The Space Race

Thirty years ago, the most readily identifiable icon of the space race was Neil Armstrong, a reserved and dignified man who observed a brief communion service with Buzz Aldrin while they were on the moon.

Today, the most readily identifiable icon of the space race is Elon Musk, who named his child “X AE A-XII” and got high on the Joe Rogan Experience.

The comparison reveals quite a bit about “science.” Not real science, I suppose, but the sort of thing which passes for science in the news cycle, White House press briefings, NPR’s Science Friday, TED talks, Bill Nye’s Instagram account, and the sort of classrooms where “Science is fun!”

How To Not Be Shallow

“You are not too young to begin paying close attention to the world, to others, and to begin asking yourself, ‘What do joyous people have in common?’

You are not too young to pay attention to the words and deeds of your friends and ask what sort of adults they will become if they continue down their current paths.

You are not too young to pay attention to the pious adults in your life and ask how they got there, how they became pious.

And neither are you too young to look at miserable adults and ask how they became miserable.

As an adult who is nearly 40 years old, and as an adult who has been teaching high school for sixteen years, I will say that very few of the miserable adults I know became miserable because their grades in school weren’t good enough. Rather, most of the adults I know who are miserable, whether they are “saved” in the common evangelical sense of the word, or Baptist, or Presbyterian, or Catholic, or Orthodox, are miserable because they never learned profundity of spirit. In short, they are miserable because they are shallow.”

-from a lecture I am giving to Orthodox youth this weekend at The Saint Emmelia Orthodox Christian Homeschooling Conference

To Grade Or To Edit

At the moment, I am going over the first draft of my next book, which has been copiously marked up with red pen by the editor. The following thought occurred to me (during my ninth hour of looking over the proposed edits):

Many teachers fill student papers with editorial marks and corrections, indicating that a certain word should be capitalized, or that a comma is needed, or that a certain sentence is awkward or needs to be rephrased.

However, there is no point in putting editorial marks on student work if the student is not asked to go back and fix them. If the teacher does not require corrections should be made and the work resubmitted, it is a waste of time to point out how things ought to be different.

Bad Taste Is Its Own Punishment

“Modern beliefs about politics, church government, democracy, and so forth are all neatly and appropriately reflected in modern literature, modern music, and modern liturgies. We do not deserve a better culture than the one we have. Every culture is perfectly suited to the music it produces, the churches it builds, and the poems it writes. We cannot lament our inability to build a fitting sequel to St. Peter’s Basilica without simultaneously lamenting our complete lack of a theology that might compel us to do so.”

-from Love What Lasts, out later this year

One Shelf

A reader recently asked what books I would include in a “concise” library which could fit on a single shelf. When I began putting the list together, I had it in mind to distinguish between books I would choose simply because I enjoy teaching them and books I would choose for pleasure. The longer I considered the list, the less this seemed a genuine difference.

The Song of Roland

The Consolation of Philosophy, Boethius

The Divine Comedy

Reflections on the Revolution in France, Burke

Frankenstein, Shelley

Plato’s Republic

Jane Eyre, Bronte

Till We Have Faces, Lewis

The Remains of the Day, Ishiguro

Strangers on a Train, Highsmith

The Road, McCarthy

Stoner, Williams

The Little Prince, de Saint-Exupéry

Frog and Toad: The Complete Collection, Lobel

The Wind in the Willows, Grahame

Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, Bartlett

Let Us Solve That

Christians who are tempted to gaze longingly at the world and regard the world as a paragon of sophistication, all the while thinking Christians a lowly and embarrassing crowd of underfunded fundamentalists, really ought to spend five minutes scrolling through the “Origin of language” page on Wikipedia.

Not Clever

If you’re going to claim one corporate slogan is an informal fallacy, you might as well claim they’re all informal fallacies. For my money, though, no corporate slogan is an informal fallacy, but this is because informal logic have more to do with rhetoric than mathematics. Formal logic is the other way around.

I am teaching informal logic this year and I have collected a number of informal logic textbooks. Each author thinks he is quite clever for going to town on corporate slogans (“Just do it” is special pleading!), but they might as well be deconstructing poems.