Monday, December 28, 2009

Evolution


When you read Beauty for Truth's Sake, you won't find much about evolution, except by implication. I mentioned this omission before, in an earlier posting triggered by a letter in the Catholic Herald. My own summary article about evolution is online here. Ignatius Press have a site dedicated to this question, called IntelligentProject.net, and they select the following passage from Pope Benedict, which goes to the heart of the question:

Christianity is faith in the Creator Spiritus, from whom comes everything that is real. Precisely this ought to give Christianity its philosophical power today, since the problem is whether the world comes from an irrational source, so that reason would be nothing but a "by-product" (perhaps even a harmful by-product) of the development of the world, or whether the world comes from reason, so that its criterion and its goal is reason. The Christian faith opts for this second thesis and has good arguments to back it up, even from a purely philosophical point of view, despite the fact that so many people today consider the first thesis the only "rational" and modern view. A reason that has its origin in the irrational and is itself ultimately irrational does not offer a solution to our problem. Only that creative reason which has manifested itself as love in the crucified God can truly show us what life is.
There is no question here of setting faith against reason. But the point about evolution is that it tends to transmogrify into "evolutionism", a Theory of Everything that purports to explain even religious faith as the product of material forces. If the evolution of species is more than just a theory, this ideology of evolutionism is less than a theory; it is an hypothesis, and a poorly grounded one. People believe it mainly for the reason that they cannot see any alternative type of explanation as even possible. More on this phenomenon another time.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Queen of the Sciences


Here is a passage from Fr Robert Barron's wonderful book The Priority of Christ (pp. 155-6):

In the thirteenth century, Bonaventure maintained that all of the non-theological arts and sciences taught in the university find their proper center in theology, that science which speaks directly of Christ the Logos. As the rationality of God the creator, Christ is the physical, mathematical, and metaphysical center of the universe and hence the point of orientation for all of the sciences dealing with those dimensions.

In the nineteenth-century, at the high-water mark of modern foundationalism, John Henry Newman felt compelled to call for the re-insertion of theology within the circle of university disciplines. Following the inner logic of Christian revelation, Newman, like Bonaventure, saw that theology not only should be around the table, but must be the centering element in the conversation, precisely because it alone speaks of the creator God who is metaphysically implicit in all finite existence.
A few lines later he adds: "Newman saw that once theology is displaced, some other discipline necessarily takes its position at the center and thereby disturbs the proper harmony among the sciences, for no other discipline has the range or inclusiveness properly to hold the center."

The same argument is made powerfully in Alasdair MacIntyre's recent book, God, Philosophy, Universities. But what is this "proper" harmony that Barron appeals to? Why is only theology capable of "holding the center"? The point is that, while theology cannot determine the methods or content of the individual sciences, it alone is concerned with that which transcends them all. It is a place-holder for that which connects everything - for what Barron terms "co-inherent relationality." Theology as a formal discipline is a quest for that relationality. Without it, rationality itself fragments and falls apart.

Icon by Solrunn Nes (www.icon-painting.com). "Just as the Virgin was called to offer herself entirely as human being and as woman that God's Word might take flesh and come among us, so too philosophy is called to offer its rational and critical resources that theology, as the understanding of faith, may be fruitful and creative. And just as in giving her assent to Gabriel's word, Mary lost nothing of her true humanity and freedom, so too when philosophy heeds the summons of the Gospel's truth its autonomy is in no way impaired. Indeed, it is then that philosophy sees all its enquiries rise to their highest expression" (John Paul II, Fides et Ratio, 108).

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Image Optimization : Optimizing for the Search Results

I've touched on this topic before but it was a brief tip in an overall topic. I wanted to actually focus just on the topic of Image Optimization this time around.

I did some keyword research on image optimization a week ago as I am planning on updating my site and adding new products and packages and getting rid of some that are no longer beneficial to what I want my customers to achieve as far as success is concerned online.

I found out that the majority of keywords using image optimization only pertained to resizing images in other words optimizing images to add to your site so your web pages can load quickly. There were some searches that included keywords like search engine image optimization and seo image optimization but I was overwhelmed at how little this keyword was searched for as far as seo was concerned.

The reason why I was so shocked is it is a big factor in achieving targeted traffic to your site and a HUGE way you could possibly see an increase in sales as well.

Images are showing up in Google's search results for a lot of keywords. In most cases these images show up at the very top positions of their search results and in other cases they show up under a couple of website listings in their search results.

To get your images to show up in the image results you must have images properly optimized with your keywords in mind.

Below are a couple of tips or suggestions on how to do this:

If you are just starting your website this is the perfect time to perform this type of optimization., as you are resizing your images or getting product images ready to add to your site. When you save your image onto your hard drive. Make sure your image name includes your actual keywords and maybe a color or type of product name.

Here are two examples:

Don't: Don't save your image as the file name that you get from your digital camera or by the name that your vendor or manufacturer has named the image that you are getting from them.

For example: Here is the wrong way: IMG102697.jpg or FEA415441253644_ID1258.gif

Do: When you save your image to your pictures folder on your hard drive. I'll use my pet site as an example.

Here is an example of how you should save it: pink-studded-dog-collar.jpg

Naming your images with your keywords in mind increases your chances of showing up in Google's image search results. Thirty percent of my website traffic to my new pet site comes from my optimized images that show up in their search results. This is especially important for new website owners who are waiting for their site to start to rank for their targeted keywords.

Once you optimize your images, create a sitemap and upload it to Google. Make sure your sitemap includes your images. If you upload your products to Google Shopping your images will be included in your feed, so this is also a great way to get your optimized images added to their image index.

This task may take a while if your website is already established or if you already have tons of product images on your site that are not optimized but if you do some each day that will make all the difference as far as image optimization is concerned.

Google is now showing an array of different results in their search engine directory. These results are called "Universal Search". They return news feeds, blog feeds, videos, images and organic search results, and adwords campaigns.

Just imagine the amount of traffic you can achieve if your site is properly optimized for the search engines as well as having your images optimized, blog posts listed, articles, and videos.

The possibilities are endless and the search engines are giving you every chance to achieve your website traffic dreams.

The opportunities are yours for the taking!

Carla Phillips

 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

New educational initiatives

I thought it would be worth drawing attention to some notable new initiatives in education. First, the Living Water College of the Arts in Alberta, Canada. This is committed to the training and development of Christian artists across a wide range of genres including theatre and film. Second, the C.S. Lewis Foundation in California has announced the creation of C.S. Lewis College in Northfield, Massachusetts dedicated to "mere Christianity". Third, there is the Theotokos Institute for Catholic Studies at St David's Catholic sixth-form College in Wales, dedicated to "theology before division" (of the Christian east and West, that is). Fourth, from within the Orthodox tradition, the Cappadocian House of Studies in Art and Nature (at the moment more of an aspiration than an actual House). Fifth, here in Oxford the demise of the Franciscan Hall of the university last year, Greyfriars, has led to two new initiatives - St Bede's Hall and the Centre for Franciscan Studies, which is currently sponsoring a series of lectures in the Taylorian (mine is on 24 May).

And, of course, I have already mentioned what is going on at Thomas More College with David Clayton's "Way of Beauty", and the work of pioneer educationalist Michael Schneider. When I hear of other relevant projects I will mention them in future postings. [Here is one added later: the Ignatius-Angelicum Liberal Studies Program started by Fr Joseph Fessio SJ. The announcement in May 2010 reads "Ignatius Press and Angelicum Great Books Program have joined with cooperating colleges in the US, Australia, and Europe, to launch the Ignatius-Angelicum Liberal Studies Program (LSP), an online course of studies combining the best of home and distance learning with live, online classes."]

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tips On How Blogging Improves Your Ranking

Did you know that blogging can improve your search engine rankings for your targeted keywords?

Blogging is an important factor when you are trying to rank for your targeted keywords.

The search engines love new content and I know you have heard that content is "king". The more new content you add to your site or blog the more the search engines will reward you.

If you just add one or two post to your blog each week and be consistent with the amount of blog post you do per week the search engines, Google especially will love you for it.

Blog posting doesn't have to be complicated either. I always get emails from website owners asking what to blog about and how uncreative they are and how they are not good writers.

To be honest you don't have to be an experienced writer when it comes to blog posting. It's okay to be natural and your self and your posts don't have to be long and detailed.

Here are some things you can blog about:

1. Reviews: Products that you have used and like or dislike that are related to the type of products or services you offer.

2. New products recently added to your site.

3. A product that you really want to increase exposure for you.

4. Small how to guides

5. Coupon codes that you have found online and want to share with your readers

6. Sales going on at your site or contest

7. Post a list of things that you love on your site. Doesn't have to be things offered by you. If you link to other's websites,they may see the link in their traffic stats and do the same for you.

8. Recipes

9. Interviews with others in your niche

10. If you get comments on your blog that may be questions from one of your readers, you can take those questions and create blog post about them. 


There are so many little things you can blog about to increase your exposure online and get the search engines to pay more attention to you.

Here are some SEO tips that you can use to help increase ranking for keywords you want to target:

1. When blogging about a product or service that is being offered on your site, make sure to have your keyword in your blog post title, in the first 25 words of your blog post and in your blog post labels.

2. Link your keyword to the correct landing page on your site. So if your blog post is about your fabulous tutus for girls. Make sure that you take the keyword phrase tutus for girls and link it to your page that is about your tutus for girls. Keep in mind not to just link all of your keywords to your home page. So a little love to your inner pages, categories, sub categories and product pages.

3. Add a list of your categories to your side navigation bar and link them to your categories on your website. This will help with keyword ranking as well.

If you find a really good keyword that you want to rank for, create a blog post using that keyword phrase in the title and link to a website page on your site and overtime you will see that your blog post are being indexed within  hours and start showing up on the first page of the search engine results over time.

Carla Phillips




Thursday, December 3, 2009

God's Mathematics


Charlotte Ostermann recently reminded me of a wonderful passage in St Bonaventure that sums up the ancient understanding of how mathematics leads us to God:

"...since beauty and delight do not exist without proportion, and since proportion exists primarily in numbers, all things are subject to number. Hence 'number is the principal exemplar in the mind of the Creator,' and in things, the principal vestige leading to Wisdom. And since number is most evident to all and very close to God, it leads us, by its sevenfold distinction, very close to Him; it makes Him known in all bodily and visible things when we apprehend numerical things, when we delight in numerical proportions, and when we judge irrefutably by the laws of numerical proportions." - St Bonaventure, The Journey of the Mind to God.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Regenerate science


Sitting in a meeting recently with a group of people each of whom was staring down into one or other electronic gadget, the following quotation came to mind:

“In our contemporary world it may be said that the more a man becomes dependent on the gadgets whose smooth functioning assures him of a tolerable life at the material level, the more estranged he becomes from an awareness of his inner reality. I should be tempted to say that the centre of gravity of such a man and his balancing point tend to become external to himself: that he projects himself more and more into objects, into the various pieces of apparatus on which he depends for his existence. It would be no exaggeration to say that the more progress ‘humanity’ as an abstraction makes towards the mastery of nature, the more actual individual men tend to become slaves of this very conquest.” – Gabriel Marcel, Men against Humanity (London: Harvill Press, 1952)

Technology is far from neutral, as it is frequently assumed to be in both popular and scholarly writings on this subject. “The medium is the message” (McLuhan), and a technology is not simply a technique that may be employed for good or ill. It bears within itself a value system and a worldview - perhaps even a metaphysics and a theology. Telephone, television and the internet, for example, change our sense of space and time, and have a variety of effects on the relationships within the family and the wider social community. Some of these effects will be humanly beneficial, others less so, but an assessment of the technology is not possible without paying attention to the overall pattern of these effects, and to the purpose or function of the technology in relation to the purpose of human life itself. In what respect is a given tool actually serving the true end of man?

As a matter of fact, I think the portable computers we all use now are a great boon, and I could hardly do without mine. But this does not stop me noticing that this very dependence is a kind of warning sign. We are addicted to technological change in a much more serious way than simply psychologically. This makes “technology assessment” impractical, to say the least. We are running too fast to stop and assess anything – if we are not to stumble over our own feet and be left behind in the race, we have to assume we are running in the right direction.

In his classic work, The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis compares the Baconian scientist with Goethe’s Faustus. “For the wise men of old the cardinal problem had been how to conform the soul to reality, and the solution had been knowledge, self-discipline, and virtue. For magic and applied science alike the problem is how to subdue reality to the wishes of men: the solution is a technique; and both, in the practice of this technique, are ready to do things hitherto regarded as disgusting and impious - such as digging up and mutilating the dead.”

But Lewis is no Luddite. He thinks another kind of science and technology is possible. He goes on, “The regenerate science I have in mind would not do even to minerals and vegetables what modern science threatens to do to man himself.” Goethe and the Romantics were on to something. My book is trying to point in that direction, to encourage us to reflect on the elimination of formal and final causes from science, and the disconnectedness of our lives, and to begin to imagine another way of doing business, another way of making scientific progress – a “regenerate” science, perhaps.

Image by Giovanni Sades from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Pope on Beauty


The "way of beauty" is the theme of the Pope's recent address to artists on 21 November 2009 in the Sistine Chapel. In it he writes - quoting both Hans urs von Balthasar and Simone Weil, who are influences on the book on which this blog is based (see left), and building on the Letter to Artists of Pope John Paul II - as follows: "Beauty, whether that of the natural universe or that expressed in art, precisely because it opens up and broadens the horizons of human awareness, pointing us beyond ourselves, bringing us face to face with the abyss of Infinity, can become a path towards the transcendent, towards the ultimate Mystery, towards God.... In this regard, one may speak of a 'via pulchritudinis,' a path of beauty which is at the same time an artistic and aesthetic journey, a journey of faith, of theological enquiry.... Simone Weil wrote in this regard: 'In all that awakens within us the pure and authentic sentiment of beauty, there, truly, is the presence of God. There is a kind of incarnation of God in the world, of which beauty is the sign. Beauty is the experimental proof that incarnation is possible. For this reason all art of the first order is, by its nature, religious.'"

The Pope has also recently spoken very eloquently of the beauty of the medieval cathedrals, one of which, the Cathedral of Orvieto, is featured in the photograph. There he speaks of "a much broader form of reason, in which the heart and reason come together. This is the point. This, I think, is in some way the proof of the truth of Christianity: the heart and reason come together, beauty and truth touch. And to the extent that we are able to live in the beauty of truth, so much more will faith again be able to be creative, in our own time as well, and to express itself in a convincing artistic form."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Way of Beauty program


Readers of my book and blog might be interested to know that a colleague and friend, David Clayton, with whom I worked on these ideas in Oxford, is now the Artist in Residence at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in New Hampshire. There he has developed a course based on the traditional quadrivium called THE WAY OF BEAUTY. He writes, "Literature, art, music, architecture, philosophy—all of creation and potentially all human activity—are bound together by this common harmony and receive their fullest meaning in the Church’s liturgy. This course teaches a deep understanding of these principles and their practical application through both lectures and workshops." If you follow the link you'll find out more about this wonderful educational initiative. David's articles can be found on the New Liturgical Movement website and are permanently linked from my Links list on the left. David is also the author of a Distance Learning programme called ART, BEAUTY AND INSPIRATION offered through the Maryvale Institute in the Archdiocese of Birmingham. There is also a recent interview with David on Zenit.

An interesting article inspired by David Clayton's writing and that of Robert Sokolowski is available on Jake Tawney's blog, entitled "Content and Form - From Linguistics to Abstract Art".

Image: Icon at Pluscarden by David Clayton, based on the crucifix at San Damiano.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Fate of the Cross


Sitting in an airport recently for several hours - a perfectly smart, pleasant, efficient airport - I had occasion to look around and realise something. Not only could I have been in almost any country of the world, and therefore I was in some sense "nowhere", but I was in a space where signs predominated over symbols. Everywhere I looked there were signs: pictures, advertisements, instructions, those little "icons" that tell you where the toilets are, or ground transportation. But the whole place had been constructed with absolutely no sensitivity to the natural symbolism of shape and number and light. Of course, that didn't mean that symbolism had been eliminated, just that it was inadvertent. The modern world tends to eliminate symbolism, because symbols, unlike signs, point us to something outside this world, something deeper and more real than toilets, or things to buy.

The final elimination of symbols that speak of the transcendent has not yet taken place, but the recent judgement of the Court of Human Rights that Italian schools must remove crucifixes from their walls shows that the struggle is intensifying. A crucifix may be treated as a sign, in which case it points to the social phenomenon of Christianity, much as a Union Jack represents the United Kingdom. This is how it is being treated by the Court - as the flag of Christianity. But the crucifix is also a concatenation of symbols, a symbol par excellence, the symbol of symbols. In a way, the attack on the crucifix is itself symbolic - of an attack on symbols in our culture.

It is more important than ever that our education should give special attention to cultivating the symbolic imagination. James Taylor's Poetic Knowledge is a helpful resource. What he calls "poetic knowledge" is the intuitive, tacit, connatural way of knowing that tends to be neglected in the pursuit of mere information. Catechesis, too, needs to take more account of the symbolic dimension of scripture and the sacraments. More on that another time.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Source of Ugliness


There is a noticeable ugliness in much 20th-century architecture, design, and town planning that expresses a deeply rooted problem in the way we have learned to think. The problem, as I try to show in my book, can be traced back to Descartes (or even further to William of Ockham). If I may caricature somewhat, Descartes lay the foundations of modern instrumental reason by reducing everything to positions on a conceptual grid. Very efficient, very helpful - like putting the world on a slab in order to conduct a post-mortem (or vivesection). The industrial method is similar - for the sake of mass production and division of labour (sometimes called Taylorism). This is what Christopher Alexander says about it: "Mass production, high industry, and lower craft techniques advocated in the 20th century, as a result of Taylorism, led to a world where it was thought efficient or good to make things out of massive ultra-simple elements like huge prefabricated concrete panels, which would then be joined in the simplest ways, and without significant differentiation at the joints..." Everything has to fit into "brutalized rectangles". On his website and in his books, such as Pattern Language and The Nature of Order, listed in the Links section, you will find Alexander's detailed analysis of this phenomenon and his solution to it.

The contrast between buildings produced from the Cartesian analytic mentality and, for example, the medieval Gothic cathedrals or the works of Antoni Gaudi in the 20th century could not be more extreme. The latter are participatory and organic in conception and execution, as is nearly all traditional architecture the world over. There are lessons here not only for architects and designers of sacred spaces, but for those who design buildings for secular use, and even for managers of organizations and communities. Please note that I am not saying that all modern architecture is ugly, or that Gothic is best, but that by comparing the worst of the modern with the best of the ancient and medieval, we can learn something true and useful.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New book by Alasdair MacIntyre

I was just alerted to an important new book by one of the great educational philosophers of our time. Called God, Philosophy, Universities. It is a kind of introduction to the Catholic philosophical tradition, based on an undergraduate course that MacIntyre teaches at Notre Dame. An informative review by Mark Eckel may be read here. Eckel writes: "Key to a Christian university is the unity of the universe and the underlying unity of all subjects of study.... The origin of division (begun in Genesis 3) is dualism – separating the human person into pieces and parts – which destroys 'the unity of the human being,' and is antithetical to the Christian view of unity." An article by MacIntyre on Newman and education can be found here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Education in the Family


Anyone who wants to discuss the educational implications of Beauty for Truth's Sake can now do so at our discussion board under EDUCATION. In connection with this you might like to read an article I wrote some time ago in Communio called Towards a Distinctively Catholic School. But these ideas on education are not just for Catholics - and not just for schools and colleges. Parents are the primary educators of their children, and the home is the natural place for a revolution in education. If you want to be involved in the discussion with and among homeschoolers you can append a comment here, send me an email, or post something in the education forum.

Recently I also became aware of a growing Catholic UNSCHOOLING movement inspired by the work of John Holt. According to Suzie Andres, the author of Homeschooling with Gentleness, "St. Thomas and Aristotle both clearly affirm the following four educational principles: 1) education should be for the good of the learner; 2) all men by nature desire to know; 3) the learner is the principal agent in learning; and 4) different learners are fitted to learn different things at different times." These principles underpin the case for "unschooling", the "Little Way" of homeschooling as she calls it, which is based on trust - trust that a child will seek out and learn what he or she needs to know, when he needs to know it, without coercion, without school or school-type methods, in the freedom and safety of his family. The role of parents is to facilitate this exploration of the world.

This won't work for some families and some children, but I can imagine it working for others. After all, every subject is connected to every other, and one thing leads to the next. Give a child a globe for Christmas, and it may lead to an interest in geography, or history, or astronomy. Start them on a musical instrument, and it might open up mathematics or history. Drawing a circle or triangle points to architecture or theology. In fact the principles of unschooling are very close in some ways to the idea of my book, which is all about interconnectedness and lifelong, self-motivated learning.

Picture by Rose-Marie Caldecott. Rights reserved.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Theories of Evolution


A letter published in The Catholic Herald points out that in my analysis of the challenge of evangelization in that paper (October 2), I ignored the "elephant in the room", namely Evolution. It says that my piece was "fine as far as it goes, but, like so many Catholic commentators on the decline of belief in this country, he is either unable or unwilling to take the necessary final step and identify the elephant in the room: namely, the Darwinian world-view that underpins our secular culture." It continues:
As Mr Caldecott says, we have lost a sense of who we are and how we fit into the cosmos. There is no mystery about why this has occurred: it follows naturally from the Darwinian view that we are merely the product of blind forces, rather than the deliberate creation of a loving God. The key is not, as he suggests, to highlight the complementary relationship of the arts and sciences, their common search for beauty, and the attraction of elegant solutions that please the heart: much of Darwinism’s superficial attraction lies in the fact that it appears to satisfy all these criteria, while clearly leaving no room for religious belief. Rather, we should be highlighting the latest research in such diverse fields as information theory, biochemistry and cosmology, which provide compelling evidence for traditional Catholic teaching on mankind’s unique status within God’s creation. Until we (and the Church generally) grasp this nettle, it will not matter one jot how many “humane and intelligent alternatives to the increasingly oppressive secularism of our schools” are devised: our children will continue to regard religious belief as fundamentally irrational.
I don't entirely agree. In an article called "Theories of Evolution" I suggest that Darwin does leave room for religious belief. We do not have to take Richard Dawkins at face value, nor ignore the presence of respected theistic evolutionists such as Simon Conway-Morris (Cambridge). Darwin himself seems to have lost his faith for other reasons than the theory of natural selection. Atheistic evolutionism is a symptom and result of the split in our culture that I was writing about in that article and in my book - the three-way split between science, art, and faith. Unfortunately the debate on evolution too often gets bogged down in the discussion of atheism vs creationism or intelligent design. It needs to be broadened out, with reference also to psychology, neurophysiology, the nature of the soul and the human person. Religious believers have nothing to fear from facts discovered by modern science, although we must be wary of some of the interpretations that may be placed upon them.

Materialist theories of evolution in fact make sense only to people who lack a sense of spiritual forms or essences. If that whole dimension is closed to our minds, if there is no conception of what might be meant by “vertical causation” (formal and final causes working together with material and efficient ones), then naturally there is nowhere else for species to come from than below, through a combination of chance and necessity. The successive temporal unfolding of species does not prove the truth of the theories that are adduced to explain it. The inner form that makes a species what it is exists eternally, however it comes to be manifested in space and time.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


Beauty for Truth's Sake echoes in places that cult philosophy book of the 1970s, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert Pirsig, which you can read online here. (Coincidentally there is a conference in Oxford this October comparing Pirsig's ideas on Quality with those of the art historian Ernst Gombrich.) In the course of his Chautauqua, the author seeks to resolve what he calls the "classic-romantic split" in our culture - the world of technology and science, and the world of feeling and art. He finds a solution in the notion of Quality. Phædrus... felt that the solution started with a new philosophy, or he saw it as even broader than that - a new spiritual rationality - in which the ugliness and the loneliness and the spiritual blankness of dualistic technological reason would become illogical.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Recent article

In the Catholic Herald recently I published an article arguing that the task of "evangelizing" - that is, communicating the Christian faith - is made more difficult by the split between arts and sciences. "Faith became detached from reason, and reason turned against faith, as a result of the scientific and technological revolution. The intellectual elite accepted the philosophers' suggestion that truth has nothing to do with goodness or 'facts' with 'values'. Art was reduced to entertainment, and science to the quest for power over nature. But reductionism never worked completely: there was always something important left out. In reality, both art and science never stopped searching for beauty, and that is an important clue to the healing of education. Beauty leads beyond the surface of things, into their hidden depths. Human beings are made for more than science or art can offer on their own, and once we recognise that both point to a meaning beyond the world, the religious question is opened up once more, and the gospels begin to make sense."

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Come Hop With Us!



Are you tired of not winning contest and sweeps that you have entered into? Are you a giveaway addict? Do you absolutely love to read blogs and meet other bloggers?

If you answered YES to any of the questions above then My SEO Gal's Network Circle's 1st Blog Hop event is designed specifically for YOU!

We have joined up with the best online bloggers to bring you giveaways for baby products, jewelry, personalized gift cards, business services and so much more!

From Giveaways to Vacation Pictures, you can take some time to browse each bloggers blog and see all the terrific things that are going on in their lives whether it be business or personal.

If you are a business owner or an online website owner, make sure to follow our blog by clicking on the Follow button located to the right hand side and keep up to date on ways to market your business online.

So Get Ready, Set and start entering giveaways and visiting the blogs listed below by clicking on the blog sites in the MCK LINKY box below. Once you get to each blog, you will find the same exact Mck Linky box so you can easily visit the next blog on the list.

Wishing you tons of Luck and We hope you have a fun time while Hopping!




MckLinky Blog Hop

Monday, September 28, 2009

My SEO Gal's First Blog Hop! Whoo Hoo

My SEO Gal is having it's very first Blog Hop of many To come!

I'm so excited that we made the decision to get together and start a blog hop.

Our first blog hop will start on October 5,2009.

How To Sign Up to Participate in our Blog Hops:

All you have to do to enter into the hop is enter your blog name and blog url below in our
Mck Linky box located below and your site will show up in the box. Click on the Enter Your Blog Url Here link, then Leave a comment below
that says you will be participating.

Then add a post to your blog about the hop, you have the option to include a
prize and post your rules.

Come back and get the code for your blog or copy the code as soon as you enter in your
blog's information and add the code to your Blog Hop post. You get the code by
Clicking on the link under the Mck Linky box below that says Want to participate
in this blog? Get instructions here.


You can use this wonderful image designed for our Blog Hop
by Jen at by J Bee Designs and place it at the top of your blog post or on the
side navigation of your blog so all can see.

Make sure to upload the image to your computer first then upload it to your blog.


1 – What is a blog hop?

Hop, hop, hop… that’s right! Imagine a themed blog posting in which many other

bloggers are posting the same theme, with a list of participating bloggers links on

that post that will allow you to HOP to other blogs and see the exact same theme,

however different content. For example: Let’s say this week the theme given

to us is “My favorite picture”. Everyone in the blog hop group will post their

favorite picture and content and at the end of the blog, will post an HTML code

that will have a list of all the blog hoppers. In this case, if I go to my blog,

I’ll see a post of my favorite picture, my content and a list of all the participating

bloggers. So, I can click on another blogger’s link and see their

favorite picture...and then just hop from blog to blog……..


Everyone participating may insert the same HTML code so that we

will all have the same blog hop list displayed. That way, the

visitor will know which ones they have visited and which

ones still remain to be seen…


Now the question is….


2 – Why should I participate?

Exposure… !!! This is a creative and new way to increase

the exposure of your blog, by receiving traffic from your

fellow Blog Hoppers and from the visitors.


It’s FUN and addicting. Think of our example. Wouldn’t you want to see what everyone’s favorite picture was? And wouldn’t you want to click on all the links to see what

they were? And if you found the blog interesting, with interesting articles, wouldn’t

you stop and read?


Increase your blog’s traffic AND get more followers by participating in this program.

It’s a win, win situation.


3 – I want to participate, but I don’t know HTML….

That’s fine!!! The HTML code (Mr. Linky) will be given to you,

and if you have questions as to how to add the code, you can

me at the contact link :

Contact US and get assistance. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity.

If you have additional questions in regards to this program, please

e-mail Contact Me Otherwise….


What do I do after I sign up:


4.- What you would need to do is to create a blog post before this

Sunday October 4,2009 and copy the Mck Linky code that you get below

into your blog hop post. Your blog post should display the Blog Hop banner above.

The post can be about the blog hop. You would mentioned something like

We are participating in My SEO Gal's Blog Hop. If you are giving away

a prize then you would say something like. "To celebrate the 1st blog hop of

many to come I am giving away a prize. Then you would have your rules to

win the prize. Let your readers know to visit other blogs in the MckLinky box

to enter to win more prizes.

Here are some giveaway entry rules people have used in their

blog hops:


* Follow our blog and leave a separate comment.
* Follow our blog on Facebook's Networked Blogs, leave a separate comment.
* For an extra entry Tell all your Facebook friends about our giveaway

and leave a separate comment.
* Tweet about our giveaway and leave a separate comment.
* Post about our giveaway on your own blog, leave us a separate

comment with your blog url.
* Fan our biz page on Facebook and leave a separate comment.

Please leave us a way to contact you in at least one of your comments.

The blog hop ends on October 21st so you can put the end date in your

contest rules and when you will be announcing the winner.

If you aren't giving anything away, you can just start a post about the

blog hop and use the image from my blog post in your blog post,

make sure to still add the Mck Linky code to your Blog Hop post

so people can jump from blog to blog.


LET’S GET STARTED!!!!

5. – When the blog hop opens or if you want to add your blog now, you can add your

link to the Mck Linky box below and get the HTML link code by clicking on the

get your code link located under the Mck Linky entry box.


The first week of our blog hop will not have a theme, but the blog hops after

this one will have some type of theme that will be announced before the blog hop begins.


Our blog hops will last for 7 days to 14 days. The first one will start on October 5 and end on October 21st.


Remember to add your link below and don't forget to tweet or retweet

about the blog hop by clicking on the little green box located at the bottom

right hand side of this post.


The blog hop doesn't actually start until October 5, but you can help us promote it by tweeting about the hop, contacting your facebook fans, telling everyone you know that has a blog and invite them to participate.


The more blogs that participate the better!


To keep up to date on our Blog Hop make sure to follow this blog by clicking on the follow button on the right hand side.


So hope to see you while hopping!


NOTE: If you want to participate in the blog hop, you MUST put a Mck Linky box on your site right after you add your blog below and you MUST mention the Blog Hop. I will go through the list and remove any links below that do not have the Mck Linky box listed or any blog that does not mention the hop.


MckLinky Blog Hop



Carla Phillips


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Stumble Upon Is Awesome : Tips On Getting More Exposure On Stumble Upon

You may be aware or not aware of a great site by the name of Stumble Upon.

If you have heard of Stumble Upon then you are already two steps ahead. If not, then you are about to take a huge leap towards online exposure.

So Just sit back and take a load off of your already busy day and take some time to read up on some tips about how your online business can benefit from using the every so popular Stumble Upon bookmarking site.

For starters I will take the approach that you may not know what a bookmarking site is.
A bookmarking site is used the same way you use your favorites or bookmarking button on the top of your browser. The difference between your favorites and a bookmarking site is that you are the only one who knows that a site is your favorite site or that you have stored a site on your computer to return to it in the future. When you sign up for an account on a social bookmarking site, you are allowing other members to view your favorite sites.

It's just like saying, "Hey, I love this site man! I think you may like it too!".

So in essence you are just sharing your favorite websites, news clips, blog post, products, services etc.. with others that share the same or similar interest as you. That is exactly what you can do on Stumble Upon.

Stumble Upon currently has over 8 million registered stumblers.

Stumblers or Stumble Upon members can go to a website and give a thumbs up or a thumbs down review. Once they review a site, that site is then indexed in Stumble Upon's directory.

When a site is reviewed, the reviewer has an option to add "tags" or keywords to the review which makes it easier for a site to be found while a member is stumbling through Stumble Upon's directory.

Once the tags are assigned to a review. That
review is shown in Stumblers profiles or sent to their email addresses, as a recommended site. This all depends on a Stumblers interest. Interest are set when someone registers with Stumble Upon. If someone chooses Business as their interest, then they will receive Business recommendations and so forth and so on.

Have I lost you yet?

If so, don't worry, there is a point to this post if you are a website owner.

And here comes my point!! (Dun, Dun, Dunnnnnn.....)

If you own a website and someone stumbles your website and reviews your site on the Stumble Upon site that once again, has over 8 million members. You have the opportunity to get tons of exposure to your website!

If you own a site that is geared towards kids and someone reviews your site and places it under Stumble Upons "For Kids" category. Then your site will be recommended to those Stumblers who have chosen For K
ids as one of their interest. Which means that the traffic to your site from that review will be individuals who are interesting in things about or for kids.

Now do you see where I'm going with this?

I think I've covered the basis about what Stumble Upon is and some of the benefits. Now I'll cover some tips on how you can get your site stumbled and reviewed.

Here are some simple and quick tips that you can use to get your site Stumbled:

First you have to get your site reviewed on Stumble Upon before you can get any exposure. You can do this by:

1. Adding a Stumble Upon button to your site or blog. When you do this, your visitors can review or share your site with other stumblers.

Here are a few sites you can go to, to get a Stumble Upon button or share button for your site or blog:

http://www.stumbleupon.com/buttons.php

http://www.addtoany.com/

http://www.addthis.com/

2. Ask your customer
s, business partners, fellow stumblers, friends etc.. to stumble your site. They can stumble your site by clicking on your share button that you just got from one of the sites above or if you don't have a share button on your site, then they can join Stumble Upon and download their Stumble Upon tool bar and stumble your site and others (I recommend downloading the toolbar).

3. Stumble other website owners sites. If they monitor their traffic stats, they will see that they have some traffic from Stumble Upon then will get curious as to what Stumble Upon is and why are they getting so much traffic from it. They may sign up for an account and then see that you were the one that reviewed their site and they may do the same for you. Just in case you've never seen a Stumble Upon
logo they may look something like these or more creative (I like the more creative ones):



4. Want to know if your site has been reviewed on Stumble Upon? But of course you do. To check and see if your site has been reviewed. Simply copy and paste or use the following to check for your reviews. Make sure to replace the yoursitehere with your website name:

http://www.stumbleupon.com/url/yourwebsiteaddresshere.com

5. Sign up for a Stumble Upon account. I guess this should have been the first tip.

That's it. That's all there is too it. Of course you will need to take some time to get reviews and add the buttons but it's all worth it in the end.

You can increase your exposure by simply having your site reviewed by one stumbler, can you imagine if you had your site reviewed by hundreds of stumblers. Oh the possibilities......

Need help getting your site reviewed? If you do you can either follow the steps at the link below or join My SEO Ga'ls Networking group and members will stumble and review your site and vice versa:

To add your website link to be reviewed, just click on the link below:

Stumble Upon Reviews

To Join the network group click on the link below:




I hope you get tons of exposure from these tips!

Carla Phillips
My SEO Gal
http://myseogal.com
Got a Question or need help?
Contact My SEO Gal Today for a FREE SEO Quote.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sphere of the Angels


"Rilke was not mistaken when he identified as one the sphere of the angels and the sphere of all that is beautiful. 'For the beautiful is nothing but the first degree of the terrible.' The world of beauty is the world of intermediate hierarchies which are irradiated with the glory that cascades down from the Trinity even into the formless opacity of matter. The beautiful is the world of forms between that which above form, being the sphere of God, and that which has no form at all, being mere matter. The modern world shuts out intermediate order. It recognizes nothing between scientific thinking and mystical possession, and in so doing denies completely the sphere which it is the function of art to reconstitute by giving back to the universe its depths."

[This quotation is from Jean Danielou, Prayer as a Political Problem (Sheed & Ward, 1967), pp. 77-8. When he says "matter" of course he is talking about matter in the Scholastic sense, not that of modern physics. The picture is by William Blake, and shows Christ's body guarded by angels.]

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Twitter Buttons for Blogs, MySpace and Websites

I get a lot of emails asking about where to find Twitter Buttons that can be used on Blogs, Social Networking Sites and Websites.

Well,

I have scanned the web over and over and have always recommending the following sites to those who inquire about the buttons. I have decided to compile a list of sites that you can visit to get free twitter buttons. Some of them have really cool graphics, some of them provide you with the code you need to put on your blogs, social networking sites and websites and some provide you with the image but you will need the code to put on your sites.

Here are some examples of images you expect to find:








Here are some links you can visit to get some of these TOTALLY AWESOME TWITTER BUTTONS. You can click on the links by moving your cursor over the links:

http://www.twitterbuttons.org
http://www.twitterbuttons.com
http://mysocialbuttons.com/buttons/twitter
http://www.twittermysite.com/

This site has some really cool and different Twitter and other Social Networking Icons:
http://www.hongkiat.com

I hope you enjoy them and make sure to check back again over the next week for more social networking buttons.


Carla Phillips
My SEO Gal
http://myseogal.com
Got a Question or need help?
Contact My SEO Gal Today for a FREE SEO Quote.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Education and Architecture


It seems to me that one of the things a teacher can do to "re-enchant" education is draw his students' attention to the world we live in, and to the world we have built around us - the language of form in architecture. We can connect this easily with mathematics, geometry, astronomy, music, and history. An article by philosopher John Haldane in The Catholic Herald for 30 August 2009 even gives us a way to connect it with biology.

The architects of classical antiquity and of renaissance and later neo-classicism were resolute humanists. For them, man and measure go together, either with man being the measure of all things, or else in his measuring cosmic order through his ability to discern mathematical sequences, ratios and parallels.

The principle architectural expression of this abstract ordering is the façade or wall divided into parts: surface and spaces defined by classical geometry. When competently conceived and executed such schemes are undeniably pleasing, like the rhythm of a well-ordered rhyme. But the inspiration is less to do with what is observed in nature than with what is reasoned to through mathematics and philosophy. The Gothic, by contrast, takes its key from the living world of ordered growth. From beneath the earth the germinated seed breaks through, first establishing a stem, then branching, next putting out leaves and buds, then in turn producing flowers and fruits. The order is not one of mathematical design but of organic progression; and it pre-exists invisible but immanent within the seed.

Like plants, Gothic buildings grow out of the earth and are developed upwards, drawing material from below but reaching for the light. They represent a recognition of the order of nature and an identification with it; acknowledging and seeking to imitate divine design.
Of course, the "living world of ordered growth" is itself a mathematical order, and the Gothic masons probably understood it as such. Nevertheless, Haldane is absolutely right that in a Gothic cathedral we easily imagine ourselves "standing beneath the canopy formed in an avenue of over-lapping trees, or imagine the undersides of the leaves of those trees." And it is surely true that "the power of England's Gothic cathedrals to prompt wonder at the order of nature and to encourage speculation about the source of that order is not altogether diminished. Hundreds of years on from their first appearance they remain sources of theological inspiration and reminders of the possibility of integrating intellect, imagination and sense in the embodiment and recognition of religious meanings."

Born in Britain but living in California, the architect Christopher Alexander believes that architecture should be rooted in a profound understanding of the human person as spiritually transcendent, yet intimately related to the cosmos. His book series The Nature of Order (2004) opens with an assault on the mechanistic idea of order, which he traces back to Descartes in the seventeenth century. He argues against this idea that matter and space possess degrees of life, because the elements of which they are made relate to each other as mutually supporting “centers”, making the whole more than the sum of its parts. He illustrates this by means of the patterns in a Turkish carpet and the architectural and decorative features of buildings like the Alhambra and Chartres Cathedral.

Alexander defines fifteen structural features that correlate with degrees of life. This enables him to become quite practical in his recommendations. The examples he chooses are eclectic, ranging from mud huts to palaces, from Shaker furniture to Persian glassware, from electrical discharges to cell walls, from the branches of plants to the cracking of mud and the formation of crystals and feathers. He suggests that his approach offers a way beyond Hume’s fact-value distinction. Our feeling-response to things, properly discerned, is an objective measure of their structural wholeness. The implications of all this for education remain to be explored.

Take a look at the "50 most extraordinary churches in the world" and see if you agree with your friends on which are the most beautiful!

Friday, August 28, 2009

The beauty of mathematics


For many of us, “mathematics” and “beauty” sit oddly together. We may remember math as boring or even frightening, but hardly beautiful. Yet math is the key to science, and science dominates our age. And there is another way to look at it.
The single most compelling reason to explore the world of mathematics is that it is beautiful, and pondering its intriguing ideas is great fun…. To study the deep truth of number relationships feeds the spirit as surely as any of the other great human activities of art, music, or literature. -- Calvin Clawson
This quotation is taken from p. 239 of a wonderful book called A Passion for Mathematics: Numbers, Puzzles, Madness, Religion, and the Quest for Reality, by Clifford A. Pickover. It is full of games and quotes and ideas that parents and teachers will find useful to get kids of all ages and all backgrounds interested and involved with maths and geometry. Pickover himself believes that “mathematics is the loom upon which God weaves the fabric of the universe” (p. 53).

Looking back on the maths classes I sat through as a kid, I can't help wishing I had been taught the subject not as a collection of seemingly arbitrary rules and procedures but (1) historically (starting with Pythagoras), (2) aesthetically (in relation to music, painting, architecture), and (3) symbolically (with a view to qualities, meanings, analogies inherent in numbers and shapes) - not to mention (4) playfully.

The religious and secular use of numbers are related, as I tried to show in The Seven Sacraments (Crossroad) as well as in Beauty for Truth’s Sake. The numbers particularly prominent in Christian tradition are 1, 2, 3, 4, 7 10 and 12. One is the source of all other numbers, 2 is the beginning of multiplicity, there are three divine Persons and three theological virtues, four cardinal virtues and four Gospels, seven sacraments as well as seven days of creation, ten commandments, twelve apostles and twelve tribes. And all these numbers are interrelated: 7 is 3 plus 4, 10 is 3 plus 7, 12 is 3 times 4. So in a way the fundamental structural numbers only go as high as 4, and all the others are made up from these. That takes us back to the sacred Tetraktys of the Pythagoreans, whose influence on the Christian tradition has been underestimated.

There is a fascinating article by Karen Kilby called MATHEMATICS, BEAUTY AND THEOLOGY that I recommend to your attention if the subject interests you. (Just follow the link.) And I also want to mention "The Curriculum of Beauty" by David H. Albert and Joyce Reed in Life Learning magazine. Albert writes:

Our children have within themselves, or so I am led to believe by my experience of them, an inner yearning for the beautiful, a potential wonderment and a delicious longing and love and trembling waiting to be empowered on its quest. This yearning is not likely to be fulfilled in a high school hallway or on the shopping mall checkout line. So what if we were to set as our task – as parents and as educators – acquainting our children with the beautiful without and the cultivation of the beautiful – the yearning – within? How might we go about our homeschooling lives differently if we were to conceive of what we are doing as primarily an aesthetic task?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Light


Education is a never-ending process – or should be. And what we learn depends largely on what catches our imagination. Not long agoI learned something by chance that changed the way I look at the world. Like many people, I grew up with the idea that the light by which we see things emanates from a source, bounces off the thing I am looking at, and collides with a cell in my retina. Not true, apparently. When a photon hits something, it is absorbed. This energy is then radiated back again as light: not the same photons, but new ones. In a way, then, the whole world is glowing. The leaves on the trees are alight. Your eyes are (almost literally) shining like stars.

Such a world is much more alive, more beautiful, it seems to me, than the passive, lumpen world I previously inhabited. Matter is active in revealing its colours and shapes to our eye. I think St Denys would have appreciated this. The way light is passed on by matter is an analogy for the way spiritual illumination is passed down his hierarchy of angels: each angel makes the light his own, and illuminates the others by his own gift. It also echoes the pattern of the Trinity, the supreme three-dimensional act of love. In love each gives to the other, each receives from the other. When we see anything, it is because a photon has been received, and a photon given. Light is gift.