Editor's Note: Created and written by Peter Morgan (the award-winning screenwriter of The Queen), The Crown, an original drama from Netflix about the life and times of Queen Elisabeth II, has become something of a smash-hit, a success with critics and viewers alike. Rich with resplendent detail, magnificent performances, and the pathos offered by real-life, it's a moving tribute to one of the seminal figures of our times. It's respectful but avoids pandering, honest without being indulgent, and dramatic while avoiding undue embellishment.
A late winter fantasy.
God created all things through separation. Water from water. Man from rib. Light from darkness. St. Augustine taught the separation of light from darkness was the fall of the unholy angels, whom God separated from His righteous servants after a war in heaven. The separation of darkness from light was thus a restoration of peace. From the midst of clamor and upheaval, man asks again if a separation of light and dark might restore peace.
A spectre is haunting classical education— the spectre of chronological snobbery. In the last several months I have written a handful of essays articulating and defending the special privilege classical education affords to very old things, and accusations of chronological snobbery occasionally follow. These accusations come not only from casual observers of classical education, but from classical theorists, as well.
My students break the little rules. They do not like to tuck in their shirts. They are like pack-a-day smokers in class, their hands itching to untuck those shirts. They rush outside for lunch, untucking their shirts and sighing deeply as that untucked nicotine hits their blood. They try to get away with untucking their shirts in class, in the halls. When I tell them their shirts are untucked, they feign looks of surprise as they slowly crane their necks down towards their flapping hems, and say, “Oh, I didn’t know.
On Tuesday, secondary students were excused from their last class of the day and learned to square dance in the gymnasium instead. Rarely have I seen them all smile so broadly and enjoy one another’s company with such zeal. I sat in the stands and watched them reel and revolve for an hour. They were missing a theology class, a philosophy class, but what did it matter? Dancing is incarnate cosmology.
Why is it so painful to listen to people talk about Jesus in Christian films? When people are saved on celluloid, I cringe. However, I love seeing flesh and blood human beings turn from their wickedness and live. What gives?
King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray.
Consider the following:
“…will God incense his ire/For such a petty Trespass, and not praise/ Rather your dauntless virtue…?”
-Satan speaks to Eve in Book IX of Paradise Lost
"The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful."
-Lord Henry to Dorian Gray in Wilde's novel
“Did I miss anything?” asks the student who was absent yesterday. Many teachers are apt to sigh at such a question and respond with sarcasm, “No. We did absolutely nothing of value yesterday.” Especially snarky teachers might reply, “No, and neither did we.”
However, “Did I miss anything?” is an entirely fair question. While teachers often take the question for an insult, it is actually very polite. “Did I miss anything?” is an abbreviation. The full version of the question is, “Did I miss anything I couldn’t figure out on my own?”
On occasion, students (or the teacher) simply hate a classic text. Despite noble efforts to the contrary, the teacher cannot bring them around to it. The last page is finished with a groan, the book slammed shut with disdain, and the class declares the work a waste of time. In such moments, the teacher must act and speak decisively. He cannot say, “Win some, lose some,” and go on to the next book. He must defend the value of reading the book.
When the class hates a text, the teacher ought to say something like this: