Saturday, August 29, 2015

"The Georgia O'Keefe of Photography"

I'm an adult transplant to the West and have become endeared to its people and its wide open spaces. Looking forward to this exhibit in Fort Worth and hoping I can attend.

Laura Wilson and the American West

Monday, August 24, 2015

"You make eloquent the tongues of infants"

A home schooling friend sent me this prayer, cited at the Aquinas College website as one of Thomas Aquinas's prayers. It's a good one for those beginning their studies in a new school year or on a new school day. It's also a good one for those whose work is study.

Here is part of the prayer:

Ineffable Creator...

You are proclaimed
the true font of light and wisdom,
and the primal origin
raised high and beyond all things

Put forth a ray of your brightness
into the darkened places of my mind;
disperse from my soul
the twofold darkness
into which I was born;
sin and ignorance

You make eloquent the tongues of infants.
refine my speech
and pour forth upon my lips
the goodness of your blessing.

Grant to me
keenness of mind,
capacity to remember,
skill in learning
subtlety to interpret,
and eloquence in speech.

May you
guide the beginning of my work,
direct its progress,
and bring it to completion.

You who are true God and true man,
who live and reign, world without end.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

College and the Honors League

Interesting article about the rise of honors colleges at public universities. We were impressed with the leadership path and other honors college offerings at Christopher Newport in Virginia.

A Prudent Path

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The [Trollope] Diamonds

Anthony Trollope's The Prime Minister.

Finally getting around to reading this book -- the 5th of the 6 Palliser novels (and one praised by Tolstoy) -- which parallels our hero, the now-older Duke of Omnium and his final political challenge as the liberal head of a coalition government, with the marital fate of an earnest girl of good family named Emily Wharton.

It is the middle-late 19th century in England.

Will England's greatness be advanced? Will the coalition government be a good suitor to Albion? Will the Duke's warm and ambitious wife's social excesses on his behalf help or hurt him? She is political and he is scrupulous.

And in the other story: Will young, noble Emily Wharton marry a stranger and foreigner who is involved in shady dealings, against the wishes of her father, who is wise and loving, but whose arguments against the man are marred by blind prejudice? Will she be led by her vulgar aunt or her beloved family friends?

All of this marked by Trollope's shrewd and sometimes-funny commentary on human public and private behavior in the House and in the house. Trollope was a dissecter of human foibles and greatness, though with a light touch, and his characters can be more complex and less tragic than some Victorian writers'. His heroes have imperfections and his villains sometimes have something to admire, but it is always clear who and what is right.

The question the book addresses is: What is a true gentleman and Englishman like?

Some quotes from the first quarter of the book:

"The man, certainly, was one strangely endowed with the power of creating a belief."'

"Though the thing had been long a-doing, still it had come suddenly."

"And it was not the way with her Grace to hide such sorrows in the depth of her bosom."

"I remember dear old Lord Brock telling me how much more difficult it was to find a good coachman than a good Secretary of State."

"It'll be best in the long run." "I'm sometimes happy when I think I shan't live to see the long run.'"

"She knew him to be full of scruples....unwilling to domineer when men might be brought to subjection only by domination."

On political alliances: "I don't want a man to stick to me. I want a man to stick to his country."

On young, rich men with political ambitions: "He had the great question of labor, and all that refers to unions, strikes, and lock-outs, quite at his fingers' ends. He knew how the Church of England should be disestablished and recomposed. He was quite clear on questions of finance, and saw to a 't' how progress should be made towards communism, so that no violence should disturb that progress, and that in due course of centuries all desire for personal property should be conquered and annihilated by a philanthropy so general as hardly to be accounted a virtue. In the meantime, he could never contrive to pay his tailor's bill regularly out of the allowance of 400 pounds a year which his father made him, and was always dreaming of the comforts of a handsome income."

"There is such a thing as a conscience with too fine an edge that it will allow a man to do nothing."

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Who Cares about Homer and Shakespeare?

David sent this along to me today -- sensible reasons and practical ways for all students to read and study the classics -- even business majors. But I posted this mainly for the stories about Catholic school (which I attended in high school).

The Suicide of the Liberal Arts

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Check Your White, Female Privilege

In the New York Times, Ross Douthat counters Milbank et al's arguments that the only way for Planned Parenthood to provide family planning services is for them also to provide baby-in-the-womb dismemberment services.

There Is No Pro-Life Case for Planned Parenthood

It's good to point out when the actual narrative conflicts with the establishment narrative. In these videos, the antagonists are women, the victims are predominantly minorities, and the hero is a white male. Time for PP to check its white, female privilege.

"What If I Have Already Had an Abortion?"

My thoughts keep winding back to the women watching these Planned Parenthood videos who have, themselves, had abortions. I can imagine some women, especially those who had second or third trimester abortions, experiencing a deep sense of personal horror and grief. Down at the bottom of a woman is a wholly wholesome, natural, and real love for her baby, a love which well-coiffed abortion activists in suits and scrubs cannot really tamp down, try as they might.

Christian Scripture carries in it major themes of life and death. It is not only clamorous on the side of life, but also on the side of forgiveness. One of God's greatest heroes was once a killer.

"Let the Bones You Have Crushed Rejoice"

David -- shepherd, musician, poet, warrior, and king -- was beloved of God. David loved a woman named Bathsheba, whom he had spied bathing naked. But Bathsheba was already married to a soldier fighting on behalf of David's interests. When David couldn't cover up the fact that he had made Bathsheba pregnant, he had her husband killed.  There were those who were complicit in his act, but he is the one who ultimately had the authority to kill and the story is about him. After this, David recommenced life as usual, on the throne in Jerusalem, married to Bathsheba, this new bride of blood.

Nathan, the prophet, came to David and told him a story about a poor man's beloved little pet ewe lamb, which was taken, killed, and eaten by a rich man who had many sheep of his own, and the reality of what David had done penetrated and sickened him.

Stories and pictures make us see things more truly.

When David was made to really feel and see the evil in his acts, he became weak with the emotional understanding of his acts.  He talks about being "broken." He even said that his very bones were "crushed." I know what he means when he describes those feelings. I have felt that inner, gut-twisting sickness of realization about my own life at crucial points.

Being a poet, he describes his misery, repentance, and eventual relief in Psalm 51. Here is part of it:

"Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.

Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart you, O God, will not despise."

(Psalm 51, NIV emphasis mine)

Sin, followed by repentance, leads to real, true saving by a real, true Savior. Followed by relief and a renewed focus on serving God -- "May it please you to prosper Zion" is David's new prayer at the end of the Psalm. He is brought down, to be redeemed, in order to serve God truly again.

"Have Mercy on Me, O God...according to your great compassion."

My invitation to the women who have had abortions -- who believed the lies told by their culture, their political party, their doctors, their sisters, and perhaps even their family -- is to be a truth-teller. Tell the truth to yourself and God:

-- Talk to an already-knowing God
-- Confess what you have done to a righteous God
-- Ask forgiveness from a gracious God
-- And receive the profound relief -- and renewed purpose -- that are the gifts of a merciful, compassionate God
-- Go to church

Jesus Christ never takes something without giving something else back. He takes your sin upon himself, and gives in return his own Spirit, to those who believe.

Jesus puts it this way in Matthew 11, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."