I distrust the concept of originality. An artist, author, educator, theologian, or philosopher who strives to be original is apt to spend far more time thinking of themselves than their field of study or their audience. The motivation to be different, to stand out, to make a place at the table can become a powerful impulse that demands ever greater attention and self-preservation. Striving to be original by necessity ignores or rebels against the history and development of a field.
This morning I begin teaching the first several weeks of our Cosmology course at New College Franklin. In preparation for the class, I developed a partial list of cosmological ideas that I plan on covering over the next weeks. My goal was to situate the discussion of cosmology within a greater medieval and theological context while providing enough handles that future connections and ideas can be made by students. The rest of the course will cover more concrete aspects of astronomy and cosmology.
What other concepts would you have included?
At various times I get the opportunity to speak to groups at the beginning at the school year. I often deliver some variation of the following—especially as it leads to a beautiful picture of what a wise, generous, and truly loving person looks like.
Right belief and right action are necessary aspects of growing in virtue. Intellect and knowledge alone cannot save. If knowledge does not reach to the level of the heart and action, we are left with smart people who are intelligent in their sinning and in their avoidance of consequences. The same is true with language—with the action and belief that is inherently present in words.
The following is adapted from a talk I gave at the Convocation service at Greyfriars Classical Academy in North Carolina.
Felix Concordia means “successful harmony”—a way to look at nature and arts through the lens of the quadrivium.
I recently made the comment that “music is heard geometry” in my conversation with Andrew Kern about the Great Dance on the “Ask Andrew” podcast. A friend asked if I could unpack that phrase and hopefully bring some understanding to that idea.
At the 2015 CiRCE summer conference in Charleston, Andrew Kern very helpfully talked about the difference between the purpose of education and the blessing of education—and our confusion between the two. The purposes of education are manifold: to know God and His creation; to respond in wonder to the things God has made; to develop the gifts He has given us in service to others; because it is part of the creation mandate from Genesis 1, etc.
In Timaeus, Plato writes:
And so people are all but ignorant of the fact that time really is the wanderings of these bodies, bewilderingly numerous as they are and astonishingly variegated. It is none the less possible, however, to discern that the perfect number of time brings to completion the perfect year at that moment when the relative speeds of all eight periods have been completed together and, measured by the circle of the Same that moves uniformly, have achieved their consummation.
When non-liturgical Christians think about spring holidays and festivities, they too often think only of Easter as an isolated Sunday that comes at some unexpected date that changes every year. The great High Holy Feast day of the Church thus pops in and out of the calendar with little preparation and fanfare. As such, it is quite possible to arrive at church one Sunday for Easter without any of the preparation that Lenten observance or Holy Week services could provide.