Was Jesus on fire for God? Probably, but Renaissance artists never got the memo. The typical Renaissance Christ looks bored and burned out, not like someone who is ready to start a Bible study, lead worship, or stand up for his faith. At very least, I commonly field such concerns when teaching art history.
Is it ethical to use a man’s emotions to persuade him?
In the electric atmosphere of today’s propagandistic politics, that question is charged. By and large, even teenagers expect that the vast majority of the campaigning, advertising, and peer-pressuring they will encounter is based solely on emotion; this is the definition of propaganda, of persuasion that is untrustworthy and manipulative. The haunting assumption that the persuasion directed at them respects neither people nor truth is one reason for teenage cynicism’s ubiquity.
“If we will make our seasons welcome here, asking not too much of earth or heaven, then a long time after we are dead the lives our lives prepare will live here, their houses strongly placed,” writes Wendell Berry in his poem “The Vision.” These past months, seasons have been welcomed and then bidden farewell. Just recently, we greeted yet another. Thanksgiving morphed into frenetic shopping, culminating in catharsis at gift giving, then hailing in a new year with a nod of recognition at the past and a toast to the future.
There are two kinds of demons. Nearly everyone is familiar with the first kind. Almost no one is familiar with the second kind.
Why study the past? Be careful about asking your students this question too early in the morning, for the answer might make you morose all day. Even at a classical school, someone will probably reply, “Because those who don’t study the past are condemned to repeat it,” and at least half the class will nod sagely. Even a few members of the faculty—at a classical school, nonetheless— are likely to give an appreciative murmur.
My reading in the Year of Our Lord 2018 was marked by some fairly deliberate attempts (emphasis on attempts) at slow reading as a counter to my long-standing tradition of attempting to speed read. Hilariously, I am but a poor example of either discipline.
I know what is meant by “spiritual growth,” but I think the expression quite dangerous.
Any essay has three most-important sentences, I tell my students—and nearly always, as I help them revise their papers, I suggest those three sentences be rewritten. Though good prose throughout an essay bolsters its ability to communicate and persuade, I’d wager many an essay stands or falls on these three sentences alone, for they are the ones that shape the reader’s experience of the essay and lodge in his memory of it; they are the ones by which he will decide whether what he has read matters to him or not.
Over the last 30 years, the revitalization of classical Christian education in this country has largely been the work of Reformed Christians and Presbyterian Christians. The work of the revitalization has been shared among other denominations and traditions, of course, and it is not my intention to slight anyone, but to give credit where it is due: if the revitalization is a work in which all Christian traditions should take part, the Reformed have done more than their fare share.
Have you ever quarreled about something (that you later realized was insignificant), and in so doing, lost sight of what was truly important? Have you ever been waylaid by something distracting, and lost your way as a result? Well, if you haven’t experienced this in a while, you may recall a similar gist in one of Aesop’s fables, “The Ass and His Shadow.” (If not, read on!)