30 July 2012

Miscellaneous Musings on Monday

Well, it's another Monday morning, which means it's time for some links. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. We did. We are now very close to choosing our new church. We've been in limbo for a few months now, and it is nice to know that we're almost past that stage, and on to belonging to a church family again.

I've got lots of links today, so I'll try and keep my commentary to a minimum...

  • It’s cruel not to teach children grammar from The Telegraph.
    The academic orthodoxy that made spelling tests anathema scrubbed all grammar from the curriculum. The thinking was that traditional grammar, being based on Latin, failed to describe accurately the structure of English.

    There’s something in that, but only in the way that Newtonian physics fails to describe the more secret habits of subatomic particles. To make a chair or build a house, Newton does very well. And so does secondhand Latin grammar, even if there is no such thing in English as a gerundive.
  • Nearly one in 10 employers to drop health coverage from The Washington Times. Shocking!
    One in three respondents said they could stop offering coverage if the law requires them to provide more generous benefits than they do now, if a tax on high-cost plans takes effect in 2018 as scheduled or if they decide it would be cheaper for them to pay the penalty for not providing insurance.
  • Chick-fil-A: if you’re not sure, this is how fascism works by The Anchoress.
    [I]f a business willfully inserts itself into a political issue, that’s “one thing” but if a business is forced to declare its political beliefs — and if that declaration can mean the difference between getting a license or not, that’s “something else.”

    It’s fascism, actually.
  • Teflon Coated Light Bulbs Deadly to Chickens from Root Simple. I wouldn't suggest using these in your home, either!
    In the letters section of this month's issue of Backyard Poultry Magazine is the story of a woman who lost a flock of nineteen chickens after they succumbed to fumes put off by a GE Rough Service Worklight that was in the coop. When the bulbs heat up they release fumes that are deadly to chickens and other birds.
  • California Proposes Tax On Driving from AOL.California: bringing to new meaning to that joke about 'if it moves, tax it.'
    The Metropolitan Transportation Commission of San Francisco is behind the idea and has said that the tax would work by installing GPS units into cars to track the miles that they travel. The vehicle owners would then be charged accordingly, with low-income drivers exempted.
  • Curriculum Envy from Classical Writing.
    Suzie Q. Homeschooler is raving about this new spelling in a box, which self-teaches , mops floors, and produces flawless spellers in less than 10 minutes per day, and …well, you wonder. Should you get this too?? Your own Homeschool ABC does the 3rd grade spelling you need. Only, your daughter is not as content with her daily spelling drills as Suzie Q. reports her son to be. And the floor-mopping feature is downright irresistible. The kitchen floor has bothered you ever since 2007 when Snowball had her first litter of kittens.
  • Gun carrying man ends stabbing spree at Salt Lake grocery store by Don Hudson. Not that you needed it, but a story on how guns aren't all bad. A little graphic, though, so be warned!
    Then, before the suspect could find another victim - a citizen with a gun stopped the madness. "A guy pulled gun on him and told him to drop his weapon or he would shoot him. So, he dropped his weapon and the people from Smith's grabbed him."
  • A College Reinvents Teacher Education by Daniel Coupland. Interesting connection to last week's reading on specialization!
    First, we concluded that teachers need a broad liberal arts education. Hillsdale is a liberal arts college and its education faculty takes this identity seriously. We believe that it’s not enough for a teacher to be a specialist in one subject area or to be a pedagogical technician. The best teachers are liberally educated and know how numerous subjects fit together to form a coherent picture of reality. Such an image can only develop if future teachers have a rigorous core curriculum that addresses the sciences, language, history, art, etc.
  • Significant Changes from Ordo Amoris.
    By not following the rules I am not sacrificing my children's education; I am securing it. I really believe that or I would just take the easy way out and do what I am told.
  • Illegal Front Yard Garden: Canadian Couple's Kitchen Garden Targeted By Authorities from The Huffington Post. The logical outcome of zoning laws, and the primary reason I am against them.
    CBC News reports that if the couple fails to remove a significant enough portion of their garden, they could expect fines of between $100 and $300 each day.
  • Even Earthworms Are Bad Now by Gene Logsdon.
    I know it is impertinent for a non-scientist to argue with the experts, but their conclusions in this case run counter to my experience in my tree groves and to my sense of logic. First of all, since the earthworms being discussed mostly came from Europe, why didn’t they destroy any forests over there?
Have a great week, everybody!

28 July 2012

Shakespeare Fail, Circle Time Plans, and Other Thoughts...

Today is yet another planning day. I've been working on bits and pieces off and on throughout the week, but today I felt inspired to tackle Circle Time, so that's what I did. If you recall, I usually have pages and pages of plans, dividing lessons not just per week but per day. This year, I'm going for a totally different approach. I am writing out the schedule in such a way that I will never get behind. I need it to be possible to always simply do the next thing.

But first...

Shakespeare Fail

All year last year, I wanted to--planned to--do a Shakespeare night. It began to be put off when someone got sick, and then the holidays came, and then I didn't feel good, and then we were busy, and then...well, you know how these things happen sometimes, right?

This year? I still want to--plan to--have a Shakespeare night. I think it would be fun. I think we would love it. And I know just the friends to invite.

But I'm also dividing up the play I always wanted to begin real Shakespeare with {A Comedy of Errors} into twelve weeks, and reading parts with my oldest during Circle Time.

So did we do Shakespeare last year? Well, yes. Sort of. We did Nesbit, and also Lamb. And my son and I sat down and read different scenes from different plays for fun. But we didn't get a chance to read a real play from beginning to end, so that's what I intend to do this coming term.

Ideally, we'll celebrate the end of the term with a Shakespeare night, but we'll see.

Circle Time Plans

Below is a pdf of my little chart. That's right. It all fits on one little page. How awesome is that?

Circle Time Weekly Schedule 2012-2013 Term 1


As usual, here are the links to the resources necessary to complete my plans. I know some of you like to steal borrow my ideas, and I'm glad to make it easy for you.

Other Comments

As far as our Scripture reading goes, you can see that I try and read a little bit of everything, every single day. I try to make this our priority and cut other things on the days we are short on time. We have been reading through the Old Testament narrative history and poetry {basically skipping the Law and family trees} very slowly for a couple years now, so I'm simply picking up from our last reading. We read through Psalms, and when we reach the end, we begin again, so here I'm picking up where we left off, also. For Proverbs, I read the chapter that corresponds to the date. And, finally, for the New Testament, I am reading through the Synoptic Gospels {Matthew, Mark, and Luke}. For our Old Testament and New Testament selections, I do have the children narrate.

Sometimes I preach when we get to Proverbs. It is hard to stop myself.


For Scripture memorization, as well as for the readings, I always use the KJV, unless otherwise noted. This is my personal preference, not a law.

If you want your Circle Time to be "more fun" you will include the folk songs. Little children adore them, and they seem to loosen Mom up a bit, too. Sometimes I need that first thing in the morning!

27 July 2012

Don't Forget to Slay the Dragon

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10
Some of us are born into trying times. I, for one, often wish I had lived during the latter part of King Arthur's reign. This would be right after his defeat of the pagans, and right before the big battle in which he was killed. The Kingdom of Camelot, filled with virtuous knighthood, equity symbolized by round tables, and undeniably beautiful flowing dresses, is right up my alley.

Just don't remind me about the lack of running water.

Another great time for living might have been after America had been established. The war in which she threw off the bounds of her unnatural subservience to England was over, and citizens were developing a new government based upon the created order.

And there were still long flowing dresses, a definite plus.

But I live now. We all do. Unfortunately, we seem to be watching the reversal of all that was accomplished by the Revolutionary War, where voters in the last election cried out not for freedom, but for slavery to a ruler who would rule them in an unnatural, tyrannical way. A ruler who does not seem to respect the Constitution which he vowed before the Creator to protect.

My response is to alternately listen or read the news and respond with rants and fear, or follow the model of my dear friend Lady Ostrich and stick my head in the sand.

Ranting is interesting, but generally accomplishes little. And ostriches aren't exactly known for changing the world.

There is, of course, the monastic approach. This is one view of homeschooling in a nutshell. You take the legacy of great books, great minds, great thoughts, and you pass them down within the home, allowing little souls to marinate in virtue and nobility until a time when the world is again ready for greatness.

It's worked throughout history, you know.

And then there are those who are called to slay the dragon.

Do you remember the scene in Lord of the Rings where Frodo says that he wishes he had never been given the ring? This is one of the few times where the movie nicely parallels the book. Gandalf's sage advice is that men do not choose their times, but they do choose what to do in the times that have been given to them.

Frodo was a dragon-slayer in a metaphorical sense, just as his forbear Bilbo had been in the literal sense.

Ancient tales remind us not to forget to slay the dragon, even when we feel that longing for our heavenly home.

Yesterday afternoon, I sat down and read Margaret Hodges' Saint George and the Dragon to the children. I can't believe I put off acquiring this book for so long, for it is a treasure to behold and a joy to read. The children were enchanted! Here is another echo of timeless sage advice, given to Saint George {the Red Cross Knight} in the midst of a long journey which he knows will end in a battle with a ferocious dragon:
After many days the path became thorny and led up a steep hillside, where a good old hermit lived in a little house by himself. While Una rested, the Red Cross Knight climbed with the hermit to the top of the hill and looked out across the valley. There against the evening sky they saw a mountaintop that touched the highest heavens. It was crowned with a glorious palace, sparkling like stars and circled with walls and towers and pearls and precious stones. Joyful angels were coming and going between heaven and the High City.

Then the Red Cross Knight saw that a little path led up the distant mountain to that city, and he said, "I thought that the fairest palace in the world was the crystal tower in the city of the Fairy Queen. Now I see a palace far more lovely. Una and I should go there at once."

But the old hermit said, "The Fairy Queen has sent you to do brave deeds in this world. That High City that you see is in another world. Before you climb the path to it and hang your shield on its wall, go down into the valley and fight the dragon that you were sent to fight."
Sometimes, when a fierce dragon is staring us in the face, we are tempted to skip the fight and venture off in search of the High City. The High City is our ultimate destination, to be sure. But first, we have work to do. This life isn't all that there is, but it matters nonetheless.

Words from the wise: Don't forget to slay the dragon.

This is a reworking of an old post. You can view the original here.

26 July 2012

Quotables: Ideas Have Consequences

Ideas Have Consequences
by Richard Weaver
The believer in truth...is bound to maintain that the things of highest value are not affected by the passage of time... {p. 52}
[T]he gentleman is a secularized expression of the [philosophic doctor]. {p. 54}
So the scientist, having lost hold upon organic reality, clings the more firmly to his discovered facts, hoping that salvation lies in what can be objectively verified. {p. 58}
Having been told by the relativists that he cannot have truth, he now has "facts." {p. 58}
Plato reminded us that at any stage of an inquiry it is important to realize whether we are moving toward, or away from, first principles. {p. 59}
[T]he fallacy of technology...is the conclusion that because a thing can be done, it must be done. {p. 60}
[F]anaticism and emotional instability, tension and flightiness, are incompatible with that seasoned maturity which we expect in a leader. {p. 61}
The man who understand has reason to be sure of himself; he has the repose of mastery. {p. 62}
[T]he specialist stands ever at the borderline of psychosis. {p. 62}
Thoughtful people today are sometimes moved to wonder why the world no longer has use for a liberally educated class. Surely the answer lies in this abandonment of generalization for specialization, which is the very process of fragmentation. {p. 62-63}
[C]haracter is often an obstruction to the wheels of economic progress. {p. 64}
[A] burden of responsibility is, after all, the best means of getting anyone to think straight. If he is made to feel that he is accountable for results, he looks steadily at the situation and endeavors to discover what is really true in it. This is a discipline. {p. 66}
Like peace, regeneration carries a price which those of think of it idly will balk at. {p. 69}

25 July 2012

Book Club: Ideas Have Consequences
{Chapter 3}

Ideas Have Consequences
by Richard Weaver
Chapter Three is called Fragmentation and Obsession, and the applications for the realm of education are everywhere, because one of the major themes is specialization, which is something we see a lot of in the modern school. I remember a couple years ago I was talking with someone who proudly told me their child was attending a "progressive" high school where he would be required to choose a major his sophomore year, and would then have all of his elective classes focus on his major.

From a purely practical perspective, I cannot tell you how thankful I am that I did not have to choose my "major" when I was fifteen years old! The life I would have chosen for myself then is not the life I want now, if that makes sense.

We have to remember that generalization was the name of the educational game for millenia. The new education, where students good at math study math {but not literature}, where some are allowed to declare that they are "not math people" is a brave new world indeed:
Specialization develops only part of a man; a man partially developed is deformed...
Or consider this:
By far the most significant phase of the theory of the gentleman is its distrust of specialization. It is an ancient belief, going back to classical antiquity, that specialization of any kind is illiberal in a freeman. A man willing to bury himself in the details of some small endeavor has been considered lost to these larger considerations which must occupy the mind of the ruler.
You know what a broad view allows for? Perspective. The most dangerous {or simply stupid} decisions are based upon a perspective that is myopic.

Charlotte Mason advocated a broad education. She characterized it as a table, laden and varied, where students might feast. She saw the damage that specialization could do to a man:
We know how Darwin lost himself in science until he could not read poetry, find pleasure in pictures, think upon things divine; he was unable to turn his mind out of the course in which it had run for most of his life. {source}
Some of us may read this and think well, who cares that Darwin could not read poetry? I cannot {or do not like to} read poetry, either. First, I would consider whether this is a result of over-specialization in my own life, and second, I would consider the idea that the ability to read poetry, find pleasure in art, or think upon the divine, is distinctly human. What Miss Mason is saying is that in his extreme specializing, Darwin lost his soul {in more ways than one}. He was, for all practical purposes, no longer fully human.

Miss Mason contrasts this to the great Renaissance men:
In the great {and ungoverned} age of the Renaissance, the time when great things were done, great pictures painted, great buildings raised, great discoveries made, the same man was a painter, an architect, a goldsmith and a master of much knowledge besides; and all that he did he did well, all that he knew was part of his daily thought and enjoyment. Let us hear Vasari on Leonardo,––
"Possessed of a divine and marvellous intellect and being an excellent geometrician, he not only worked at sculpture . . . but also prepared many architectural plans and buildings . . . he made designs for mills and other engines to go by water; and, as painting was to be his profession . . . he studied drawing from life."
Leonardo knew nothing about Art for Art's sake, that shibboleth of yesterday, nor did our own Christopher Wren, also a great mathematician and master of much and various knowledge, to whom architecture was rather a by-the-way interest, and yet he built St. Paul's.

Why is Specialization so Dangerous?

I think Weaver gives us the answer to this question when he says that
[F]ragmentation leads directly to an obsession with isolated parts.
It's as if we think that we can look at the world solely through a microscope and come to a complete understanding of it. What is interesting is that when we have the broad view, then the use of the microscope and other such tools adds to our knowledge. But if said microscope becomes the only tool, we ourselves become so limited in scope that our knowledge is only useful in a very small sphere to very few people.
The scientist, the technician, the scholar, who have left the One for the Many are puffed up with vanity over their ability to describe precisely some minute portion of the world.
One of the blessings of motherhood, I think, is that we really are not allowed to become specialists. The job requires varied knowledge: cooking, cleaning, diapering, nursing, laundering, preparing for the future, curating the past, and so on and so forth. And then upon the basics, we often expand. You might create amazing things with your hands. I bake bread and raise dairy products.

To be honest, if left to myself, I would probably drink coffee and read and think and that is about it. But because God placed me in this life, I own a petting zoo and raise children and all of this has a balancing effect upon my soul.

We are possibly the last true generalists.

Another Way to Specialize

Weaver points out that we can also specialize in time:
Allen Tate has made the point that many modern people to whom the word "provincial" is anathema are themselves provincials in time to an extreme degree. Indeed, modernism is in essence a provincialism, since it declines to look beyond the horizon of the moment, just as the countryman may view with suspicion whatever lies beyond his country.
This is why history is so important! It is a gift of perspective that we can give to our children.

It has been interesting to observe the impact of Plutarch upon my oldest. When he overheard adults debating about John Roberts switching his vote on Obamacare at the last minute, his response was fascinating to me. Whereas the adults {and I include myself in this} were speculating about why he'd change--most of which amounted to little more than gossip--my son's response was to be offended and disappointed in Roberts. Didn't Roberts know that great men give up their own comfort for the sake of their country. Didn't he know that men of the past have sacrificed their money, property, safety, children, and even selves for the greater good?

He showed me the power of perspective given by a broad education.

History and universal truths give us just such a perspective. Thankfully, we are never too old to learn!

Read More:
-More book club entries linked at Mystie's blog
-Buy the book and join in the conversation!

23 July 2012

Miscellaneous Musings on Monday

I know this is a news roundup of sorts, but I am not going to be linking to stories on the Colorado shooting. I just can't bring myself to do it. I do want to mention something before we proceed, however. There is a reason why the conversation immediately went to gun control, and I don't think it is simply that certain members of our society hate guns {though they do}. It's because gun control is the easy conversation to have. The conversations about the problem of evil, the fall of man, and the need for redemption--the conversations about how this gunman was actually the logical consequence of the prevailing philosophies of our day--those are the conversations we get to avoid when we turn the spotlight on gun control.

In other news...

  • Becoming a Charlotte Mason Teacher: Paradigm Shift Required by Jennifer Spencer. Though this is written for teachers in private or cottage schools, I thought it was helpful.
    [L]anguage is not simply a means of expression; it is the primary tool the mind uses to process information. So while the knowledge that I will have to narrate will certainly make me pay better attention to a reading passage, an art print, or a nature walk, the real value lies in the fact that having to verbalize makes me understand, since one cannot tell what one does not know. Using words makes me organize my thoughts, which also makes me remember. In other words, narration is not so much telling what you know as it is telling so that you can know. Every child must narrate every lesson in order to fully know.
  • famous naps and nappers from s@ally l-j. Some of my best blog posts have been written after a nap just like those described in the article. I didn't realize this was something other people did!
    Scientists say that these...men had unknowingly taken advantage of what is called the "hypnogogic" nap which is when the mind--before it reaches stage 2 sleep--unlocks free flowing creative thoughts.
  • Vulgate or Virgil? from Visual Latin.
    This is my ultimate goal for Visual Latin students. I want them to read the gospels in Latin. I want that experience for them.
  • What Do I Do About a Child Who Lies? from Preschoolers and Peace. All of my children started lying around the time they realized that I really am not omnipresent and I really cannot always know what is going on.
    I love stories that illustrate a character issue and the consequneces that can arise when we fall into a particular sin. Lying is a sin that can easily become a habit very difficult to break, so stories about people whose lives were gravely affected by a lie can be very powerful. Look for story books that deal with lying, such as the classic Pinnochio. Conversely, steer clear of books that weave some lying in {particularly child to parent}, and where that lie told produces a good result or at least goes undetected.
  • A Mainline Collapse from Breakpoint.
    My friend and New York Times columnist Ross Douthat noted that the collapse occurred at the same time that the [Episcopal] church was transforming itself “into one of the most self-consciously progressive Christian bodies in the United States.”

    Ironically, this transformation was done to make the church “relevant and vital.” Instead, people stopped going because, as Douthat points out, there was nothing these churches offered that they “[couldn’t] already get from a purely secular liberalism.”
  • Metaphysical Musings on Circe from Ordo Amoris. This is a must-read. I always long to go to CiRCE. Here's to following all the old rules.
    My mom always said that I was a rebel. I just can't hear stuff like that and continue on following all the rules. To not follow the rules feels like I am experimenting on my child but the truth is that following all the new rules breaks all the old ones.
And that's all for today. I hope you all had a good weekend.

20 July 2012

Random Thoughts on School Planning

Some of these thoughts actually came across on my Twitter account, if you follow it, but I started making notes so that I would remember what I was thinking, and then I thought I'd share this with you. I do this because I adore planning posts from other mothers. They help me think through what I'm doing and improve it. I get ideas. I get inspired. And so I share in hopes that you benefit in the same way that I do.
  • If you can get a hardback {or, even better, library binding} for within $3 of the paperback cost, do it! I find that paperbacks tend to be so badly bound that they do not stand up to re-reading. My children are careful with books, but some paperbacks fall apart anyhow. I am so happy that I started buying hardbacks whenever it was financially feasible. If you end up buying a paperback twice, you don't save a dime!
  • I'm thinking about combining students for various subjects.
    • First of all, we didn't finish the Burgess Bird Book last year, so I'm thinking about throwing it into Circle Time. They love it when I match the chapters with realistic coloring pages accompanied by our birding field guide.
    • I already combine all of the children for Shakespeare.
    • I plan to combine O-Age-Three and Q-Age-Five for a "Year 0" time. We'll read through Winnie the Pooh and then Beatrix Potter's tales.
    • Q-Age-Five claims that she is "ready for school." I've really been holding her back for awhile now, but I have decided that doing this any longer would be a disservice to her. So I think I'll combine the girls for geography in Term 1 and see how it goes. We'll be doing Tree in the Trail. I don't think it'd be wise to start her in Year 1 yet, for various reasons, but I think that doing some geography and then starting her in a slow, 18-month Year 1 in Term 2 {when she is six} might work well for her. Adding in a couple small things should give her mind some things to think about, which is what I think she is craving, while not overdoing book work at this age.
  • This year, we're starting a Book of Centuries. I purchased the download from Simply Charlotte Mason. I priced printing it, and it seems to come in at around $10 per copy. I'll be printing five copies at once {one for me, four for the children} and saving them until each student is ready for them. I like being able to reprint if a student wants to begin again when he is older. I have always wanted my own BOC, but I would never have paid the big bucks for it. Ten dollars, though, seems well worth it to me.
  • I went ahead and purchased the Classical Composition teacher's guide. I was trying not to buy anything for this venture, but I decided I needed something to look at and read. My goal is still to modify E-Age-Ten's written narration assignments rather than doing straight Classical Composition, but I decided I am just too ignorant to wing it entirely on my own. In an ideal world, I'd also do many of the exercises myself in order to improve my own writing.
  • I now have Island Story in an audio book. I cannot decide whether or not I want to use it, or whether I want to continue reading it aloud on my own. I haven't used audio books before {except while traveling in the car} and I can't decide if beginning to use them would actually save me time, or just complicate things because it adds a new factor.
  • I think I'm going to substitute the biography of Faraday from the free reading list for the biography of Alexander Graham Bell that is assigned for Term 2 of Year 5. The reason for this is that we have long owned a decent biography of Bell, and I think that E-Age-Ten already thinks he "knows" Bell. Faraday, on the other hand, would be a new person to him. I think he'd find it more interesting this way.
  • Year Five just looks huge to me. There is so. much. reading. Good thing E-Age-Ten is pretty quick at such things! He's going to have to do a lot more on his own this year, due to the neediness of his sisters. As long as I carve out time to coach him in his writing, I think he'll be okay with that. I often thought of Circle Time as helping me keep in touch with my preschoolers, but I think this year it'll help me keep in touch with my big student as well!
That's all for now. Hopefully, I'll have Circle Time plans to post someday soon. If not, it means my planning was derailed!

Quotables: Ideas Have Consequences

Ideas Have Consequences
by Richard Weaver
The most portentous general event of our time is the steady obliteration of those distinctions which create society. {p. 35}
[P]eople today are eager to know who is really entitled to authority, that they are looking wistfully for the sources of genuine value. In sum, they wish to know the truth, but they have been taught a perversion which makes their chance of obtaining it less every day.This perversion is that in a just society there are no distinctions. {p. 35}
The good man, the man with proved allegiance to correct sentiment, has been the natural trustee of authority. {p. 36}
[H]ierarchy requires a common assumption about ends. {p. 36}
[T]raditional society was organized around king and priest, soldier and poet, peasant and artisan. Now distinctions of vocation fade out, and the new organization, if such it may be termed, is to be around capacities to consume. Underlying the shift is the theory of romanticism; if we attach more significance to feeling than to thinking, we shall soon, by a simple extension, attach more to wanting than to deserving. {p. 37}
It clarifies much to see that socialism is in origin a middle-class and not a proletarian concept. {p. 37}
[T]he various forms of collectivism...rest on a materialistic philosophy. {p. 38}
Since subversive activity is the taking away of degree, it is logical that conservatives should treat as enemies all those who wish to abolish the sacred and secular grounds for distinctions among men. {p. 40}
The comity of peoples in groups large or small rests not upon this chimerical notion of equality but upon fraternity...The ancient feeling of brotherhood carries obligations of which equality knows nothing. It calls for respect and protections, for brotherhood is status in family, and family is by nature hierarchical. It demands patience with little brother, and it may sternly exact duty of big brother. It places people in a network of sentiment, not of rights. {p. 41-42}
The rule is that each shall act where he is strong. {p. 42}
The frame of duty which fraternity erects is itself the source of ideal conduct. {p. 42-43}
[P]eople meet most easily when they know their position. If their work and authority are defined, they can proceed on fixed assumptions and conduct themselves without embarrassment toward inferior and superior. When the rule of equality obtains, however, no one knows where he belongs. {p. 43}
Resentment...may well prove the dynamite which will finally wreck Western society. {p. 43}
If it promises equality of condition, it promises injustice, because one law for the ox and the lion is tyranny. {p. 44}
The conservatives of our day have a case which only their want of imagination keeps them from making use of in the proposition that levelers are foes of freedom. {p. 50-51}
Its effect therefore has been to collapse the traditional hierarchy and to produce economic man, whose destiny is mere activity. {p. 51}
[I]f we feel that creation does not express purpose, it is impossible to find an authorization for purpose in our lives. Indeed, the assertion of purpose in a world we felt to be purposeless would be a form of sentimentality. {p. 51}

19 July 2012

Books Read in June

Even though we had lots of company and helped host a conference, E-Age-Ten found time to read like a maniac, which is to say that he found time to be himself. I remember reading all the time in the summers as a child and, frankly, these lists are making me miss being a child! I am, sadly, down to one book at a time. I've reach a new low.

But that's not why we're here. We're here to talk about what a ten-year-old boy is reading, in case you need ideas. Obviously, lots of ten-year-old boys don't read at this pace, but this book list might have some options  to choose from, nonetheless.

Books Read in June

E's June Favorite
{actually, all three in the series}
The Chestnut King by ND Wilson
The Swiss Twins by Lucy Fitch Perkins
Duncan's War by Douglas Bond
King's Arrow by Douglas Bond
Rebel's Keep by Douglas Bond
You Can Farm by Joel Salatin
Sir Nigel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Men of Iron by Howard Pyle
The Irish Twins by Lucy Fitch Perkins
The Reb and the Redcoats by Constance Savery
The Lost Baron by Allen French
Gentle Ben by Walt Morey
E.'s Other June Favorite
Lulu's Library {Vol. 2} by Louisa May Alcott
Amos Fortune: Free Man by Elizabeth Yates
Tree of Freedom by Rebecca Caudill

It was hard to decide on a favorite this month, and honestly, The Chestnut King was in the running as well.

Any suggestions that we should add to our family library?

18 July 2012

Book Club: Ideas Have Consequences
{Chapter 2}

Ideas Have Consequences
by Richard Weaver
Chapter 2 is called Distinction and Hierarchy and, in it, egalitarianism {equalitarianism to Weaver} takes a big hit. I don't mean here, by the way, the theological position on the roles of man and woman, though I'm sure that would have to be included by extension {Weaver himself says that the family is the "archetype of hierarchy"}, but rather the idea of viewing all men as equal, even to the point of being willing to maim and injure in order to force this false equity into existence.

All of this impacts education because knowledge naturally elevates {Weaver says two things elevate: knowledge and virtue*}--which means that it brings about inequity among men. We can try our best to mass produce ignorance, but that is as close to equality of condition we will get. Genius will never come rolling out of a factory model.

The first thing that Weaver says about education is on the very first page of the chapter:
The preservation of society is therefore directly linked with the recovery of true knowledge.
In years past, I was annoyed when educators from all different veins would try to declare that education would save the world. First of all, only Christ can do such a thing--even education is not big enough to bear the weight of the world. But secondly, I thought this was a form of blind optimism. Even Charlotte Mason has annoyed me in this regard.

Now, lest you just think me cranky, I think part of the problem was that I misunderstood what was meant by salvation in this context. Weaver doesn't say that education will remove or conquer sin. He says that knowledge preserves. This is something I believe, and I think I better understand why Miss Mason was so excited about her educational ventures.

I also know from personal experience that education is repentance.

These days, knowledge does not elevate:
[T]he final degradation of the Baconian philosophy is that knowledge becomes power in the service of appetite.
Isn't that exactly the line our nation sells its children? If you are educated, you will have power...to get a job, earn money, and buy things that you desire. Knowledge becomes power in the service of appetite.


Perhaps the biggest favor we could do the children whom we educate is to divorce knowledge from power and instead wed it to delight and put it in its rightful place in service to God--as the handmaid of religion, as they used to say.

I appreciate Weaver's decision to quote Shakespeare here:
And appetite, an universal wolf,
So doubly seconded with will and power,
Must make perforce an universal prey,
And last eat up himself.
 So what is education really about?
[I]f the primary need of man is to perfect his spiritual being and prepare for immortality, then education of the mind and the passions will take precedence over all else. The growth of materialism, however, has made this a consideration remote and even incomprehensible to the majority. Those who maintain that education should prepare one for living successfully in this world have won a practically complete victory.
The answer to that question seems to lie in answering the question of which city are we preparing for, ultimately? The City of God, or the City of Man? The wonderful thing is that this is just one more area of life in which, when we seek first the City of God, all these others things--like good test scores--tend to be added unto us anyhow.
[T]he prevailing conception is that education must be such as will enable one to acquire enough wealth to live on the plane of the bourgeoisie. That kind of education does not develop the aristocratic virtues. It neither encourages reflection nor inspires a reverence for the good.
In other words, a true education will focus on producing a certain kind of man, rather than a certain kind of lifestyle. The interesting thing to me is that good men produce good cultures and, when looking at the history of the world, when good reigns, life for the common people tends to be lived comfortably. I don't necessarily mean in riches, but in peace and with basic necessities provided for. So it seems that history reveals that it is at least possible to have our cake and eat it, too.
[I]t is precisely because we have lost our grasp of the nature of knowledge that we have nothing to educate with for the salvation of our order. Americans certainly cannot be reproached for failing to invest adequately in the hope that education would provide redemption. They have built numberless high schools, lavish in equipment, only to see them, under the prevailing scheme of values, turned into social centers and institutions for improving the personality, where teachers, living in fear of constituents, dare not enforce scholarship. They have built colleges on an equal sacale, only to see them turned into playgrounds for grown-up children or centers of vocationalism and professionalism. Finally, they have seen pragmatists, as if in peculiar spite against the very idea of hierarchy, endeavoring to turn classes into democratic forums, where the teacher is only a moderator, and no one offends by presuming to speak with superior knowledge.

The formula of popular education has failed democracy...
What fascinates me is that Weaver believes the solution here is a recovery of "some source of authority." He says that source must be knowledge itself, but I'm inclined to disagree with him because I can think of a Source that is above knowledge which can withstand many more buffets and storms.

*This is interesting because the old goal of education was virtue, which means that education was once elevating in both senses.

Read More:
-More book club entries linked at Mystie's blog
-Buy the book and join in the conversation!

16 July 2012

Miscellaneous Musings on Monday

Okay, I've been working extra hard on a special project that I'll announce sometime soon. In the meantime, this post almost didn't happen. Today it'll be short and sweet with very little {no?} commentary...

In the news...

  • Competence vs. Perfectionism by Auntie Leila.
    What would you think if I told you that you could find out right now what His will is? That it's a "problem" of a day, not years? His will for you, specifically? (And I'm not going to trick you by saying that God's will for you turns out to be "love everyone," or "work for world peace," or "lock and load"!)

    It's not really a secret, and it's so simple that it seems like it couldn't possibly be true. It's just this:

    Trying to do all the stuff you have to do, today, with a loving heart.

    Not all the stuff you could possibly do.

    The stuff you have to do.
  • First-Book Syndrome from Andy Unedited.
    The other day one of our editors, Dave Zimmerman, came to me with a proposal from a prospective author for a book. It was on prayer, mission, evangelism, the history of global Christianity, the future of Christianity, the Holy Spirit, the Kingdom of God and justice.

    I looked at Dave and said, “First-Book Syndrome.” He grimly nodded in agreement.
  • I Like Them from Suburban Saga.
    She leans in. “How many boys DO you HAVE?” I tell her. She laughs a sharp laugh. “You’re INSANE! I just have two boys, and that’s bad enough. But wait, your 5-year-old is going to start kindergarten this fall, right? You won’t know what to do with yourself….”

    I smile apologetically and give my standard answer. “Actually, I’m beginning to homeschool this fall. I guess I’m a glutton for punishment.”
  • Teaching 'Taco Bell's Canon' from The Wall Street Journal.
    One big problem is that so few students are readers. As an unfortunate result, they have erroneous, and sometimes hilarious, notions of how the written language represents what they hear. What emerged in their papers and emails was a sort of literary subgenre that I've come to think of as stream of unconsciousness.

    Some of their most creative thinking was devoted to fashioning excuses for tardiness, skipping class entirely, and failure to complete assignments. One guy admitted that he had trouble getting into "the proper frame of mime" for an 8 a.m. class.

    Then there were the two young men who missed class for having gotten on the wrong side of the law. They both emailed me, one to say that he had been charged with a "mister meaner," the other with a "misdeminor."
  • Nature Journaling -Stage One continued from Higher Up and Further In. I am totally going to do this with my girls. This is the advice I have been needing, I think!
    We can teach our children to do the same through nature journaling. In order to illustrate my point, let’s suppose my daughter and I have returned from a nature walk and she has picked a Black-eyed Susan to draw and paint. She sits down, places it in front of her and draws a long line, six oblong petals with a circle in the middle and a leaf on the side. She is finished in three minutes flat and ready to paint it. Here is the conversation I would have with her in order to help her better observe what she is drawing.
  • Charlotte Mason: Narration or Memorizing for a Test from Harmony Art Mom.
    As Mr. B enters his last year of high school, we will not be taking out precious time to memorize things for an exam. We will continue to work through our books with the underlying Charlotte Mason principle of feeding the mind with living ideas in order to gain knowledge that can be digested and retained. He will tell back what he knows after his reading either orally or in written form.
  • Exclusive Leaked Documents: American Dietetic Association is Intentionally Using State Legislatures to Block Alternative Nutrition Providers and Restrict Free Speech from Forbes. Um. The ADA is basically out of control...and here's proof.
    In these newly-available internal documents, which I quote and outline at length in this article, the American Dietetic Association:
    • Openly discusses creating and using state boards of dietetics/nutrition (including in NC and in every other state in the union) for the express purpose of limiting market competition for its Registered Dietitian members.
    • Openly discusses a nation-wide plan of surveilling and reporting private citizens, and particularly all competitors on the market for nutrition counseling, for “harming the public” by providing nutrition information/advice/counseling without a license—through exactly the same means by which Cooksey was reported to the NC Board. Again, for the explicit purpose of limiting marketplace competition. 
Have a great day, everybody!

13 July 2012

Quotables: Ideas Have Consequences

Ideas Have Consequences
by Richard Weaver
We begin our other affirmations after a categorical statement that life and the world are to be cherished. {p. 19}
[Culture's] most splendid flourishing stands often in proximity with the primitive phase of a people, in which there are powerful feelings of "oughtness" directed toward the world, and before the failure of nerve has begun. {p. 19}
[A] true culture cannot be content with a sentiment which is sentimental with regard to the world. There must be a source of clarification, of arrangement and hierarchy, which will provide grounds for the employment of the rational faculty. {p. 19-20}
The most important goal for one to arrive at is this imaginative picture [{i.e., a view of the world}]...His rational faculty will then be in the service of a vision which can preserve his sentiment from sentimentality. {p. 20}
[L]ogic depends upon the dream, and not the dream upon it. {p. 21}
Here, indeed, lies the beginning of self-control, which is a victory of transcendence. When a man chooses to follow something which is arbitrary as far as the uses of the world go, he is performing a feat of abstraction; he is recognizing the noumenal, and it is this, and not that self-flattery which takes the form of a study of his own achievements, that dignifies him. {p. 22}
In the same way that our cognition passes from a report of particular details to a knowledge of universals, so our sentiments pass from a welter of feeling to an illumined concept of what one ought to feel. This is what is known as refinement. {p. 22}
The man of self-control is he who can consistently perform the feat of abstraction. He is therefore trained to see things under of eternity, because form is the enduring part. {p. 23}
The statement really means that it does not matter what a man believes as long as he does not take his beliefs seriously....But suppose he does take his beliefs seriously? Then what he believes places a stamp upon his experience, and he belongs to a culture, which is a league founded on on exclusive principles. {p. 23}
[C]ulture is sentiment refined and measured by intellect... {p. 23}
It is characteristic of the barbarian, whether he appears in a precultural stage or emerges from below into the waning day of a civilization, to insist upon seeing a thing "as it is."...[He] insists upon starkness of materiality, suspecting rightly that forms will mean restraint. {p. 24}
Today over the entire world there are dangerous signs that culture, as such, is marked for attack because its formal requirements stand in the way of expression of the natural man.

Many cannot conceive why form should be allowed to impeded the expression of honest hearts. The reason lies in one of the limitations imposed upon man: unformed expression is ever tending toward ignorance. {p. 25}
Every group regarding itself as emancipation is convinced that its predecessors were fearful of reality. {p. 26}
No education is worthy of the name which fails to make the point that the world is best understood from a certain distance or that the most elementary understanding requires a degree of abstraction. {p. 27}
Our age provides many examples of the ravages of immediacy, the clearest of which is the failure of the modern mind to recognize obscenity...The word is employed here in its original sense to describe that which should be enacted off-stage because it is unfit for public exhibition. {p. 28}
The area of privacy has been abandoned because the definition of person has been lost; there is no longer a standard by which to judge what belongs to the individual man. {p. 29}
It is inevitable that the decay of sentiment should be accompanied by a deterioration of human relationships, both those of the family and those of friendly association, because the passion for immediacy concentrates upon the presently advantageous. After all, there is nothing but sentiment to the very old or to the very young. {p. 30}
When people set the highest value on relationships to one another, it does not take them long to find material accommodations for these. {p. 30}
To one brought up in a society spiritually fused...the idea of a campaign to win friends must be incomprehensible. Friends are attracted by one's personality, if it is of the right sort, and any conscious attempt is inseparable from guile. And the art of manipulating personalities obviously presumes a disrespect for personality. {p. 31}
[T]he disappearance of the heroic ideal is always accompanied by the growth of commercialism. {p. 32}

11 July 2012

Book Club: Ideas Have Consequences
{Chapter 1}

I have read the first chapter over and over and I'm finding it very difficult to get all of Weaver's ideas into my little brain. Don't get me wrong; I'm loving this book. It reminds me of my favorite book in all the world, Poetic Knowledge, in that I know that reading it over and over will actually be a plumbing of depths instead of...well...instead of a waste of time! Part of the difficulty I'm having is not just in comprehending the material, but in following Weaver's logic. I'm not always sure how one paragraph connects to the others.

Ideas Have Consequences
by Richard Weaver
So, I did what I almost always do in these situations, and began writing my way through the book. Yes, I used actual pen and paper. It's sort of an outline, and sort of just notes. This is the only way I can progress when a book is "above my reading level" as they say.

I cannot say I understand the entire scope of the chapter, but there are so many gems to be pulled out and examine that I could blog this chapter for a week and not be done. It's that rich; truly.

As I mentioned before, since this month is my school-planning month, I'm trying to think through the implications of these ideas in the arena of learning. You have been forewarned.

The Importance of Affection

There is one sentence in this chapter that jumped off of the page at me, and I'm still mulling it over.
When we affirm that philosophy begins with wonder, we are affirming in effect that sentiment is anterior to reason.
The idea of beginning with wonder is the priceless wisdom discussed in Poetic Knowledge, that aforementioned worthy book. But Weaver takes it a step further and says that if philosophy begins with wonder {and I believe it does}, then how we feel about something precedes our thinking {reasoning} about it.

Charlotte Mason touches on this, actually. In the eighteenth of her twenty principles, she says:
The way of reason: We teach children, too, not to 'lean {too confidently} to their own understanding'; because the function of reason is to give logical demonstration {a} of mathematical truth, {b} of an initial idea, accepted by the will. In the former case, reason is, practically, an infallible guide, but in the latter, it is not always a safe one; for, whether that idea be right or wrong, reason will confirm it by irrefragable proofs.
I've noticed Catholics sort of freak out on this one because they think she is contradicting Aquinas, but I'm not sure that she's wrong here, and I'm also not sure the contradiction is true. Her point is not that reason is wrong or unworthy, only that it is not infallible and is often preceded by other factors. She says that we essentially use reason to justify whatever we have already accepted. There is something intuitive or emotional that typically precedes our use of reason. Weaver confirms this:
Reason alone fails to justify itself. Not without cause has the devil been called the prince of lawyers, and not by accident are Shakespeare's villains good reasoners. If the disposition is wrong, reason increases maleficence; if it is right, reason orders and furthers the good.
This is why Scripture, and not reason, is the highest authority. Reason in service to God is not the same as reason in rebellion.

An Application to Education

It is so tempting to want to jump right into reasoning when we teach, or when we argue for a point {but I repeat myself}. In our highly scientific, highly specialized modern mentality, we think that if we just get through information, and jump through all the hoops, and we'll produce someone who knows.

And then we wonder why so many high school graduates seem to be lacking a certain something, an ability to reason well about things.

And if we're really observant, we'll notice that they are actually apathetic. They don't think about things they don't care about, and they tend to not care about much of anything beyond Today.


When Weaver says that sentiment is anterior to reason, I immediately think: love precedes learning. All learning that has not love is a clanging gong--it is meaningless to the student and it fails to adhere to the memory.

As I think about this coming year, I tend to get nervous. I am in that stage where every year I am adding a new student, and yet all but one of my children are essentially non-readers in that they are unable to read quality literary works on their own. When I am not having a silent panic attack, I try to relax and listen to what Weaver and others have said.

If love precedes learning, we are in a good place because if children under eight are anything, it is enthusiastic learners. My focus this year is on cultivating the loves that I believe will carry them through life. This doesn't mean I want to empty the day of content. It also doesn't mean that I will cut something just because the children don't think they love it. The affections are often disordered--they are often wrong. We are fallen people and do not always love what we ought.

But this does mean that I want to focus on the heart this year. If my student doesn't love it, I want to become the wooer, romancing her into relationship with the thing that is worthy of love. I have faith that if we get the disposition of the heart right early on, all the other things will be added unto us in time.

Read More:
-More book club entries linked at Mystie's blog
-Buy the book and join in the conversation!

10 July 2012

Quotables: Ideas Have Consequences

Ideas Have Consequences
by Richard Weaver
This difficulty is due in part to the widely prevailing Whig theory of history, with its belief that the most advanced point in time represents the point of highest development, aided no doubt by theories of evolution which suggest to the uncritical a kind of necessary passage from simple to complex. {p. 1}
It is the appalling problem...of getting men to distinguish between better and worse. {p. 1}
[S]igns of disintegration arouse fear, and fear leads to desperate unilateral efforts toward survival, which only forward the process. {p. 2}
I take the view that the conscious policies of men and governments are not mere rationalizations of what has been brought about by unaccountable forces. They are rather deductions from our most basic ideas of human destiny, and they have a great, though not unobstructed, power to determine our course. {p. 3}
Those who have not discovered that world view is the most important thing about a man, as about the men composing a culture, should consider the train of circumstances which have with perfect logic proceeded from this. The denial of universals carries with it the denial of everything transcending experience. {p. 3-4}
[N]ature had formerly been regarded as imitating a transcendent model and as constituting an imperfect reality. {p. 4}
Thus it is not the mysterious fact of the world's existence which interests the new man but explanations of how the world works. {p. 5}
The great pageant of history thus became reducible to the economic endeavors of individuals and classes; and elaborate prognoses were constructed on the theory of economic conflict and resolution. Man created in the divine image, the protagonist of a great drama in which his soul was at stakes, was replaced by man the wealth-seeking and -consuming animal. {p. 6}
Here begins the assault upon definition: if words no longer correspond to objective realities, it seems no great wrong to take liberties with words. {p. 7}
[P]eople traveling this downward path develop an insensibility which increases with their degradation. {p. 10}
Hope of restoration depends upon recovery of the "ceremony of innocence," of that clearness of vision and knowledge of form which enable us to sense what is alien or destructive, what does not comport with our moral ambition. {p. 11}
[A] century and a half of bourgeois ascendancy has produced a type of mind highly unreceptive to unsettling thoughts. {p. 11}
Whoever desires to praise some modern achievement should wait until he has related it to the professed aims of our civilization. {p. 12}
The unexpressed assumption of empiricism is that experience will tell us what we are experiencing. {p. 13}
It is not what people can read; it is what they do read, and what they can be made, by any imaginable means, to learn from what they read, that determine the issue of this noble experiment. {p. 14}
[S]ince modern man has not defined his way of life, he initiates himself into an endless series when he enters the struggle for an "adequate" living. One of the strangest disparities of history lies between the sense of abundance felt by older and simpler societies and the sense of scarcity felt by the ostensibly richer societies of today. Charles Péguy has referred to modern man's feeling of "slow economic strangulation," his sense of never having enough to meet the requirements which his pattern of life imposes on him. Standards of consumption which he cannot meet, and which he does not need to meet, come virtually in the guise of duties. {p. 13-15}
A great material establishment, by its very temptations to luxuriousness, unfits the owner for the labor necessary to maintain it. {p. 15}
Man is constantly being assured today that he has more power than ever before in history, but his daily experience is one of powerlessness. {p. 16}
-linked to the IHC book club hosted by Mystie

09 July 2012

Miscellaneous Musings on Monday

Well, good morning! At least, it is still morning here on the Left Coast. I hope you all enjoyed my week off. He he. It was good to have Si's Mom here, and it was, as always, good to celebrate the Fourth of July. Today commences school planning. At the very least, I ought to finish buying books so that I have books to look at when I begin designing a schedule. I'm looking forward to the process again this year; school planning inspires me.

In other news...
  • Date Your Wife, a review by Tim Challies. I had the opportunity to review this book, but decided against it. Here's a balanced review, in case this book is all the rage in your part of town.
    This is a book on marriage written by a man who has been married for seven years. I don’t want to say only seven years, but I suppose I cannot help but imply it. Seven years is not inconsequential, but neither does it carry a great deal of authority. There is a humble and even painful realism in John Piper’s This Momentary Marriage {Who can forget the statement that the first twenty-five years are the hardest} and Tim Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage that is missing here.
  • Why Everything is NOT Economics from The Imaginative Conservative. Are economic questions the only valid questions?
    I had the story, I actually looked this up, the story from the Census Bureau. It’s from Reuters. The Census Bureau says that this argument is actually happening by large, staggering, shocking numbers, children are moving back in with their parents. We’ve never seen anything like this and it is affecting the housing market. I got to thinking about this. If that is how every story is to be judged by what effect it does or does not have, or every action is to be judged by what effect it does or does not have on the housing market, then what else can we discuss here that had deleterious effects on housing market, healthcare market, and all the other markets out there? If we’re going to slice and dice all these things and make them so that they’re only just economic considerations, then all we’re going to get out of these things is economic discussions and considerations. Is there anything else to life?
  • Hurting People’s Feelings By Living Frugal, Talking About, Or Making Different Choices from The Common Room. Ever feel like your mere presence as someone who made a different choice was offensive to those around you?
    I used to participate in a parenting newsgroup {remember newsgroups} where people often asked questions about ‘how do you afford….’ And ‘we’re drowning in debt, how can we fix it?’ Others would reply with ways to spend slightly less money – use coupons to go out to eat and go to the movies. Here’s where you can buy forty dollar shampoo for twenty-five dollars {I am not making that one up}, and trade babysitting when you have your bi-weekly movie and dinner date nights. When I would offer the sort of tips that would actually help, sharing some of our lifestyle listed above, people who were in despair and stressed out over their debt levels would respond by talking about how deprived we or my children must feel. I must confess this really got my goat. My children did not feel deprived, and they would view having fewer children in our family but more movies, restaurants, and amusement parks, as the real deprivation. And something has to count for parents not being stressed out over the family debtload.
  • Debeep Annoying Electronics and Appliances from Lifehacker. My friends and I joke about letting the batteries run out and --oops!--having no replacements on hand. I wonder if this DIY guide would help with toys?
    The Instructables guide details how to track down and eliminate sounds from a waffle iron and washing machine, but you can follow the same basic steps for just about any appliance or small electronic gear.
  • Stolen Freedoms Regained in Stunning Blow to State Lawmakers from Mercola.com.
    The philosophical exemption to vaccination was saved because enough citizens in Vermont woke up to the very real threat posed by multi-national corporations, which have no restrictions on the aggressive marketing of liability-free vaccine products they want every American to be legally required to buy and use. Once Vermonters saw the threat, they did not sit back and let their informed consent rights be taken from them. Because they fought for their health liberty, they became an inspiration to all Americans, who want to be free to make informed, voluntary health choices.
  • MORE EERIE 'GHOST CITIES' POPPING UP from WND. This is definitely...weird. Who builds empty cities? China.
    Images of these “ghost cities” – after countless billions of dollars have been spent on the towns’ design and construction – reveal nobody lives in them.

    Block after block of empty houses and apartment buildings, glamorous public buildings, magnificent public parks and sports complexes, even art museums, remain entirely empty.
  • Biblical illiteracy and its implications in the evangelical world by TJ Addington. A growing problem among Christians, big and small alike.
    This illiteracy problem is also tied to the content of our preaching today which is often so geared to be "practical and relevant" that it becomes more self help and about us than about God who is the source and goal of our lives. In fact, whenever our teaching and preaching is more focused on us than on God we know that the balance has shifted from Him to us - a subtle but deadly shift. The Scriptures are living water for our souls because the lead us to Him. The more we drink the more satisfied we are.

    The result of this is inevitable: A cultural Christianity with a general knowledge about God but not a biblical Christianity with a specific knowledge of God. That is a subtle but deadly shift.
Okay, that's all for today! If you have a link to share, post it in the comments.

02 July 2012

Book Club: Ideas Have Consequences

A quick note before I begin my entry for today, and that is that I will be taking a blogging break all week. We have company in town, plus the holidays. Hopefully, I'll be back in the saddle next week. I hope all of you had a lovely weekend.

I was so excited when Mystie offered to host a book club on Richard Weaver's Ideas Have Consequences. It's a book I've wanted to read for a long time now. I read the Introduction twice, and I'm still having trouble deciding where to focus. There is so much to think about on every page! I hope that some of you are joining us--it's not too late to buy the book!

I'll have to post quotes later; there is so much worth adding to my Commonplace Book.

I suppose the logical focus for me is education, since I am spending this month prepping to start the new school year. There is a lot in the chapter about the decline of the West in regard to morality and ethics, but nestled in the midst of that is a unique observation:
Naturally everything depends on what we mean by knowledge. I shall adhere to the classic proposition that there is no knowledge at the level of sensation, that therefore knowledge is of universals, and that whatever we know as a truth enables us to predict. The process of learning involves interpretation, and the fewer particulars we require in order to arrive at our generalization, the more apt pupils we are in the school of wisdom.
The paragraphs that precede this statement question the assumption that we moderns really "know" more than our predecessors. We assume that we do because we have seemingly acquired more facts, but here Weaver draws a distinction between facts and knowledge, which he equates with ultimate reality. One can only be said to know when one has become wise, and wisdom comes through knowing truths rather than facts, and these truths must be organized into generalizations which allow the student to predict, for without prediction there is no prudence.

If all of that is true, then the easiest test of whether our culture really "knows" more than those who have gone before would be our level of wisdom and prudence, and since we very obviously fail that test, we must have failed at knowing, which means nothing less than that we have failed at education.

I was fascinated with the idea that "the fewer particulars we require in order to arrive at our generalization," the better. I hope that Weaver fleshes that out in future chapters.

For now, I took comfort in the word "fewer." I am trying to pare down a bit this coming year, not so that we can learn less, but so we can learn more. I mentioned my desire to coach my oldest in writing using the progymnasmata. Something like that takes time, and our schedule is already cramped. I think that paring down is the only solution. I hope that this is what Weaver meant by "fewer," that we spend more time thinking more deeply about less.

Read More:
-More book club entries linked at Mystie's blog
-Buy the book and join in the conversation!