So, after finishing CS Lewis' The Abolition of Man the other week, I picked up Stratford Caldecott's Beauty for Truth's Sake as my new read in the "education" category. So many of the thoughts and conclusions I drew from Abolition repeated themselves in the introduction to Caldecott's book….isn't it interesting how that happens sometimes? You start thinking about an idea and all of a sudden you start seeing that idea, or ideas that relate to that idea all over the place. I think Charlotte Mason called it 'the science of relations'. J But I digress.
Here are a few of the particularly relevant bits from the introduction to Beauty for Truth's Sake that dovetailed nicely with what I've already been thinking about lately:
"Faith and reason often appear to be opposed, and we have lost any clear sense of who we are and where we are going…we are becoming less than human ourselves. We are reduced to being consumers and producers, producing merely in order to consume. We have more and more stuff, but the world seems thinner and less substantial and our souls also. We have gained much, but we have lost our way in the shadows."
"Even more important than flexibility is a virtuous character and set of guiding principles that will enable us to keep track of goodness amid the moral and social chaos that surrounds us."
"Beauty comes from meaningful inner order…It has a deeper foundation: the mind of the Creator…The Logos himself is the great artist, in whom all works of art – the beauty of the universe – have their origin. To sing with the universe means, then, to follow the track of the Logos and come close to him…A merely subjective 'creativity' is no match for the vast compass of the cosmos and for the message of beauty. When a man conforms to the measure of the universe, his freedom is not diminished but expanded to a new horizon." (quoting Pope Benedict XVI)
"We do not need to be content with our fragmented worldview, our fractured mentality. It is not too late to seek the One who is 'before all things' and 'in whom all things hold together.' (Col. 1:17)"
~Stratford Caldecott, Beauty for Truth's Sake: On the Re-enchantment of Education
In his essays written in 1944, CS Lewis reminded us of the importance of remaining in what he called "The Tao" – the set of fixed, objective Truths in the universe, and warned of the slavery and destruction that would come if we failed to do so. Caldecott, writing 65 years later, is seeing the fruit of this move away from Truth. He reminds us that it's not too late, and he points us back to the Source of that Truth – God Himself, "in whom all things hold together."
Interestingly enough, I saw this idea again in Paul David Tripp's book, Age of Opportunity. This is a Christian parenting book that has nothing at all to do with homeschooling, Charlotte Mason, or classical education. The first couple of chapters, however, discuss God's design for the family to be a child's "primary learning community." God's call to parents, according to Tripp, is to take advantage of every possible opportunity to help our children see the glory and goodness of God in all things:
"Root his identity in the soil if the glory and goodness of God…if you act as if God doesn't exist everything loses its meaning…All of life blows into a chaotic mass of meaningless choices unless it is rooted in the one fact that makes every other fact make sense – GOD."
~Paul David Tripp, Age of Opportunity
That is our goal, isn't it? The only way our children will be able to make sense out of life is if they learn to see God as the center and source of everything, and learn trust in Him and follow Him with their whole hearts.
Charlotte Mason in particular and the ideas of the Christian classical liberal arts tradition more generally have given us some excellent tools to help us be able to do this. They aren't the only tools we have, but any means, but they are a good ones.
For that, I am very grateful.
My Bookbag This Week:
Devotional: Revelation, with a commentary The Final Word (Wilmshurst)
Theological or Christian Living: Age of Opportunity (Tripp)
Book Discussion Group Titles: Idylls of the King (Tennyson), Watership Down (Adams)
'Great Book': Dante's Inferno
On Education: How to Read a Book (Adler), Beauty for Truth's Sake (Caldecott)
Topic of Special Interest: The New World (Churchill)
Novel/Biography/Memoir: Nicholas Nickelby (Dickens)
Read-Alouds with the Children: On the Banks of Plum Creek (Wilder), The Silver Chair (Lewis), Eric Liddell: Something Greater Than Gold (Benge), The Milly Molly Mandy Story Book (Brisley)
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