“You are the curriculum.” Last week, my esteemed colleague Andrew Smith offered this proverb while addressing the secondary faculty of Veritas School on the subject of rhetoric. As I plan my first week of classes, the proverb has taken seat in my heart. Christ claims that “Everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” Christ does not claim that everyone who is fully trained will be “like the authors of the books his teacher passed out.”
For the last nine years, I have asked my students to make Christmas wish lists which I post around the classroom during the first two weeks of December. I make a Christmas wish list, as well, and I always put the same three things on it: Bill Evans vinyl, imported cheeses, and peace on earth. Depending on the year, I will get one or two of the three things I ask for, but I have not yet received all three. Rest assured you will know when I do.
Can food be beautiful? I do not refer to the arrangement of food on a table, but the taste of food. Two glasses of wine, side by side, might appear nearly identical, but can one be beautiful and the other ugly? Taste has not traditionally been associated with beauty because it cannot be judged according to harmony or proportion. So, too, a smell can be pleasing but not beautiful for it cannot be halved or observed.
Once a grown man has been accepted into the Church, fully and finally rejecting the Church is quite difficult— however, with years of slow and patient progress, rejecting the Church is possible.
Let us suppose that sometime in the mid 19th century, a primitive animist tribe dwelling in uncharted jungle encounters a Western missionary who, amidst horrific gasping and choking, claims to be in possession of a holy book, a salvific book, a book from God himself, and then falls over dead. At the exact moment of his expiration, sweet rain pours forth from a cloudless sky, and the oldest and most venerable priest of the tribe confirms the benevolence of the omen. The dead missionary carries no portmanteau and his hands are empty.
This summer, my Medieval literature students are reading Chesterton’s biography of St. Francis of Assisi, and we will begin this Fall with a discussion of the book. Some students will express confusion or horror at the ascetic practices of St. Francis and they will need such habits explained. I tell them the logic of asceticism is already inextricably (though invisibly) bound to many aspects of their Christian walk, but that asceticism is also bound to a host of secular matters.
One. When classicists refer to Truth, Beauty, and Goodness, the Beauty of which they speak is almost always artistic Beauty. Artistic Beauty is a far safer subject to broach than physical Beauty. We enjoy talking of the Beauty of Rembrandt, Botticelli, or Bach. The Beauty of Claudia Schiffer or George Clooney strikes us as a bit tawdry, though. Artistic Beauty is diplomatic and agreeable, while physical Beauty has the power to offend.
The full text of the lecture I delivered last week in Austin, Texas.
Set in 1987. Warren Hays is 40 and works at a University library. He is the great grandson of Will Hays, founder of the Hays Code. Hays graduated with a master’s degree in classics from Notre Dame. He moved to LA after he graduated and tried to win fame as a standup comic. His schtick was a skewed mockery of modernity staked in little history lessons on 17th and 18th century European history. No one thought it was funny. Successful comedians only spoke of pain and depravity. He became disillusioned. After several years, he left LA and was deeply in debt.
At the Society for Classical Learning conference in Dallas last month, I gave a lecture on writing and using catechisms in the classroom. Before writing a catechism for my classroom last year, I wrote an essay on what I hoped to accomplish; a year later, I can report the use of a catechism in the classroom was a complete success in every way I hoped, but also offered additional benefits I could not have predicted.