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.
“Yes, I am quite aware that the mere athlete becomes too much of a savage, and that the mere musician is melted and softened beyond what is good for him.”
“Yet surely, I said, this ferocity only comes from spirit, which, if rightly educated, would give courage, but, if too much intensified, is liable to become hard and brutal.”
He sauntered up to me and casually and asked if he could read Moby Dick.
“Why do you want to read Moby Dick?”
“I don’t know. I just want to.” I knew he would say that, but I was stalling.
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.
Perhaps you’ve seen the famous optical illusion with the rabbit. Or is it a duck? In any case, the image involves double-sight. Most people will see one animal without effort but can also force their mind to see the other image. Which one does the drawing truly represent? both. The image allows us to see two pictures, one atop the other.
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.
In the beginning, we walked with God. We saw that God saw us, and we saw God face to face. Then we reached out, took, and ate of the Tree of Knowledge. We absorbed into ourselves a sudden onslaught of the discernment of divinity. We crumbled under the substance of it: we saw ourselves, and others, self-consciously. We hid from one another behind clumsily crafted coverings. We hid from God.
The other day, I picked up my sixth-grade daughter from school and she immediately reported that, while the teacher was not looking, a fellow student had brazenly, flagrantly broken several school rules. “Did you tell the teacher?” I asked. She said she had forgotten. “No, you didn’t,” I replied, “because it obviously bothered you quite a bit. How could you possibly forget?” The truth, which slowly came out in the conversation which followed, was that my daughter didn’t want to tell the teacher for reasons of cowardice that are common to youth, adolescence, adults, and the elderly alike.
Throughout this last year, I have enjoyed reading a variety of beautiful stories on the Daily Gathering; we read and discussed the story of a rabbit who desired to be real, a Mermaid who sought an immortal soul, and a cowboy who lassoed a tornado. These, and many other stories, have brought the participants into a world of fairies and giants, witches and kings, and wonder and joy; they have taught the students how to attend through imagination, narration, discussion, and comparison.