If not Nature, What?

Schools teach students about the facts of life.

The assumption, I suppose, is that the facts of life are so basic that you can ask an administrator of information on behalf of a government agency (we call such folks “teachers”) to deliver them to the students, regardless of context, personal experiences, community commitments, family values, etc.

How, one asks upon thinking about this matter for 11 seconds, did we get to this point?

The answer, of course, is power politics, but that’s only the more immediate answer. How did we get to the point where a parent would allow a government agent, and then later an indirect government agent – one not paid by the government but doing its work for it – to teach something so wonderful and intimate and personal and life-building and glorious in the context of a classroom with a bunch of peers and in interpretive isolation (i.e. even though he is surrounded by his peers, none of them have the wisdom to interpret the information and the agents of the state certainly won’t remove their veil by admitting what they are really about)?

To figure that out requires a non-linear mode of thinking. One has to ask the question, “what is the foundation of their teaching?”

Clearly it is not nature. It is rather obvious by the fact that these teacher stand in front of a group of teens to teach them about their reproductive systems that they don’t know the first thing about sex or human nature.

But if not nature, what?

You’d better sit down for this, because the answer bears implications that extend into every domain of modern life. Literally.

The answer is utility.

We don’t think about the nature of things because we don’t, culturally, believe in the nature of things.

Instead, we think about how we can use things to get what we want. We will go so far as to evaluate the cost of things – i.e. the effects and consequences of a given action.

But we won’t think about those consequences as they concern the eternal soul and family relationships and spiritual state of the child.

We think about utility. Not nature; not purpose; not propriety.

A challenge: did any of you who took a “sex ed” class ever learn about the “nature” of sexuality? Did you learn about its reach into the wider relations it would affect? Did you learn about it as anything more than a physical act?

Did you learn the first thing about the purpose of sex?

I didn’t think so.

What did you learn about the appropriate use of your glorious sexuality? Or was it reduced to “the sex drive,” that abominable, instinctual, animal based concept that cut out your soul when you weren’t looking?

Of course, if propriety was an issue, they wouldn’t have been discussing it with you in the classroom setting.

Oh if only this joke were funny.

It will have to be paid for. It isn’t natural, and nothing good will come of it.”

JRR Tolkien LOTR P. 1

A Prayer for all the Meanies

One conferee told me this year’s conference may have been the best money he’s ever spent. I can testify that I had an extraordinary experience, out of which I learned too much to record. I won’t have a lot of time during August to write about it, especially with the apprenticeship just around the corner, but I need to express what I can and I’m dying to hear from attendees to learn what they took home.

A brief note: I realized as never before how ideas are not puzzle pieces that we piece together so we can “know” the truth. They are flames of fire that, when true, purify the soul. They are dynamic, energies, rivers that nourish and transform. The soul rises and falls on the ideas it absorbs. The community grows and diminishes on the ideas it embodies. The nation rises and falls on the ideas it incorporates.

The idea of ideas, the principle of principles, is the idea of nature. It gave us Christian classical reailities such as freedom, virtue, truth, beauty. It’s loss and neglect have given us slavery, self-indulgence, radical relativism, despair, and death.

We ended the conference with the prayer of St. Ephraim:

Oh Lord and Master of my life
Take from the spirit of
sloth
despair
lust for power
and idle talk

But give rather to your servant the spirit of
chastity
humility
patience
and charity