Welcome to the Discussion Board for English 233:
Introduction to Western Humanities - Reformation to Enlightenment
First: pick the right Message Board for your section.
[Note: the Message Board is available only on our course site at KSU-Online (online.ksu.edu). If you are accessing our course materials at our backup site (on www.ksu.edu/english/baker/), you need to go to the other site in order to participate in Message Board discussions.]
If I'm teaching only one section of the course during the semester, you'll find in the left-hand column of the screen a single button labeled "MESSAGE BOARD." Click on it and you are ready to go.
But if I'm offering more than one section, you will in the left-hand column a button for each section of the course. Pick the one for hour when you attend class. (It may be that you are officially enrolled in one section, but come to class at a different hour. Use the Message Board set up for the section that you regularly attend.)
Here's how it works:
What you see on the Board are a series of round "bullets," each followed by an underlined subject, a name (of the person who wrote the comment), and an italicized notice of the time of day and date the comment was made.
This list of bulleted subjects lets you "scan" the topics (or threads of discussion) without having to read the entire text of any of them -- like searching for a book in the library by scanning a list of titles.
When you find a subject that is interesting, just click on the underlined subject, and the text for that subject pops up. If you want to make a comment in response to what you've just read, scroll to the bottom of the page, and a "Message Form" template similar to an e-mail message appears.
Just enter your name and your e-mail in the appropriate blanks, then add your comments in the message box (it's labeled "Post a New Response"), below the text of the message to which you are responding. When finished, click the "Post Message" bar, and your message is added to the message board, immediately below and indented one tab to the right of the original message. (If you would like first to preview how your message will finally look when it is finally posted to the message board, click on the "Preview Message" bar. If there is a change you discover you want to make, you can back up to the message box and fix things before you send it out.)
That's what makes the "threaded" part of the message board work. By indenting each response to a particular topic, and grouping all responses below the original topic, you can scan to the subject area of your choice and enter the discussion at any point.
If you want to start your own new subject, just use the message box that appears on the Index Page of the message board (it's labeled "Start New Message"), and go through the same process.
"Subject" descriptions are important.
For our message board to work to best advantage, you will want to give careful thought to the description you put in the "Subject" heading for your message. Please don't just say something like "another subject for discussion." Try to come up with something informative for other people who will be scanning the message board on different occasions to decide what they want to read for the first time. Shoot for something specific that they might recall to mind when they want in some later session to get back to for another look.
Doing this is actually a good idea, too, when you are replying to a message by someone else. By default, the program will supply the Subject line of the replied-to message as the Subject of your reply. But you can instead write in your own Subject description, which will give other readers an idea of the "special twist" of your own line of reply. After you've reviewed what you've composed, consider re-visiting the Subject line and deciding on the best clue to give someone scanning (or reviewing) the index as to what is in your particular message. The threading itself will take care of reminding the reviewer of what the subject is of the message to which you are replying.
Cut out unnecessary text from previous messages in the thread you're contributing to.
Our Message Board is set up so that each time you reply to a message, the original message you're replying to is incorporated in your message. This is a convenience for you, since it reminds of the exact words of the person whose ideas you are considering. If you want, you can even work your answer in in parts, replying right after your classmate's first remark first and then skipping to after her second remark to work in your reply to it. Example.
The things you mention seem to be practical responses to some important kinds of bad things (evils) we encounter in life. But the kind of problem the article deals with is a different kind of "problem." It is a problem of "how to make sense of something," rather than a problem of "how should we go about fixing some state of affairs." It's more like a problem like "How can somebody be in two places at once?" rather than a problem like "What is the best school for my daughter to be in?" The first is a problem about how we can "rethink" things so as to make a puzzle disappear or whether we should throw the puzzle out as nonsensical in itself. (If we try the first route, we might resort to interpretation. For example, we might say, "a person could be sitting in his office, where he's supposed to be doing a job, but in his mind he could 'be elsewhere' -- fantasizing about surfing in Mexico." Or we could reject the question as confused, as presupposing something an impossibility or a contradiction: "The fact is, there IS no way any physical object -- a person tied to a body -- can be in two places at once. So asking 'how it can do this' is pointless.") The second problem is a practical one, not about what we should think, but about what we should do. (Of course, the ideas we have about the different schools are important, and we may need to correct some of our ideas about what goes on at the different schools or about my daughter's needs before we can make a good decision.) The "problem of evil" we are considering here is more like "the problem of being in two places at once" than "the problem of where to send Jenny to school."
It is kind of difficult language. A "theodicy" seems to be some way of explaining how it can be that God can be all-powerful and all-good, and yet have ended up creating a world that is full of terrible things. "Constructing" one would be, I guess, "thinking it up." One way we might "interpret" our way out of this apparent impossibility would be to convince ourselves that the things we think are bad really aren't bad after all, if we "see them in the right light." A very different way might be to come up with some picture of how evil comes into the universe, and why God allows that to happen, that doesn't force us to see him as either weak or morally negligent. The Biblical story of the Fall might be something we could interpret in a way that would let us hold Adam and Eve responsible for the evil in the world rather than God. (We still might have to add something to explain why God hasn't in the meanwhile just fixed the mess they made.)
But this feature has a disadvantage that we need to work around. If everyone leaves everything said before in his message, pretty soon we have to read through too much to get to what you yourself are saying. And the program has to use up all sorts of memory unnecessarily to store all these stacked up repetitions, which would show up in each message down the line, accumulating with each reply!
It is kind of difficult language. A "theodicy" seems to be some way of explaining how it can be that God can be all-powerful and all-good, and yet have ended up creating a world that is full of terrible things. "Constructing" such an explanation would be, I guess, "thinking it up" -- figuring out what its parts are, and how they fit together. One way we might "interpret" our way out of this apparent impossibility would be to convince ourselves that the things we think are bad really aren't bad after all, if we "see them in the right light." A very different way might be to come up with some picture (a story about the process) of how evil comes into the universe, and why God allows that to happen, that doesn't force us to see him as either weak or or mean or uncaring. The Biblical story of the Fall might be something we could interpret in a way that would let us hold Adam and Eve responsible for the evil in the world rather than God. (The fact that we'd still have to interpret the story in some way that justifies God's punishment of the pair might be part of what it means to say that the Biblical story provides us with "materials for constructing" this defense.)
But will this work in the end? Wouldn't we still have to have some good explanation as to why God doesn't act to fix the mess that Adam and Eve made of the world? If a father did not do whatever he could to repair a disaster a child makes, we would think him at fault, unless there was nothing that could be done. But if God can't fix it, how is he "all-powerful"? And if he can, but won't, how is he "all-good"? Maybe this is another part of what is meant by saying that the Fall story could be "materials for constructing" a theodicy: it gives us a start, but we need some additional explanation of why God lets Adam and Eve's sin continue to afflict our world.
Check in frequently!
The whole point of this message board is to enable greater participation in the course. You should make a habit of checking the message board at least every couple of days to see what's new, and (let's hope) to consider replying to one or more messages. From time to time, the instructor may post new questions for discussion. But students should feel free to open new lines of discussion on their own.
Remember: your regular participation in Message Board discussions is responsible for a major portion of your final course grade. It is important to be "engaging your mind" regularly here by thinking about what your classmates are thinking, and going through the process of trying to formulate your own thoughts on relevant issues.
Questions or Comments?
Additional help with the Message Board
There is an excellent introductory tutorial to the Message Board, called "Getting Started," at http://online.ksu.edu/shared/webVine/1.0/get_started.html. You should definitely work through this if you haven't already done so. (The first time you enter the Message Board area, the program gives you an opportunity to do this. If you've already been through it, in another course [say], you can skip it.)
When you're ready to learn more about the message board, simply click on the "Help" button on the "Action Menu" of the Message Board itself. A separate Web browser window with the online help information will open on top of your current browser window (so you can flip back and forth). You'll be taken to links to