Seeing is believing. Or so the maxim goes. But the senses can fail you too, as anyone who’s ever dreamed dreams knows. He who doubts the creation cannot himself be a creator. This is why Descartes could never have been a poet. Even if he had been visited by the muse, most likely the results would've been poor; for one cannot pen verses in the dark. This is also why there will never be an unbelieving, atheistic Shakespeare. Nor can there ever be a godless Homer. Atheism is incapable of great art.
At the end of last school year, Joshua Gibbs suggested some of the benefits to our technological age. In a lecture on the Dark Ages of Greece, Yale professor Donald Kagan explains his gullibility towards the ancients:
It is true that we are to “take all thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.” But sometimes this injunction seems to mingle all too easily with Modern skepticism. Christians, for instance, will readily acknowledge “belief” in God; some of them can perhaps even articulate those beliefs in the creeds. But the willingness to believe is another thing. That Jesus was born of a virgin we can believe. That Peter healed a paralytic at the gate called beautiful we are able to accept. But that Laurentius was scourged by St.
First let us sympathise, if only for an instant, with the hopes of the Dickens period, with that cheerful trouble of change. If democracy has disappointed you, do not think of it as a burst bubble, but at least as a broken heart, an old love-affair. Do not sneer at the time when the creed of humanity was on its honeymoon; treat it with the dreadful reverence that is due to youth. For you, perhaps, a drearier philosophy has covered and eclipsed the earth. The fierce poet of the Middle Ages wrote, "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here," over the gates of the lower world.
In The Discarded Image, Lewis makes it very clear: “credulitas must precede all instruction” (35). In my last essay, I expounded on this theme with stories from the classroom, essentially inferring that credulitas is itself an educational virtue. I’d like to defend that idea by looking again to Lewis, who not only models credulitas but defends it as a virtue in his other works as well.
As much as we interpret a text, so the text interprets us. We can’t help but respond to a story. “The play’s the thing,” says Hamlet, “to catch the conscience of the king.” In our response to literature we find not merely the author’s worldview exposed but our own as well. We find our prejudices revealed, and indeed even our own sins brought to light. Certain books will surprisingly bring out more than others. Scripture is divinely adept at doing this. But other books, passages, lines can do the same.
In vain have I struggled to suppress it; I must write another essay on the topic of dead things.
It is unfortunate, but when people wish to have a picnic today, they seldom choose a cemetery. Assuming there are still some who believe in the salutary nature of picnics anymore, most people have in mind different settings than a sepulcher. Instead, most of us imagine eating camembert and drinking tannic red wine in some pastoral scene from a Dutch master, a verdant hillock descending to a field where peasants are mowing barley in the foreground, children with paper boats navigating the shoals of mild rivulets nearby.
Tracy Lee Simmons notes that it was little more than a century ago that the word “classical” did not need to modify the word “education.” While it is true that all schooling was itself classical, it also true that we can too easily assume its basic meaning, for we breathe, all of us, the amnesiac air of the Modern world. And when the realities of college applications, SAT scores, transcripts, and college recommendations begin to bear down, it is easy, even for classical institutions, to lose their way.