28 September 2006

The Principle of Integration

Back to CiRCE! My CD’s should be arriving any day now.

The next session, “The Principles of Classical Education: The Principle of Integration”, was taught by John Mason Hodges. (Again, I’ll add my thoughts in colored italics.)

We labor under false dichotomies, specifically separation of faith and reason, which leads to rationalism and the death of truth.

To Integrate means to make one or whole

In the medieval university, in order to know anything, you needed Jesus in the center. John likened the university to a wheel. Jesus was the center that the hub, philosophy, turned around; the spokes were the seven liberal arts, the tire was practice and application.

Where can knowledge be found in the multiversity of today? How can we return to integration?

We need something higher than the disciplines to integrate them. We must return to a hierarchy. We can’t integrate two subjects without a general principle or a moving toward the center of the wheel. (That general principle stands over the separate subjects, otherwise there could be no integration. I think this is the hierarchy that John refers to, a hierarchy of ideas with some being more basic or foundational than others which build upon these foundations, not any kind of hierarchy of people. And I’ll admit that, by using a building metaphor, I’ve turned John’s metaphor literally on its head! ☺)

We can’t turn back the clock, but we can turn back toward the center.

Currently, we have a separate philosophy for each subject, but we need to base our philosophies on theology. Only in the Logos can we find integration.

Logos=the defining principle of everything.

Right worship is connected to integration and knowledge.

As we integrate all knowledge in Christ, we get a clearer view of it and that leads us to worship rightly the Creator of all knowledge.

This builds on what I’ve learned from George Grant in our Christendom studies. Today, we don’t have many universities, but we have a multitude of multiversities. There is no overarching principle or core that all students must study and then branch out to study their specialization according to these core principles. That core used to be Christ, Christianity, Western Civilization. ISI has published some great little booklets, which are also available to be downloaded free, to guide today’s college students in how to pursue this core at colleges and multiversities. While there are a few schools that still insist that all students master a core of knowledge, they are rare.

27 September 2006

Jayber Says...

I finished Jayber Crow on Monday. In celebration, I thought I’d post a few of my favorite quotes, currently residing in my commonplace book (a red Clairefontaine journal that loves fountain pen inks) written in Noodler’s bulletproof Iraqi Indigo ink (a permanent, soft, sort of greyish/violetish-blue - very easy on the eyes and a Pendemonium exclusive) with a Lamy blue AL Star fine-point fountain pen.

It was impossible to hurry there, and so I settled myself into patience.
I became a sort of garden fanatic and I am not over it yet. You can take a few seed peas, dry and dead, and sow them in a little furrow, and they will sprout into a row of pea vines and bear more peas - it may not be a miracle, but that is a matter of opinion.
After the Depression and the war and the years of work that they were now beginning to think of as slow and too hard, the country people were trying to get away from demanding circumstances. … We couldn’t quite see at the time, or didn’t want to know, that it was the demanding circumstances that had kept us together.
They did not approve of government approval.
“God loves Port William as it is,” I thought. “Why else should He want it to be better than it is?”
…as I have read the Gospels over the years, the belief has grown in me that Christ did not come to found an organized religion but came instead to found an unorganized one. He seems to have come to carry religion out of the temples into the fields and sheep pastures, onto the roadsides and the banks of rivers, into the houses of sinners and publicans, into the town and the wilderness, toward the membership of all that is here. Well, you can read and see what you think.

25 September 2006

Not-a-Sonnet #4

My eyes were blind; Your holiness
And glory hidden, dark.
My depth of sin, I’d not profess.
The cross in shade obscured, slight mark
On far horizon.
Light’ning crack!
Grand thunderclap! You strike a spark,
Illuminate my gaze. My lack
Laid bare in daylight clear and in
The gap the Cross stands tall, not black
But shining bright, and near. Within,
I glimpse Your grace.
So sinless, pure,
You’re high above. My soul so thin,
Inside vice still a deep allure.
Anew conviction comes; this gift
Gives life and hope. Your hold secure,
Belov’d, You soar on high, so swift.
Alone, I’d plunge to depths complete.
Your Cross mounts up to fill the rift.
Expanse You render obsolete.


© Lynne Spear, 2006

23 September 2006

Sonnet #3

Thy holiness, so infinite yet veil’d,
Complete perfection, blazing honor hid.
My sightless gaze obscured. I fully fail’d
To stem, restrain my wickedness, forbid
My blacken’d ways. Depravity my sole
Reply - heed not, I turn away and lid
My wretchèd shame.
Then Light o’er brims my soul,
Damn’d scales flings off! Distress, despair! Can’t flee,
I crumple, slump. High priced...too dear the toll.
Immense, unbounded gorge ‘twixt me and Thee.
Sweet Gospel bends; she lifts my head. Tear’d eyes
To Thee I raise - Thy grace, my only plea.
Forgiveness grows, ‘Cross vast abyss it lies,
Thy bridge of hope. Thou bidst me come, arise.


© Lynne Spear, 2006

19 September 2006

No Condemnation!

Romans 8:1 tells us that, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” I’ve been loosely tethered to this verse for the last couple of months, trying to understand it, to bring it from the confessional level to the functional level. Last night, at church, one of our pastors worked hard to drill this joyful idea deeply into our souls.

Tracy Lee Simmons wrote: "Ideas are shadowy and inert without [words]. But with words to clothe them, ideas take on form."

And he’s right. On the way home, I decided that I just didn’t really understand what condemnation means. It was the Invisible Man and needed words to clothe it so I could get a better glimpse of it.

My best guess was destined to be punished because of guilt. While this isn’t wrong, it’s only part of the story.

When I looked it up in Webster’s New World Dictionary and Noah Webster’s 1848 Facsimile Dictionary, I learned that this word means a great deal more than I’d ever imagined. From the two dictionaries, I discovered quite a bit that made this verse come alive.

There is therefore now no condemnation (no guilt, no punishment, no doom, no rejection, no censure, no blame, no disapprobation, no disapproval, no declaration of being unfit, no determination of being wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Now there’s an Invisible Man made visible!

13 September 2006

A Second Sonnet

This is dedicated to the only One who can truly tame our thoughts.

My thoughts are like the wild birds that flit

Where e’er they will. Brown daydream sparrows fly

Above a landscape, empty-promise-knit.

They flutter off, grey mem’ry wrens so wry!

Before I know - they’re gone! Took wing

Across blue firmament. Quick loop-de-loop!

They flicker past, eyes mocking me. They sing

Their siren song. They chase and soar and swoop.

I plead with them. They tease and taunt! Oh, bane!
Untamèd thoughts! My net has holes. I reach ...
I stretch ... I twist ... exert myself in vain!!
And in my ears, resounds their jeering screech.
Lord, catch the birds and clip their wings and train
Them to fly home and there in peace remain.


© Lynne Spear, 2006

09 September 2006

The Business of Reading Great Literature

The Business of Reading Great Literature: Why We Should Teach Literature to Business Students and Why That Matters to Classical Christian Schools (Now that’s a title and a half!)

The next session at CiRCE was on Friday morning. Vigen Gurioan was insightful in his analysis of the result of combining business schools and liberal arts schools. First he mentioned a few of his published works: Inheriting Paradise: Meditations on Gardening (sounds great to me!), Rallying the Really Human Things (I bought this that afternoon, but haven’t read any of it yet.), and The Fragrance of God. Vigen is a tenured professor at Loyola.

American society is business-oriented. We receive many material comforts from this, but we also lament the hedonism that is such a temptation in our culture. Whatever our response, we must acknowledge that the American economy is here to stay.

During the 20th century, agricultural colleges became business schools or expanded to incorporate business schools.

There is definitely a need for business training, but this training contains serious limitations, including that business training undercuts the ethos of liberal learning. Schools stand or fall on the way they handle the liberal arts and sciences, defined as the acquisition of accumulated wisdom of the ages, an investigation into the very nature of things, truth and error, goodness and beauty.

The study of literature contributes to the humanization of life. Literature is a metonym (from metonymy: a figure of speech in which one word or phrase is substituted for another with which it is closely associated) for liberal learning.

The adding of business schools to liberal arts schools undermined their very understanding of education. Business schools are simply higher vocational training.

Literature makes better and more interesting human beings. (Vigen then quoted someone, but I’m not sure I got the quote right and don’t know who originally said it, “Literature doesn’t save, but it enlarges the soul to be saved.” Sound familiar? Anyone out there with one of the sets of CD’s from the conference who could verify this for me?)

The novel form is truer to life than a textbook. “Loss of the University” is an essay by Wendell Berry that Vigen recommended. “Education is essentially for free men. Vocational training is for slaves.” ~CS Lewis

We need both education and training. Those with only vocational training are the mules of the marketplace. They are producers and consumers with a yoke on their minds.

There’s a difference between character development in the context of literature and academic training in the context of a class in ethics. We must develop the human being, then train him for the workplace, through apprenticeship.

He recommended The Call of Stories: Teaching and the Moral Imagination, by Robert Coles.

08 September 2006

A Sonnet

My heart was cold and far from thee. I ran

Away at ev’ry turn; woo’d blighted foe,

My pride and vain ambition; sought to ban

Thy winsome sway. Sweet Grace, I spurned thy flow.

My dusty soul - oh, shriveled, withered thing! -

Was cracked and parched, the desert during drought.

No drop, no plash, no drizzle could I bring,

So wilted, lifeless, faded, emptied out.

No water - brittle, barren - not a trace;

Dust swirling, whirling, turned all topsy-turve.

I thirst! I cry for rain! No drop of grace

Do I, oh, dead and sinful soul, deserve.

Begins the rain. Thy precious, holy blood
Flows from the cross! Sweet, undeservèd flood!


© Lynne Spear, 2006