A Whole Soul: The Goal of Education (Part IV)

What should I want for those I love?

I want them to be happy, of course, but not at the cost of their soul. If hurting other people makes them happy, then I would prefer those I love be less happy, but better human beings. That is obvious, plain enough that I sometimes forget it needs to be said. I wish for health, prosperity, and good things, but experience shows that this is not enough.

A healthy man can be miserable and a sick man happy. I would rather be a depressed Socrates than a happy pig, though for me I am more likely to become a depressed pig. Put simply: I would wish for those I love to have minds that are awake, virtue in their spirit, hearts that are tender, and desires that can be fulfilled in a good life. I would wish them the physical health to enjoy these good things.

Erotic desire, the higher passions, and the intellect come together in a body to make a human being. When we incarnate the virtues, give goodness skin, then we may not always be happy, but we will better for those around us.

A goal of an education should be to harmonize all those elements: sound mind in a sound body, passions and intellect, desire and moderation. We aim for neither the prude nor the libertine, but the cultivated person who can enjoy fine things, but does not need them. To use language so old fashioned, it is startlingly needed now: good education leaves a man or woman gentled in his or her condition.

Of all the arts, music may best help cultivate this state. I am not speaking of the professional musician here, but the skillful amateur. Playing well or singing well forces the mind, the body, and all the passions to come together. Many of the other fine arts, one thinks of drama, dance,  and painting, do this same task. The school that would educate well must cultivate the arts in the life of the graduate.

And yet what does it profit a man to become a gentleman, but lose his soul? We do not need people who know the right clothes, know not to applaud at the measures in classical music, or mannerly folk: we need good people. There is a higher education than even the harmonization of the soul, because our souls are not as they should be.

Even religion, if by it we mean what we do for God, cannot help us fully, because we are shattered. We need changed hearts, changed bellies, and changed minds.

We must be born again.

It is here that a higher education comes into play for me.  I need mentors who can confront me with my sins and point me to the redemptive work of Jesus. I can be filled with a new spirit: a Holy Spirit. My body can be baptized with water and my soul purged by fire. There is a revelation unavailable to unaided human intellect and inaccessible to the most loving that can take me to a higher place.

Most of us would benefit from a Platonic education, but One greater than Plato is here. We need Socratic questions, but a more insightful Rabbi than Socrates is here. We could use a Lombardi to motivate us, but a Mentor greater than Vince Lombardi is here.

A higher education will begin and end in Jesus.

Most schools should look higher than they are, beyond jobs to gentling students. Educators such as I am must not be content with wealthy alum, but strive to make noble citizens and fit parents. Still there is a higher vision for us, a better calling, we must become fit for Paradise where we will rule and reign forever with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

A whole soul is impossible without this higher education that can only come by grace through faith in the Word of God: Jesus.


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