Thursday, November 14, 2013

FW: "Why Classical Schools Just Might Save America"



Feed: Blog
Posted on: Thursday, November 14, 2013 9:51 AM
Author: brianp
Subject: "Why Classical Schools Just Might Save America"


Owen Strachan recently made some interesting observations about the relationship between classical education and freedom.  And, while the original post seems to be experiencing some technical difficulties, Dr. Gene Edward Veith has reposted it for us on his own blog, Cranach.  Thanks to you both, gentlemen!

By Owen Strachan, originally in The American Spectator:


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Thursday, September 5, 2013

FW: Classical Christian Education and Public Witness



Feed: The Imaginative Conservative
Posted on: Wednesday, September 04, 2013 11:06 PM
Author: Stephen Turley
Subject: Classical Christian Education and Public Witness


A Young Girl in the Classroom by Charles Sillem Lidderdale

A Young Girl in the Classroom by Charles Sillem Lidderdale

by Stephen Richard Turley

The emergence of classical Christian education over the last few decades has thrown into relief the question of the relationship between public education and Christian witness. With ninety-percent of children in the U.S. attending public schools, the modern pulpit appears generally indifferent on the issue of private vs. public education for its parishioners; indeed, one might say pastors are generally supportive of public education. Perhaps the most common rationale for such support is that Christian students have the opportunity–indeed, the obligation–to be "salt and light", to be "in but not of' the world". But what does a faithful Christian witness in public life demand of us when it comes to schooling?

It is essential to understand that the public-private school dichotomy which prevails in our social arrangements and discourse is extremely misleading. This is because all education is public: all education seeks to cultivate within students an appreciation of shared values that constitute the common good of a community. There is simply no such thing as an education that is entirely private. There is, however, education that is coercively funded and non-coercively funded; an education system that depends on the compulsory nature of the state versus one that depends on the voluntary tuition paid by willing participants. The real question, then, that emerges is not whether we are going to support public education, but whether we are going to support the kind of public promoted by state-financed education.

In a word, the defining attribute of that public order perpetuated by state-funded education is secular. It is claimed that a secular society is one that neither favors not discriminates against any particular religion. Religion and politics simply do not mix in a modern secular society. While variant religions remain highly significant for people, this significance is maintained and expressed in the private sphere of life. By privatizing faith, it is suggested that all peoples are able to participate equally in economic, political, and sociological life without religious discrimination. And tax-funded schools, as an extension of this vision of the public, have carved out neutral space so as to allow people of all religions to come together and learn facts and data common to everyone.

Now, this certainly sounds reasonable. The public promoted and perpetuated by the secular state neither favors nor discriminates against any particular religion. But what if it turns out that it was in fact the secular state that redefined religion this way? What if our understanding of faith and religion as that which belongs in one's private life rather than in the public square is itself the social invention of the secular state? What if religion has been redefined by the very institution that claims to "protect" it?

In contrast to our modern religious sensibilities, classical Christianity understood the church as offering to the world an alternative public distinct from that offered by the Jewish and Greco-Roman worlds. The church was a civilization, the city-state of the New Jerusalem. In fact, Augustine goes so far as to call the church a 'republic' in his City of God. Indeed, the term ekklesia, the Greek word for 'church', was not what we would call today a 'religious term' such as thiasos (worship of a particular deity); ekklesia was in fact a political term that designated the assembly of adult citizen males who had the ultimate decision making power in a city-state. Hence, the gospel was not a promise of personal and private salvation; the gospel was instead a declaration announcing that the entire cosmos has been incorporated into Christ's transformative life, death, and resurrection, which was expressed in shared life: mutuality, self-giving, and fellowship. As such, the 'truth of the gospel' was considered a thoroughly public truth. Truth was not merely personal persuasion; truth was in fact a revelation of reality which was socially recognized as absolute and unquestionable.

By the third-century, educational institutions were considered integral to this public witness of the church. In cities such as Alexandria and Antioch, Christian education adopted the frames of reference of classical education which sought to cultivate within the student a sense of what classical scholars call 'cosmic piety': every person born into the world is born into a world of divine obligation. Classical education thus sought to instill within students the transcendent values embedded in the created order, namely, the True, the Good, and the Beautiful as they configured around Christ the Logos. It was believed that by embodying these cosmic values, students cultivated a virtuous soul. Classical Christian education was therefore a project by which the student was initiated into a public order that materialized or substantiated a cosmic piety, which in turn enabled the student to fulfill his or her divine purpose and thereby become truly human. This vision of education remained normative up to the end of the nineteenth-century.

However, by the beginning of the twentieth-century, things had changed rather dramatically. A few centuries earlier, the Treaty of Westphalia in effect consigned the church to an organ of the state, which concentrated unprecedented power around local regents. As nation-states started to emerge in Europe, the burden on universities was to produce more civil servants than clergy, a process that Perry Glanzer has labeled the "nationalization of the universities". This transformation of the university into a servant of the nation-state led to a redefinition of knowledge that privileged science at the exclusion of the church. Consequently, there emerged a whole new definition of religion: religion was no longer a public expression of cosmic piety and social obligation. Instead, religion was simply something that one personally believed but could not know; it was that by which one cultivated a sense of private meaning and existential satisfaction, but religion had no public, that is objective, value at all.

With the advent of the industrial revolution in the nineteenth-century and social democracies throughout Europe after World War I, there is in effect a massive recalibration of the totality of social and economic life around the state. And it is here that secularism plays a key role, for it is through secularization that the state is able to perpetuate and protect its monopolization over the public square. And the primary mechanism by which such monopolization is maintained is the redefinition of religion and the consequent marginalization of the church to the private sphere of life. The state effectively marginalizes the church (or any other competing vision of the public) by re-inventing our conception of faith and religion in accordance with secular norms: faith and religion are little more than instrumental means by which individuals find personal meaning and purpose for their lives.

Hence, the role of education in a public defined by secular norms is to maintain the state's monopolization over the public square by perpetuating a dichotomy between the public and the private, science and religion, fact and faith, knowledge and belief; in short, state-funded education perpetuates and promotes the secularization of society. It is this public-private dichotomy that is profoundly detrimental to the witness of the church, for it in effect denies the church its distinctly public witness. The church's unique vision for a humane society is reduced to merely one of innumerable options for private recreation: yoga class on Saturday, youth group on Sunday. Because the church has been consigned to private belief rather than public knowledge, it has been stripped of the distinctly public frames of reference by which its truth claims are demonstrated to be more trustworthy than any other competing private belief. Consequentially, objective Christian commitments embodied in the shared life of the church collapse, and the integrity of the gospel is inexorably compromised. Hence, the practice of being "salt and light" is reduced to little more than anecdotes of personal persuasion.

Moreover, by insisting upon this dichotomy between science and religion, modern education must by definition turn students away from the classical vision of cosmic piety, cutting them off from encountering the cosmic values of the True, Good, and Beautiful. Indeed, today, both in our schools and wider society, the True, Good, and Beautiful are now whatever one wants them to be. There is simply no divine obligation apart from that which each person chooses to impose upon his or herself.

If Christians are to remain faithful to the biblical gospel, we must once again affirm the public witness of the church, particularly in the field of education. For such an affirmation not only awakens the soul to the True, the Good, and the Beautiful, but in embodying the Truth, it exposes the state-financed educational system which denies Truth as what it is: a lie. We cannot teach our students that Truth is relative and expect our politicians to be honest; we can't claim that the Good has been replaced by situational ethics and expect Wall Street executives to ground their business decisions in anything other than profit, greed, and expediency; and we cannot relegate Beauty to personal preference and then feign shock when we encounter a urinal as part of an art exhibit.

Christians will never expose this lie as long as they support and fund it. Classical Christian education offers nothing less than a parallel public, a revelation of Truth that in its social splendor awakens wonder and awe in teacher and student alike, as together they fellowship in Him who is the divine renewal of all things.

Books on the topic and people related to this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore

Stephen Richard Turley (Ph.D., Durham University) is a faculty member at Tall Oaks Classical School in New Castle, DE, where he teaches Theology, Greek, and Rhetoric, and Professor of Fine Arts at Eastern University. He lectures at universities, conferences, and churches throughout the U.S. and abroad. His research and writings have appeared in such journals as Christianity and Literature, Calvin Theological Journal, First Things, Touchstone, and The Chesterton Review.

The post Classical Christian Education and Public Witness appeared first on The Imaginative Conservative.

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

QBR and CCLE Review: Logic and Philosophy


This review will be posted both at
Liturgy, Hymnody, and Pulpit Quarterly Book Review
and the blog of The Consortium for Clasical and Lutheran Education.

Naugle, David K. David S. Dockery, Series Editor. Philosophy: A Student's Guide (Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition). Wheaton: Crossway, 2012. 125 Pages. Paper. $11.99. (N)

Poythress, Vern Sheridan. Logic: A God-Centered Approach to the Foundation of Western Thought. Wheaton: Crossway, 2013. 733 Pages. Paper. $45.00. (N)

Ten years ago last month I attended my first Conference on Classical and Lutheran Education. I spent over six of the years following reading, preparing, and praying that I would be a Headmaster someday. That day came in April 2009.

Here are two titles from Crossway to aid you in Classical Christian Education.


David Naugle (ThD, Dallas Theological Seminary; PhD, University of Texas Arlington) is distinguished university professor and chair of philosophy at Dallas Baptist University. He is the author of Worldview: The History of a Concept, Christianity Today's Book of the Year in Theology and Ethics, 2003, and of Reordered Love, Reordered Lives: Learning the Deep Meaning of Happiness.

Philosophy pervades every sphere of life from the defense of the gospel to the formulation of Christian doctrine to the daily decisions we make.

In this work, distinguished professor David Naugle gives us a firm understanding of the basic issues, thinkers, and sub-disciplines in the field of philosophy as well as an invitation to engage with the contemporary challenges therein. He discusses the importance of prolegomena (assumptions and methods) and the vocation of Christian philosophers. Naugle also outlines the differences between the Hebrew and Greek mindsets and provides biblical perspectives through an Augustinian approach. Above all, Naugle teaches us how to philosophize in light of God and the gospel.

(Publisher's Website)

I am not formally educated in secular or classical philosophy. I've studied theology, of course, and I have read philosophers. I am finding that my experience is relatively common, even in a day where "Could God microwave a burrito so hot He couldn't eat it?" passes for a deep philosophical thought. (By the way, there's faulty logic in it, just to start...)

In David Naugle's student guide to Philosophy in Crossway's Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition series, the Incarnation of Christ is essential to any study of philosophy by Christians (55). That is a wonderful place to start!

Theology has more in common with a Christian studying philosophy than one might think. We're dealing with questions of existence and purpose, of decisions and eternity, and the struggle of daily life. I immediately see connections to Vocation, Physics, Music, and Mathematics. If you have an interest in beginning a study of philosophy, Naugle's Philosophy: A Student's Guide is a great place to start.

Switch to Logic and six hundred pages...


Vern Sheridan Poythress is professor of New Testament interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary, where he has taught for 33 years. He has six earned degrees, including a PhD from Harvard University and a ThD from the University of Stellenbosch. He is the author of numerous books on biblical interpretation, language, and science.

For Christians looking to improve critical thinking skills, here is an accessible introduction to the study of logic as well as an in-depth treatment of the discipline from a professor with six academic degrees and over 30 years experience teaching. Questions for further reflection are included at the end of each chapter as well as helpful diagrams and charts for use in college and graduate-level classrooms.

Vern Poythress has undertaken a radical recasting of the study of logic in this revolutionary work from a Christian worldview.

(Publisher's Website)

Of the books by Poythress that I've read and reviewed, this is by far my favorite. I have studied Logic. As Headmaster of MLGS, I've taught two different levels of logic after school hours to junior high students and adults. This text is far more comprehensive than what I've taught. The author continues his inter-book theme of the "God-Centered Approach."
This is a text with worldview assumptions favorable to and for Christians: The Ten Commandments  and worship of the one true God (97); Scripture, sin, grace, and the Gospel of Christ (83-84); creation and creativity (292).

I appreciated the author's presentation of Multivalued Logic, logic beyond yes and no (Chapter 63, 474ff). Appendix F2 brings this review full circule: The Role of Logic in Philosophy (645). 

Before I read the rest of Aristotle, I need to re-read Poythress. I am thankful for this volume.

I commend Crossway for helping combat what was called The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind in the previous century with these two releases and encourage them to publish more books I'll use as our school expands beyond the Grammar level to junor high and high school study of logic, philosophy, and rhetoric.


The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Homeschool Resources on

FW: Not My Boy, Not My School

Beane on the Handbook…


Feed: Father Hollywood
Posted on: Monday, July 29, 2013 5:28 PM
Author: Rev. Larry Beane
Subject: Not My Boy, Not My School


Although he makes no reference to this song in the article, I can't help but think of Rev. Dr. Steven Hein's "The Intent and Effect of American Progressive Education" in A Handbook for Classical Lutheran Education.

His essay opens:

Very few of us today are aware of the history of education in America.  It is commonly thought that whatever innovations have come over the centuries and decades, they have been conceived and implemented with the goal of improving pedagogy to enable the learner to learn more and and to learn more efficiently.... with the goal of improving education for all our children - that is, to make our children better educated.  Unfortunately, this is not, and has never been, the case with compulsory, government-administered progressive American education whose beginnings can be traced to the middle 1800s in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia."

And it continues in this provocative and well-documented fashion, with a devastating look at how America went from being almost 100% literate to being pitiful in the area of reading - and this was not a failure, but rather a success, of the architects of progressive education.

Buy this book!

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

FW: Rehabilitating the Liberal Arts



Feed: The Imaginative Conservative
Posted on: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 11:02 PM
Author: Louis Markos
Subject: Rehabilitating the Liberal Arts


liberal artsby Louis Markos

A review of Bradley G. Green's The Gospel and the Mind: Recovering and Shaping the Intellectual Life (Crossway Books, 2011) and Houston Baptist Univeristy's new Core Curriculum

I am in my 22nd year as an English professor at Houston Baptist University, and I have never been so excited! In 2011, we unveiled our new Liberal Arts Core: a carefully constructed and coordinated curriculum that includes classes in literature and foreign language, Christian history and theology, Western and American history, philosophy and logic, government and economics, art and music, and math and science.

It is not a loose and fashionable cafeteria plan, where students choose whatever strikes their fancy, but a true classical-Christian core, in which students are invited into the Great Judeo-Christian/Greco-Roman Conversation that begins with the Bible and Homer and continues into the twenty-first century. It is not narrowly utilitarian in focus, seeking only to train its charges for a specific skill or career, but broadly liberal, seeking to free the mind from the idols of the marketplace and equip it for critical thinking and creative contemplation. It is conveyed not through textbooks, which seek to bend the past to fit our own modern prejudices and presuppositions, but the actual Books themselves, treated as repositories of the wisdom of the past and vehicles for reaching at transcendent, cross-cultural truths. It is not driven by the social sciences, with their reductive and mechanistic view of man as a product of social-political-economic forces, but by the humanities, with their ennobled yet realistic view of man as a creature made in God's image but fallen and in a state of rebellion. It is not postmodern and multicultural, offering a relativistic view of knowledge that doubts not only the existence of Truth but our ability to know or communicate it, but traditional and holistic, seeking after a unified vision of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. Most of all it is unapologetic in its belief that Great Books and Ideas do exist and that a direct wrestling with such Books and Ideas offers one of the best training grounds for shaping virtuous, morally self-regulating citizens who love God and their neighbor.

In short, it is cutting edge…for the fourteenth century!

Imagine, then, my delight when I read Bradley G. Green's The Gospel and the Mind: Recovering and Shaping the Intellectual Life (Crossway, 2010) and found in its pages a powerful Christian-humanist vision of education that complements in the theoretical realm what my university is doing in the practical. No wonder the book features an endorsement from Robert Sloan, the President of Houston Baptist University.

The Way out of the Dark Ages

Green, associate professor of Christian studies at Union University and co-founder of a Christian liberal arts school appropriately named Augustine School, is a man on a mission. His well-researched and highly-readable book is not content merely to suggest that Christianity and the intellectual life are compatible. Green makes it clear that "the Christian vision of God, man, and the world provides the necessary precondition of the recovery of any meaningful intellectual life." Sever the mind from the gospel, and you eventually end up with the situation that reigns on most college campuses today: a values-free zone with no moral standards to determine that which is good, no aesthetic touchstones to determine that which is beautiful, and no accepted canon—biblical or otherwise—to determine that which is true. Or, as Green so boldly and succinctly expresses it: "As the modern world has jettisoned its Christian intellectual inheritance, there has been a corresponding confusion about the value of the mind, even of the possibility of knowledge at all, whether of God or of the created order."

Green begins his book with a simple statement of historical fact that has been overlooked, or, to be more accurate, obscured, by the Academy: "wherever the gospel takes hold of a culture, you inevitably see academies, schools, and institutions of learning develop. They develop not only to teach people how to read and understand the Bible, as important and central as that is. But wherever the gospel goes, it seems to generate intellectual deliberation and inquiry." I constantly have to remind my students—and myself, since I too am a product of two-and-a-half centuries of Enlightenment propaganda—that the Catholic Church did not usher in the Dark Ages; quite to the contrary, it was the Church that ushered Europe out of the Dark Ages. It was the Church as well that invented the university and laid the theological, philosophical, and aesthetic groundwork for the arts and sciences.

True, it was Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle (and their respective disciples and schools) who gave birth to the humanistic ideal of knowledge pursued for its own sake; but it was the Church that not only spread that ideal to a wider audience and institutionalized it, but gave it a firm foundation that it lacked in ancient Greece. Apart from the central Christian beliefs that we were created in the image of a holy, transcendent God who is at once the origin and standard of goodness, truth, and beauty, that history is meaningful and is going somewhere, that though we are fallen God intervened within human history to redeem our hearts, souls, and minds, and that God as Logos guarantees the meaningfulness of language, the intellectual life cannot thrive or even, in the long run, be sustained.

Green makes it the burden of his book to explain why this is the case.

Chronological Snobbery

Perhaps the most shocking aspect of HBU's new Liberal Arts Core is that it requires all students to take four semesters of Western and American history. I call this shocking because, of all the humanistic disciplines, history has perhaps suffered the most. What little "history" our primary, secondary, and college-aged students receive today is more often than not a disguised form of anthropology (studying the rites and rituals of native American Indians), sociology (exploring how political and economic networks of power determine the way people think and behave), or soft Marxism (exposing how minorities and the lower classes have been consistently oppressed by aristocrats, clerics, and the bourgeoisie). Though it is a good thing for students, especially Christian students, to be aware of the injustices in our world and to be encouraged to use their God-given gifts to help alleviate some of those injustices, such "consciousness raising" does little to train students in history. In fact, if truth be told, it generally dismisses, if not altogether obliterates, history as history.

Talk to anyone who has been educated since the 1960's, and you will find that they have very little sense of the shape of history. They may recognize such names as Pericles or Caesar or Charlemagne or Elizabeth, but they lack the ability to place those names into a historical narrative. The rise and fall of kingdoms—and the virtuous and vicious decisions of the great men and women who provoked their rise and fall—has far less resonance in the modern mind than today's stock market figures, or yesterday's political scandal, or the box office records of the latest action film. Mesmerized by a simplistic, evolutionary view of intellectual, aesthetic, and moral progress, we take for granted that we are in the right and they (the unenlightened people of the past) were wrong. Such a view of our tradition and our forebears breeds arrogance—C. S. Lewis called it "chronological snobbery"—and cuts us off from all that we might learn from a full engagement with the past.

There was a time when our colleges and universities stemmed such arrogance by immersing their students in the Great Books and Ideas of the Western Intellectual Tradition, but that time is long gone. "While the academy used to be a stronghold of love for the past—relishing old books, old languages, old truths—the contemporary academy," Green laments, "seems to have lost its nerve in regard to the importance of the past and often seems little concerned with passing on an intellectual tradition." Why?

The Habit of Remembering

Though I intimated above that the great divide is the 1960's, that decade only reaped the pedagogical harvest of the secular humanist field sown during the Enlightenment. When God was removed from the public square in general and the academy in particular—or replaced by a deistic, watchmaker God who is uninvolved in history—the educated elite slowly replaced reverence and gratitude for the past with utopian, progressivist visions for the future. In the absence of a Creator God whose sovereign plans are worked out, in part, through historical events and human agents, the past was eventually reduced to, at best, a curiosity shop for antiquarians and, at worst, a burden to be cast off by those seeking intellectual, spiritual, and aesthetic liberation.

When the university came to view history, not as an authoritative teacher to turn to for insight and guidance, but as a false path to turn from on the evolutionary road to enlightenment, it lost its faith in the value of history, and, by extension, the value of the liberal arts as the prime training ground for the life of the mind. While Green, backed by the weight of Augustine and the medieval tradition, asserts that "any truly Christian and liberal education will be one in which students are immersed in the central texts of the past—the literature, history, philosophy, and theology of millennia," the majority of American universities, both secular and religious, have traded in their liberal arts core for utilitarian programs that eschew the "central texts of the past" in favor of skill-based classes marked by contemporary relevance.

Historian Thomas Cahill has famously argued that it was a group of isolated Irish monks who helped "save" civilization by preserving the Greek and Roman classics from the barbarian invasions of the Dark Ages. In a similar way, Green calls on Christians to preserve—and, hopefully, revive—the value and centrality of the liberal arts: not though the medium of illuminated manuscripts but by building "pockets of sanity" where the Tradition is actively and creatively remembered. "In an age that does not place a high premium on the past (likely a result of unbelief), Christians must see themselves as countercultural in their emphasis on memory and must be particularly diligent to cultivate and practice the habit of remembering. Remembering is—ultimately—a virtue. And given that our culture discourages this particular virtue, Christians must find ways of intentionally cultivating this practice."

Although the Church should ever be the primary "pocket" for keeping alive the memory of "the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3), when it comes to that wider historical memory that takes in "the literature, history, philosophy, and theology of millennia," it is the Christian universities—and, increasingly, classical-Christian academies like Green's Augustine school—that are best poised to preserve and promote the remembrance of things past.

The Search for Meaning

A base-level commitment to memory is indeed essential if Christian universities are to reclaim and rehabilitative the life of the mind—but it is not enough. Along with acknowledging God's sovereignty over creation and history, we must accept and teach that history is going somewhere: that it not only has an ultimate origin (Greek: arche) but a purposeful end (telos).

Though modern utopianism, progressivism, and scientism all look to the future, the vision that underlies them is not, at least in the biblical sense, teleological or eschatological. They put their faith in the future that they long to build, but they do not trust that that future has been envisioned by the God of history and hardwired into us by our Creator. "Instead of seeing motion as headed somewhere," Green explains, "modern thinkers came to see motion as simply motion, with no particular goal or end in sight." Or, to put it another way: history can (and should) be manipulated by advances in technology, but that does not mean it is inherently meaningful or is moving toward a mythical appointment with destiny.

According to Green, "the notion that we are all pilgrims on a journey to the city of God was the default mode of thinking, the cultural consensus of the Christian West." It was simply understood that we, both as a species and as individual human beings, were endowed (that is, gifted) with purpose by our Creator and that, as such, one of the key goals of our lives, our studies, and our careers was to discover and fulfill that purpose. At the highest level, that purpose was to seek after the beatific vision, to behold God, not through a glass, darkly, but face to face. Such was the supreme goal of every individual made in the image of God, a goal whose realization was aided, rather than distracted, by the cultivation of the liberal arts.

In the heyday of the Christian university, "the liberal arts were not primarily skills or techniques that could be pressed into immediate service in the marketplace or used to advance oneself quickly in the world of commerce. The liberal arts were intentionally useless. They were not first and foremost utilitarian." To the contrary, their benefits were mostly internal: shaping and preparing soul and mind for intrinsic rewards in this life and the next. The liberal arts, writes Green, "were meant to form a certain type of person—wise, virtuous, and eloquent. Even in the temporal realm this person reflected upon—and was marked by attention to—truth, goodness, and beauty.  But at the very same time, this person was being prepared for his or her ultimate destiny—the vision and contemplation of God."

Such was the high goal of the student of the liberal arts. Alas, once this telos, this purposeful end of achieving the beatific vision was abandoned by the public square, "then lost with it were the reasons for doing things that have meaning only in relationship to that larger telos"—things like studying the past through a coordinated, classical-Christian liberal arts core.

With Our Understanding Purified

At this point, some of my fellow believers may be afraid that either I or Green is advocating an Enlightenment faith in the primacy of reason and the essential goodness of man. Please let me be clear: neither I nor Green nor Houston Baptist University denies the radical nature of the Fall. All aspects of our being—physical, emotional, volitional, and rational—were subjected to the devastating impact of man's first disobedience. Indeed, one of the key reasons for Green's argument that "the Christian vision of God, man, and the world provides the necessary precondition of the recovery of any meaningful intellectual life" is that the gospel alone has the power to so redeem the will and reorient the mind as to set it back on a God-ward, which is to say Truth-ward, trajectory.

As he does throughout his book, Green turns first to Augustine for guidance on how faith informs and directs understanding. In his survey of Augustinian insights, he quotes this trenchant sentence from On Christian Doctrine (which work undergirds "Writing for Wisdom," HBU's radically traditional reworking of freshman composition): "unless we walk by faith, we shall never be able to reach the sight which does not pass away but endures, when with our understanding purified we cleave to Truth." Augustine does not here deny the possibility of pre-Christian writers like Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, and Virgil touching on real, if limited truths about the nature of God, man, and the universe; rather, he makes plain that the final purpose (telos) of study, to prepare the mind for the beatific vision, cannot be accomplished apart from what Paul refers to as the "renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2)—and that renewing cannot be accomplished apart from the Cross.

In order to tease out more fully the teachings of Augustine, Green surveys briefly the writings of Hugh and Richard of St. Victor, focusing in particular on how they "emphasize the moral state of the knower." Study, Green asserts, is not a morally neutral enterprise: "knowledge is difficult, if not impossible, for the person whose will is misdirected, or for the person who is not led by Christ, who is the truth." There is a deep and inextricable link between the love of God and the love of the Good, True, and Beautiful: the one cannot exist without the other.

One of the current banes of education is the steep rise in incidences of plagiarism among students of all ages. Though it is right and proper for universities to implement strict penalties for plagiarism, such utilitarian solutions are ultimately powerless to change the hearts, minds, and wills of students. Plagiarism will end only when students come to see and understand and feel the intensely moral business which they are about. In Writing for Wisdom, which is required of all HBU freshmen, we hope to drive home this point by introducing students to the educational principles laid down in Augustine's On Christian Doctrine.

Among the many challenges Green issues to Christian educators, this one is, I believe, the most essential: "Christians need to ask how we might construe the intellectual life in ways that are redemptive, holistic, and enduring. The life of the mind, the act of knowing, is not a morally or spiritually neutral endeavor. To truly think God's thought after him, indeed to truly think in terms of a coherent view of the whole, we must think in a way consonant with the reality that this is God's world as understood on God's terms. Christians need not be embarrassed or timid about speaking about the intellectual life in explicitly Christian terms and categories." And, by extension, we need not be embarrassed to speak of professors as stewards of the Tradition and students as disciples whose study of the liberal arts will change not only their thinking but their actions, decisions, and interactions with God and neighbor.

The Word Made Flesh

Yes, the students who attend our schools are in desperate need of a wake-up call and a reality check, but they won't get it until we—the administrators who run the schools and the faculty who teach the classes—come to see and understand and feel that what we are about is serious business. Too many of us have bought in, perhaps unconsciously, to the postmodern belief that truth is elusive and cannot be contained in a canon of books or a set of doctrinal statements or a grand, overarching story (or metanarrative) that explains why we and our world are in the state that we are.

Green deftly exposes the assumption that underlies this postmodern skepticism: "The contemporary claim (heard, if in a softer form, from some Christian thinkers) that we cannot possess any sort of metanarrative explaining and giving purpose to all of human life is at its heart a rejection of the notion that God has the ability to speak, and humans have the capacity to hear and understand such speech." The Enlightenment, in its goal of refounding all knowledge on rational principles (rather than revelation) and the collection of facts (rather than the journey toward truth), did far more than eject God from the public square: it stilled the divine Voice.

Green argues, along with a number of other critics, that postmodernism (particularly deconstruction), far from rejecting the tenets of the Enlightenment, marks an extension of modernism into the linguistic realm. Once God's Voice was silenced, it was only a matter of time before words (signifiers) became unglued from any type of final transcendent meaning (signifieds). According to Derrida and his deconstructive heirs, the words we use cannot be traced back to any fixed point of reference that is not itself part of our shadowy, relativistic world of signifiers. Or, to put it another way, our words (and the creeds and books and poems that are built upon them) exist in isolation from any ultimate origin (arche) or purposeful end (telos).

What this linguistic entropy has meant in the real world of the classroom is that even when the liberal arts are taught, postmodern skepticism over the meaningfulness of language has prevented students from encountering in the Great Books of the Western Intellectual Tradition any absolute form of Goodness, Truth, or Beauty. As a result, their minds are not illuminated, their souls are not convicted, and their wills are not tempered.

But this need not be the case, at least in Christian schools that believe John's testimony that through the Incarnation of Christ, "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (John 1:14). Genesis tells us that God spoke the world into being, and John tells us that apart from the Word (or Logos) nothing was made (John 1:3). Genesis tells us further that we were made in the image of God, and the entire weight of scripture loudly proclaims that the God who made us is a God who speaks, who communicates.  Words have meaning not only because God gives them meaning but because God himself is Meaning. And that Meaning has entered physically into our world. The Word made Flesh, in addition to giving history its middle point, baptized words (and images) as potential bearers of divine Presence.

Thus it is that Green can extend his simple but profound thesis even into the daunting realm of postmodern linguistics: "Only the Christian vision of God, man, and the world can explain why words matter. The Christian vision is the only one that can account for the meaningfulness of words." Green is right, of course, and because he is right, the hope remains that we in the twenty-first century can learn, really learn, from the great writers and thinkers of the past. Modernism and postmodernism would imprison our students (and us) in a narrow contemporary box of ideas and images; the classical liberal arts, when energized by a twin belief in the Word made Flesh and the Imago Dei, can free them from that box and set them off on a great voyage of discovery.

The Call

In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C. S. Lewis introduces us to a chivalrous talking mouse named Reepicheep who joins the crew of the good ship Dawn Treader in hopes that he will encounter a series of small adventures that will prepare him for the great adventure that is the unshakeable goal of his life: to reach Aslan's country (heaven). At one point in the voyage (Chapter XII), the ship sails into an area of darkness that frightens the crew and almost convinces them to turn back. Disgusted by their cowardice, Reepicheep scolds his noble companions for letting a childish fear of the dark prevent them from exploring this strange phenomenon. The captain asks Reepicheep what possible use would be gained by sailing further into the darkness, to which the fearless mouse replies: "Use, captain?  If by use you mean filling our bellies or our purses, I confess it will be no use at all.  So far as I know we did not set sail to look for things useful but to seek honour and adventures. And here is as great an adventure as ever I heard of, and here, if we turn back, no little impeachment of all our honours."

Let it not be said that our Christian universities steered away from the honor and adventure that a full engagement with the liberal arts promises because we were blinded by an overly pragmatic (and timid) view of that which is useful. Let us instead do our best to prepare our students for the true goal for which they (and we) were made: to look on Aslan face to face.

Books mentioned in this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore. Essays by Dr. Markos may be found here.

Louis Markos, Professor in English & Scholar in Residence at Houston Baptist University, holds the Robert H. Ray Chair in Humanities; he also teaches the freshman classical-Christian curriculum for HBU's Honors College. He is author of Restoring Beauty: The Good, the True, and the Beautiful in the Writings of C. S. LewisApologetics for the 21st Century, and From Achilles to Christ. His latest book is On the Shoulders of Hobbits: The Road to Virtue with Tolkien and LewisThis essay appeared in St. Austin Review and appears here by permission (with small revisions).

The post Rehabilitating the Liberal Arts appeared first on The Imaginative Conservative.

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FW: A handbook for Classical Lutheran Education

Veith on the CCLE new book…


Feed: Cranach
Posted on: Thursday, July 18, 2013 4:00 AM
Author: Gene Veith
Subject: A handbook for Classical Lutheran Education


I'm at the Consortium for Classical & Lutheran Education conference in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.  To add to the organization's school accreditation program, we announced a process for teacher certification in this approach.  Also announced was a new resource:  A Handbook for Classical Lutheran Education. Edited by Cheryl Swope, Steven Hein, Paul Cain, and Tom Strickland, [Read More...]

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

New Handbook

New from CCLE Press!

A Handbook of Classical Lutheran Education
The Best of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education's Journals

with Foreword by Dr. Gene Edward Veith

Articles by
Dr. E. Christian Kopff
Dr. Steven A. Hein
Dr. Ross Betts
Dr. James Tallmon
Rev. John Hill
Rev. Stephen Kieser

and more...


*ALL proceeds support the work of the Consortium for Classical and Lutheran

To "Look Inside," to order, or for more information:

We will bring plenty of copies to CCLE XIII in Ft. Wayne next week, if you
would prefer to purchase with no shipping costs.


Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education

Friday, July 12, 2013

FW: Classical education. . .



Feed: Pastoral Meanderings
Posted on: Friday, July 12, 2013 5:00 AM
Author: (Pastor Peters)
Subject: Classical education. . .


Check it out!

A visit with a shut in ended up talking about education (the person had been involved in education for most of the adult life).  It ended up with a lament that too much emphasis is placed on vocational education -- simple training to do a job.  Now this person understands the fact that education, especially secondary, has become expensive and often peripheral to job openings and employment possibilities, but this person also insists that a liberal arts education (could we call it "classical" education) should not be allowed to disappear.

The person spent a life in literature and sadly reflected upon the fact that you can hardly find a book in his kids homes -- even though they are well educated and economically successful.  They do not read -- not paper or digital.  The shut in found this tragic for the adult children and the grandchildren (some of whom graduated from ivy league schools).  They seem oblivious to the great body of literature which has become the hallmark of learning (at least in the past).

I related a conversation about the movie "Gatsby" in which a twenty something young woman suggested that the movie was so great she wished that it had come out in book form.  Duhhhhhh.  As a child growing up in pre-politically correct times, even the cartoons were replete with references to great literature, opera, music, and history (cannot forget Bugs Bunny massaging Elmer Fudd's scalp while Rossini's Barber of Seville played in the background).  Today it is much more likely that children's videos and programming has little to draw them into the tremendous body of classical literature and music, much less history!

That led me to a new book by Cheryl Swope called A Beautiful Education for Any Child.  According to one reviewer:  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.  You can Google her and the book or buy it here on Amazon.  It is a wonderful book -- accessible for the general public, born from a home schooling experience, and addressing the whole way we view education at large.

Another fan:

Cheryl Swope ostensibly writes about special education, but she also makes one of the clearest and most compelling cases for classical education in print. The first argument of the book is that academically-challenged students are human beings too, and they deserve an education commensurate with that fact. While current special education doctrine favors compromising on content, Cheryl proposes only to moderate its measure. If a child cannot accommodate the amount or depth of knowledge of most children, it is not less, but more important that what they learn be of the highest quality. She implicitly understands St. Thomas Aquinas' principle that the slightest knowledge of the greatest things is greater than the greatest knowledge of the slightest things. Her second argument is that it has been done and can be done. How many people know that Helen Keller had a classical education? And if a person who was blind and deaf could achieve what she achieved, how much more can a student do who faces less severe challenges? Cheryl shows how, in an important sense, classical education can open the eyes of the blind and unstop the ears of the deaf.

I heartily commend it.

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Thursday, July 4, 2013

CCLE Handbook Now on Amazon!!  


·  What is Lutheran education?

·  What is classical Lutheran education?

·  Are these terms the same?

Explore answers to these questions in A Handbook on Classical Lutheran Education, a unique resource from the Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education.

Adapted from the book's Foreword by Dr. Gene Edward Veith:

"This handbook explains what classical Lutheran education is and why it is needed today. It shows the importance of classical education to Western civilization in general and to the Lutheran tradition in particular. The articles are gleaned from two journals published by the Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education: The Classical Education Quarterly and The Classical Lutheran Education Journal."

This collection shows how to teach using this educational approach (e.g., music, history, English, writing). It suggest ways that a classical curriculum can be implemented in different contexts, such as in classical schools, homeschools, homeschool/parochial school hybrids, and special education."  


For more information on classical Lutheran education and the work of the Consortium: To read Dr. Veith's thoughts in his Foreword, to support the Consortium, and to discover the many articles contained in this collection, consider:


A Handbook on Classical Lutheran Education: The Best of the Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education's Journals



Saturday, June 29, 2013

FW: Classical education in the news

Click to read on…


Feed: Cranach
Posted on: Friday, June 28, 2013 3:25 AM
Author: Gene Veith
Subject: Classical education in the news


Nice sympathetic piece at the CNN education blog about the Classical Christian education movement.  From Julia Duin: In Maryland, a group of students ponder which depiction of the Nativity shows true beauty: A 14th-century Giotto, a 16th-century Barocci or a 20th-century William Congdon. The students are in seventh grade. Outside Houston, second-graders learn Latin amid [Read More...]

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FW: The Humanities in a Digital Age: Online Higher Education



Feed: The Imaginative Conservative
Posted on: Thursday, June 27, 2013 11:03 PM
Author: Daniel McInerny
Subject: The Humanities in a Digital Age: Online Higher Education


online higher education

Raphael's School of Athens

by Daniel McInerny

The humanities in American higher education are in deep crisis, and the cry of alarm released on June 18 by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences will probably contribute little to a renaissance.

How deep is the crisis? Here a few warning signals. According to the New York Times, a recent report shows that only 20% of undergraduates at Harvard now major in the humanities. And in another report showing statistics for 2010, only 7.6 percent of bachelor's degrees nationwide were awarded in the humanities.

The Times recalls for us, too, that last fall a task force organized by Florida governor Rick Scott caused a national outcry when it recommended that state universities charge higher tuition to students majoring in fields—like anthropology or English—less likely to lead to jobs.

As a former academic, I can add my own first-hand experience of the declining role of the humanities in American higher education. Many students simply don't see the need for a course in philosophy (my former field) when all they really want to do is get on with their major and get out into the workforce.

The humanities themselves, as they are generally practiced throughout academia, surely deserve the lion's share of the blame for the crisis. For decades now they have failed to make a compelling case for their centrality to a happy and productive life. They have indulged a passion for skepticism, materialism, nihilism, and one or two other noxious isms that one can find catalogued and critiqued in Blessed Pope John Paul II's encyclical, Fides et Ratio, and in so doing they have, perhaps unwittingly, consigned themselves to irrelevance.

So what's going to happen to the humanities in our culture? Will they simply continue their free fall into obsolescence?

If I may play futurist for a moment, I'd like to offer a conjecture or two.

First, those institutions sufficiently self-possessed to continue to offer a curriculum unabashedly centered on the Western tradition of the humanities—that is, an integrated curriculum focused on the search for a truth not reducible to human choice or cultural convention—will, by and large, continue to survive and perhaps even flourish. I believe that those Catholic institutions eager to play the role of happy culture warrior will tend to do best of all, as their understanding of the humanities is the richest and most intellectually coherent. But more and more these institutions will become outliers, though bravery grounded in truth will always inspire a following.

Second, students at mainstream secular institutions, or at religious institutions aping whom they mistakenly take to be their betters, will continue to drift away from the humanities and into more "job friendly" lines of study, or away from academia altogether. Undergraduate education in the United States will become, even more than it is today, elaborate and rather expensive job training. And it will begin to dawn on more and more students, as it has already begun to do, that one can bootstrap a career or business without having to go through the hassle and expense of college.

So will this mean the end of the humanities for all but a slim minority?

Perhaps so. And yet, though the humanities will always have to fight for their place within any culture, they fortunately have human nature as their greatest ally. As Horace said, you can throw nature out with a pitchfork, but it will always come running back. Human beings are made for the truth, and that desire will always find expression, in one form or another.

One form in which that desire is finding expression today is in the growing popularity of online higher education. Money Magazine did a fascinating story in its May issue on the rise of the MOOC, or massive open online course, which is generally a free course offered by an elite institution or private company that can draw as many as tens of thousands of students.

There are pedagogical problems with MOOCs, of course, notably the lack of student-teacher interaction and low percentage of students who actually complete such courses. But they signal a trend that will only, I believe, keep picking up steam. Digital technology puts tremendous and attractive power in the hands of individuals. A chief feature of that attractiveness is the ability to enjoy more experiences cheaply and on demand, whether that experience be a movie or the study of history. A future in which more and more students are engaging in intellectual pursuits, including the humanities, via laptops and smart phones seems inescapable.

This does not mean, however, that every online offering must take the form of the MOOC. But neither does it mean that every online course must be offered for credit—think of the kind of theological and cultural formation that Father Robert Barron is doing with his hugely popular Word on Fire ministry. Yet whatever the structure of the course, I predict that in a not-too-distant future more students will be studying the humanities via digital devices than in brick-and-ivy institutions. The great conversation will transfer in large part to what John Paul II called the "Areopagus" of modern digital media.

Purists may blanche at the prospect. But it is well to keep in mind where the humanities in the Western tradition more or less got started: with Socrates asking questions of his fellow citizens, not around a seminar table, but in familiar places like a market, a banquet, or a gymnasium.

That is, wherever folks happened to congregate.

Books mentioned in this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore. Essays by Dr. McInerny may be found here.

Daniel McInerny is author of the darkly comic thriller, High Concepts: A Hollywood Nightmare, as well as the founder and CEO of Trojan Tub Entertainment, a children's entertainment company featuring his humorous Kingdom of Patria stories for middle grade readers. A native of South Bend, Indiana, he holds a PhD in philosophy and taught for many years at various universities in the United States. He now lives in Virginia with his wife Amy and three children, Lucy, Rita, and Francis. He blogs on the craft of storytelling at The Comic Muse.

The post The Humanities in a Digital Age: Online Higher Education appeared first on The Imaginative Conservative.

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

FW: Parents, Education, the Church, and the State



Feed: Historia et Memoria
Posted on: Thursday, June 27, 2013 3:51 PM
Author: Matthew Phillips
Subject: Parents, Education, the Church, and the State


"The right of the Church to have schools is entirely in concord with the right of parents to educate their children.  What is incumbent upon the parents in all questions of natural life is incumbent upon the Church with regard to the supernatural life.  Parents are prior to the state, and their rights were always and still are, acknowledged by the Church.  The prerogative of parents to educate their children cannot be disputed by the state, since it is the parents who give life to the child.  They feed the child and clothe it.  The child's life is, as it were, the continuation of theirs.  Hence it is their right to demand that their children are educated according to their faith and their religious outlook.

It is their right to withhold their children from schools where their religious convictions are not only disregarded but even made the object of contempt and ridicule.  It was this parental right which German parents felt was violated when the Hitler government deprived them of their denominational schools.  The children came home from the new schools like little heathens, who smiled derisively or laughed at the prayers of their parents.

You Hungarian parents will likewise feel a violation of your fundamental rights if your children can no longer attend the Catholic schools solely because the dictatorial State closes down our schools by a brutal edict or renders their work impossible."  Josef Cardinal Mindszenty, "Statement given on May 20, 1946," in The Heritage of World Civilizations, 8th ed. Vol.2, p. 1022.  [Emphasis added]

Josef Mindszenty, a Roman Catholic priest, became Primate of Hungary and then Cardinal in the mid-1940s.  He spoke against Communist oppression of the Roman Catholic Church and their Socialist expropriation of Church schools in the 1940s.  The Communist officials imprisoned him from 1948 to 1956.  During the Hungarian Revolution he was released, but he sought asylum in the US Embassy in Budapest where remained for 15 years.

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Highly Recommended!

New from Cheryl Swope (with a recommendation and Foreword by Dr. Veith):



The Rev. Paul J Cain

Pastor, Immanuel Lutheran Church (LCMS)

Headmaster, Martin Luther Grammar School (CCLE)

Sheridan, WY

Monday, June 3, 2013

FW: New MP Book: Simply Classical

Simply Classical…


From: Memoria Press [] On Behalf Of Memoria Press
Sent: Monday, June 03, 2013 2:36 PM
To: Rev. Paul J Cain
Subject: New MP Book: Simply Classical


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Memoria Press


Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any ChildNew book from Memoria Press: Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child
Cheryl Swope's new book, Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child, is ostensibly about special education. She writes about her own experiences with two adopted special needs children she taught classically, but she also makes one of the clearest and most compelling cases for classical education in print.

The first argument of the book is that academically-challenged students are human beings too, and they deserve an education commensurate with that fact. While current special education doctrine favors compromising on content, Cheryl proposes only to moderate its measure. If a child cannot accommodate the amount or depth of knowledge of most children, it is not less, but more important that what they learn be of the highest quality. She implicitly understands St. Thomas Aquinas' principle that the slightest knowledge of the greatest things is greater than the greatest knowledge of the slightest things.

Her second argument is that it has been done and can be done. How many people know that Helen Keller had a classical education? And if a person who was blind and deaf could achieve what she achieved, how much more can a student do who faces less severe challenges? Cheryl shows how, in an important sense, classical education can open the eyes of the blind and unstop the ears of the deaf.

Want a sneak preview? Click here.

Classical Education Conference 2013Memoria Press Summer Conference: Less than 50 spots left!

Just imagine this scenario: You are sitting at your dining room table sipping your morning coffee on Wednesday, June 11. You see the advertisement for the MP Classical Ed Conference from June 12-14 in The Classical Teacher magazine (which you read religiously every morning) and realize that you have completely forgotten about it.

You buy plane tickets. You pack your bags and bolt out of the house in a panic.

You blow through airport security, run to your gate, hop on the plane, and anxiously tap your fingers on your tray table to the severe annoyance of the passenger in the seat in front of you. Once you land, you mow down the passengers in the forward rows who have the temerity to get in your way. You get a rental car and reach speeds so fast the police can't even see you.

You arrive at the registration desk, out of breath, and realize ... YOU FORGOT TO REGISTER. There are no more spots available. No New American Cursive Workshop. No First Form Latin Workshop. No Traditional Logic Workshop. And you completely missed the Classical Composition Seminar on Wednesday.


In reality, we might just let you in anyway because we admire your spunk. But don't risk it! Register now!

Memoria Press Online AcademyOnline classes are filling up fast!

Don't get left out in the educational cold!

The list of online classes that are full is getting longer: Sections in AP American History, Classical Studies I, AP American History. Others are filling up. We are able to open new sections of some of these classes, but some of them will be closing for good.

The good news is that we still have many open classes in Latin, Logic, Composition, and Classical Studies. We've even added more classes from one of our most popular instructors: Brandon Nygaard. But they're still filling up!

Our Summer Logic Camp is full and spots in our summer literature seminars are also getting increasingly hard to come by. Dickens' Bleak House (with Martin Cothran) and Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath (with Paul Cable) are filling up and there are only nine more spots in Dostoevsky's Crime & Punishment (Blake McKinney)

Enroll Now.

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