I once asked my godfather what poem I should memorise, and he told me, “Choose carefully because it will change the landscape of your soul.”
Just a little more than a week after Sean Connery passed away, Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek went on to his great reward. The loss I felt upon hearing the news of Trebek’s passing came not only from the fact that I have watched the show since I was a boy, but because Jeopardy! is really the only game show which a professional intellectual, amateur intellectual, or wannabe intellectual like myself can truly get behind. What other game show could a teacher of classical literature endorse?
When I teach The Lord of the Rings, some students will inevitably tell me that they do not like fantasy because “it’s not the real world.” It took me a while to realize that, to them, the ‘real world’ is a disenchanted one. This is of no fault of their own. We swim in a disenchanted cultural current. I too was educated and formed to believe the disenchanted idea of the real world. As philosopher Charles Taylor notes in A Secular Age, our modern epoch is an era of disenchantment.
What if Christmas is exactly what it claims to be? What if Christmas is nothing less than the birthday of Jesus Christ?
And what if Christmas does not need us? What if we need Christmas?
Modern men shudder at the thought.
Enlightened men want Christmas to be anything other than the birthday of Christ. They want Christmas to be a commercial racket, a Catholic superstition, a hollow symbol emptied of meaning centuries ago, an embarrassing relic of a purely hypothetical Christian envy of pagan holidays.
In autumn of 2006, I unknowingly first walked by a future mentor in a hallway in midtown Manhattan. I was seventeen, and I was touring the liberal arts college that would soon become home for four years. The woman who walked past me was a small, dark-haired European professor, and someday she would become a beloved pedagogical mother to me. This friendship bloomed right after undergrad, when I became a teacher at her daughters’ school.
As you know, America is a deeply divided country because there are educated, progressive people (EPP) and there are hicks and rubes (HAR). Now we get to wait out the election results to see how much better the EPP are than the HAR.
I would like to consider for a moment the difficult question of why it is so hard to process political ideas in this day and age and to do so I need to make myself a little more "vulnerable" as the EPP has taught us all to say.
Man was created to seek glory. He was created to love the glory of God and to mirror God’s glory through the pursuit of beauty, truth, goodness, and holiness. The glory of man is derived from God and the glory of God is underived. “Only God is good,” teaches Christ, which means the goodness of creation reveals God.
Before building a tower or engaging in battle, one must count the cost. If one lacks the resources or motivation to complete a project, it would be better not to begin. The same is true of arts. Every art has an end which governs its practice. While there is certainly value in amateur attempts, the art exists to achieve the end. The art of poetry aims to create poems; the art of rhetoric, orations; music, harmony. The art which fails to reach its goal has not been mastered.
There is a passage in Homer's Iliad 5 where he describes Athene arming herself with the aegis of Zeus, which is a shield or some similar device. He says,
Given the sorry state of American public schools, it is not surprising that many classical Christian schools use words like “excellence” and “mastery” to describe their goals for students. The school that aims to graduate students with “mastery” over their subjects will obviously not be content with seniors who have only attained an 8th grade reading level.