November 20, 2018

Growing up and going to graduate school in Rochester, New York meant Frederick Douglass was everywhere: an icon of greatness. That’s good, as far it goes, but an icon should point to the man, the African-American man, and not keep us from his reality.  We need his reality, the man who was a real man, Lincoln’s equal. David W. Blight has written a brilliant book about one of the greatest Americans that demonstrates why he is an icon, but also… Read more

November 19, 2018

A jingle from my childhood went: Every party has a pooper, that’s why we invited you. Party pooper.” This was not Shakespeare or even very nice, but there was truth to it. Every party does have a pooper and come the Holidays this is a role much to be avoided. There is no party so excellent, so God-breathed, that some serious soul will not be offended. When Jesus came he managed to go to enough excellent events the party poopers… Read more

November 18, 2018

“Be thankful,” the radio preacher said. My immediate reaction, God help me, was crabbiness. “I will be thankful if I wish to be so,” I murmured. “This is like the oddlings who tell me to cheer up . . . Inauthentic moralism.” Pausing on My Reaction to Preaching SInce irritation at earnest moralism (especially from one’s Christian childhood) is the foundation of sixty-six point six percent (or so) of all Christian college professor’s public intellectual work, this reaction is not surprising… Read more

November 17, 2018

Religious Liberty is the Fundamental Human Liberty I have been listening to a biography of Peter the Great of Russia. One lesson is how rulers have always had freedom of conscience. They were rulers, in part, because they, and sometimes they alone, could live as they thought they must. Christian societies inherited systems from pagans and though we immediately began expanding human rights and dignity for all subjects, most often only the ruler was allowed full freedom of conscience. This… Read more

November 16, 2018

Some cultures die as men of iron and blood. Nobody mourns them. If they had some virtue, then they went out standing. If they were mostly brutal tyrants, then the world is a better place when they are gone. Then there are cultures that amuse themselves to death in a riot of bread and circuses. By the time the barbarians come to finish things off, the civilized try to hire them to do security. If one must choose, then the… Read more

November 15, 2018

Some classical educators just now claim they are the answer to what ails us, when they are part of the reason we are sick. World War I is one hundred years ago.  At the moment the world is reflecting on what caused that horror, classical education is making a come back. Those of us who are part of that movement should bring back the form of education with care. We would not want to have taken one hundred years to forget… Read more

November 14, 2018

Williams Jennings Bryan stood in Dayton and battled for the humane. He was no scholar, but his opposition to Darwinism, whatever the merits, came from a fierce hatred of the Darwinian justification for the killing fields of World War I. This misuse of science (or even philosophical Darwinism) kept a certain kind of classically educated leader comfortable with the deaths of millions. The fit would survive having conveniently arranged for back-of-the-lines jobs. Industry and creativity would boom, because the demands of… Read more

November 13, 2018

In 1914 classically educated men destroyed the world. 1918 was a disaster where almost everything was worse than the promise that existed in 1913 . . . The vices of Europe fed and grew fat on the corpse of Christendom while the virtues were starved. If you educate classically, you should pause, stop, think about it. Why did the classically educated bring on the guns of August 1914? One deep problem was a disdain or a false superiority over industry, one… Read more

November 12, 2018

We live in perilous times. Classical education can help, but only if we take care. The myth that education is the answer apart from the rest of culture may make professors and teachers feel powerful, but prevents us from building the rest of the support structures we need to flourish. Schools are part of a strong civilization, but they are not the only part. The myth that there is One True Curriculum that will solve our problems for all time… Read more

November 11, 2018

As I write on the eleventh day in the eleventh month, set to publish at the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour, educators should pause, especially Christian educators, and realize that bad classical education did nothing to prevent the disasterous War. Bad classical education exterminated itself for several generations in Flander’s fields as men who learned Latin well, but were educated badly killed each other in World War I. The results were a barbaric Middle East, the monsters of Bolshevism… Read more

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