The History of The English Language (a diagram)

While researching for future posts, I ran into issues related to the development of the English language. To aid in illustrating those coming posts, I decided to make this graphic to capture, in one picture, the information I found scattered over several diagrams and sites. Diagrams are great memory tools for me, and I hope this helps some of you.

With gratitude, my main information source was this website: The History of English.

Question to readers: Any corrections, suggestions or thoughts?


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

Sunday Poetry: Les Murray


Poetry And Religion  (by Les Murray)

Religions are poems. They concert
our daylight and dreaming mind, our
emotions, instinct, breath and native gesture

into the only whole thinking: poetry.
Nothing’s said till it’s dreamed out in words
and nothing’s true that figures in words only.

A poem, compared with an arrayed religion,
may be like a soldier’s one short marriage night
to die and live by. But that is a small religion.

Full religion is the large poem in loving repetition;
like any poem, it must be inexhaustible and complete
with turns where we ask Now why did the poet do that?

You can’t pray a lie, said Huckleberry Finn;
you can’t poe one either. It is the same mirror:
mobile, glancing, we call it poetry,

fixed centrally, we call it a religion,
and God is the poetry caught in any religion,
caught, not imprisoned. Caught as in a mirror

that he attracted, being in the world as poetry
is in the poem, a law against its closure.
There’ll always be religion around while there is poetry

or a lack of it. Both are given, and intermittent,
as the action of those birds – crested pigeon, rosella parrot -
who fly with wings shut, then beating, and again shut.


About the Poet: (be sure to read the poem first)

Les Murray was born to a dairy farm family in Australia in 1938. His mother died when he was 12 years-old. He was bullied with “a plethora of fat-names” as a child. He later married and had five children, one later diagnosed with autism which helped Les to realize he himself had mild autistic traits (Aspbergers).

Raise Free Presbyterian (with parents who hated Catholics), at 24 years old he married a Catholic woman and converted to Catholicism (which he had been entertaining for a while). He calls Catholicism “the best and only reliable Big Poem”.

At 58 years-old he suffered a three-weeks coma secondary to a liver abscess. Amazingly, after emerging from the come, he found his lifetime curse of depression (his “Black Dog”) had lifted.

Finally, from the Guardian: “Murray has been garlanded with prizes – TS Eliot (1996), Queen’s gold medal for poetry (1999) – and tipped for the Nobel, but he has often been cast, as much by himself as anyone else, as an outsider. His poetry, and more so his politics [he helped form the Australian Commonwealth Party], have married a reverence for bush wisdom with an instinctive distrust of metropolitan life in general, and what he sees as the received opinions of liberal elites about such issues as modernism and secularism in particular.”

My impressions & thoughts:

“Religion”, “God”, and “Poetry” are all words that stir hearts in different ways. Judging these words by strict definitions rarely reveals the complex, vibrant webs we’ve woven to support our lives.


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

Punching Walls: Have you?

BoxerFxI remember one of my early days of Emergency Medicine when one of my fellow providers picked up the chart of yet another male patient who had slammed his fist into a wall during a verbal fight with his girlfriend or wife.

“What an idiot!” my colleague said in disgust.

To which I incredulously replied, “Haven’t you ever hit something out of anger”? Wondering how he could have so easily forgotten the stupidity of his youth.

“Hell no! Why would I hit a wall?” he said with righteous surprise.

Well, with that clear signal that sharing my stupidity would not be good, I kept quiet. But I have slammed walls several times and broken my hand twice. And with that conversation, I realized that apparently not all men shared my stupidity, my explosive anger, my reflex to strike. I was actually surprised.

Years later, in a similar discussion with another colleague, I decided to share that I too had hit walls before. He then asked me “Why did you hit the wall?”

To which I unhesitantly replied, “Because my father raised me correctly. He taught me never to hit a woman.” To which my colleague responded with shocked eyes.

We are all different from each other. Sometimes we mistakenly assume that our situations are uncommon, but sometimes we are right. It is always good to find out, but only when it feels safe.

On a positive note, after my second fracture, I learned to go outside to sprint or to pick up tree sticks and therapeutically smash them — I had to dump my testosterone somehow. And it has been greater than 15 years since I even needed to do that. Further, I am proud to say, I have never hit a woman — its almost shameful that such a statement should ever have to be made, eh?

Is my new found freedom from rage due to a fall in my testosterones levels or due to maturity and insight? Unfortunately, I’d bet on the former.

Questions for readers: How about you, have you ever hit a wall? What do you feel about wall-hitters?

Note: I have treated women who have done the same, of course, but they have been far and few between.


Filed under Cognitive Science

Your Death Theology

death-cult-leunigThe horrors of fundamental and even of moderate Islam are obvious. But when Christians criticize the supposedly sacred ideas and writings upon which these Muslim’s support their horrible ideas (the Qur’an and Hadith), the Christians’ ignorant irony is laughable.  The above cartoon by the famous Australian cartoonist Michael Leunig captures that same tragic irony that I also expressed in my 2010 post “Your God is weird!”.  Death theology, Exclusivist theology, Tribal theology and all such wrong thoughts must be fought constantly — sacred or secular.  Freedom from stupidity is not a right, it is the tenuous fruit of constant effort.


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

Noam Chomsky & The Scottish Vote

scotland2Today is the Scottish vote — exciting history! Yet this issue will really tell us nothing more about the nation-state than so much more in our news.

At the bottom of this post is a great interview with Noam Chomsky where he uses the Scottish vote issue to discuss several of the deep, complex political phenomena feeding this vote.  Chomsky puts today’s event in perspective to the rest of the world, as is his specialty.  He is brilliant.

Noam Chomsky (wiki) has taught me much through the years. I haven’t always agreed with him, but then that means nothing. His last line from the interview was one of my favorite.  He made it after many, far-from-subtle attempts by his clearly leftist interviewer to get him to give a aphoristic nugget of socialist wisdom.

“there are no illuminating single phrases that capture the complexity of human life”

Oh I loved that. And among his many anarchist insights he also discusses:

  • the tension between regionalism & centralization
  • the inherited disaster of imperialist borders
  • how Capitalism would be an improvement over what we have today, but still inferior

Pic source:


Filed under Political Philosophy

Why Christian Eschatology Matters?

EschatologyEschatology is a religion’s view of the endtimes. In my last post, I compared a Hindu Vaishnavite view with the common view held among mainline Protestant American Christian churches. To put that view in perspective, I recently updated my chart on the “Varieties of Christian Eschatology” which I first made in 2009 — take a look if you’d like by clicking on the image.

But why does eschatology matter? There are good reasons not to care: First, very few of my readers believe any religion’s end-time stories. And second, most Christians themselves don’t understand the various eschatologies and don’t really understand theology at all and probably don’t care. (See my post called, “Most Christians Don’t Believe“).

Religious professionals (pastors, priests and such) do seem to care, however. And they preach them to their congregations and use them to help tell their parishoners how they should act in this world, the proper role of Israel and Jews and other political positions. So, for those Christians who listen to this stuff, eschatology matters.

But why should eschatologies matter to religion-free folks? Well, we can point these Christians to more benign eschatologies (see my post on “My Favorite Christians”). Or better yet, in seeing so many various views these eschatological Christians may start to understanding how man-made these theories are — all of them.

Questions to readers: What view were you raised with or believe now? Which view do you feel is most dangerous, and why?  All corrections or suggestions welcome.



Filed under Philosophy & Religion

Hindu vs. Christian Eschatology



Filed under Philosophy & Religion