Read Literature to Learn and Love the Truth

Another article by Esolen regarding the entire point of education, a point missed by the vast majority of modern educators and reformers.

Anyway, the gist of the solon’s objection to my criticisms was that we want students to be able to cite evidence when they make a claim about anything.  My objection to his objection, as I was running out of time, was that, as worthy a goal as that might be, that’s not what a literature course is really about.  He was thinking about tests, and I was thinking about David Copperfield.  He was thinking of technique, and I was thinking about the imagination and truth.

Now that I have the benefit of some time for reflection, and for looking at the page in question, I see that I missed an opportunity to make a crucial point.  It has less to do with literature, to which I’ll return in a moment, than with the whole aim of an intellectual life—even of a human life.  That aim is to behold the truth, and to love it for its beauty.

It’s hard to keep that foremost in mind, when we are met at every turn with a barrage of ugliness: expensive, deliberate, programmatic ugliness, such as that of the prose from the Alaska standards for reading and writing; and when the eyes of the soul are washed in the carbolic acid of relativism; and when truth is reduced to what is demonstrable by means of some measurement; and when reason is but a clever tool for procuring what will sate the appetite.

…You read good books to join in conversation with people who see farther or more deeply than most of us….

The article is definitely worth a read. 




Our Great Opportunities

Our trials are great opportunities. Too often we look on them as great obstacles. It would be a haven of rest and an inspiration of unspeakable power if each of us would henceforth recognize every difficult situation as one of God’s chosen ways of proving to us His love and look around for the signals of His glorious manifestations; then, indeed, would every cloud become a rainbow, and every mountain a path of ascension and a scene of transfiguration.

If we will look back upon the past, many of us will find that the very time our Heavenly Father has chosen to do the kindest things for us, and given us the richest blessings, has been the time we were strained and shut in on every side. God’s jewels are often sent us in rough packages and by dark liveried servants, but within we find the very treasures of the King’s palace and the Bridegroom’s love.

– A. B. Simpson


We have a strange illusion that mere time cancels sin. I have heard others, and I have heard myself, recounting cruelties and falsehoods committed in boyhood as if they were no concern of the present speaker’s, and even with laughter. But mere time does nothing either to the fact or to the guilt of a sin. The guilt is washed out not by time but by repentance and the blood of Christ: if we have repented these early sins we should remember the price of our forgiveness and be humble.

C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain


Great summation of Common Core. It really isn’t meant to help kids excel, it is another attempt to ensure equal outcomes. Your kids will be homogenized. High achievement will not be allowed because it has been deemed unfair to those not capable of similar achievement. By the same token, low achievement will be similarly disbarred because it drags down the curve. There are already cases where special needs education is being farmed out to special facilities separate from normal public education. Equal outcomes has always been the goal. Nothing else will be tolerated.

Let us arise and go home

An education that does not order the soul towards truth and beauty, that does not instill the intellectual virtue of seeking the truth, and the practical virtue of putting moral truths in action, is no education at all. It is not fit for a human being.

Anthony Esolen, author of Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child, has a wonderful article up at LifeSiteNews marking the passing of Stratford Caldecott. You should head over and give it a read. His book is up next for me after I finish Caldecott’s Beauty for Truth’s Sake: On the Re-Enchantment of Education, and for good reason. The man is a wonderful defender of the Classical tradition:

A few days ago, Stratford Caldecott, the wisest writer on education in our time, passed away at the all too early age of sixty. He had written many books, on a wide range of things: on the theological imagination of Tolkien; on the liturgy; on the cosmos; on charity; and on beauty, especially as regards a truly liberal education. 

It’s time for us to return home, and Stratford Caldecott can show us the way. But first we must understand that we are in a very strange land, and we can no more “apply” the wisdom of Mr. Caldecott to the schooling we have, than we can put icing on mud and call it cake.

Our schooling is ghastly. We must face this fact. At its least inhuman, it is crassly utilitarian, and inept to boot. But it has grown worse than utilitarian. Russell Kirk long ago described its progress in degeneration. We reject the “moral imagination” that could be built up in us by patiently receiving what the greatest artists have to teach us. We do not stoop to learn from Marcus Aurelius, the grave, dutiful, tranquil emperor meditating upon life from his barracks on the German frontier. We will not humble ourselves to heed the lessons that Shakespeare can teach us – about the fickleness of popular sympathies, the transience of power, or the beauty of the pure body and pure soul. If we study the old masters at all, it is to find that they are conveniently modern and “progressive,” or to teach them a lesson in the schoolyard sense, taking them apart and exposing their supposed weakness or cowardice.