A record of my thoughts about homeschooling, homemaking, the new humanity in Christ, and anything else that falls under the category of Permanent Things: the True, the Good, and the Beautiful

Looking for an online class about the Middle Ages?

Registration is now open at the Harvey Center for Families Learning. 

I'm excited to announce that I will be teaching Great Books II: Christendom in the 2014-2015 school year. Below is the course description and a link to register. Please let me know if you have any questions.  I'd like to keep the class small and intimate, but I do have a few slots still open.

Great Books II: Christendom (Fall 2014)

What happens when people try to apply the truth of the Gospel to every area of life? Schools are founded; technology, science, and medicine advance; art, literature, and music flourish; the greatest architecture the world has ever seen is crafted, new economic systems are introduced, political liberty is born.  In short, the Gospel turned a bunch of brutal, murderous barbarians into the foundation of the greatest civilization mankind has known, Christendom.

In this class, we will discover why the era referred to by secular historians as the Dark Ages is in reality a time where the light of the Gospel shown bright, and Truth, Beauty, and Goodness flourished.  But as is the case with any endeavor of sinful man, Christendom is a time of great successes and great failures.  We’ll examine them all.

Today we face many of the same cultural challenges that the early Church faced.  But we can be encouraged that history teaches us that not only does the Gospel change hearts, it changes the whole world!

NOTE:  This class is open to any high school student.  Great Books I is not a prerequisite.

Course Requirements:

Students will be graded on reading, class discussion, essay tests, (midterm and final), 4 short book reviews, and two 1200-word analytical essays.

This course will be the equivalent of one high school history credit and one half credit of a liberal arts elective.

Texts (specific editions TBA):
The Divine Comedy: Inferno
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
The Canterbury Tales (selections)
The Fairie Queen: Book One
Taming of the Shrew

History Texts: TBA

Note:  My desire is for students to read closely and think deeply; therefore I prefer to keep the reading list intentionally on the lighter side.

Class Meeting:  Monday/Thursday 1:30 - 3:00 EST

Register here.

Registration Now Open

Registration is now open for courses offered through the Harvey Center for Family Learning. I'm really excited about the class I'll be teaching. If you, or anyone you know, is looking for a Great Books online class, please check us out.

Click here to read the course description of my class: Great Books I: The Classical World.

Click here for registration information.

Is a Lack of Imagination Contributing to Our Economic Woes?

Here's my latest post over at the CiRCE Institute.

In his classic work, Economics in One Lesson, New Deal-era economist Henry Hazlitt critiques modern liberal economic theory. His analysis is interesting and extremely relevant to the current debate surrounding our own economic crisis. Why do the liberal economists win the day? How do they succeed in convincing people that government intervention in the economy will work—despite so much evidence to the contrary?

Selfish interests contribute greatly to the liberal victory. Whatever industry or special interest group will immediately benefit from government intervention generally supports the intervention. And of course, there is an initial economic benefit to the special interest group. The problem is that we only see the immediate effects and we neglect to investigate what the long-term effects will be—on all groups. According to Hazlitt, “In this [the fallacy of overlooking secondary consequences] lies almost the whole difference between good economics and bad.”

One reason that we fail to examine secondary consequences is that we generally lack the ability to follow long, complicated, and boring chains of reasoning. Bad economists speak in half-truths and present their errors to the public better than the good economists present their truths. But, it’s not just that the public lacks a decent attention span and reasoning skills, Hazlitt thinks it boils down to a lack of imagination.

Looking for a Great Books Online Class?

I'm thrilled to announce that I have joined a group of wonderful teachers at the Harvey Study Center.

This fall I will be teaching Great Books I: The Classical World. I am still putting the course together but below is a tentative course description. Comment below if you have any questions.

Great Books I: The Classical World

In the fullness of time, God sent His son into the world. The birth, ministry, death, and resurrection of Christ occurred in a specific place and a specific time, the classical world. As students read a selection of works from the ancient Hebrews, Greeks, Romans, and early Christians, they will explore the ideas, worldview, and cultural mindset of the classical world.

How is the classical worldview different from the Christian worldview? Why did Christ become man during the reign of Caesar Augustus? The Inklings argued that the classical authors raised questions that could only be answered by the appearance of Christ and the Gospel message. What were those questions and how is Christ the answer?

As in all things, the purpose of this course is to cultivate wisdom and virtue in students and to increase their understanding of the Gospel. At a time when our own culture is rejecting the Christian worldview and increasingly embracing pagan ideas, it is especially important to discern the difference between the pagan worldview and the Christian worldview and to be able to clearly articulate the hope of the Gospel.

Tentative List of Works Covered:

Select books of the OT
Greek Mythology
The Iliad
The Odyssey
The Aeneid

Monday and Wednesday 1:30 to 3:00 pm EST

Note: I am of the "less is more" persuasion. The OT books will likely be assigned as summer reading, and we'll take our time reading the other selections. As I finalize the syllabus I may drop a title or two.

Why Christmas Trees

from the archives...

As Christmas approaches, most of us are no doubt busy decorating our homes and preparing for the glorious celebration of the Incarnation of our Lord and Savior. As part of that preparation, we will bring a tree into our homes and decorate it.  You may have wondered why decorating trees is part of our Christmas celebration. Perhaps you have even feared that Christmas trees detract from honoring the true meaning of Christmas.

Sometimes the claim is made that Christmas trees have pagan origins.  Although there were many ancient pagan rituals which included the use of live trees and evergreens during the winter solstice, the use of trees in celebration of Christ’s Incarnation seems to have originated in the mystery plays of the Middle Ages.

From the eleventh century popular religious plays called mystery plays were performed all throughout Europe. One of the most common of the mystery plays was the Paradise Play which enacted the story of the creation of Adam and Eve, their fall and subsequent banishment from the Garden of Eden, and ended with the promise of Genesis 3:15 and the expectation of the coming Savior and His Incarnation.  Typical of the time, the stage set was minimal; the only object on stage was the Paradise tree, a fir tree adorned with apples.

In the fifteenth century, the Church ended the performances of mystery plays, but Christians continued the tradition of the Paradise tree, putting these trees in their homes on December 24, the feast day of Adam and Eve. Originally, the trees were decorated with both apples and homemade wafers.  The apples represented the Fall and the wafers were a reminder of communion wafers, which represented the Resurrection.

Later, people decorated the trees with candy and sweets and then with lights, which symbolized that Christ is the light of the world.  In Germany Christians added glass balls, tinsels and placed a star of Bethlehem atop the tree.

The Christmas tree is the perfect Christmas symbol because it points us to the whole story of redemption: first it brings to mind the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the subsequent Fall of all mankind. But at the same time that we are reminded of the entrance of sin and death into the world, we also recall the Cross, called a tree in the New Testament, which defeated both death and sin.
Finally, the tree is a beautiful visual reminder of the Resurrected Christ who is the tree of life and who is in a glorified resurrected state. When our Christmas trees are adorned and glowing, they are glorified trees, which not only remind us of our resurrected Lord, but of the promise of our own resurrected glorified state to come.
Make your Christmas trees beautiful this year and rejoice that the Lord is come. Let your Christmas tree be a bit of nature that sings joy to the world.

Don't Follow Your Heart: Anti-Revolutionary Lessons from Pride and Prejudice

This is my latest post over at the CiRCE Institute.

It’s easy to forget when reading a Jane Austen novel that she wrote during a time of great revolutionary upheaval:  the loss of the British colonies in America, the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror, Napoleon’s attempt to take over the world, and the deliberate assault on the institutions of the Church, the Government, and the Family.  The world had gone mad. And yet, Jane Austen utters not a word in her novels about those unsettling times, at least not directly.

Jean Jacques Rousseau fittingly titled both the Father of the French Revolution and the Father of Romanticism, rejected both Christian epistemology and Rationalism when he argued that emotion is the highest form of truth. To feel is to know. Unfettered passion is truth. Want to know what’s right? What does your heart tell you?

From Rousseau’s mouth to the ears and arms of romantics and revolutionaries, passion and emotion as standards of truth unleashed chaos and violence unto the world. While revolutionaries picked up swords, Jane Austen picked up her pen. She stood as a bulwark against all the revolutionary chaos of her time. And you thought she wrote love stories.

Beware Little Readers with Big Eyes

My eight-year-old has entered that fun stage when she is excitedly reading everything around her. Street signs, billboards, labels--you name it, she is reading it. I am often surprised at what she has been able to read, and she is so very pleased with herself.

Last night, as the temperature outside dropped significantly, we decided to warm up under the covers. We climbed into my bed, she with her knitting and me with my new book, R.J. Rushdoony's To Be as God: A Study of Modern Thought since the Marquis de Sade.

We sat quietly for awhile and then she said, "Why are you reading about sex?"

Unbeknownst to me, she was reading over my shoulder and she was reading a chapter about the Marquis de Sade!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I quickly explained that I was reading a Christian analysis of modern thought and that I was reading a chapter explaining what an ungodly, wicked man believed. I was sure to point out that I was NOT reading a book about sex. I was reading a book about modern beliefs for my modern history class.

She seemed satisfied with  my explanation but continued reading the chapter, this time out loud. I quickly closed the book--equal parts horrified at what she read and impressed with her decoding skills.

I learned a valuable lesson last night. That won't happen again.

But now I have to brace myself for that inevitable moment when she tells someone, "My mom likes to read books about sex."