There are two basic types of myths: stories of the gods and stories of heroes. Obviously, in the stories of the gods, the hero of the myth is a god or goddess. But quickly myth moves in a different direction and we find the stories of great men, the heroes of the Classical Age.
I have a very specific process when I approach a writing project. Using the first three canons of Classical Rhetoric, I first write down every idea I have. This is the Invention stage and includes my research stage. Anything that generates an idea—something I read, a conversation I had, a thought that I contemplate, I dream I have—gets written down however it comes to me. I don’t worry about assessing the quality of the idea or figuring out how I will use it at that point. Often one idea leads to another, and I keep writing them down.
David, Tim, and I are getting ready to launch a new Close Reads series on Pride and Prejudice. In preparation for that discusion, here's an article I wrote on Pride and Prejudice four years ago.
When I was a freshman in college, schedule changes had to be made the old-fashioned way—in person. That meant waiting in line. Shortly after that, the university implemented phone registration and then online registration. No more lines. Progress!
But I often reflect on how different the course of my life would be if I hadn’t been forced to wait in line all those years ago.
I’ve been rereading some of Dorothy Sayers’ detective novels this summer before the madness of my school year officially begins. If you haven’t ever read a Sayers novel, please do yourself a favor and grab a copy. They are delightful in every way.
On the Sunday after the 2016 CiRCE National Conference, I had the great pleasure of attending a local church with some of the conference attendees. The church building of Ascension Orthodox Church in Charleston was stunning, and the interior was filled with beautiful artwork. When we walked in we immediately saw a huge scaffold erected in the center of the room, and the priest explained that for the past few months an artist was painting the interior of the church dome. The figures that had already been painted were breathtaking.
Parenting has got to be the biggest act of faith a person can take. You pour yourself into these young souls, knowing that you won’t see the fruit of that labor until well past the time that you can fix it. In faith you plant those seeds and you water them and you try to provide the most nourishing soil you can, but in the end you can only pray and wait to see what kind of plant will grow. And sometimes, the hardest part of the waiting is when that sprout first begins to show. You see something there, but it sure does look like a weed.
A good friend of mine sent me this amazing poem, and it touched me very deeply. Take a moment to listen to the poet recite it and hear his explanation of why he wrote it and what we can learn from suffering. Truly good stuff here. Enjoy!
The Journey, a poem by David Whyte
One of the talks I will be giving in July in Charleston at the Circe National Conference is about Jonathan Swift’s critique of Modernity. His insights into the problems caused by the modern world are profound and surprisingly relevant even three hundred years later.
In a very simplified nutshell: Swift saw that the modern world reduces everything and breaks everything into parts. As a result, we lose sight of the whole. In fact, most of the humor of his writings comes from someone failing to grasp the whole and drawing the wrong conclusion based on examining the part.
One of the themes of The Aeneid is the danger of the temptation of the false homecoming. Aeneas is marked by destiny and called by the gods to found Rome, described in messianic terms. It will be heaven on earth. The plot of the epic is driven by Aeneas’ attempt to make it to this Promised Land, but along the way he is diverted by counterfeit homes.