God from above vs. God from below

I’ve started working through the Christian Year of Grace by Johann Spangenberg, a contemporary of Luther who, as a pastor and educator, wanted to provide laypeople a guide to help with the devotional reading of the newly-available Scriptures.  He took the appointed Scripture readings for each Sunday, then–as a classical educator trained in dialectic–offered questions and answers that take the reader deeply into the riches of these texts.

After the jump, I’ll give you an excerpt from his treatment of Romans 11:33-36, the Epistle reading for Trinity Sunday:  “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God:  how incomprehensible are His judgments, how unsearchable His ways!  For who has known the mind of the Lord?” [Read more...]

Whatever happened to Vacation Bible Schools?

It’s getting to be Vacation Bible School season.  In 1997, 81% of churches offered them.  In 2012, that number dropped to 68%, largely due, reportedly, to the difficulty of finding enough volunteers.  VBS still seems pretty popular, particularly since unchurched people often like to have a place to send their children during the day since school is out, so this is a way to reach both the children and their families.  Read an account, which includes videos of all of the different programs. [Read more...]

The World Beyond Your Head

Matthew Crawford, a philosopher who has found wisdom in being a motorcycle mechanic, is the author of an excellent book on vocation entitled Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work.  He now has another book that shows how the Enlightenment has given us a very distorted view of the self, one which insulates the inner mind from outside reality.  The new book has the felicitous title  The World Beyond Your Head.

After the jump, I excerpt and link to an extremely thoughtful and perceptive review of the book, one that interacts with Crawford’s ideas with great learning and insight.  I was stunned to see that the reviewer is Gracy Olmstead, a recent student of mine!  I can see Patrick Henry College’s classical liberal arts curriculum underlying her essay, as she draws on the “great books” that we have read and takes part in the “great conversation” of the history of ideas.  Note too the depth of her thinking and how she compares to other recent graduates that you might have encountered.  Sorry–I’m just proud of her, that’s all. [Read more...]

The new Encyclopedia of Christian Education

The  Encyclopedia of Christian Education  has been released today, a three-volume reference book packed with information about the influence of Christianity on education as a whole, as well as the various ways Christians have taught the faith.  I wrote the entries for the Liberal Arts, the Renaissance, Johann Sturm, and the Concordia University System.

Details after the jump. [Read more...]

School testing as a civil right

Teachers, who have big clout in the Democratic Party, don’t like standardized testing, a major reason being that it often provides evidence of their ineffectiveness.  So Democrats generally support gutting No Child Left Behind, George W. Bush’s education law designed to make sure that children who perform poorly get the help they need.  Republicans, who are usually against a federal role in education, are mostly OK with scrapping the law.

But now civil rights groups are arguing that mandatory testing is a matter of civil rights.   Poor and minority students have a right to an education, they argue, and mandatory testing identifies the students who need extra help and makes sure school systems don’t ignore them. [Read more...]

U. S. History as oppression studies

The National Association of Scholars, an organization of conservative academics, has put out an FAQ page on what is wrong with the new Advanced Placement U. S. History exam.  It sums up well the problems also with the Common Core, contemporary text books, and the state of the history profession in general.

The point is not that America doesn’t have skeletons in its closet and that we need to study those bad parts of our history.  It’s that these have become the only emphasis, and that other important facets of our history (the concepts behind our constitution) and just facts in general (why we fought World War II) are left out. [Read more...]


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