The problem with really loving our students is that we really love our students. It’s a vulnerable situation. What if they don’t love us back? And what would be evidence of such love? That they treat us honorably? That they divulge their truest beliefs? That they recognize something in us worthy of imitation? And what if they don’t? Or worse, what if they do and then they devastate us with the ultimate failure of judgment?
This morning, my four students and I strolled leisurely through a biographical sketch of J.S. Bach, narrated back some of the astounding details of his life (20 children!), and then spent ten minutes listening to one of his concertos. It was a peaceful and soul-filling way to begin our day. As the last note ended, we moved on to fractions, violin practice, and handwriting.
Last week I contemplated the cycle of Death and Rebirth in Nature and how it reflects that great spiritual reality of the Resurrection. In particular I focused on how, in the Resurrection, God makes even Death itself beautiful. I’ve continued to meditate on this idea—the relationship between Christ’s defeat of Death and the cultivation of Beauty.
Here we are in January. Winter is fully underway. Trees have passed from green to red to bare. Flowers are gone. Birds and animals have retreated. Even children stay inside.
The Winter—in theology, in liturgy, in poetry—has always represented Death. Every year the Creation itself plays out the story of our own lives. Fresh new life sprouts forth in Spring, followed by a vigorous, green, lively Summer. In the Autumn, things slow down and the green fades, finally giving up its life to the barren Winter.
Last night, my three oldest children slept in the living room, tucked away in homemade forts constructed of sheets, blankets, and clothes pins. They were excited as they snuggled down in their imaginary castles for the night with hopes to wake to our first snowfall of this winter. They were not disappointed.
In 2016 we created more content than ever before. We recorded more podcasts, wrote more articles, and conducted more interviews than ever. And that's thanks to you, because we had more readers than ever, too. What's that they say about wind beneath wings, and such?
The following is a sampling of the posts you read the most this past year, but it's safe to say we learned a few things about our audience: you care about the role of pop culture in your homes and schools; you're concerned about college; and you really, really like Jane Austen.
Our God is beautiful. In the ultimate sense, He is Beauty: the source, summation, and perfection of all that is beautiful. In a practical sense, however, He is beautiful to us: our senses, our hearts, and our sentiments. The Hebrew word used for “beauty” in Psalm 90:17 is no'am, which means (amongst other things) someone or something that creates delight to the beholder. It is not beauty in the void but rather beauty beheld, gazed upon, contemplated, and desired (Ps. 27:4).
Schools in Accomack County, Virginia have removed Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird and Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from classrooms and libraries because of racist language. Superintendent Warren Holland confirmed the decision after a parent filed an official complaint because her son, who is biracial, read Huck Finn for class and claimed that he “couldn’t get past a certain page in the novel in which the N-word appeared multiple times.”
I know how he feels. This young man understands literature, at least for now.
After twenty-plus years of establishing a school that was inspired by David Hicks’ Norms and Nobility, I still find hope in his work. During that time, I've watched some of our graduates crash into the culture and succumb to it, and I've had others return years later with that sparkle in their eye—that true love of learning and of Christ that was caught during their time at a classical Christian school. So, ”Is Classical Education Still Possible?” as Hicks asks in the 5th issue of CiRCE's magazine?
We need models. We need teachers to show us how to live. And some of the best teachers are those which have never breathed, have never taken on flesh, have never had the urgency of a real death. Some of our best teachers are fictional characters. This is what Leland Ryken means when he says great literature “shows human experience instead of telling about it. It is incarnational. It enacts rather than states. Instead of giving us abstract propositions about virtue or vice, for example, literature presents stories of good or evil characters in action” (p.