(Why we teach what we teach)
The sine qua non
Think of Latin as a 36 month Parmesan or a 100 year old port. Almost no one you know eats cheese or owns port that old, but if someone were to offer you some, you’d be mad to refuse. Why? Because some things are inherently good, and your almost certain dislike of them reflects poorly on you, not the cheese or the port.
Latin is one of the truly fine things of this world. As with whiskey, Carravagio, Leviticus, and opera, learning to love it takes time and effort. Though you may be unwilling to acquire a taste for Latin, you are not free to decide that it is not a fine thing. The universe is older than you, my friend.
Cantare amantis est. Only the lover sings.
Math is a language that describes the cosmos. As a language, it serves both modest and lofty ends. The study of mathematics ought to produce men who can not only calculate, but who can wax eloquent in the mathematical tongue.
Men may ground themselves by looking to the things that are certain. The study of History is simply the study of the certain things.
Why should one study Literature?
“Of all creatures that breathe and walk on the earth there is nothing more helpless than a man is, of all that the earth fosters; for he thinks that he will never suffer misfortune in future days, while the gods grant him courage, and his knees have spring in them. But when the blessed gods bring sad days upon him, against his will he must suffer it with enduring spirit. For the mind in men upon earth goes according to the fortunes the Father of Gods and Men, day by day, bestows upon them.”
– Odysseus (to the suitors, disguised as a beggar)
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows his handiwork.
How to be a Poet (to remind myself)
by Wendell Berry
Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have—inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.
Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.
Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.
… the right use of reason in the inquiry after truth.
Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.
Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
(From James 3)