Thursday, November 27, 2014

Lewis: We Are Far Too Easily Pleased

"If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, 'Unselfishness'. But if you had asked almost any of the great Christians of old, he would have replied, 'Love'. You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative idea of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."

-C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (introductory paragraph)

Order your copy here.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Are You Planning on Yelling at Your Children Today?

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.  Galatians 6:1
In his sermon series entitled, Loving Little Ones, Douglas Wilson makes application of this passage from the larger church body to the specific microcosm of the Christian home. In our homes we have leaders and followers, teachers and learners, older, wiser ones and younger, foolish ones; everyone in both categories being brothers and sisters in Christ. Pastor Wilson pointed out that in our homes we tend to leave the “ye who are spiritual” part out of the verse. We assume that folks “at church” need to remember this verse whenever they may be admonishing, exhorting, rebuking, or correcting us, but when we get home, this verse does not apply when we are correcting our children. In the church, folks need to remember the “spirit of gentleness” part; especially when they are correcting us.  If they don’t, we get to turn things back around, make an accusation at them, and then completely ignore whatever they were trying to say to us. At home, we pretend like we are the “ye who are spiritual” ones by default, therefore “spiritualness” gets defined by however we are doing things at the moment.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Lost Tools of Thinking

Last year, our homeschool community, Classical Conversations, introduced the Lost Tools of Writing program as parts of the 7th and 8th grade curricula. This was a good, good thing. I am no expert in the Lost Tools curriculum or in the application of all it has to offer, but what I have seen has been fantastic. I offer you one thought in particular to express my excitement.

Classical Conversations students study grammar and composition through our Essentials program from around 9-years-old through age 12 (plus or minus a few months.) Here they learn how to recognize and use the parts of speech, how to classify a sentence from one of the 112 possible choices, how to make a key word outline, how to diagram a sentence, how to write an essay, how to write from a source, as well as from image prompts, how to present their essay in front of an audience, etc. They also do much, much more than this, but being a dad, I'm not in class with them every week, so my list is shorter than it could be.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Naming God's World

I am currently rereading Nancy Pearcey's Soul of Science. Here's a juicy morsel from the conclusion of chapter 7:

"The primeval paradigm of human knowledge is the account of Adam's naming the animals. Devising a suitable label for each animal required careful observation, analysis, and categorization, based on the way it was created. Adam couldn't very well call a fish 'woolly creature with four legs' or a bird 'scaled creature with fins.' He had to reflect the world as God made it.

Yet Genesis tells us 'God brought the animals to Adam to see what he would call them.' God did not prescribe one right name, one correct way to describe an animal. He left room for Adam to be creative, both in the features he chose to focus on and in the terms he selected to describe the animal. In this simple paradigm Genesis gives the Biblical basis for all the arts and sciences. On the one hand, we root our work in the external world God has created, and, on the other hand, we freely exercise the creativity and imagination He has given us." (page 160)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

We're Getting Warmer

We're Getting Warmer—Family Time

Three years ago while building our house we installed both a chimney and an electric heat pump. The heat pump was for present use. The chimney was for the future, standing cold and dormant while the heat pump did its work. For all the benefits that it does have, there is something missing from the heat pump experience—something crucial, like heat. Although a heat pump keeps the pipes from freezing, one cannot stand over the grate and actually get warm. Instead, there’s a draft—a mildly lukewarm breeze that actually sends chills down my spine just thinking about it.