The best book on classical education?

One of the best books I have ever read on classical education is the just-released title Simply Classical:  A Beautiful Education for Any Child  (Memoria Press).  It’s by my friend and colleague on the board of the Consortium for Classical & Lutheran Education, Cheryl Swope.  Classical education is best-known for its powerful academic chops, for its cultural richness, and for its compatibility with the Christian view of the world.  But Cheryl’s book chronicles what it did for her two special needs children, both with severe mental and emotional handicaps, whom she homeschooled with, yes, a classical education, complete with Latin, classical music, and great literature.  This book not only gives an unusually lucid explanation of what classical education is and how to teach with it, whether in a school or at home, it reminds us of classical education’s most important quality:  how human it is and how it connects with the humanness of its students, including those whose humanness is often overlooked. [Read more…]

A Christian physicist, the Higgs particle, and an anthropic multiverse

Christian physicist Stephen M. Barr, of the University of Deleware and a frequent contributor to  First Things, wrote with some other scientists a paper on the Higgs field–an aspect of the so-called “God particle”–that is getting new attention in light of the collider that has recently assembled evidence about this mysterious yet fundamental entity.  See The Large Hadron Collider, the Multiverse, and Me (and my friends) » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog.  After the jump, a sample and a link to a very lucid popularized explanation from Dr. Barr about his findings, having to do with both the multiverse and the anthropic principle (the notion that the laws of physics are what they are in order to make possible human life). [Read more…]

The tornado set a record

One of the tornadoes that hit the Oklahoma City area on Friday was the widest ever recorded at 2.6 miles.  It was rated an EF5, which is the very top of the tornado scale.  Nine days earlier, another EF5 had hit Moore, an Oklahoma City suburb.  And in 1999, Moore had another of the rare EF5’s.  That twister featured winds at 302 m.p.h., the strongest winds ever recorded.  On Friday, the extra-wide tornado had winds just short of that, at 300 m.p.h.   Good thing it struck out in the country or Oklahoma City would have been blown off the map, with untold numbers of casualties.  As it was, 18 people were killed, including two tornado chasers.  The three tornadoes that we endured that night paled by comparison. [Read more…]

Funeral update

Well, we are getting back to normal now.  Our ill-fated road trip is over, and we are back home.  The funeral for my father was more like the second kind of funeral I posted about.  It was good to see so many old friends and family members there.  I especially appreciated getting to re-connect with some cousins who, when I was growing up, were pretty much my best friends.  We were sent out, in Milton’s words, “though sorrowing, yet in peace.”

Thanks again for your words of support, consolation, and care.  I was astonished at how much that sort of thing helped.

The Numinous

Many years ago, I read The Idea of the Holy by the Lutheran phenomenologist Rudolph Otto.  This book profoundly influenced C. S. Lewis, who writes about it in Surprised by Joy, and I have to say that it also influenced me. Touchstone Magazine has published a fascinating article entitled Surprised by Awe: C. S. Lewis & Rudolf Otto’s The Idea of the Holy  by Clara Sarrocco.

Otto was describing and analyzing a distinct kind of religious experience that he called “numinous,” from the Latin numen, meaning “divine power.”  It is the perception of awe-inspiring, transcendent mystery.   If  “mystical” experience means feeling one with God, the numinous is almost its opposite, the sense of coming into contact with some One “wholly other” than oneself.  It is overwhelming, effacing the self while also filling the self with ineffable joy.  The numinous goes beyond the rational, but Otto is careful to explain that it stands in relationship to objective religious doctrines. [Read more…]

Supremes give police access to your DNA

It takes a warrant for the police to search your house or tap your phone.  But not to record and keep track of your DNA.  So ruled the Supreme Court yesterday.  The Constitution’s protections against “unreasonable search and seizure” do not apply to your genetic code. [Read more…]


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