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The Allegory of the Stem and the Hat
by Terry Barlow
03/10/14
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   There was once a confrontation between a rose stem and a hat. The rose was turned stem outward and used as a weapon against the hat which was situated on the floor in the center of a large room. The stem slapped against the hat time after time but, of course, the hat did not respond but was only slapped around the floor all over the center of the room. So really it was no contest, no confrontation at all because the hat could not counter or defend itself. If the hat had a cheek it would certainly must have been turning it. So what's the point of this parable? The stem represents the acronym S_T_E_M which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The hat represents the acronym H-A-T, which stands for Humanities, Art, and Theology. These two groups are not really opponents at all, but more like team-mates or collaborators. They are more like different organs or members of the same body intended to work together, but that are often pitted against each other as adversaries or competitors, as though one must choose one or the other. This then is the epitome of a false dilemma. It was Einstein who said something like science without religion is blind, and religion without science is lame.  But the parable is not finished yet because in the end, and before the rose is completely ruined, it is turned rightside up, and the bearer of that rose, sensing the futility of the "fight", then picks up the hat, before it's crumpled completely out of shape, dusts it off, and places it elegantly on his head, and leaves the large room to go and deliver the rose to a loved one, someones who really needs a rose that day (and who doesn't?) and who would be encouraged, even delighted to receive it, though it and the bearer's hat be a liitle droopy and delapidated.  It's the thought that counts after all, and the thought would count for a lot.

   Upon examination of the word "conscience" this may make more sense.  Notice how the word contains the word "science": con-science, as if to say science must always be accompanied by a keen moral conscience to reign it in (or spur it on) when necessary, to keep it from playing God.  Adam and Eve partook of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the one tree forbidden for them.  At least part of what that meant is that they had begun to invent, or REinvent, right and wrong for themselves.



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