I wish I could say that this quote was true for me as I grew up but it’s not. I grew up in a five bedroom house with a TV in each bedroom, and two TVs in the living room, one for entertainment and another for video games. As a child I was surrounded by screens and books were difficult to find. As a matter of fact the only books I recall in my house could be found in the upstairs hall cupboard. Yes, in the dusty dark hallway, behind the closed cupboard doors lay a pile of disorganized books.
Note to the reader: This was written several years ago, so it is technically a “throwback” post, but it seemed a particularly appropriate time in our history to share it again.
“Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.”
- From “Manifesto: Mad Farmer Liberation Front” by Wendell Berry
In the beginning, Yahweh established the Day of Rest as part of the rhythm of life. It is sometimes difficult for us to properly rest in our culture; it is perhaps equally true to say that it is easier than ever to rest in our modern world. All in all, we are bad stewards of time. We do not understand either Work or Rest: work has become “hustle” and rest has become “binge”. Yet the men and women we admire did not waste their time; we waste our time using their inventions. We are lost, wandering through the worldwide wilderness.
Years back I was hanging out with a group of libertarians who wanted to create a movement. They wanted a constitutional amendment that prohibited the government from being involved in education.
In effect, they wanted to outlaw public education because they believed that it destroyed American freedoms.
I think today that it was a charming idea, one that gets a certain temperament aroused to action, which is better than people just complaining.
At some point upon entering 9th grade, the mindset of the student changes. Previously, he may have considered grades a curiosity, but now they are a badge of pride or shame. The new obsession with grades is not entirely internal, as parents also look towards college and its guardians: SATs and scholarships. While parents and students may once have accepted that a classical education is meant to nourish the soul in wisdom and virtue, they now confess the real goal is higher test scores and better colleges.
A child’s education is about much more than what goes on in “schooling” proper. Education is not an 8am-3pm proposition. It is taking place all the time - in the culture they are being given in their home and family, in the culture they are being exposed to outside of the home (at school, in social media, technology, friends, etc.), and in what they formally learn in both school/homeschool and church.
When I was in EMT school, on one of the first days, our instructor was putting us through scenarios. “You are dispatched to a call for a man down. You arrive and find the patient face-down, with a weak pulse, and shallow, slow breathing. What do you do?” I’ll never forget when one of my classmates raised his hand and shouted out confidently, “Call 911!” I’m not sure I can even describe the look on our instructor’s face when he said, “YOU ARE 911!”
Allow me to propose what might be the underlying moral dilemma in all our relationships, public and private:
When people gain power, they become able to do bad and inconvenient things. For example, the toddler is capable of wreaking a great deal more havoc on the house than the nursing infant.
Nonetheless, the essential duty we have to other people is to help them gain more power. Nowadays we call it empowerment. More enlightened ages called it cultivating virtue.
That is true love.
World War II was progressing in earnest 80 years ago this week, so I have been tracking it with short readings and a video series on YouTube.
Last summer, Germany took over Czechoslovakia without much of a shot fired, and in September, allied with Russia, they took over Poland. Over the last month or so, the Russians conquered Finland while the Germans spent a morning taking Denmark as an afterthought while they invaded Norway.
You know those moments where you come across a really simple idea and it explains so much that you see it everywhere, when things that used to make you wonder now make you go, "et tu, aliquid!" (which is a goofy way of saying, "even you, whatever!") so then you become annoying to everybody around you because you can easily identify how this thing sorts everything else by its relation to this one thing?
I had one of those and it's making me kind of annoying I(n a new, particular way that is).