Four-Fold Visions of

the American West

Reason Versus Transcendence

from Alaska to New Mexico

July 28, 2017

Sometime in 1858, Father Joseph Gallagher, a Catholic priest headquartered in San Francisco, traveled to Carson City for the purpose of establishing a church, the first such in what was soon to become the Territory of Nevada. Gallagher purchased a suitable site. Within two years, the Catholic church of Saint Teresa of Avila stood at the intersection of King and Minnesota streets.

            The church’s early years were rocky. Carson City was a two-bit mining town, many of whose citizens were disinclined to behave in a spiritual manner. Worse, according to a contempor...

July 28, 2017

Can animals think? Do they experience emotions? Until the mid-twentieth century, the generally accepted answer to both questions was no. Following in the footsteps of the Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov, psychologist John Watson, and behaviorist B.F. Skinner, scientists and properly educated people ordained that all animal behavior could be explained through the simple agency of cause-and-effect. A dog wagging her tail and barking when you arrived home wasn’t “happy”; she was exhibiting a reflex behavior triggered by the stimulus of your arrival, behavior that throug...

July 1, 2017

                                    

Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night. 1889. Museum of Modern Art, NYC

In Chapter 3 of the Book of Baruch in the Apocrypha, a collection of ancient texts that failed to make the cut for inclusion in at least some Christian Bibles, the following exchange between God and the stars is recorded: “The stars shone in their watches, and were glad; He called them, and they said, ‘Here we are!’ They shone with gladness for him who made them.” 

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