Place and Power: Sierra Blanca and Mescalero Apache Cosmology

Essay completed 3 April 2017

The recognition of sacred land as the site of physical and spiritual intersection recurs in Mescalero Apache scholarship. David L. Carmichael argues in “Places of power: Mescalero Apache sacred sites and sensitive areas,” that “belief in the sacred character of specific geographical places” defines Mescalero thought (89). Most of these sites sacred to the Mescalero are regarded as “places of power, points of intersection between the material world and spiritual world” (89). In her book The Apache Peoples: A History of All Bands and Tribes Through the 1880s, Jessica Dawn Palmer notes the Mescalero saw their land as “a living entity full of objects, plants and animals of innate power” (291). Palmer argues the Mescalero sought to live “within their environment rather than trying to bend it to their will” (291). Continue reading “Place and Power: Sierra Blanca and Mescalero Apache Cosmology”

Existential Action: Criticisms and Hypothetical Responses

Essay completed 7 December 2016

In his 1946 essay “Existentialism is humanism,” Sartre defends existentialism against several recurring criticisms. The most superficial criticism of existentialism asserts that existentialists dwell too much on human degradation while denying the seriousness of human achievement. In essence, this criticism asks why existentialism focuses so much on negative aspects of life, when there is so much to celebrate. Another common criticism Sartre identifies is the charge that existentialism fosters nihilism because it denies objective morality, condemning people to live without meaning. The underlying assumption of this criticism is that a life is only worth living if there is objective morality. Another criticism is that existentialism encourages quietism and discourages solidarity in the face of life’s meaninglessness. These charges assert overall that if objective solutions can never be found in existentialism, “we should have to consider action in this world as quite impossible” (Marino 341-342). Continue reading “Existential Action: Criticisms and Hypothetical Responses”

A Story that Doesn’t Exist: Nausea and Transcending Retrospective Interpretation

Essay completed 24 October 2016

Growing up in a Calvinist church and a conservative evangelical school, I was taught that everything in the world has inherent meaning. Those institutions maintained that every aspect of the natural world correlates to an absolute spiritual truth. I was told that the knowledge God has revealed to humankind is all that I would ever need to know. Nature exists as it does to exemplify God’s greatness. I have selfish impulses because I inherited Adam and Eve’s sin nature. Humankind’s fallen nature explains every act of immorality ever committed. This manner of interpreting the world through cause-and-effect allegories was comforting to me because it gave me a definite identity. I knew who I was and why I was here. For most of my life I believed that my worldview determined my identity and the nature of the world around me. Continue reading “A Story that Doesn’t Exist: Nausea and Transcending Retrospective Interpretation”