Why Latinphobes fear

Brian Philips at Covenant Classical here in Concord provided a forum on why Latin should be taught in our schools. He got some great discussion going with the audience and one of the things that came out is that there is a rather obvious attempt by many of our cultural leaders to follow Nietzsche’s lead and to eliminate the Christian classical tradition from our culture. By far the easiest and most effective way to do so is to eliminate Latin studies from our schools and culture.  

 As Dr. Christian Kopf at University of Colorado once poetically put it, Latin is the language in which the bride has sung for 2000 years. The aggressive resistance in education circles is rooted in the perhaps intuitive though once conscious knowledge that western civilization depends on an army of people who know Latin.  

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Scientific vs. Poetic Modes of Learning

This from James Taylor’s Poetic Knowledge

Unlike the scientific mode of learning that proposes methods and systems for acquiring knowledge, the tradition that has been thus far reviewed [i.e. the tradition of poetic knowledge in the classical and Christian eras] reveals rather a way of knowledge, like a path or winding road, with interesting detours off the road, more than the superhighway of modern education. It is a way more akin to the natural human response to discovery of the world. It is a way of leisure and reflection of what is there, the way things are, and when one is considering the kinds of knowledge, it is seen that there is a natural order after all that corresponds to the learner and his universe, beginning with what is known, immediate and accessible, and proceeding to the unknown.

As I am immersed in studying and developing a pre-school curriculum these days, I am reading these words from the perspective of what a three and four year old child needs to learn. That “natural order… that corresponds to the learner and his universe” provides helpful clues to what we need to discover and implement.

I am happy to say that most pre-school resources seem to recognize that very young children need to live in the physical realm (a realization that disappears when kids reach the grammar school and are made to spend enormous amounts of time in the intellectual realm). That’s a good place to start!

My garden blog

Here begins my gardening blog posts.

I am keeping this blog because I love the idea of gardening and I believe gardening has an awful lot to teach us about life, but I’m a lousy gardener. So, having resolved to give it another shot, I’m going to keep track of things here and also ask for advice.

I’m beginning to blog on it today because I began my next spring garden today. Karen and I discussed how much we want to shoot for (she’s no specialist either) and decided on a 14X4 foot plot. We’re going to divide it into three four foot squares and use the square foot method.

Here in Charlotte the soil was derived from the brick houses that have been built here for about 2000 years. Everywhere you look, you see great red brick houses and the soil has come over time to match those houses as they have disintegrated and filtered into the soil. As a result, the soil is firm and red. Very clayey.

So last year (2006) I added bags and bags of loam to our garden plot and tilled the kilns right out of it. This year we had a puppy so we didn’t even try to grow a garden. Well, I thouht about it once or twice, but every time the temptation assaulted me I remembered the puppy and realized an excuse was ready at hand. So this year, no garden.

But I want to grow one next year and I’d much rather prepare the soil now while it soft and warm and mushy and friable instead of in March or April or more likely May or June when it’s hard and compacted and frozen and non-compliant. So Karen and I went out and looked at it for awhile. When nothing happened we started to discuss what we should do with it. Eventually we decided to plant the three four foot squares mentioned above. The one on the left would be for vegetables and maybe a fruit or two, the middle one would be for flowers and herbs, and the one on the right will be for more vegetables and maybe a fruit or two. Andrew would like to grow a  watermelon or twelve.

Over the past year the soil has covered in grass with a special portion converted into a doggy hole. So the first preparation task was to get some of the grass removed and to fill the hole. Andrew came out and helped me with this. I dug up the left portion with a spade and we shook the grass off and threw it in a bucket to begin a compost heap. I’d like to imagine it will be usable next spring, but I think that’s overly optimistic. Does anybody know a way to get a compost pile to be ready for the following spring when its already October? I’m told it takes about a year.

Here was my first pleasant surprise. Last year, I had to take a tiller to the soil and it was a battle between a grizzly and an angry rooster. The rototiller was running all over the yard and occasionally turned on me. After the battle I counted three murdered groundhogs, fourteen armies of termites littering the field of battle (I think I saw their president delivering a eulogy), and two dead bears. This year, I simply put the spade in the soil, gave it a bit of a push, and low and behold the lovely soil I had begun to cultivate last year was still sort of there! The grass shook out easily, the soil turned eagerly, and within 45 minutes or so Andrew settled in to raking it to a lovely, even, smooth surface. It made me want to plant some crops right now. I thought about winter rye, but that would have required locating and acquring some and I was pretty tired out by this point.

Next step: middle square and right square. Then I want to add some loam, check the Ph and adjust it if necessary, and otherwise begin to condition the soil for spring. With a little luck, I’ll get some winter rye planted or maybe cover the garden with straw.

Oh, even before that I’d like to get some low lying fencing to make it attractive. I’m sure we’ll need chicken wire or something unsightly, but I like the idea of some attractive mini-fencing. Any ideas?

Also, I’m open to any suggestions people might have for how to condition the soil. I’m thinking about adding vermiculite or perite and some peat moss. I might get some horse manure from a nearby farm (there are a few within say five miles).

So there it is. My first garden blog. Hopefully I’ll have some pictures to post and food to sell in the future.

Beyond Good and Evil II

In this post, I wrote these words:

Widespread homosexuality is both cause and effect of social and personal disintegration. More precisely, the gay agenda has already and will continue to wreak moral havoc. It does so by implementing a logic of permission that is untenable, but having been implemented becomes the habitual language of moral thought by which the great mass of men go about making moral decisions.Let me explain what I mean.  

I began to talk about the “logic of permission” and then digressed a little when I started to think about where we get our permissions. I think for this series of thoughts to be useful, I need to be more concrete and to discuss the logic of permission that is followed in conventional morality and to explain why it is so harmful. This might take a post or two. Bear with me.

There are some basic defenses of homosexual behavior in particular that make it a lightning rod in this debate. These include the appeal to tolerance, the defense of love, and the notion that people are born homosexual.

In this post, I will address the issue of tolerance, but please note my intention. I am trying to show that the “logic of permission” used to defend homosexual behavior “wreaks havoc” on morality itself. What I mean is that, if we accept this logic for homosexuality, then we develop patterns and habits of thought that undercut our ability to make moral decisions. Even if we argue that homosexuality is a unique and special case, we still, being humans, develop these patterns and habits of thought.

We are reminded incessently that tolerance is a virtue and that we are showing intolerance if we “condemn” or “judge” gays. The reason this argument is so effective is because the words are so slippery – they border on meaninglessness. As an aside, for humans to rob language of meaning is truly one of the most evil things we can do. Language is a mark of the Divine Image and it separates us from the beasts. So we have to guard the meaning of words.

I changed my mind. That isn’t an aside. One of the bad habits the appeal to “tolerance” causes us to develop is the habit of mangling language and making it meaningless. Loss the language war and all is lost. Define what the terms mean and you are a long way toward winning any debate. Language must stay bound to nature, to reality, to things as they are. When language loses its power to mean, society is done. Put that in terms of degree and you’ll see what is happening already.

Tolerance is a meaningful word and a good thing. But it isn’t always a good thing. Everybody knows we shouldn’t tolerate everything, a confession expressed by the solipsistic bumper sticker “tolerate everything except intolerance!”. In other words, you have to decide on some things  that you won’t tolerate. You have to make (hold on to your hat) judgments about what to tolerate and what not to tolerate.

But people who grow up hearing tolerance celebrated in the abstract, as though it is a universal virtue, as though we should tolerate everything, are morally crippled. For a society to make a law is to determine that some things will not be tolerated, say, speeding, rape, child abuse, tax evasion, causing global warming, etc. But judgment, discretion, decision making take practice and that practice must begin with obeying what authorities say about right and wrong (first parents, then others). A standard must be supplied and when that standard is violated, decisions must be made about what short falls will be tolerated and which will not.

Tolerance is a “relative virtue.” Sometimes we should exercise it and sometimes we should not. To appeal to tolerance as the reason for allowing something is begging the question. It is like saying, “we should allow this because we should allow it.” Tolerance is not an abstract virtue. It is concrete, related to specific circumstances, specific people, at specific times, and calling for specific responses.

Should we tolerate homosexuality? I don’t know. To answer the question, I would have to know what you mean. I don’t believe we should stone homosexuals. I don’t have any trouble being friends with homosexuals (as long as they can tolerate me).

Should we judge homosexuality? That depends on what you mean too. I believe that homosexual behavior is wrong and unhealthy. Does that mean I am judging homosexuality? Sort of. But it is not I who am making this judgment. I feel utterly unqualified to develop my own moral law. I believe what I believe because the authorities I believe teach it, namely, the Christian tradition and human nature. So to be precise, I am not judging it, I am submitting to the judgment of those who know and I am allowing my behavior and attitudes to be regulated by those who know.

This is an important point. So called “anti-homosexuals” or “homophobes” are accused of “judging” homosexuals. In fact, many of them are guilty of this charge. They establish themselves as the makers of the moral law and then they attack homosexuality on no greater charge than that they don’t like it. It grosses them out or bothers them or scares them. This is wrong, because we do not have the right to compel others to live according to our tastes just because they are our tastes.

In short, if H-S is wrong, it isn’t wrong because I don’t like it.

But that is precisely what the H-S lobby has been able to respond to. America lost its moral footings a long time ago. We commit every crime under the sun and we practice serial polygamy. Heterosexuals have made marriage a meaningless concept. H-S’s look at that and say, “who are you to judge me.” It’s the right question. The only right answer is something like, “Nobody. I don’t judge you. But the moral law and the law of God does have something to say to both of us. I break it here and here and here. I seek healing. Can you see that you also need healing?”

Our Lord told us not to judge. So did the apostle, St. James. James said that when we do, we judge the law ourselves. What did they mean?

H-S would have us believe they meant that we should not recognize some behavior as wrong or even some people as evil. It’s hard to imagine how Jesus and St. James could be regarded as not believing some people are evil. Jesus called people things like white washed sepulchres and hypocrites. So clearly they aren’t arguing that we shouldn’t judge because, after all, nothing is wrong.

Jesus followed his instruction not to judge with the admonition not to “Case your pearls before swine”! Yikes. That sounds judgmental!

Or maybe we miss His point. What both James and our Lord are telling us is that we cannot set up ourselves as the judge – we cannot set ourselves above the law itself and sit in judgment on the law. We are not fit to do so. We must submit to the judgments contained in the law.

Looked at from this perspective, something rather ironic becomes evident. Two people are guilty of “judging.” One, those who determine that things are wrong because they don’t like them. Two, those who determine that things are right because they like them. In other words, the bigot who feels free to beat up H-S because they scare him is judging and the H-S who won’t submit to the law is also judging.

So we’ve crippled people’s ability to think morally by turning tolerance from a relative to an absolute value. And we’ve weakened ourselves by failing to understand what our Lord meant when He said, “Judge not, lest you be judged.”

The third way we’ve crippled people’s ability to think morally is by overthrowing the notion of a moral law rooted in human nature to which all of us are bound. More on that later.

Mercury (Hermes) and Dionysus (Bacchus): Beyond Good and Evil

Were Mercury and Dionysus good friends? I’m scanning my memory for stories that involved both of them because, looking at the age, it seems evident to me that Mercury is the god of this age and that Dionysus is riding his wagon. Are they friends or rivals?

Mercury was the messenger god. He was the god of rhetoric, the lord of the clever. He was the god of merchants (derived from his name through the medieval “ch”ing of the Latin c), and traders, and thieves. He was a merry god, impish in all his doings. The kind of trouble maker you couldn’t help loving. Obviously a marketer.

Dionysus was a late-coming god. He was the god of the vine, but he had a dark side to him. He didn’t do well with unbelievers. He was worshipped in revelry, in Baccanalia. His followers didn’t thrive much better than his despisers. Something about him touched on madness.

Mercury has ruled western society for a couple centuries now, having been the unmentioned God of the British empire and then of the Hamiltonian American vision. Mercury appeals to the universally superficial, where he can make lots and lots of money.

Dionysus stepped forward in 19th century Germany and hovered around our windows for the first half or so of the 20th century. Then we invited him in, tired of the waste land the dead souls that ruled the west had created. In he came, with all his genius.

Since then, madness has spread like a vine. He brought his gifts with him and led us to abuse them, especially unrestrained use of alcohol and sex. He drove our judgment to the brutish beasts and is making a laughing stock of us even as I write. He has weakened us, unnerved us, unstrung the sinews of our soul. He has cut out our chests and laughed at our honors. And we have laughed with him.

The bill is coming due, but we won’t stop the orgy. His plan is destruction and we delight in every step of the torture.

More than anything, the sexual revolution is a part of our life that we can neither escape nor survive. What was once unspeakable has been so passionately embraced that teenagers listening to an adult champion it literally screamed their approval (on one account) and offered a standing ovation to the story teller who had the courage to out the character who embodied the spiritual center of her story. These kids knew, their souls were formed to intuit, that something eventful had just happened.

Dionysus’s vines had just pulled down another wall.

But if we draw back, what is really happening? The most obvious thing is that homosexuality is an inescapable part of the lives of virtually every one of us. Some would argue that it always was, but for now I’ll set that point aside. It’s important and also loaded with implications, but not what I’m writing about right now.

I, like virtually everyone, have and have had friends, work associates, and relatives who are openly homosexual. I feel affection for all of them and deep affection for some of them. I also have at least one friend who used to be homosexual and was delivered from what he or she (no clues) now profoundly regrets. In what I am writing, I do not “judge” my homosexual friends and acquaintances in the sense that I think of them as innately or unusally evil people. Some of them are decent enough, some of them are jerks. They’re just like the rest of us in that way. I’ll have more on this core issue of judging below.

But I’m not going to argue that therefore being homosexual is a matter of indifference. It is not. Everybody knows it is not. That’s why the kids screamed at the outing of Dumbledore.

In what follows, I am reflecting primarily on the social implications of homosexuality, but society is made up of individuals in the pursuit of a shared life that can help each of them find security and meaning, which combine to make what most of us call happiness. This is not an attack on individuals who are homosexual, though if you are I hope you’ll hear in this an appeal to find healing. It’s not written in anger or judgment. My goodness, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first. I’ve never met a person more sinful than I am. Never.

So here’s my thesis: widespread homosexuality is both cause and effect of social and personal disintegration. More precisely, the gay agenda has already and will continue to wreak moral havoc. It does so by implementing a logic of permission that is untenable, but having been implemented becomes the habitual language of moral thought by which the great mass of men go about making moral decisions.

Let me explain what I mean.  

The gay agenda is part of the wider sexual revolution, which is part of the wider moral revolution that has always been an undercurrent of civilization but which became “revolutionary” in the 18th century. It’s principles were not admitted explicitly until, probably Nietzsche, though De Sade was a bit brazen about some of them. The basic premise would have to be that I am the source of my own morality.

How do we go about determining what is permissible behavior? In Christian ethics, we recognize that none of us are smart enough or pure enough to figure out the philosophy of ethics before we destroy ourselves and none of us have the right to impose our values on the Christian community by expressing them just because we have them. In short, we recognize the common sense need to be taught right and wrong. Correllary to the need to be taught is the need to learn so that we can then teach.

In short, we believe in two principles that contemporary thinkers live by to an extent but cannot accept intellectually, so they spend their entire adult lives in confusion, hoisted on their own petard: authority and submission.

But the Christian tradition has always argued that authority must be rooted in actual knowledge, not personal preference. In the end, the only pure and reliable source of that actual knowledge is God Himself. He alone has a long and complete enough view to see all the implications of human behavior. He alone has enough self-control and disinterestedness to see things accurately. Therefore, He alone can provide us with sound counsel on how to live our lives.

Of course, the modern and post-modern mind scoffs at the whole notion of a god who has revealed what is good for us. For the sake of argument, let us grant that such a god cannot exist or if it does it cannot be known. I will only point out here that if that is the case, we cannot possibly solve the moral question, because nobody has any idea what he is talking about. Nobody has a long enough view or a pure enough heart.

Two possible exceptions arise: one, tradition, and two, individuals who attain a level of moral purity that gives them something like a Platonic vision of the moral law in all its glory. Someone, for example, like Jesus.

Then we have three options: God revealing the moral law to us, tradition, and a pure individual.

Combine those three and you have the Judeo-Christian tradition. I find that rather compelling.

I’m going to stop now because this is turning into a long blog and nobody likes to read long blogs, but I’ll be posting more on this in following blogs, particularly on my “accusation” that the gay agenda wreaks moral havoc. I truly consider this issue to be the issue with which civilization must deal in the coming decades or even what is left of civilization will be lost. Islamofascism finds its life source in our moral breakdown. Those are our Scylla (the monster of Islam0fascism) and Charybdis (the moral maelstrom).

Coming Wars?

Here’s an interesting speech that a Robert Spencer gave in Belgium about Islam and its attitude to non-Muslims. I don’t know enough about the subject, but this speech would seem to raise concerns that are of historical/political/theological importance.

He asks how Osama bin Laden is twisting verses in the Koran and gets no response.

Did you know that Khomeini conquered Iran from France with cassette tapes?

Understanding and Instilling a Love of Beauty

Every year after our CiRCE conference I have the privilige of listening to the conference CD’s. Some of them are downright extraordinary, especially if you are willing and eager to think about education beyond the superficialities of popular thought. Today I was listening to a CD by Debbie Harris with the title of this blog post. I found myself repeatedly thinking, “This is incredible.”

Debbie shows in this talk how God uses beauty to draw us to Himself, how there are at least three “stages” of our perception of beauty, and how we can (and must) draw our students through these stages for beauty to fulfill its purpose. I felt my soul opening and reaching upward as she spoke.

I have to rank this as one of the top ten talks delivered at the CiRCE conferences over the past five years. You can get a copy by clicking here to visit our catalogue.