1. Get ready to not be amazing. By the time you’ve been teaching for five years, you will look back on your first year and say, “I was such a mess back then.” This is true no matter how badly or how well the first year goes. Teaching is very difficult and it takes many years to get good at it.
A couple of weeks ago, I was angry at a friend. During a conversation, he had said some things that frustrated me, made me feel unwanted, and it resulted in me not wanting to be around anyone else for awhile. Shortly thereafter, a couple of other friends invited me to lunch, and I refused to go with them because I was too irritated to be around anyone else. I drove off to get some lunch, alone. As I was pulling into the drive thru line at a fast food chicken joint, two vehicles in front of me crashed into each other.
“But we who would be born again indeed
Must wake our souls unnumbered times a day…”
—George MacDonald, Diary of an Old Soul
If you do a little exploring into the influences behind C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, you’ll soon discover a portal into the world of George MacDonald. Lewis claimed MacDonald as his literary and spiritual father, and the presence of this nineteenth-century Scot can be detected in every volume of Lewis’ fiction—in The Great Divorce he even becomes a primary character.
I recently made the comment that “music is heard geometry” in my conversation with Andrew Kern about the Great Dance on the “Ask Andrew” podcast. A friend asked if I could unpack that phrase and hopefully bring some understanding to that idea.
In an interview published by Christianity Today, Harvard political scientist Harvey Mansfield called Democracy in America “the best book ever written on democracy and the best book ever written on America.” Surprisingly, its author was neither a democrat nor an American, but a French aristocrat. Alexis de Tocqueville came to America in 1831 to study its prisons, yet his journey through the young democracy inspired a prescient work.
Have you ever played “I Spy”? It’s a game where one person sees something that no one else sees. Through a series of cues given by the “seer,” the others learn to see the item that the first person found.
Real teaching is a lot like this game. The teacher sees something that he wants the students to see. Now, conventional teaching sometimes has as its goal the prospect of “catching them out,” of finding students who don’t see and yelling, “Ah ha! I caught you in a mistake.”
It was an aesthetic education to live within those walls, to wander from room to room, from the Soanesque library to the Chinese drawing-room, adazzle with gilt pagodas and nodding mandarins, painted paper and Chippendale fret-work, from the Pompeian parlour to the great tapestry-hung hall which stood unchanged, as it had been designed two hundred and fifty years before; to sit, hour after hour, in the pillared shade looking out on the terrace.
Miracles, for many, raise a barrier to belief. Even for those of faith miracles can produce an intellectual tension. On the one hand, ample evidence shows the Bible is true and inspired. On the other hand, making sense of some miracles in the context of our understanding of the physical world is not easy. For instance, figuring out what it means in Joshua 10:13 for the sun to have stopped in its course is a bit mind-boggling.
Waiting Room Blues (After Anne Sexton)
Today let me be the one in the waiting
room who is sicker than you. A trip
to the pharmacy will likely suffice
for what you've got so stare at me
as I have also stared at the sickest. How I grind
my palms together gaze out the window
don't read the magazines. What does that guy
have? you wonder rightly glad
you are not me that you will buy
a coke to wash your CVS antibiotics down
in an hour. I have been you looking at me