Plato, Solomon, Blessed Augustine, Boethius, Dante, Edmund Burke… My favorite intellectuals died hundreds or thousands of years before I was even born. Teachers of classic literature do not often grieve the deaths of their heroes. The centuries have already grieved them for us. A man becomes aware of Plato with a little sadness built into his admiration. For stodgy traditionalists, backward-looking conservatives, and lovers of old books, a dry-eyed sadness eternally permeates our hearts. To put it simply, our heroes do not die, at least not on our watch.
What is it about teenagers? The joking and giggling. The chattiness. Their curious tendency to walk right into you.
After fifteen years of teaching, I have finally discovered the perfect metaphor for the teenage spirit. It comes from a passage in Rhetoric where Aristotle remarks of young people, “…nature warms their blood, as though with excess of wine.” In other words, young people exist in a state of perpetual tipsiness.
Gibbs: Could I ask you about something you said in your speech at the sports banquet last night?
Coach: Of course.
Gibbs: While speaking of the girls baseball team, you said, “I have never seen greater Christian maturity, self-sacrifice, love, courage, and determination than I saw from our young ladies on the field this year.”
Gibbs: That is remarkably high praise.
Coach: It is.
Growing up, I often heard it said, “Evangelicals do everything the world does— they just do it ten years later and ten times worse.” There is some truth to the idea so far as music and graphic design is concerned; however, having paid close attention to Christian culture and secular culture over the last twenty years, I actually think it more often the case that secularists are mugging evangelicals.
Teacher: I have heard that you don’t believe a book should be taught until it is a hundred years old. Is this true?
Gibbs: Not exactly. I don’t believe a book should be taught in a classical Christian high school until the author has been dead for a hundred years.
Teacher: What about World War II, though?
Gibbs: I take it you believe World War II should be taught in classical Christian high schools.
Father: I want to ask you a tough question. You can be honest with me. Please don’t answer as an employee of this school, but as a teacher. Is it too late for my son to become classical?
Gibbs: What do you mean “become classical”?
“People who cannot bear to be alone are generally the worst company.”
Intellectuals are unanimous in their praise of solitude and loneliness. Apart from regular bouts of loneliness and frequent recourse to solitude, the mind atrophies. But why? In Episode 12, I discuss my own failing ability to “be alone,” and the somewhat drastic steps I have taken of late to regain my love of solitude and become better company to my friends.
In my ongoing attempt to vindicate every traditional or even quasi-traditional aspect of Christmas, it was inevitable that I should finally come to the subject of Santa Claus. The debate among Christians over Santa Claus is older than social media, which means I can recall it from my youth. As a child, my parents told me there was no Santa Claus, and we regarded with suspicion and incredulity those families who would “do Santa,” that odd and awful little turn of phrase.
While I am not a fortune teller, I would bet green money that the theology program at your classical Christian school has changed quite a bit over the last several years. In fact, I would wager that of the many subject taught at your school— biology, algebra, literature, history, and so forth— no single subject undergoes more frequent changes than theology.
There is now a common saying among teachers, “Fifty years ago, if a student failed a test, the student got in trouble. Today, if a student fails a test, the teacher gets in trouble.” When the garden-variety Republican hears this saying, he is apt to nod, then shake his head and bemoan the welfare state, the courts, emotionally fragile millennials, safe spaces, trigger warnings, and a world wherein no one is made to take responsibility for their actions.