In The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis writes a stinging critique of the modern mind. The academic elites or, as Lewis calls them, ‘the conditioners,’ produce habits of living and learning derived from seemingly settled philosophical and theological conclusions. Of course, many of the conditioners’ settled conclusions are, in fact, quite unsettled and painfully unsettling upon further scrutiny.
During the six years I taught ninth grade poetry, my students continually reminded me of two specific needs of high schoolers: the hunger to be led and the hunger to be heard. It can be easy to view these two needs as competing goods. After all, shouldn’t students be listening to other, older voices before attempting to “find their own?” Perhaps formal poetry provides an answer. To assign students to write poetry with meter and verse is to give them a glorious little playground. Forms make good fences. Inside these fences, students can be led and heard at the same time.
Student: I was wondering if we could meet at lunch sometime and talk about Jane Eyre.
Gibbs: What did you want to talk about?
Student: I just want to clarify a few things about Jane and Rochester’s relationship.
Gibbs: What did you want to clarify about their relationship?
Student: I would like some clarity on why Jane respects him so much.
Gibbs: That's the subject of the paper you're supposed to be writing.
Student: It is?
While teachers are apt to chide students about writing papers the night before, many teachers also procrastinate when it comes to grading and returning papers. Most schools have reasonable policies about how long teachers have to return student work (a week or two), but these are difficult rules to enforce, and it is not uncommon for teachers to wait until the night before a hard deadline—like when report cards come due—to begin grading a stack of papers.
Zach Sherman posted in the Atrium discussion forum this apologia by St. Athenagorus. He was defending the Christians to Marcus Aurelius.
Talleyrand was a French diplomat who survived all the way from before the Revolution to Napoleon's reign. His biography is called Talleyrand: The Art of Survival.
Therein I read these words:
[Mirabeau's] death left an ever-widening gulf between the throne and the radicals into which the nation was about to be violently swept. Talleyrand hoped that Louis XVI would see the danger and come to his senses....
Rain poured from the densely clouded sky for what seemed like the fortieth straight day. It had already been the rainiest season in recorded history and there appeared to be little break in sight. The clouds darkened everything, making it feel much earlier than it was.
I rose, mumbling my complaints at the weather, and dressed to exercise in hopes it would make me feel a bit better. The kids were just stirring, following my bad example of griping at rain, while my wife tried her best to motivate them to complete chores.
I have believed since the 80's that we are heading toward a time of troubles and the last year has not lessened my growing conviction. Part of the reason I've believed that comes down to a pertinent Biblical question: When the foundations are destroyed, what shall the righteous do?
This morning's reading led me to a not-surprising and yet surprising answer to that question. It was the world famous story of Noah's ark, after the flood has ceased but Noah is still in the ark.
What is classical education? Who has the authority to define it and categorize it? What is its purpose and what should its outcomes look like?
On January 8, Joshua Gibbs published a piece on this website titled “Can We Talk About What Happened In D.C. The Other Day?” What follows is a response to and critique of Mr. Gibbs’ post. I begin with a summary of his article.