Most of you know I have been working my way through many writings and volumes of the 60 volume Great Books of the Western World set, via the 10 volume Great Ideas Program guided readings. Most readings so far have tended to be political essays, and so when I saw that the next volume, Volume 3, is Foundations of Science and Mathematics, well, you can imagine my thrill.
I am nearly finished with JS Mill’s On Liberty, meaning tonight may be the night. Queue DeVito’s serenade to Arnold in Twins, “Tonight, is your night bro!”
I have never considered myself a math guy and I hated physics and chemistry in high school. Chemistry was actually the class that ruined my chance to get a motorcycle in high school. Straight A’s? See ya!
But as I attended seminary, I dug into epistemology and all the reasons folks don’t believe in Christianity and the resurrection etc. and have ended up finding myself intrigued to always have a leg up on the ability to intelligently and succinctly speak to the origins and limitations of science and mathematics.
Have I said that tonight could be the night? It could be. Queue Tony and Maria, “Tonight, tonight…”
Usually Tuesday’s are when my wife joins her friends in prayer for hours and I get a movie night to myself. But I don’t think so for tonight. Tonight I get the chance, no, the privilege to open new doors of mind-space.
I ask you, faithful reader, does it get any better than these moments?
Review of The Great Conversation: Volume One of the Great Books of the Western World, By Robert Maynard Hutchins
No different than the school shootings, we all have opinions on liberal education. Oh, you may disagree in this moment, but watch this: What do you think? Are all entitled to receive a liberal education or only the wealthy and powerful?
See what I mean?
Endearing Backstory: My school’s library had apparently been amassing donations of book sets for a few years and last Monday morning there was a long awaited sale. Each book cost a mere $2, but the catch was you had to purchase the entire set. I had heard rumor (cuz im sooo street) that they had a set of the famed Great Books of the Western World (hereafter GBWW). $126 poorer, and I am the proud owner of that 54 volume set. (They had 53 volumes=$106. I had to track down the missing volume on Amazon for $20. It’s best not to dwell on such things.)
Volume One explains and defends the project. There is no better title for it than The Great Conversation. I would know, because, as you know, I love conversation. According to Hutchins et al. however, what I actually love is the freedom to converse. No argument here. And inherent to our beloved way of life–as presented in GBWW–is the belief in liberal education for all. Put another way, we believe everyone gets a say and no one has the last word.
The one critique I have of the project is that Hutchins writes that the editorial board believes the–now 118 year–lack of teaching great books will be viewed by future historians as an aberration. I am happy to read such clear writing, but where I distinguish myself from Hutchins is that I believe that the lack of teaching the great books, whether someday viewed as an aberration or not, manifests something much worse. It is the evidence that in some very meaningful, though elusive, sense we are no longer the Western World.
Western Civilization, the great conversation it has had, ends with silence.
So speak up, I say! For Christ’s sake, speak up!
I Couldn’t Be More Proud
So, remember my anti-bad teachers rant(s)? Only moments ago, H- told me something that *I think* gave me a glimpse of heaven.
She said, “Dad, today I fell asleep at school.”
A bit shocked, I asked, “When? Where were you?”
She said, “While we were watching T.V.”
Yippee!!! Hallelujah!! She’s doing it! Victory!!
I said, “Will you do something for me?”
She answered, “What?”
“Will you fall asleep every time you watch TV?”
(See what I’m doing here?)
So, from now on, if my little ruse works, I’ll have contributed to a problem which proves the problem. I cannot wait for some teacher or administrator to address me about H-‘s sleeping habits at school. The very thought of that moment is, itself, nourishment to my soul.