Your numbers are dwindling. Your side is losing. Your way of life is passing from this Earth. In bygone eras, your people transmitted your ideals from one generation to the next with ease. Now, you plant a teaching in the heart of your children, and all the world conspires to strip it out before it can take root. The gravity of this world now inclines away from you. When you set the things you love on the ground, they roll away from you like marbles in an uneven house.
In Acts 17:23, Paul says to the philosophers: "For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, 'TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.' Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.
If you’re reading this article today, there’s a good chance you’re either at home on a snow day or just coming back to work after a snow day... or snow days. With the President’s Day holiday last Monday, I’m currently on a six day weekend. I won’t mince words. I enjoy an unexpected day off from work just as much as the next guy, and, at the same time, I am a teacher at a classical school because I think classical education is a good. A boon to society.
In the average Facebook argument which breaks open into seventy or eighty comments, each getting progressively longer and more acrimonious, someone not invested much in the debate will often cut in with, “Can’t we all just get along?” It’s an interesting question and one worth taking seriously, especially as a matter of historical inquiry. Have we all ever gotten along? When? When we get along, why do we get along? And when we don’t, why?
A fiction. A dramatic monologue:
“Look, Daniel. Let’s talk.
I am not offended when people lie to me. People lie to me all the time. I am a teacher, and students lie to me all the time. Occasionally, parents lie to me on behalf of their children. I am not offended by this either. When someone lies to me, I do not accuse them of lying. I make certain lied-to noises and look away in embarrassment for a moment. It is the same look of embarrassment I make when I am being praised by someone I respect.
"Dear Heavenly Father, help everyone here do well on their midterms. Help the diligent students do well, and help the students who slacked off and did not study or pay attention in class do well, too. Amen.”
This is the prayer I usually offer before major examinations. I offer this prayer honestly, though I also offer it as a testimony and lesson to my students, as well. Most students are quite shocked. Their shock is evidence of a misunderstanding of what a test is, but also a misunderstanding of what academic success looks like.
The question of the “actual date” of Christ’s birth is often raised as a thing to shout slogans about on Facebook come Nativity season and classically educated Christians really should have something to say about the matter which rises above the lucidity and erudition of, say, the meme.
A good portion of The Song of Roland is devoted to describing the brutal, awful destruction of the human body. This violence is bookended by court scenes— the first are set in the Muslim stronghold of Saragossa and the last are set at the trial of Ganelon in Aix, Charles’ capital. Given the reputation of the book, many students are apt to rush through the opening to arrive at the action, though the real guts of the book come at the beginning.
Should we be raising Stoics? Does Stoicism have anything to offer a Christian who wants to live a full, emotionally mature life? When St. Paul argues with the Stoics on Mars Hill, should we understand him to be entirely dismissive of the Stoic demeanor?
I would like to offer a Christian interpretation (but also a liberal interpretation) of a small aspect of Stoicism and commend Stoic philosophy as a profoundly healthy standard by which to diagnose the evolving (or devolving) maturity of a Christian life.
This lecture was originally given as a convocation to students at the start of the school year, though I've found that the onset of the second quarter (which I imagine most of us have now begun) sometimes warrants a pep talk about maintaining the good goals we have set out for ourselves.