reason and imagination


School is out for the summer, and since May 19th when we ended the year, I haven’t given it much thought.  It’s been a good break, and one we’ve all needed.  Two months into our summer vacation, and two weeks out from the end of the summer programs here, I’ve started to turn my attention back to school again.

Before dozing off to sleep on this Sunday afternoon, I found myself reading through the late summer edition of The Classical Teacher, a resource magazine by Memoria Press.  I find these magazines interesting to read, even though I have never felt particularly drawn to Shakespeare and Latin or the other things I read about there.

The main reason?  It’s simple–I don’t understand it.

Why does Charles E. Bennet, in his article The Justification for Latin write “if Latin is not of fundamental importance in the high-school curriculum, then large numbers of students are making a prodigious error in pursuing the subject, and the sooner we understand this, the better for our civilization?”

All this classical stuff feels too civilized for me.  I realize, that by saying this, I’m probably a living example of every point the classical people are trying to make.  I have never seen myself as being part of a civilization.  Civilization was not a present day something I lived in. Civilizations were things we learned about in school.

Here is an interesting section from the article Reason and Imagination: G.K. Chesterton and the Defense of the Christian West by Martin Cothran.  It stood out to me.

“For Chesterton, Western civilization was synonymous with Christendom, that majestic and all-pervading cultural ideal that still haunted the dreams of Europe well into the twentieth century.  There was no separating Christianity from the West: Their history was intertwined and their fate was one.  This is why Orthodoxy is not only a book of Christian apologetics, but one of the great defenses of the Christian West.

Chesterton’s argument in the first part of Orthodoxy is this: Western man may have lost his belief in sin, but he retains at least a belief in sanity.  But when we look to the philosophies of the modern world we find all the cultural signs of madness.  Modern worldviews possess the very characteristics of insanity, the chief of which are fragmentation and reductionism–the inability to see the whole world and the obsession with some one idea at the expense of all others…”

This I can understand–

It’s a horrible thing when the only thing you can see is yourself.

It’s a horrible thing to be fragmented, cut-off, removed, and blind.

Hell is a life without God.

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