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Talking About My Talks
Here are blog posts about some of my favorite talks.
I love Dorothy Sayers’ book The Mind of the Maker, and enjoy taking people through it to share her insights into the creative mind of God. She and I are both struck by the strange truth that, though God is (above all things?) a Creator, and we are made in His image, there is not much attention paid to developing an understanding of what ‘being a creator’ means.
It seems extra-spiritual, perhaps, but isn’t this right to the point? If we care what it means to be a good father, a wise ruler, a truthful judge (because these metaphors help us understand God and our own roles in life), but we care nothing about learning to be a creator, a storyteller, a dramatist, a musician, a poet, an artist of any kind, what does that say about our ‘spirituality’??
Yet rarely do I see Christians taking a drawing class, for instance, because they assume there is something huge to learn there about God and His ways; about themselves and their ways. But there is! When you realize it is the whole person who sees and not just the eyes or brain, you begin to realize how much more there is to see than you have understood.
When you try to act, but cannot release yourself to allow the giving of the character to a waiting audience, you find out something about your self-consciousness, and understand more deeply what the Incarnation cost Christ. When you think you have sound (even great) ideas, but never put them to the test of struggling to articulate them, opening them to scrutiny and judgment and comparison, you are missing something about who you are and what virtue is.
Well, I could go on and on, and wouldn’t have to if everyone would just get on board and read books like this! Being a creator, an artist, a maker of form, is a path of spiritual growth, if you understand the potential and the limits of this metaphor.
The Problem – We must get kids from where they are, to where they need to be; from ‘uneducated’ to ‘educated’. Given the poverty of our own education, we feel asked to do the impossible: build a bridge as we cross it. No way!
But there’s a problem with the problem – Kids aren’t all ‘here,’ and you don’t know exactly where ‘there’ is, so you must bridge from everywhere to nowhere. No wonder you’re exhausted!
We’ve got to rediscover particularity, because the individual has been lost in generalities, norms, averages. St. Pope John Paul suggested that what is necessary in our world today is the “recapitulation of the inviolable mystery of the human person.”
What is the role of ‘recapitulation’ in the education of our children? How do we educate for ‘betweenness’? Why is wonder the foundation for philosophy, and how does poetry play a pivotal role in the development of our interior life?
In this talk, I address these and many other questions you may not have realized you should be asking!
A mom is the caretaker of a huge, wonderful, potentially beautiful, critically important place! She, herself, this actual, unique person, is the single most important ‘environment’ in the lives of her children. Like Mary, like the Church, she is an atmosphere.
She is an atmosphere of affection. This is not just warm, fuzzy feelings, but her capacity to be affected, to be moved. Home is Mom’s joy infused into persons, like grace.
She is an acoustic atmosphere. Think of all the sounds she makes besides yelling, “Off with their heads!” now and then! Home is Mom’s voice lifting persons toward God.
She is an aesthetic atmosphere. All the order and beauty, color, line, pattern, radiance, and integrity of the environment she is, and the environment she creates, is the child’s first taste of love-in-formed. Home is Mom wrapped around persons like love.
With thanks for the poem, The Blessed Virgin Compared to the Air We Breathe, by Gerard Manley Hopkins, I designed this talk for the 2014 Kansas Catholic Homeschooling Conference, and will gladly present it again for you!
Here’s a collection of my talks that feature poetry, poems, or poetic formation.