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From the Classical Historian:

Patrick was born in fourth century Roman Britain (c. 390-461) to a loving family of wealth. His parents were most likely successful merchants and administrators of Rome. On February 27, 380, Roman Emperor Theodosius issued the Edict of Thessalonica and declared the official religion in the empire to be the Catholic Church. Patrick was brought up in this faith.  He had a privileged childhood as the son of wealthy Roman leaders, but suffered great hardships for a number of years. Patrick brought Christianity to the Irish and changed the course of history.

At the beginning of the medieval ages, many in Europe clung to the pagan religions of the past. Ireland, the island to the west of Britain, was a land where Christianity was unknown. Celts in Ireland followed a belief called Druidism. They believed in many gods, and Druid priests had many practices that we would call barbaric. Druids sacrificed humans to keep their gods happy.

As a sixteen year-old, Patrick’s easy life of comfort and prestige changed forever. Some reports state Patrick had snuck out of his parents’ home and took part in an all-night pagan ritual. With dawn breaking, a small band of Irish pirates raided Britain and captured Patrick. He was taken to Ireland and sold into slavery, completely separated from his loving parents. Patrick wrote later that he had left the faith of his family, and for this he was being punished.

For six years, Patrick worked as a common slave in Ireland. At any instant, he could be killed, mutilated, or beaten by his owner. He was far from his home and far from any help his Christian friends could provide. Instead of becoming desperate and sad, though, Patrick spent his time in prayer and reflection. Working as a shepherd for six years, he grew to love the Irish land and people, and yearned to one day teach them the Christian belief. He united his sufferings as a slave to the sufferings of his savior, Christ, and his love for his captors grew.

According to Patrick’s writings, he heard the Heavenly Father speak to him and tell him to escape from slavery and to walk to the coast. A boat would be waiting for him. As a slave, if he were recognized, he would have been put to death! Patrick did as he was told, and there was a boat waiting for him. The captain agreed to take him back to Britain.
Patrick’s parents were so excited to see him, but they were also disappointed to hear what he wanted to do. He wanted to become a priest and return to the people who enslaved him in Ireland. His parents wanted him to get married, become wealthy and important, and raise a family. If he returned to Ireland, wouldn’t he be killed by his former slave owner for escaping? How could he have a family if he became a priest?

Patience is a virtue Patrick practiced. He went to Gaul (France), studied to become a priest, and waited for his calling to go back to Ireland and spread Christianity. At the age of 49, after about 25 years of waiting, he finally received the order to go to Ireland as a bishop to evangelize. He returned, went to his former slave owner, and spoke about Christ. Amazingly, within Bishop Patrick’s lifetime, Ireland became a Christian country!  And, since this time Irish missionaries have travelled throughout the world spreading the news of Jesus and his Church.

There are many legends attributed to Patrick in Ireland. For example, some say he chased all the snakes out of Ireland, or that he used a three-leaf clover to explain the Trinity. But, what is not legend is that within his lifetime, Ireland changed from a land of slavery, human sacrifice, and paganism, to a Christian land, where the slave trade came to a halt, and where murder and tribal warfare decreased.

Along with bringing Christianity to the Irish, Patrick established monasteries that some say saved Western civilization. In the Middle Ages, a monastery was a place where men lived and worshipped, served as doctors and nurses, fed the poor, took care of orphans, and copied important documents. It was the only place of learning in the first centuries after the Roman Empire fell. As Roman law and order gave way to chaos, Irish monks kept working, copying classic texts of the west, and spreading Christianity. For centuries after Patrick died, Irish monks spread both the Christian faith and the classics. It is for this that some historians claim that St. Patrick saved Western Civilization.

To read the actual writings of Saint Patrick: 
http://www.archive.org/details/writingsofsaintp00patr

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Classical Education and Four-Year Cycles

I’m hoping this will start to disabuse people of the notion that classical education is all about 4 year development cycles. The classical tradition is about inquiry, ideas, and character rather than intellectual achievement.

My introduction to classical education came through twentieth-century authors. I was encouraged to read contemporary authors who based their ideas largely on Dorothy Sayers’ essay The Lost Tools of Learning, but she also was a twentieth-century thinker. I knew that if her ideas were right, I should be able to find the roots of them by reading the classical authors. I read Plato, Erasmus, Quintilian, and others, and when I found no correlation between their ideas and Dorothy Sayers’ about stages, I felt that “classical education” was an undefinable, nebulous idea that could not be understood.

Ironically (and yet, not ironically), it was another twentieth-century author who shed light on the classical tradition for me, and allowed those nebulous ideas to coalesce into a solid foundation upon which educational methods could be built. When I read Norms and Nobility, I was able to see that classical education was more than I had previously perceived.

Suddenly, Plato, Milton, Erasmus, Comenius, and Augustine spoke in unison—-not because they prescribed the exact same process or curriculum, but because they shared a common desire to educate men to be the very best that it was possible for them to be—-to make the best humans they could be. What ought men to do? What ought men to think? What is right for a man to know? What knowledge can man not do without? These kinds of questions should be asked again and again, in every generation, and the answer should be sought because it is both new and old—-old, because men have answered it before, and new because the answers act as a germinating seed in the heart of every thinker and learner who seeks them, producing new ideas and avenues to explore.

Karen Glass:

(Remember that these were written in response to specific other posts, and I’m not including those comments, so if my remarks seem a little disjointed, that’s why.)

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Goals for 2015

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I have successfully avoided making any New Year Resolutions this year, acknowledging that, as the previous article I posted on the topic pointed out, “You don’t need a big resolution to change your life, because your life isn’t established in big moments.” That said, I have set several goals that I am working on this year.

The first two include my wife. We have been working our way through Spurgeon’s Morning & Evening together. I picked it up probably halfway through last year and liked it so much I wanted to do it again this year. I had done them on my own last year but asked if she would be interested in joining me and she was. We have kept this so far.

We are also attempting to read the Bible through over the year. We have both read big portions of the Bible, some much more than others, but it has always been in a disconnected manner for a particular study of one book or another, or Sunday School. I’m excited to see everything in context and watch God’s promises unfold across generations. What we have read in just over two weeks has been enlightening. Instead of a brief passage pulled out for a lesson or sermon, we have traced God’s hand down through generations.

Exegesis is an amazing way to study the Bible, and it definitely has its place, but it is really the only way I have interacted with God’s Word. We have really been enjoying seeing the big picture in context. For those interested, we are using Charles Ryrie’s plan found in his study Bible’s. Someone scanned the front of their Bible so others could have the plan here.

I plan to read two books a month this year. I hope to have them all be non-fiction, though I am ok with some of them being Great Books. I realized that my son is reading much more than I am. He is averaging a book a week and has read thirty books since we started this homeschool year back in July. I considered reading all of the books he is but I really don’t have any interest in some of his choices (some of these books have been things I assigned and others his pleasure reading choices).

Since we started this homeschool journey I have found myself reading non-fiction almost exclusively. Selections like Mere Christianity and The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis, Norms and Nobility by David Hicks, and Beauty in the Word by Stratford Caldecott, and I really enjoyed them. They stretched my thinking in ways that fiction never could. So I decided that I would like to continue that trend but include the kind of books that will be covered in VP’s Omnibus. I do plan to read along with my children when we go through the selections so that I can really discuss with them. I figure reading tougher books for the next year and a half will have me primed to keep up when we finally start. I am reading On Christian Doctrine by St. Augustine, and plan to read Beauty for Truth’s Sake by Stratford Caldecott. I am also planning to reread Norms and Nobility. I don’t really have anything planned beyond those. I am just trusting I will be led to them like I have been everything else. I will keep up with what I read using Evernote.

Last year, inspired by a board game video blogger, I made several board game resolutions. I wanted to play all of our board games at least once, wanted to play ten games at least ten times each, and have at least three hundred total plays. We succeeded with the last, but came up short on the other two for various reasons.

As far as playing all of our board games at least once, that one is the easiest to explain: we kept buying new games. We also attended game meet-ups with local groups so we had their games to helps us meet our overall play goal, so some of our older games just didn’t get played last year.

The 10×10 goal was just more difficult than I had anticipated. We accomplished six with at least ten plays, two with nine, two more with eight, and few more with six or seven. Ten plays of a particular game can be a lot in a year, though it may not sound like it. If a game is light and quick then it can easily be played two or three times in row without a second thought. Four out of the six were in this category; games like Love Letter, Skull & Roses, or King of Tokyo. These games generally take between ten minutes and half an hour and are usually card, dice, or light bluffing games. It is pretty easy to pull them out on a few nights over the course of the year and hit ten plays with them.

But a game that takes ninety minutes to two or three hours to play and requires a lot of thinking and strategy can be difficult to get to the table ten times a year. You really, really have to like it to play it that much. Games like Madeira, Brass, Age of Steam, and Roads & Boats are in this category. I discovered I have a lot more of this category than the lighter games. The only two heavier games that made it to ten plays were Castles of Burgundy and Keyflower, though Castles really isn’t that heavy. If you are interested in what we played last year you can see the list here.

In the long run I discovered that, not only was it difficult to get some of these games to the table ten times in a year, but it was also constraining. We found ourselves playing games we didn’t necessarily want to play to meet a goal. It took a lot of fun out of it. So, while I do want to continue to keep up with our plays this year, I am no longer interested in setting goals about specific games or amounts of games that we need to play. Instead, I am interested in charting what we play so that we can look back at the end of the year and follow trends in what we played, look for favorites that we naturally gravitated to, and also look for games that didn’t get much play as possible trade items. If you want to keep up with years plays, you can here.

But, inspired by last year’s 10×10 resolution, a board game blogger came up with the D12 Challenge for 2015. The challenge is to introduce twelve new people to the board gaming hobby. The tongue-in-cheek description of the challenge:

Together we will wipe out the question “What, like monopoly?”
Together we will help publishers create more games
Together we will play more games
Together we will take over the world!

This will not be an easy thing but I am looking forward to it.

So, have you made any resolutions for 2015? Any goals? How are you keeping yourself accountable? Share in the comments!