Modern education

The truth is that the modern world has committed itself to two totally different and inconsistent conceptions about education. It is always trying to expand the scope of education; and always trying to exclude from it all religion and philosophy. But this is sheer nonsense. You can have an education that teaches atheism because atheism is true, and it can be, from its own point of view, a complete education. But you cannot have an education claiming to teach all truth, and then refusing to discuss whether atheism is true.

Since the coming of the more ambitious psychological education, our schools have claimed to develop all sides of human nature; that is, to produce a complete human being. You cannot do this and totally ignore a great living tradition, which teaches that a complete human being must be a Christian or Catholic human being. You must either persecute it out of existence or allow it to make its own education complete.

When schooling was supposed to consist of spelling, of counting and making pothooks and hangers, you might make out some kind of case for saying that it could be taught indifferently by a Baptist or Buddhist. But what in the world is the sense of having an education which includes lessons in “citizenship”, for instance; and then pretending not to include anything like a moral theory, and ignoring all those who happen to hold that a moral theory depends on a moral theology.

The Common Man (posth.; 1950).

Published in: on November 28, 2012 at 6:15 am  Leave a Comment  

Pagan and Christian

It is often said by the critics of Christian origins that certain ritual feasts, processions or dances are really of pagan origin. They might as well say that our legs are of pagan origin. Nobody ever disputed that humanity was human before it was Christian; and no Church manufactured the legs with which men walked or danced, either in a pilgrimage or a ballet. What can really be maintained, so as to carry not a little conviction, is this: that where such a Church has existed it has preserved not only the processions but the dances; not only the cathedral but the carnival. One of the chief claims of Christian civilisation is to have preserved things of pagan origin.

 — The Superstition of Divorce (1920).

Published in: on November 22, 2012 at 6:02 am  Leave a Comment  

Warsash, 1917

The clotted woods are dim, the day
Ever expires and still expands:
The River finds its wandering way
From what unfathomable lands,
And God who made our hearts so great,
Our little hearts that hold the world,
Hangs this high moment with a weight
Of banners drooping, but not furled.

For we too broaden though we fade,
And we too deepen though we die,
Waste in what fashion we were made
And die of immortality —
And something rooted like the tree
Can hear unquelled, although it quiver,
Ancestral voices of the sea
That call the unreturning river.

Wide windows of the soul enlightened
Of these wide waters and the light —
Seeing whatever stars have brightened
Since eyes of men were sad and bright.
Fear not the dust or dusk hereafter
That darkens this dear land and leaves
The loves that found us and the laughter
Upon so many summer eves.

For not in rains of weeping rotten
Nor choked in thorns of thwarting, ends
The greatness of the unforgotten,
The silence of the pride of friends.
And sad with songs yet good and gay
And weak with no ignoble things
We look on this white waste of day
Where silence is alone and sings.

The clustered trees are all a cloud,
A vision and a voiceless wraith;
Fading in fulness, like a cloud
Of final thoughts that fade to faith:
But richer than the jewelled nights
That build beyond Southampton Bar
A ladder for the harbour-lights
From England to the evening star.

— (1917).

Published in: on November 14, 2012 at 6:40 am  Comments (5)  

“A small magic machine”

One of those wise old fairy tales, that come from nowhere and flourish everywhere, tells how a man came to own a small magic machine like a coffee-mill, which would grind anything he wanted when he said one word and stop when he said another. After performing marvels (which I wish my conscience would let me put into this book for padding) the mill was merely asked to grind a few grains of salt at an officers’ mess on board ship; for salt is the type everywhere of small luxury and exaggeration, and sailors’ tales should be taken with a grain of it. The man remembered the word that started the salt mill, and then, touching the word that stopped it, suddenly remembered that he forgot. The tall ship sank, laden and sparkling to the topmasts with salt like Arctic snows; but the mad mill was still grinding at the ocean bottom, where all the men lay drowned. And that (so says this fairy tale) is why the great waters about our world have a bitter taste. For the fairy tales knew what the modern mystics don’t — that one should not let loose either the supernatural or the natural.

— Eugenics and Other Evils  (1922).

Published in: on November 7, 2012 at 1:57 pm  Comments (3)