After testing positive for COVID last week, I entirely lost my sense of smell and my sense of taste. The symptoms which prompted me to get tested were too mild to even mention, but when I tasted my coffee the following morning and found it as odorless and tasteless as tap water, my first thought was, “Please, God, not that,” although I suspect my guardian angel’s first thought was, “Oh, he’s needed something like this for quite a while.” As usual, my guardian angel was right.
Developed from an actual conversation.
Camilla: What does the word “cosmopolitan” mean?
Gibbs: A cosmopolitan person is a person who has travelled, seen the world, and understands that people in other places do things differently. “Cosmopolitan” is the opposite of “provincial.” Provincial people have not traveled widely and don't have much first-hand experience of the way other people do things.
Camilla: Is it good to be cosmopolitan?
From one year to the next, the only televised sporting event I watch is the Super Bowl. But every four years, I watch forty hours of the Olympics. While I find myself increasingly skeptical that high school sports can offer athletes one-tenth of what they claim (virtue, martyrdom), the Modern Olympics have both goals and means that are quite different from the garden-variety volleyball program.
Since publishing Something They Will Not Forget, I have heard numerous stories from across the country of teachers instituting curriculum-based catechisms in their classrooms. Most of the teachers I have heard from are humanities teachers; however, from time to time, a math or science teacher asks for help putting together a catechism. While I can suggest a few passages from Scripture and classic literature that I would use if I were a math or science teacher, I simply have not read enough to construct a seven-minute-long biology or geometry recitation.
Thirty miles from the Grand Canyon, travelling at around sixty miles an hour, I hit a deer with my Subaru Forester. I did not graze the deer, nor did I nick him, brush him, or scrape him. I hit the deer in exactly the way you would want to hit a deer if you wanted to total your car. With no warning, the deer leapt in front of my car, and I hit it directly, squarely between the headlights. Every airbag in the car exploded into place, a powdery haze filled the cabin, as did the aroma of gunpowder, and then I began shouting, “Is everyone okay?”
A good book of proverbs shifts like desert sand every time you set it down. When you return to it days or weeks later, dunes to the north have been flattened, newly emergent ridges in the south are rippled with waves, and miraculous pools of water have suddenly dried up. No genre of literature is more uncertain than proverbs—and why? Because no genre of literature is more dependent on the reader than proverbs.
One of the most interesting differences between progressives and traditionalists is their rival beliefs about personal responsibility. Progressive philosophy is chiefly concerned with changing society, which usually entails changing other people whether they like it or not. It is difficult to imagine a lone progressive individual living out a progressive worldview in a society otherwise occupied by traditionalists. Progress requires massive fortunes, massive projects, and extensive laws to oversee it all, which makes it hard to live progressively by yourself on a Friday night.
I turn 40 today. I have prepared for this event over the last week by driving three thousand miles across the country and listening to Pride & Prejudice (alas, real psychological insights into human personhood were genuinely possible before the invention of psychoanalysis). Of all the noteworthy, insightful characters in the book which might capture the reader’s imagination, this time through the book it is the wretched rector Mr. Collins who has me on hooks. A man on the verge of 40 has a lot to learn from Mr. Collins.
It is one thing to ask, “What is classical Christian education?” and another thing entirely to ask, “What sort of movement is classical Christian education?” The first question can be answered with proverbs, theories, titles of books, lists of virtues, and history lessons. However, a robust answer to the second question might begin with Doug Wilson and end with discussing differences between the SCL and the ACCS. The first question is theoretical. The second question is political.
I am nearly certain I once read a book by Peter Brown where he claimed every good historian must be a regular reader of fiction. I say “nearly certain” because the claim has, over the last decade, taken on a mythic status in my heart and myths, by definition, arise from uncertain origins. For the life of me, I cannot find the book and the passage where Brown makes this claim. Alas, perhaps some less forgetful reader will break the spell for me in the comments section.