There are two basic types of myths: stories of the gods and stories of heroes. Obviously, in the stories of the gods, the hero of the myth is a god or goddess. But quickly myth moves in a different direction and we find the stories of great men, the heroes of the Classical Age.
In a previous article, “Why Do You Teach,” I wrote about teachers pursuing the good of their students. Drawing an analogy between friendship and teaching (as Aristotle did between friendship and governance), I wrote:
The first time I read Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, I thought it had to be one of the stupidest books written in the modern era. The rhetoric was so purple, so overbearingly ornate, the sentences so long, and the excuses for why the Glorious Revolution was nothing like the French Revolution sounded like so much special pleading.
Eight years later, and after four more reads of that great tome of conservative prejudice, the “Political views” line on my Facebook profile simply says: Edmund Burke
“Why do we have to know this?" This question is the bane of every math teacher's existence. It gets asked in math class more frequently than in any other subject area (Latin teachers, please form a queue if you wish to lodge a complaint against that claim). But many math teachers don't know how to the answer it.
For the good of the other, that is the answer to our question. Or is it? What does that even mean? In his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle explains what friendship is. Perhaps understanding friendship might help us to understand the relationship between teacher and student, even if the relationship between a teacher and his student is not one we might typically describe as a friendship.
For Aristotle, that student of Plato and therefore Socrates, there are three kinds of friendship: a friendship of utility, a friendship of pleasure, and pure friendship.
An awful lot of classic literature is concerned with “first world problems.” To illustrate this point, I’ve reduced most Jane Austen novels to a single meme:
I have also simmered Tolstoy’s “The Death of Ivan Ilyich” down to this pungent little sauce:
Centuries before Bunyan’s Pilgrim was trekking towards the Celestial City, Chaucer’s motley crew were wending their way to Canterbury. Both stories draw on a premonition that’s as old as Abraham and as fresh as Kerouac—an intimation, undying through the ages, that life is a journey towards, or in search of, the holy.
We didn't know wonder was enlivening our home until it died.
I have a very specific process when I approach a writing project. Using the first three canons of Classical Rhetoric, I first write down every idea I have. This is the Invention stage and includes my research stage. Anything that generates an idea—something I read, a conversation I had, a thought that I contemplate, I dream I have—gets written down however it comes to me. I don’t worry about assessing the quality of the idea or figuring out how I will use it at that point. Often one idea leads to another, and I keep writing them down.
Why are Christian kids so obsessed with pop culture? For the same reason Christian parents are so obsessed with politics.
In fact, the overlap between pop culture and politics grows by the day.
It might be argued that Christian kids are obsessed with pop culture because rap music, fast food and Forever XXI are sensual and appeal to the passions. However, lurid stories of sexual deviance among senators and presidents and prime ministers are increasingly important and common to politics. Kids speak of Kanye’s sex life, and their parents speak of Donald’s sex life.