A child at home with a busy mother learns to be the object of affection without being the object of attention. I don't know if there is a more important lesson for a child to learn and I don't know if there is any other context in which it can be learned.
It was twenty years ago this fall that I plunged whole-heartedly and somewhat heedlessly into Christian classical education when some comrades and I started Providence Academy in Green Bay, WI. Since then, I have been hearing repeatedly the very sensible call for a practical education.
In theory, I have no objection to a practical education. In practice, however, the focus on the practical isn't as easy and the necessity for it isn't as obvious as many make it out to be.
Christians may find it comforting to look at the "world" around them and approach it with fear, believing that the troubles Christendom encounters come from that world. For example, the divorce rate among Christians is too high, and that is because we let "the world" influence us too much, or higher criticism has infected the theology of Christians, turning them "liberal," or society is ever-more relativistic and that has affected Christian moral thinking.
I returned from the conference a couple weeks ago, mind flush like an overheated thermometer, yearning to record something here, to continue the discussion, only to turn to preparations for the apprenticeship, which overflowed the whole of last week. Previously, I had traveled "home" to Green Bay to say good-bye to my family home of some 32 years.
After each event not a few reflections and reminiscences suggested themselves for duty on this blog.
At last week's conference, the single point I was hoping to grasp and communicate was this: Only the spiritual man is able to judge all things. Since the conference was on judgment, that struck me as a significant truth.
Most assessments in our world (of children's behavior, of employee performance, of student work, of intellectual growth, and of any other human activity) are rooted in a naturalistic materialism that excludes the soul and spirit from its paradigm - even before the analysis takes place.
I've encountered that moment in my conferencing preparations where I have to toss overboard most of my provisions so the fish can make use of them as they will. What better use for a blog, I thought to myself, before realizing how thoroughly I was insulting you. Sorry about that.
But, incorrigible as I am, I offer you these extraneous and wasteful thoughts judged, by me, unworthy of or unhelpful for the great sea before us.
The highest high point of classical education was its beginning. There never has been and never will be a poet as perfect as Homer. All of the Greeks acknowledged that he was their teacher. All of them walked down trails he blazed. Nobody compares but Moses and Christ.
Suffering is not as big a deal to God as it is to us because it is a much bigger deal to God than it is to us.
For us, suffering is a big, big deal.
For one thing, it comes to us a pointless and unplanned invasion, an obstacle to our questing. This is the very essence of a certain form of suffering that we have named frustration.
Our goals, conscious and hidden, are what give meaning to our lives. When they are frustrated, we suffer. Anger, it seems to me, is frustration resisted. So the initial suffering leads to frustration which leads to anger.
II Tim 4: 9, 10:
Make every effort to come to me soon: for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me.
In the great 21st century debate over the liberal arts, an important distinction needs to be made between two forms of liberal arts studies.
On the one hand, there are what I will call the Nihilistic Liberal Arts.
On the other, there are the Classical Liberal Arts.
The words are chosen with care and they matter. I'll try to explain what I mean in coming posts. It will make everybody angry and show how simplistic my thinking is.