Tuesday, November 30

A Modest (Christian) Proposal

Our fair land (the USA) is founded on (among other things) a principle of freedom of worship and separation of State and Church. This refers to the States influences on the Church. The reverse is not true, there is not a founding principle in Christianity insisting on such separation. In fact, seeing as Christ said, "Render unto Caesar", the contrary is the case. For it would seem in a democratic or republican society, one thing we as a people are asked to render is our advice (or at least our vote). Now I have argued in the past, that even if the Christian plurality in this country indeed had a single will and the power to control the three branches of government, that it is not obvious how to proceed. That is, besides perhaps anti-abortion legislation, what other sorts of laws might Christians wish enacted to further their vision of how society should be shaped. For example, take the Christian virtue Charity. It is not obvious how to create legislation or shape society in a way in which Charity as a personal virtue should be inculcated. I would in fact argue that governmental contributions to charity in our society decrease not increase personal inclinations to themselves take on charity as a personal responsibility. Thus the charitable acts foisted on us by our well meaning officials have an effect which is the reverse of what is intended. I would also point out that government being one of the least efficient means of effecting any result, should even further reduce the impulse to support municipal charities.

However, all is not lost reflecting further on thoughts of Christian government.

I hit upon one idea with respect to how our Christian virtues can be better effected in our society. In fact, it might even be sold in a secular fashion to our secular peers. Our educational system in this country for good or ill, has been assumed to be a role for our local government to administer. In fact our state and federal governments can't keep their hands off the education of our children (much less other facet of our lives) and seems bound to regulate and micro-manage our schools as well. Recently I argued, that the content of the curriculum might be irrelevant to the education of our children especially at the elementary and even into the high school levels for their future career. To summarize the argument, I had maintained that a student who has achieved proficiency in memorization, reasoning, diligence, and perseverance will excel in his chosen career not matter what he has been taught prior to making his career choice. This is what I meant when I said curriculum doesn't matter. If that student became proficient in those four skills, then even his prior education left him tabular rasa with respect to his chosen concentration, he would quickly close ground (and surpass) his peers who may have previous knowledge in that field, but were not as skilled at learning.

To make a concrete example, let us imagine a student having completed K-12 in a fundamental Christian theological education. He learns Latin, Greek, Hebrew, reads the Bible, Augustine, Aquinas, Aristotle, Plato and perhaps even Homer. He memorizes the Psalms and spends hours in prayer. He learns rhetoric and to discern and argue fine points of theology. Then he goes to a liberal University. I claim, although there is much his peers know which he does not know at the start, he will probably make up the lost ground quickly, having better study habits and learning skills.

Now, examining the "four" virtues of of a good education, one of them, we as Christians certainly can claim to know how to teach. Finally, we have a practical suggestion which we Christians can provide. For St. Paul tells us in Romans 5:3-4: ..., because we know suffering produces
perseverance, perseverance character; and character hope.
that suffering teaches perseverance which leads to character. So let us tell our schools boards that perseverance must be taught to our children for them to succeed for it is certainly true. And further, tell them how to teach it. And if our schools don't take it up, we as parents must in their stead.

This is a hard lesson for us parents in today's society. But if we read history, it is a lesson not often learned by the our forebears. How often do we read of great men, after striving and achieving much, had it lost because their sons and daughters, growing up in the luxury afforded by the success of their sire so often failed to measure up. Look at our lives. Even the poorest in America often live lives of luxury not often equaled by even the Roman Imperial family. How can we teach, or ourselves learn perseverance? I think that we as Christian parents should seek out ways for ourselves and our children to find worthwhile endeavors which are not always comfortable, perhaps even involving a little sacrifice. Dare I say suffering? These endeavors in fact, could be made part of our children's schooling, we need not limit them to Christian children, for in fact, all children (or people) can learn perseverance through suffering. And the "lost time" to the three R's and the "facts" which must be learned are not needed as dearly as the establishment might believe.