Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
It may be possible for each to think too much of his potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or deeply about that of his neighbor. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour's glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken.
It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.
This does not mean we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously - no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. Our charity must be real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner - no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment.
Friday, November 20, 2009
...the Lord hath laid on him, the iniquity of us all.And here is my other favorite in the same section.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Today a car drove past my classroom, and the sunlight reflected off of the car onto my wall. One kindergartner, Micah, was startled and called out "what was that?" He wanted to know what that "beautiful light" was. I explained that it was the reflection of a car and the sunlight. Another kindergartner confirmed that he has similar experiences of light coming into his window at nighttime; when a car goes by. Besides Justin's addition to the conversation our music circle was starting to explode with six year old thoughts about this light phenomenon and I kind of wish I had run with it instead of going back to singing.
Micah repeated that the light he had seen was beautiful, and he thought it was fireworks at first.
I can't manufacture these moments at whim, and I wouldn't want to, but it is surprisingly easy to talk to children about beauty. I love my job.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
My family owns ten acres of open farmland, and we get to see great sunsets all the time. My mom will often see a sunset and start exclaiming about it and we consequently all have to get up from the dinner table to go look. We are pretty dutiful about it, we don't join in with her exclamations, and we are always ready to go back to the dinner table.
Now one of three things could be true about the slightly awkward moments that sunsets incur. Number one could be that none of us really have the sensitivity to enjoy the sunset. Number two could be that we do enjoy looking at the sunset but we are really hungry. Number three, though, (which is my best guess) deserves a little explanation.
I understand how my mom feels. I felt at an early age, although I didn't put it this way, that beauty hurts. I would look and look at the Appalachian mountains. But all along I didn't know how to describe those mountains. I didn't know how to tell someone else how I felt about them.
But that was just it. There is no way to describe mountains and sunsets, because God created them for us to look at with our eyes. Words are not for mountains and sunsets. Eyes are. (Music education plug here: words are not for music either, to quote one educator, "talking about music is like dancing about architecture.") The reason we feel awkward when Mom tells us to look at the sunset is because we are used to incessant talking, and there's nothing we can say when it comes to sunsets.
I want to praise God for all of the senses. I appreciate the visual arts, because they are "visual." I appreciate music that I can hear, and I appreciate words that I can speak and write. Praise the Lord for his "goodness to the children of men."
Saturday, November 7, 2009
There is such a thing as gloryThe whole idea reminded me of a thought introduced to me by my brother and developed by C.S. Lewis. C.S. Lewis takes the 'hint of heaven' idea much farther than anything like the traditional teleological argument and argues that our innate, sometimes undiscovered, and always unsatisfied longings are irrefutable evidence that we were made for 'another country.' (No doubt I will be blogging about Weight of Glory.)
And there are hints of it everywhere
And the hints are overwhelming
And its scent is in the air
It's more powerful than morning
Oh the morning can't compare
With such a thing as glory...
At any rate, whether it is in the simple sense of talking about beauty and order, or whether I am bearing my secret desires for heaven, I want my blog to show "hints of glory". There is a heaven, and there is a Christ.
I have been and will be writing rudimentary or off-beat thoughts about aesthetics, theology, and educational theories; and my hints of glory will probably be culled from those realms of thought. If that doesn't grab anyone's interest that's ok - this blog is for me, to practice writing, and for my 8th grade music students, who are not going to read this but definitely don't need me to be pontificating on aesthetics in class. If I can get a little online fellowship from the blog that will be an added bonus.
While I'm on the topic though, two of my family members started blogs about the same time I did with the same goal - to show hints of glory - and are "doing it better." First, my sister-in-law Jenny explains her goals to create beauty through the small things in life here. My cousin Mary finds hints of glory in the small moments of every day. Visit her beautiful blog here.
Children, teens, and adults are now interacting with technology in ways that allow them to problem-solve and create in ways equally or even more complex than a doing a math problem or a story writing project.
Aside from the book being merely interesting, I think this book has a major ramification for me as a teacher. I underestimate my students' potential. Every family has a running joke about how their seven-year old can program the VCR when their parent cannot. But does anyone stop to consider the problem-solving abilities that that fact infers? That child did not merely learn the steps to work one machine; he has internalized overriding principles about how to probe a new system and find out how it works.
So yesterday in second grade music we somehow ended up talking about Tom and Jerry, which apparently is experiencing a renaissance on Cartoon Network. I have one learning disabled student who has, for two years, been singing monotone but experienced a very obvious breakthrough in her singing just this week. During the Tom and Jerry conversation, I sat back, enjoyed that student's very specific, multiple-step instructions about how to find Tom and Jerry On Demand, and thought about the vast potential that she has.
I am reminded of one of my graduate professors favorite pedagogy images - that of constantly working to keep the students' heads barely above water - not submerged and overwhelmed, not wading in shallow water and bored. In this respect I could take a cue from the gaming, cinema and television industries and keep my kids' brains engaged.
Next on my reading list to get the other side of the coin: Endangered Minds: Why Children Don't Think and What We Can Do about It by Jane Healy.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Readers are leaders, or "An operational definition of education in its most fundamental civilized sense"
Close reading of tough-minded writing is still the best, cheapest, and quickest method known for learning to think for yourself... Reading, and rigorous discussion of that reading in a way that obliges you to formulate a position and support it against objections, is an operational definition of education in its most fundamental civilized sense... Reading, analysis and discussion is the way we develop reliable judgment, the principal way we come to penetrate covert movements behind the facade of public appearances.
-John Taylor Gatto
quoted in So Much More by Anna Sofia Botkin and Elizabeth Botkin
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Last week (I'll spare details) I was able to have a very honest, open conversation with a complete stranger about God, religion, first causes, etc. My new friend said he was pretty content with the theory that God created the world but then allowed it run on its own. He wanted to know how I could reconcile my belief in a personal, good God with an event like 9/11. We hear the stories about the people who avoided death on that day. But we also know that there are countless stories of people who did go to work, who got on that flight, who 'happened' to be in the area, and who never came back.
I don't know if a Christian reading this post will think less of me, but I admit I don't know the answer to "why does a good God allow suffering." (Suffering is a result of sin, yes, but that begs another question.) I simply know that God will fulfill his purpose and I submit to that. But I'm going to honestly say that that is really hard to explain to others. I tried. And then I recommended Tim Keller's The Reason for God. There is a chapter I remember reading titled "How could a good God allow suffering."
So I went back and read that chapter last night. I'm still glad I recommended it; but first I have a quick disclaimer. The chapter ends this way:
Just after the climax of the trilogy The Lord of the Rings, Sam Gamgee discovers that his friend Gandalf was not dead (as he thought) but alive. He cries, "I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself! Is everything sad going to come untrue?"
The answer of Christianity is -
Keller elaborates, and the chapter ends with two other joyful quotes from Dostoevsky and C.S. Lewis. I love it when Keller references Tolkien. (I heard him do it once in a sermon and it definitely makes me want to quit eating/sleeping/lesson planning to read LOTR. Ok maybe not eating...) Anyway although I'm pumped about Tolkien references, I think the statement "everything sad is going to come untrue" is a little glib and perhaps even incomplete in the light of eternal wrath...
That disclaimer aside, I want to share this other quote because it is Biblical. In fact it is the gospel. Keller takes a few pages to describe Christ's non-physical suffering and his explanation is, I feel, worth getting the book. After describing the 'inferno of abandonment' Christ experienced, Keller says this:
Let's see where this has brought us. If we ask the question: "Why does God allow evil and suffering to continue?" and we look at the cross of Jesus, we still do not know what the answer is. However, we now know what the answer isn't. It can't be that he doesn't love us. (emphasis mine) It can't be that he is indifferent or detached from our condition. God takes our misery and suffering so seriously that he was willing to take it on himself.
Monday, May 18, 2009
This quote just in from a sermon podcast I was listening to:
The reality is there isn’t any difference between the greed that we read about on the front pages of the newspaper or on the news websites... there’s nothing different about the greed that has destroyed our financial institutions and the greed that motivates our daily little decisions. There’s not. They just have more resources so it affects more. - Scott Mehl
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
1. I don't know your name, we speak different languages; We may not be the same, but I reach out my hand to you and I say... (then sing chorus line one)2. ...we have different points of view... (then sing chorus line 2)3. ...we cut different kinds of food... (then sing chorus line 3)4. ...we have different holidays... (then sing chorus, all 3 lines togetheretc.Chorus: "Hello" in English, Spanish, Arabic, Japanese, Chinese-Mandarin, Italian, Swahili etc.
Monday, March 2, 2009
The invention of the phonograph is the end of culture as we know it.-Thomas Edison
We have changed from a society of music makers to a society of music consumers.-John Feierebend
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Heav'n above a softer blue, Earth around is sweeter green!Something lives in every hue Christless eyes have never seen;Birds with gladder songs o'erflow, flowers with deeper beauties shine,Since I know, as now I know, I am his, and he is mine.Since I know, as now I know, I am his, and he is mine.Words: George W. Robinson, 1876
Friday, February 20, 2009
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you... in this you rejoice, though for now for a little while, if necessary you have been grieved by various trials...
Monday, February 2, 2009
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.Christ is the only new knowledge I need, and the knowledge I've got to get no matter what.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Poets are generally spoken of as unreliable; and generally there is a vague association between wreathing laurels in your hair and sticking straws in it. Facts and history utterly contradict this view. Most of the great poets have been not only sane, but extremely business-like; and if Shakespeare ever really held horses, it was because he was much the safest man to hold them. Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason. Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers, but creative artists very seldom....The general fact is simple. Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion, like the physical exhaustion of Mr. Holbein. To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.