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?
“What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” A classical Christian education dares to say quite a lot. But what does Hogwarts have to do with a classical Christian education? I dare to say more than you think, which is why I say send your child to Hogwarts. The book series contains a myriad of classical allusions and its positive (and in some ways practically Biblical) portrayal of love is astonishing to find in something so fervently revered by pop culture.
In many ways, life is circular. As Solomon says, a man works and toils, only to give place to another generation who will work and toil; “One generation passes away, and another generation comes; but the earth abides forever.” The sun rises and sets, only to rise and set again. The wind whirls about, only to do it all over again. The rivers flow to the sea, only to be picked up and returned to do it again. “All things are full of labor…” and in that many people despair.
Over the course of the last few weeks we decided we should go on a bit of a Tom Hanks binge. You know, the classics: Sleepless in Seattle, Forest Gump, You’ve Got Mail, and Cast Away. Hanks is an incredibly gifted actor who has portrayed some of the greatest characters in cinematic history. His ability to communicate depth and complexity with the utterance of a single word is quite profound.
Coming from Northern California, where my beloved Pacific Ocean is often a murky green or fathomless purple-gray, I always found the “wine-dark” seas of Homer resonant, fitting; until I remembered that Homer was writing about the sparkling blue gemstone that is the Mediterranean, set within its circlet of land. Wine-dark? Simple scansion cannot account for this description, as it does for so many Homeric epithets. Rather, it appears that Homer called the ocean “wine-dark” not only because of scansion, but because the very word “blue” did not exist yet in Greek.