As Classical educators, we direct great time and energy toward selecting and discussing the right books. Every year we reevaluate our curriculums and reading lists; we listen to podcasts and read articles and talk with friends, trying to discern which books our children and students should be reading and discussing. We also spend time cultivating the right conversations about these books, asking the right questions, and helping our students learn the right conversational habits.
“Friendship is a necessity.”
So opens Book VIII of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Friendship, he says, “is a kind of virtue, or implies virtue, and it is also most necessary for living. Nobody would choose to live without friends even if he had all the other good things.”
Many years ago, my father ran a marathon and described for me the phenomenon of “hitting the wall.” I believe he hit the wall around mile 21. In layman’s terms, “hitting the wall” refers to the moment the body has burned through all the energy stored up and all that remains is sheer will power.
In his short book Crazy Busy, Kevin DeYoung writes:
At some point during the school year, I talk with my students about R-rated films. I have heard nearly every conceivable defense there is for watching crude, vile movies, but the most common defense is, “R-rated movies don’t affect me.” I suspect this defense is the most common because it is the most persuasive, and it is persuasive because it seems to be true, at least so far as parents can tell.
For those of us on the “Western” calendar, the Lenten season begins today. Many will solemnly observe Ash Wednesday, gathering for a service of contrition and repentance, including the “imposition of ashes” – the application of ashes in the sign of the cross on the forehead. The Scriptures frequently refer to ashes as a sign of repentance for sin or mourning (Esther 4:3, Job 42:5-6, Jonah 3:4-6, Ezekiel 9:4, etc.), and while the Lenten ashes are ashes of mourning over sin, they are also “hopeful ashes,” made in the sign of the Christ’s cross, our only hope.
School was cancelled today on account of snow, so my children got up early, dressed themselves in coats and mittens, and went outside to play with the neighbor kids for three solid hours. This is simply what happens in a sane world. In an insane world, my children would have woken up and planted themselves in front of a computer screen for three hours.
Christian history is a beautiful tapestry, interwoven with legends and stories, some made bigger or different with time. Stories of some of the early martyrs, for example, handed down orally, were likely embellished and romanticized, but not without reason or benefit. Such is the story of St. Valentine - a priest in Rome during the reign of Emperor Claudius II. According to tradition, Valentine, having been imprisoned and beaten, was beheaded on February 14, about 270, along the Flaminian Way.
“I am in a season of my life right now where I feel bone tired almost all of the time. Ragged, how-am-I-going-to-make-it-to-the-end-of-the-day, eyes burning exhausted … I have three boys ages 5 and under. I’m not complaining about that. Well, maybe I am a little bit. But I know that there are people who would give anything for a house full of laughter & chaos.”
- Steve Wiens, in his article “To Parents of Small Children”
Parent: After talking it over, my wife and I have decided that Oliver would be happier going to a different school next year.
Gibbs: What’s your point?
Parent: What’s my—I don’t understand your question.
Gibbs: What’s the point in making Oliver happier?
Parent: Isn’t happiness the point of happiness?
Gibbs: Only if happiness is self-justifying, in which case anything that makes you happy is necessarily good.
Parent: Don’t you think it’s important for a teenager to be happy?