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.
How much you owe the Salvation Army every time you listen to the following Christmas songs:
“Last Christmas” by Wham!: 50 cents
Any Christmas song by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra: $1
“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band Aid (1984 version): $1
“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band Aid 20 (2004 version): $2
“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band Aid 30 (2014 version): $3
“Christmas Shoes” (Bob Carlisle cover): $5
“Christmas Shoes” (NewSong cover): $10
Pretty much any version of “Mary, Did You Know?”: $20
The contentious question of when to begin listening to Christmas music is, I believe, a red herring. The real question is, “Why listen to Christmas music at all?” Once we have sorted out this question, we will know when to hit play on “Silent Night.”
So far as I can tell, there are four schools of thought as regards the timeliness of Christmas music, and they are as follows.
Everyone knows how Aristotle defined rhetoric, but very few people believe actually him. Apparently, rhetoric is “the faculty of discovering in any particular case the available means of persuasion,” but classical educators are afraid to take Aristotle at his word. Every year, a great host of students at classical schools write theses wherein they fail to persuade their judges of their arguments, yet receive A’s on their work nonetheless. For many classical schools, rhetoric is not about persuasion, but about the formal structure of arguments, which is unfortunate.