I distinctly remember the realization as the camera shutters clicked. We had gathered to bury our grandfather, and now we posed for posterity. Suddenly I realized that with this funerary passage, something new had happened, something I had never experienced before. The oldest generation had vanished, and each succeeding generation, without being consulted, had simply moved up. Nobody asked if this would be alright with them. It just happened. This meant our parents--impossible!--would be the next to die. Plucked from the grandchild group, we cousins were the new parents.
As we listened to Genesis 1 on an audio Bible last week while piecing together a puzzle, my son remarked, “It’s saying the same thing over and over.” He was referring, of course, to the repeated line at the end of each day of creation, “And there was evening, and there was morning…”
“Well,” I responded, “That’s the refrain. The creation account is like poetry. There is order and rhythm to it.”
“Do you ask me what you should regard as especially to be avoided? I say, crowds.”
Being the introvert I am, this answer from Seneca (letter 7) received from me a warm welcome and strong affirmation. However, I quickly learned that his reasoning was not formed from a fear of crowds or a feeling of discomfort one might experience in a room full of people. Instead, Seneca issued his warning against the crowd for the harm it imposes upon one’s soul.
One of humanity’s most endearing qualities is our ability to discover things, driven by an almost insatiable curiosity that seems to manifest itself early in our lives. We have a desire to explore and learn about the world in which we live. This curiosity has sent us to the moon, to the top of Mount Everest, and to the depths of the ocean. Through technology, we have gazed into the far reaches of the universe and taken pictures of the inexpressible beauty found there.
Like Matthew, John begins his gospel at the beginning. Matthew’s gospel opens with the genealogy or the “genesis” of Jesus Christ and John opens with an even more direct reference to Genesis – “In the beginning…” John then adds that the Word was the Creator. The Word “was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (1:1-5).
Christ is the New Creation, the One in whom all things are made new. Verse 4 echoes this – “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
As our foray into virtual teaching begins to lose its novelty, I’d like to offer some practical tips and tricks for maintaining a cohesive classroom environment online. I’ve previously written on some of the pertinent philosophies behind virtual teaching, defending it as a fit environment for nurturing learners.
Consider Asynchronous Learning
Medieval authors consistently amaze with their apparent ability to remember everything. How did Boethius compose The Consolation of Philosophy from a prison cell? He fills his work with classical allusions and direct quotations all without his library, Wikipedia, or the internet. Boethius, while brilliant, is by no means an exception. Dante could reportedly recite the entire Aeneid. Yet medievals also had various helps for their memory; one of their greatest was the commonplace book.
After more than a decade on Facebook and Twitter, I finally quit. Last December, I deleted my Facebook account and my Instagram account, then a few weeks later I deleted my Twitter account. I started a Wordpress blog, just like I had eighteen years ago, turned off the comments, and have since been perfectly content living without social media. I loathe social media.
Language use is in decline, has been for over a century, and is not going to turn around in the next century. So what to do about it when the kid in front of you (and you too!) is (are?) part of that decline?
Be patiently diligent to awaken him or her to the nature, purpose, power, and beauty of language.
“It will not be so in the Resurrection,” I told myself as I walked through the parking lot. I climbed into my truck, started the engine, and began the short drive home, repeating the words and trying to adjust my mind to return to my family - back to scenes of rest, laughter, and playing.