Book III: God first appears/Three is the number of the Trinity
Book IV: Man first appears/Four is the number of man, the earth
Book VII: Creation is first described/Seven days in the creation week
Book VIII: Sex is first described/Eight is the number of new beginnings
Book XIII: The twelve tribes of Israel are first described, as are the twelve apostles
“Classical Christian education has gotten popular enough that we’re probably only a few years away from naming schools Lift, Summit, Impact, Sponge, or whatever church names are fashionable at the time…
A good many classical Christian schools already style themselves after megachurches. They talk about “taking over this city for Christ,” have dope Instagram accounts, bring motivational speakers in for assemblies, won’t shut up about “the culture,” and are generally one pair of Air Jordans away from getting sued by Stephen Furtick for copyright infringement.”
-from my latest, A School Named Sue: How Should We Name Classical Schools?
“As I near my 40s, the most fundamental question I ask when my wife and I are deciding what movie to watch on an evening is not “Drama or Comedy?” Neither do I first ask, “New movie or old movie?” Rather, the first pebble we drop down the well of our souls is, “Something we have seen before or something new?” This is the metaphysical coup of film. The occasions when I want something new are always attended by flightier moods, not a spirit of adventure. When I have my gravity, when my faculties are strong, I want something I’ve seen a thousand times.”
-from Film As Metaphysical Coup, originally published in 2017, and now available for the first time online.
This article was so difficult to write, I wrote almost nothing for two months following its completion. Since I began writing at seventeen, I’d never produced so little.
“It is probably safe to assume that every classical Christian school in the country sees itself as the rival of some better funded, more liberal Christian school across town.”
Too Catholic: A Classical Odyssey is now available on the CiRCE website. This piece originally appeared in an issue of FORMA several years ago, but this is the first time it has been available digitally.
Of all the essays I’ve ever written, I’m most proud of this one.
Tomorrow I will be speaking at the CiRCE regional conference in Sterling, Virginia. It’s not too late to sign up for Saturday’s block of lectures, if you would like. I will be giving a lecture which reflects on what I’ve learned about human nature from teaching short fiction workshops to high school students.
Boys in 8th grade Latin classes: “When are we actually going to use this in the real world?
Boys in 12th grade: “I wrote my thesis on why travel soccer players should be paid in cryptocurrency.”
Readers, if you teach at a private Christian school where seniors are required to write a thesis, I am curious to know what sort of subjects your seniors are presenting on. If you are willing to share them, I would love to look over a list of senior thesis statements/subjects from the last several years. Feel free to redact all the names before sending them.
For what it’s worth, I am trying to get a sense of what level of sophistication the seniors at most classical schools are capable of arguing. You can email me personally or email me through Gibbs Classical.
Tom: What do you take in your coffee?
Harry: I’m allergic to cow’s milk. What else do you have?
Tom: I’ve got oat milk.
Harry: I don’t like the taste.
Tom: I’ve got goat milk.
Harry: It’s so expensive.
Tom: I’ve got boat milk.
Harry: Boat milk? What’s that?
Tom: It’s part of Lockheed Martin’s new line of mecha-milks. They take old boats, planes, and cars, grind them up very fine, add water and some other stuff, and presto! Boat milk is available in regular, vanilla, and extra creamy. I’ve also got some plane milk, if you’d like to try it.
Harry: Wow, what’s it taste like?
Tom: It’s got a delicious metallic flavor I can’t get enough of. Besides it’s good for the planet. Recycling old forms of transportation is about as eco-friendly as it gets!
Michel Houellebecq’s Submission (2015) is the story of a secularist college professor named François who must figure out what he actually stands for after France is (mostly) peacefully, democratically overtaken by Islamists and something like Sharia law is imposed. His university gives him a generous severance package, but offers him even more money if he will convert and come back to teach. Most of his colleagues convert. François becomes more amenable to the idea of conversion when he discovers that he can keep drinking and smoking after he converts, and that the new university provost might even help him find a wife or two.
Someone really needs to write the American version of this story. Everything is the same, except it’s a Christian at a Christian college that is becoming increasingly woke.
Student: I’m worried that our class just isn’t moving fast enough through the material. We’re not getting much done.
Teacher: Well, a classical education isn’t about covering material. It’s about cultivating virtue.
Student: No one is cultivating virtue in your class. That’s the problem. You spend so much time every day lecturing the boys on why they shouldn’t talk out of turn, why they shouldn’t distract you, shouldn’t distract each other… We never accomplish anything. It’s just a lot of pointless scolding.
Teacher: Well, your class can be quite unruly.
Student: Actually, your class is unruly. Those boys don’t mess around in our other classes.
Student: No. They sit quietly and listen for Mr. Boone and Mrs. Sanders.
Teacher: Why do you think that is?
Student: Because they’re sort of afraid of Mr. Boone.
Teacher: Well, I don’t want students to be afraid of me. As someone who cares about the cultivation of virtue, I am going after the hearts of my students.
Student: That’s not working either. The boys in my class despise you. They call you “Mr. Twinkie Talk” behind your back. They love Mr. Boone, though.
-from my latest for CiRCE