning she said she wants to use it for her required “informational book report”. Cool!

My impression so far: I wonder if Aristotle was OCD wanting to classify everything as he does. This hyperclassification and boundary making also struck me in C.S. Lewis’ “Out of the Silent Planet”. Though there was in AFE an acknowledgment of overlaps, such as immobile crustaceans that act like plants, and that may have been by the author, not Aristotle, I was impressed by a recent PBS documentary that talks about the interdependent relationships they are discovering between minerals and life, such as limestone being made by shell fish, and the role of bacteria in processing iron and such.

Welcome to the new age

by Andrea Elizabeth

I hadn’t even realized Alan Rickman had died when I woke up this morning with, “Welcome to the new age” from some pop song inside my head. Apparently Alan Rickman was the preserver of life as we knew it. For some reason he was holding the balance between us and the Millennials. With his death it is now their world. We may speak the same language, but the meanings are no longer the same. Fun means pointless diversion. Love means warm feels. Soul means old 70’s music. Pain is a dull, meaningless ache that can be accustomed to and put to peppy music. Life is something to put off.

But do not despair. There are still rocks that remember.

Did 9-11 do it to them?

Or being born after Roe v. Wade?


by Andrea Elizabeth

Charles Lyell

“was, along with the earlier John Playfair, the major advocate of James Hutton‘s idea of uniformitarianism, that the earth was shaped entirely by slow-moving forces still    in operation today, acting over a very long period of time. This was in contrast to catastrophism, a geologic idea of abrupt changes, which had been adapted in England        to support belief in Noah’s flood. Describing the importance of uniformitarianism on contemporary geology, Lyell wrote,

Never was there a doctrine more calculated to foster indolence, and to blunt the keen edge of curiosity, than this assumption of the discordance between the former and the existing causes of change… The student was taught to despond from the first. Geology, it was affirmed, could never arise to the rank of an exact science… [With catastrophism] we see the ancient spirit of speculation revived, and a desire manifestly shown to cut, rather than patiently untie, the Gordian Knot.-Sir Charles Lyell, Principles of Geology, 1854 edition, p.196; quoted by Stephen Jay Gould.[16]” (wikipedia)

But there were catastrophes that changed things quicker than normal erosion. There was the age of meteors, volcanoes, tropics, ice and floods, if not just The Flood. But it took a long time to make all the limestone in Texas. Not just 5000 years, IMO. It seems also that plates have shifted more dramatically in times past.

Why I like Big Bend

by Andrea Elizabeth

Usually I’m prone to greener places. Perhaps it is my stage of life that has brought me to appreciate the stark beauty of Big Bend.

“That portion of the earth’s surface known as the Big Bend has often been described as a geologist’s paradise. In part this is due to the sparse vegetation of the region, which allows the various strata to be easily observed and studied. It is also due to the complex geologic history of the area, presenting a challenge to students and researchers from all over the world.

Not all field geologists, however, refer to the Big Bend as a paradise. For some, this land of twisted, tortured rock is a nightmare. The abundance, diversity and complexity of visible rock outcrops is staggering, especially to first-time observers. From 500 million year old rocks at Persimmon Gap to modern-day windblown sand dunes at Boquillas Canyon, geologic formations in Big Bend demonstrate amazingly diverse depositional styles over a vast interval of time. For most of us, time is measured by the passing of days, years and generations.” Learn more of the fascinating geological history here.

I identify with some of the above description. For some, Orthodoxy quickly erodes our flimsy facades and layers by cutting off the comforts that fed them, leaving some pretty twisted, tortured nightmares exposed and to be dealt with. This is why one is really not supposed to say The Jesus Prayer too often too soon. But some of us impulsive dramatics can’t help diving in, and then those strong enough to keep it up have to be willing to accept the consequences. To prepare, they say bring plenty of water with you to Big Bend. Maybe I should have been re-baptized.

The tale told at Big Bend

by Andrea Elizabeth

In the time of the great rising, the dinosaurs moved across the face of the earth. It was the age of giant things. The small were jostled like Tolkein’s, or was it Jackson’s, hobbits in the midst of a rock giant’s war. 

Sometimes things start small, but sometimes they become so by being broken off larger things. Then they tumble from the heights, falling, breaking smaller, and sliding until they are stopped by a protrusion, or they reach rock bottom and become part of a leveling. Here they become lost in commonness. One of the many small fallen things. Lost together in a large basin to hold other things. 
But tales of their former glory are still told in the heights. Their absence leaves cracks, nooks, crannies, and sharper peaks. These are the remnant stronger or just more fortunately placed rocks. The weaker ones become footstools for other weaker, humbler things.

with nature

by Andrea Elizabeth

My original post is lost but I will try to remember it.

Before recent times, people had a common way of thinking and relating. Nowadays things are more complicated. Gone are the days when Paul could say to a new group of people, this commonly known unknown God is revealed in Christ, and they believed. Now we have the gospel of nice where asking people to reject former views is seen as a hate crime.

While I can fundamentally accept that the heavens declare the glory of God, day utters speech and night knowledge (Psalm 19) and that the power of the godhead is clearly seen in the things that are made (Romans 1), modern atheists don’t, even though they may appreciate the beauty and peace of national parks. They see it as a pleasant byproduct of automatic forces at work. I have even had dark times where I see majestic mountains as rubble from cataclysmic destruction, lush vegetation as opportunistic clutter, and animal diversity as adaptive survival mechanisms.

But thankfully the darkness doesn’t prevail and God’s presence wins out. There is something innately holy about nature that our deepest selves respond to. The skies are a tabernacle for the sun, as the Psalm also says. I bet Rich Mullins liked Mountain Cathedrals.

John Denver famously wrote of this otherness in Rocky Mountain High. Here’s another good line, “The Earth is our mother just turning around, with her trees in the forest and roots underground. Our father above us whose sigh is the wind, paint us a rainbow without any end.” – John Denver, The Flower That Shattered The Stone

I hope he knows the Father better now. I do not completely blame those who love nature but reject Christians like the Indians. Modern Christians are too affiliated with big business which is opposed to nature. This is why lawmakers wont get rid of Daylight Savings Time where noon is close to 2pm.


by Andrea Elizabeth

Or, the Italian identity isn’t as poor-relation, southern Europeans, but as northern dominating Mediterraneans!

a reasonable facsimile

by Andrea Elizabeth

It struck me in Elisabeth Gaskell’s North and South, BBC version, that people in Northern and Southern England mirrored in many ways the northern and southern cultures in America, mainly industry vs. rural laid-backness. This was further brought home recently when I studied my ancestral heritage where I learned that the South was populated by poor people from south-western England and the North from the more educated, affluent north east of England. And now we have Spain, the southern country in Europe, immigrating further south in Central America. It looks like people seek out and copy what they’re used to, in climate, culture, and geographic proximity.

So then why did the Italians go to New York instead of inhabiting Florida? Ah, they were recruited.

Texas 2

by Andrea Elizabeth

And not only that. The Appaches, Comanches, and Caddos are part of it, but they didn’t know the difference between either side of those rivers either. They probably thought of east Texas woodlands and the gulf coast as different places than west Texas plains or southwest Texas mountains or the blended hill country in the middle. Austin and Houston lassoed them all together and sprinkled blue holy water on them and pronounced them and all who came before and after as most blessed. If you don’t agree, take it up with them.