The Magic of Good Teaching

Every really good teacher I have ever known has had the ability to convey to students a certain energy required for “seeing” things. That energy becomes a part of the learning experience. It consists of a loyalty–I might almost say a “love”–of something that is of such transcending value and importance that it is capable of making demands upon life, of changing life. Moreover, this relationship between teacher and object of his thought, so charged with emotion, turns the classroom experience into an adventure, a seeking after something not yet seen, but knowing that once it is found our minds and hearts will no longer be the same.

AJ Conyers
The Listening Heart

Spence Publishing


10 Thanks I’m thingful For

10. That last drink

9. Books that empower my faculties of perception to see the truth

8. Friends like the apprentices and the graduates of the apprenticeship, the CiRCE board, and organizations and schools that work with CiRCE, which is where my purpose in Christ is realized.

7. People who have supported the CiRCE Institute through prayer, purchases, prayer, donations, prayer, and encouragement. We’ve received $7500 in donations and another $2000 in pledges already for our year-end fund-raising drive. Another 15,000 and we’ll be able to have our 2010 conference.

6. The work done by my son David, his wife Bethany, my daughter Larissa, and my son Andrew to help bring us through this difficult time during which we’ve moved our office home and laid off staff – sacrifices for the present that enable a bright future.

5. A national tradition of pausing for a day to give thanks to the creator who by His Providence established and built this country and loves it with all its virtues and vices.

4. My children

8. My new daughter in law

2. My wife, who for 25 years has endured without complaint a mission driven husband who can’t keep track of which side of his shoes the laces attach to and has a melancholy disposition, endless financial stress, houses too small for five children, moving across state and national borders, and an endless cache of petty and large offenses and failures by that aforementioned, no-good, low-down husband of hers.

1. Participation in Christ, into whose patience may the Lord direct my heart.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!!

By the way, #10 was just a light-hearted jest. Thanks for understanding.

Sarah Palin as Hobbit?

I’m not sure about Sarah Palin yet, though, like the rest of the talking head world, she’s been on my mind a lot lately.

I don’t want to be a knee-jerk reactionary like the Progressive Media, but this article is powerful stuff.

It will offend Progressives (who go by the deceptive term “liberals” now), and it maybe should be shorter, but this Berkeley girl says things that need to be thought about.

The Wilding of Sarah Palin

In the wilding of Sarah Palin, the Left shows its true colors. Rather than sheild the vulnerable, leftists will mow down any man, woman, or child who gets in their way. Instead of a movement of hope and change, it is a cauldron of hate.

I don’t think most common leftists are particularly hateful, just puritanical, but their approach to politics does bring out a reactionary, self-righteous tendency to project and to denounce their opposition.

I still have a great affection for the Hobbits of this world who want to tend their gardens, enjoy dinner, and be left alone to love their way of life and their neighbors.

But if you rouse them, if you try to impose your vision of the world on them, they’ll fight you. And when they do, they’ll find out (and so will you) that they are not alone.

Maybe Sarah Palin speaks for us Hobbits.

A warning: the article linked to above uses some pretty aggressive and explicit language.


Untenable Options

It would beggar rational thought to deny that mega-industry has done damage to the earth’s climate.

It would also beggar rational thought to deny that mega-government has done damage to the earth’s people.

Nobody has proved that “global warming” is occurring, and many are suspicious of the agencies claiming that it is, as the current scandal about record keeping in England demonstrates.

That may explain why the term global warming seems to be fading away and climate change is gradually replacing it.

Yet the claims of global warming and climate change are dream claims for those who want an abstract morality. I refer, of course, to Hollywood stars, media pontificators, and government officials.

And the people who rely on them.

What I mean is simple. For most people, morality is a question of how to live day to day with their families, neighbors, and work associates.

When you are a star, reporter, or politicians, you have great name recognition and you have influence. The need to validate that influence cannot be escaped as it is woven into the soul.

But stars and politicians in particular are not known for their private morality. To the common herd (folks like me), the idea of being led and governed by people who don’t keep their promises, don’t feel a need to deny themselves, or otherwise disregard the honor of those they deal with, raises concerns.

The same sort of problem arises in gigantic corporations. The people leading them have a certain star quality about them. They are the masters of the universe, transcending the bourgeois morality of the rest of us who are hung up on things like keeping promises and being reliable.

So they experience a tension. They want desperately to be honorable people. But so many of them (and the many exceptions are to be lauded for their integrity in terribly seductive settings) cannot keep their pants on and their hands in their own pockets and they can’t resist the need to be thought highly of by the great abstractions: the audience (make it large and devoted please), the voter, the customer.

In other words, their concrete day to day neighborly morality (apart from being charismatic and nice) leaves so much to be desired (even by their own souls) that they need to turn to something else to show they are “good.”

To that end they need, first of all, a relativistic moral culture. Then, within that relativistic culture, they can easily establish a parallel morality for their public lives –  an abstract morality.

What I mean by abstract morality is that it has to do with symbols and numbers and not their neighbors or the earth under their feet.

They love concepts like “global citizenship” because they borrow value and meaning from other concepts but carry no meaning of their own. In this case, for example, the term citizenship is borrowed from the ancient concept of belonging to a community.

But citizenship is granted by a governing body, such as the Roman Senate or the American courts. By making it global, it becomes a mere sentiment.

Or worse. It could be that some of them actually intend to establish a global government and to give citizenship to some and not to others. Can you imagine a setting that would guarantee a more complete tyranny?

At present, in any case, there is and can be no such thing as global citizenship. It is a merely abstract concept, driven by symbols and numbers (any global governing body would govern entirely with statistics for the simple reason that there would be no other way to do so).

Global warming plays into this same mentality. Nobody has time to love their neighbors any more, so they get about loving the planet. Some have even given her the status of a goddess. What a relief that must be.

Now I can not only ignore my neighbor, I can condemn him for not being as devout as I in the preservation of the mother of us all.

And so the tables are turned. Those who believe that the world turns on love because love embodies itself in concrete acts of kindness, fidelity, devotion, self-sacrifice, patience (all sorts of things that are and require virtue and form) are displaced by those who believe that love is a wonderful feeling – or something.

In fact, if you pay attention it becomes rather obvious that love, to the star, politician, and, to a lesser extent, the reporter, is simply a tool to gain more recognition and praise.

When Paul McCartney reflected on the impact of the Beatles on our culture he suggested that, because they had sung about love, that can’t be bad.

As much as I like and admire Paul McCartney, this was not a wise statement. Redefine love and you have misled souls.

That is where we stand today.  Everybody wants to change the world, make a difference, even save the world.

Global warming and climate change provide an outlet for that combination of fears (fear of annihilation, fear of irrelevance, fear of meaninglessness) while providing a pleasing opportunity to feel contempt for the neighbor who doesn’t separate his plastic from his paper.

Abstract morality, abstract love, abstract crisis: too perfect for those who don’t want to contend with the soul-forming, nerve-wracking, gut-wrenching task of keeping a vow to someone who doesn’t fulfill their fantasies.

God loved the world. That gives us the freedom to love our neighbors and leave the big stuff to Him.

So now we are faced with untenable options. Because of the godless carelessness of the giant industries to the stewardship of their local resources, pollution is an undeniable problem throughout the world.

The solution we are offered is an even bigger multi-government bureaucracy who have as much chance of healing the planet as Hollywood does of healing the family.

The crises of the 21st century is a crisis of scale and of neighborliness. There are no solution to these crises apart from a return to neighborliness and smaller scales.

And that may not be possible for the simple reason that it is of the nature of democratic forms of government to seek ever more centralized rule.

But if it is not possible, that simply does not mean that we should not do it. As I said above, God loves the world. That lets us stop wasting our time trying to make a difference, change the world, and all that abstract nonsense that drives marketing plans.

We can love our neighbors and love the earth beneath our feet and leave the rest to someone who can handle it.

Plutarch on Mark Antony

…he left Italy and travelled into Greece, where he spent his time in military exercises and in the study of eloquence. He took most to what was called the Asiatic taste in speaking, which was then at its height, and was, in many ways, suitable to his ostentatious, vaunting temper, full of empty flourishes and unsteady efforts for glory.

Nice summary of both a character and the moral side of rhetoric.

This is from the Dryden Translation, The Modern Library Classics, volume 2, the chapter on Antony.

On Children’s Literature

Follow this link to some good advice on choosing children’s literature.

What do you think?

Hat tip to Teren Sechrist.

Game day

for the record: I expect a very low scoring game between the Pack and the 49er’s so if you are a fantasy footballer I’d go defense on this game.

SF might win and everybody will call for McCarthy’s head, but SF is better under Singleterry than they’ve been recognized for so far.

This isn’t their year, but next year might be.