Many rookie teachers are tempted to hold a hardline view on some theological issue which “the average Christian just can’t handle.” The rookie teacher believes the average American Christian is too intellectually weak to handle the real truth about pacifism, spanking, total war, double predestination, liberalism, Catholicism, monarchy, eschatology, socialism, race relations, wealth and poverty, slavery, liturgy, prayer for the dead, God’s exhaustive sovereignty, universalism, apostolic succession, nuclear war, taxation (is theft!), the Crusades, democracy, and so forth.
Step 1. One week prior to final exam, inform students the final exam will be profoundly difficult and very long.
Step 2. Five days prior to exam, purchase fifteen pounds of flour, jar of yeast, pink sea salt. Add water. Mix together. Let bread dough sit in fridge three days.
Step 3. Remind students again of how difficult the final exam will be. “You may bring all the books you read this year, though you will not know until the day of the test which of the books will be useful to you.”
Yesterday, I said this:
"What I have to say, I have to say to the fellows. But ladies, you should eavesdrop.
At noon, during lunch, the friends of a certain high school junior extend an invitation to do something wicked together after school. The junior in question responds, “I don’t know. Let me think about it,” and his friends, who are intent on wickedness, reply, “Let us know after school if you are coming.” For the next three hours, a certain junior will undergo temptation.
In the ongoing series of events which constitute The End of Western Civilization®, mankind’s latest dare for the Almighty to have done with us is nowhere as brazen as smart phones or reality television, though it still needs to be stamped out post-haste. Now joining the ranks of bottle flipping and dabbing, fidget spinners are officially a 2016-2017 school year hot annoying trend.
Do “people in general” actually exist? In Book XIV, chapter 2 of the City of God, Augustine discusses “the carnal life” and mentions, on one extreme end, the Epicureans, who believes man’s chief good is found in his body, and, on the other extreme end, the Stoics, who place man’s chief good in the spirit. However, between these two extremes, Augustine mentions, “people in general, who are not attached to any philosophical doctrine, who hold no sort of theory, but, [have] a natural propensity toward sensuality...”
If the wages of sin is death, why do forgiven people still die? Augustine does not say, “Because even forgiven people are still guilty.” Rather, Augustine suggests death looms for the forgiven man so that he may gain in righteousness.
“Good Christians disagree about this issue” is a diplomatic claim frequently on the lips of those involved in ecumenical projects. Good Christians disagree about the Eucharist. Good Christians disagree about icons. Good Christians disagree about the Bible, about faith, about good works.
This week, I am leading more than thirty sophomores to New York City. I hope nothing goes wrong. My students, on the other hand, hope something does go wrong. I understand this hope.
How much good does it do a film or book to have “a good message”? How valuable to a song is a good message? Will a good message do the audience any good?
Merely acknowledging that “the medium is the message,” as Marshall McLuhan famously opined, cannot help these questions. If the medium is the message, I still want to know how valuable the message is. My students are quite taken with the importance of “messages,” but I am yet to see messages do people much good. So far as art is concerned, good messages are often more of a distraction than a boon.