Friday, May 08, 2015

Good morning!

This quote from Newman reminded me of another quote:
If I say that tomorrow will be fine, what does this enunciation mean? Perhaps it means that it ought to be fine, if the glass tells truly; then it is the inference of a probability. Perhaps it means no more than a surmise, because it is fine today, or has been so for the week past. And perhaps it is a compliance with the word of another, in which case it is sometimes a real assent, sometimes a polite assertion or a wish. (Grammar, Pt. I, Ch. 4)
Here is the other quote:
“Good Morning!" said Bilbo, and he meant it. The sun was shining, and the grass was very green. But Gandalf looked at him from under long bushy eyebrows that stuck out further than the brim of his shady hat.
"What do you mean?" he said. "Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?"
"All of them at once," said Bilbo. "And a very fine morning for a pipe of tobacco out of doors, into the bargain.
...
"Good morning!" he said at last. "We don't want any adventures here, thank you! You might try over The Hill or across The Water." By this he meant that the conversation was at an end.
"What a lot of things you do use Good morning for!" said Gandalf. "Now you mean that you want to get rid of me, and that it won't be good till I move off.” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Unexpected Party."
Of course, for Bilbo, it is a real assertion, not just a "profession," which is what Newman is talking about.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Invisible

I reflected on two things in Sirach today--don't judge before you investigate, and that the interior condition is more important than the exterior success or failure. Both of these reflect the priority of the invisible over the visible. I think what is most lacking in today's culture is the eyes to see the invisible--eyes trained in mystic vision.

Yet, the invisible is not separate from the visible. Our material existence is connected to the invisible story [I mean "narrative," not "level"]. It is just that the connection is not easily discerned and is easily misinterpreted. Perhaps a synonym for "Seek that which is above" might be "cultivate eyes to see the invisible beneath the visible."

I am convinced that the belief in the invisible is a key to escaping our intellectual prison.  Plato's cave, I suppose. Even believers are practical materialists because they always are looking for a methodological solution to even spiritual problems. They fail to realize that the Story is beyond the reach of our vision and understanding--that we do not see all ends and have to trust and not always seek closure and a result that corresponds to our understanding. 

Intellectual humility is the first virtue.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

The physio-psychology of virtue

This is a fantastic article by Kevin Majeres, MD, about the physio-psychological component of the cultivation of virtue. It brings together brain physiology and chemistry, cognitive therapy, and classic Thomistic virtue ethics It applies not just to sexuality, but to the relationship between our rational and emotional life in all things.

Get on the bus!

Saturday, January 03, 2015

New Testament and Logic courses

This spring semester I will be teaching two online high school courses for Homeschool Connections.

The first one is a twelve week course on Advanced Logic using the Memoria Press materials. It meets on Thursdays from Jan. 8 to Apr. 9 @ 6:00 PM ET. If your child has studied basic logic, this would be a good contiuation.

Here is a promotional video for the course.

The other course is Reading the New Testament. It meets for nine sessions from Tuesdays from Mar. 3 to May 5 @ 6:00 PM ET, excluding Holy Thursday. Topics include: What is the NT?, Studying and praying with the NT, Genres of NT books (Gospel, gesta, letters, apocalypse), Common terms in the NT, Geography, Culture, NT history and The writing of the NT.

To register, go here.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Two insights

It occurred to me recently that one cannot claim to be a devout Christian unless he lives a penitential life. And by that I mean what used to be called a life of self-mortification. I know quite well that charity is at the heart of true devotion, and that prayer is key.  I also know well the warning of Isaiah 58 about true fasting. Still, I also think that one will be crippled in his efforts at prayer, at justice and at charity unless he has the kind of self-mastery that for all the saints has required penitential disciplines, such as fasting, vigils, etc. When people point to St. Therese's "Little Way," they shouldn't forget that she lived at a time when the discipline of the Church was much stricter than it is now and the discipline of her order was much stricter than even that. We modern Catholics are pretty lax.  I esp. think that Americans should not so quickly beg off substantially fasting; we (I) eat way more than we need to.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A new book from Homeschool Connections called Why I Should Learn This? includes two essays I wrote on Logic and the Trivium, plus one by Alicia Van Hecke, one by Ana Braga-Henebry and one by Jean Rioux, plus some other people I'm sure you've heard of or know, like Joseph Pearce or Nancy Carpentier Brown. Here is the table of contents:

ECONOMICS
 Why Should I Learn Economics?

GEOGRAPHY
 Why Should I Learn Geography?

GOVERNMENT
 Why Should I Learn the Constitution?
 Why Should I Learn Government, Elections, and Politics?

HISTORY
 Why Should I Learn Using Historical Fiction?
 Why Should I Learn Christian Historiography?
 Why Should I Learn Medieval History?

LANGUAGE
 Why Should I Learn American Sign Language?
 Why Should I Learn Latin?
 Why Should I Learn Spanish?

LIFE SKILLS
 Why Should I Learn Computer Skills? 
 Why Should I Learn Critical Reading and Thinking Skills?
 Why Should I Learn Organizational Skills?

LITERATURE
 Why Should I Learn G.K. Chesterton?
 Why Should I Learn Classical Literature?
 Why Should I Learn Modern Literature?
 Why Should I Learn Using Picture Books?
 Why Should I Learn Shakespeare?
 Why Should Christians Learn Tolkien?

MATHEMATICS
 Why Should I Learn Algebra?

ART and MUSIC
 Why Should I Learn Arts and Crafts?
 Why Should I Learn Music History?

PEDAGOGY
 Why Should I Learn Using a Charlotte Mason Education? 
 Why Should I Learn Using Montessori? 
 Why Should Your Child Learn to Read with Phonemics?
 Why Should I Learn using the Trivium?

PHILOSOPHY
 Why Should I Learn Philosophy?
 Why Should I Learn Formal Logic?
 Why Should I Learn Thomistic Philosophy?

SCIENCE
 Why Should I Learn Astronomy?
 Why Should I Learn Environmental Science?
 Why Should I Learn Science and its Relationship to Faith and Reason?
 Why Should I Learn Geology?
 Why Should I Learn Nature Studies?

THEOLOGY
 Why Should I Learn All Theology through Theology of the Body?
 Why Should I Learn Apologetics?
 Why Should I Learn the Early Church Fathers?
 Why Should I Learn Heresies?
 Why Should I Learn the Theology of the Body?

WRITING
 Why Should I Learn Communication?
 Why Should I Learn Fiction Writing?
 Why Should I Learn Punctuation and Grammar?
 Why Should I Learn Rhetoric and Writing?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Going to Confession

I went to confession today.  It occurred to me afterwards that it is an awesome experience to come close to the Living God to receive His Mercy. Why would anyone in the world not want that?  And why would I not want to try to make sure everyone in the world can have it?  I know that God's Mercy is operative outside the sacramental system and that those who can't avail themselves of the Sacrament of Penance through no fault of their own can be forgiven, but it is so great to be able to walk into a little room, say your sins and BE FORGIVEN OF ALL OF THEM NO MATTER HOW AWFUL!

God is so good.