Friday, October 29, 2010

Second Quarter: Week Ten of the School Year


Luther's Theology:  Bondage of the Will
Luther's Life:  A Place to Stand: The Word of God in the Life of Martin Luther
A Movie About Luther:  Luther
Plus Quotes, Essays, Discussions, and Analyses

Monday:  Watch movie in class.
Discuss sections of Bondage of the Will.  
Outline Notes on the Reformation

Tuesday:   Follow up on the Movie
More discussion of Bondage of the Will.
What did Luther accomplish?

Wednesday:  Luther and Erasmus:  What are the issues?
Essay/Handout:  "Luther: Giant of His Time and Ours"
Problems With Luther

Thursday:  In Class Essay on Luther

Friday:  Luther and the Other Reformers:  Bucer, Calvin, and Melancthon

Readings, Writings, and Written Work: 
  • Close reading and re-reading of portions of Bondage of the Will.
  • Four or Five Journal Pages Devoted to Copied Portions of BOTW.
  • Review and Discussion of the Luther Biography
  • The Story of Christianity, Volume II, chapters 1--3
  • Western Civilization, Chapter 13, pages 336-347
  • Handouts: Selections from the 95 Theses; "Luther: Giant of His Time and Ours"

From Luther's Ninety-Five Theses:
Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed at Wittenberg, under the presidency of the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and of Sacred Theology, and Lecturer in Ordinary on the same at that place. Wherefore he requests that those who are unable to be present and debate orally with us, may do so by letter.
In the Name our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
    1. Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite, willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.
    2. This word cannot be understood to mean sacramental penance, i.e., confession and satisfaction, which is administered by the priests.
    3. Yet it means not inward repentance only; nay, there is no inward repentance which does not outwardly work divers mortifications of the flesh.
    4. The penalty [of sin], therefore, continues so long as hatred of self continues; for this is the true inward repentance, and continues until our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Week Nine: October 25-29

From Chicago to Wittenberg


Tales from our Travelers to Far Distant Lands:  Wheaton College, Moody Bible Institute, the C.S. Lewis Museum, and downtown Chicago.

Glances at Bondage of the Will.  Do we choose God or does God choose us or do we choose God because God chose us or does God choose us because we chose God?  Is our will free, neutral, able to do good, or bound naturally by sin?  What kind of Reformation would Erasmus have given us?

Back to Hamlet:  To kill Claudius or not to kill Claudius:  Here is the question:  What SHOULD Hamlet do? And when is he mad and when is he portending madness?  And what did Gertrude know and when did she know it? 


Guest Lecture by Sean Mahaffey. 
Topic:  Amusing Ourselves to Death.


Class Reports:  Background to the Reformation
To be Followed by an Exclusive Mr. House Test: Background to the Reformation


What Do We Then Understand:  Assemble the 10 Discussion Questions from Francis Schaeffer.
To be Followed by an Exclusive Mr. House Assignment on How Should We Then Live?


Hamlet, then Luther

1.  Bondage of the Will.
2.  A Place to Stand: Martin Luther and the Word of God
3.  Chapters from Gonzalez and Spielvogel
4.  Hamlet
5. Romans 1

Friday, October 15, 2010

Week 8: October 18--22

What caused the Reformation? 
"Without the advent of printing, there have been no Reformation,
and there might have been no Protestantism either" 
Alister McGrath, Christianity's Dangerous Idea


1.  Bondage of the Will.  Work on Chapter V, pages 190--238. 
2.  A Place to Stand: The Word of God in the Life of Martin Luther by Gene Edward Veith.  Continue reading through this biography.  Read to enjoy.  The book is approximately 225 pages long.  Push on to the 3/4th mark in this book.
3.  Hamlet by Shakespeare.  Hopefully, we will get all of Act III read and perhaps most of Act IV.
5.  The Story of Christianity, If you have read Volume 1, Chapters 33 & 34, you can rest for a week or move into Volume II, Chapter 1. 
6.  Western Civilizations by Jackson J. Spielvogel.  Read Chapter 12 (Recovery and Rebirth: The Age of the Renaissance) and begin Chapter 13 (Reformation and Religious Warfare).

7.  Extra Readings:   A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman, selected chapters.

Day By Day Plans:
Monday:   Background Causes of the Reformation:  The Roles Played by John Wycliffe and Jan Hus

Work on Reports and Francis Schaeffer Discussion Questions (Both Due Friday).

Read from Hamlet, if time permits.
Tuesday:  Field Trip to Court Session in Ashdown, Arkansas followed by visit with the Judge, followed by lunch...somewhere

If we have sufficient classtime, we will either watch a documentary on the Black Death or read from Hamlet

Wednesday:  Close reading and examination of Bondage of the Will

Hamlet:  The play's the thing, to catch the conscience of the king.

Thursday:  Special Guest Speaker: Sean Mahaffey

Discussing Amusing Ourselves to Death.


Francis Schaeffer Discussion Questions Due

Background to the Reformation Reports to be Read in Class

Hamlet, Hamlet, Wherefore art we in reading Hamlet?

I dream of a new reformation -- a reformation that is not simply a renewal of life but a new vision of life: a vision that yields new forms and structures in society and culture. As long as Christians restrict their Christianity to a religion, a faith that is compartmentalized and isolated from life, they can have revival but never, ever reformation. We need to hear and do the Word of God in all of our lives.
R.C. Sproul

We can give all kinds of satisfying explanations of why and when the Renaissance occurred and how its transmitted itself. But there is no explaining Dante, no explaining Chaucer. Genius suddenly comes to life, and speaks out of vacuum. Then it is silent, equally mysteriously. The trends continue and intensify, but genius is lacking. Chaucer had no successor of anything approaching similar stature. There is no major poet in 15th-century English literature.
Paul Johnson, The Renaissance

Friday, October 8, 2010

Week 7: October 11-15


1.  Bondage of the Will.  Read through chapter 4, pages 137 to 189. 
2.  A Place to Stand: The Word of God in the Life of Martin Luther by Gene Edward Veith.  Continue reading through this biography.  Read to enjoy.  The book is approximately 225 pages long.  Try to get half-way through it this week.
3.  How Should We Then Live?  by Francis Schaeffer.  FINISH THE BOOK. The discussion questions will need to be completed this week.
4.  Hamlet by Shakespeare.  We will continue reading/acting out this play.
5.  The Story of Christianity, Volume 1, by Justo Gonzalez. Read Chapters 31-33. 
6.  Western Civilizations by Jackson J. Spielvogel.  Read Chapters 11-12.

7.  Extra Readings:  Punic Wars and Culture Wars, chapter 15 and A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman, selected chapters.

Monday:  Holiday: No School in Honor of the Achievements of Christopher Columbus
 "I am a most noteworthy sinner, but I have cried out to the Lord for grace and mercy, and they have covered me completely. I have found the sweetest consolation since I made it my whole purpose to enjoy His marvellous Presence. "  Christopher Columbus
Tuesday:  Birthday of Christopher Dawson (1889-1970)!

"As I have pointed out, it is the Christian tradition that is the most fundamental element in Western culture. It lies at the base not only of Western religion,
but also of Western morals and Western social idealism." 
Christopher Dawson

Background to the Reformation
Topics:  Wycliffe, Hus, the Brethren of the Common Life, Thomas a' Kempis, the Papal Schism, the Calamitious 14th Century, the Renaissance, Dante, Machiavelli, Columbus, and much more.

Examine Books, Chapters, and Themes of the High Middle Ages.

Wednesday:  Who were the Brethren of the Common Life?  And what do we owe to them?

Reading and research in the books on the High Middle Ages and the Renaissance

Thursday:  Reading, Writing, & Research Projects:
1.  Discussion Questions from How Should We Then Live?

2.  High Middle Ages and Renaissance Reports

Friday:   Continue Research Projects

Reading from and/or watching Hamlet

More Regarding Historian Christopher Dawson:

from on Tuesday, April 15, 2008

More on Christopher Dawson

Concerning books, a visitor to the home of Christopher Dawson once wrote:

"It is an old and hackneyed idea to have a library in one's house; it is a new and rewarding idea to have a house in one's library."

The same visitor wrote:

"The practice of having volumes--and such splendid ones--in every room is, I think, an altogether wonderful idea: one not only has the world of learning at one's fingertips, but at one's elbows, coat tails, and collar buttons."

(From Sanctifying the World: An Augustinian Life and Mind of Christopher Dawson by Bradly Birzer.)

For those who are wondering what to read by Christopher Dawson, I offer the following annotated recommendations:

1. One of the best books to begin reading Dawson with is the excellent collection of his essays found in Christianity and European Culture: Selections from the Work of Christopher Dawson, edited by Gerald Russello (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1998). This book includes the whole of another Dawson book titled The Historic Reality of Christian Culture: A Way to the Renewal of Human Life. The essays in this collection include the topics of Christian culture, Christianity and history, and the impact of secularism.

2. Another work focusing on a Christian philosophy of history is The Dynamics of World History, which outlines Dawson’s Christian distinctives in regard to history. This book begins with ten essays on the sociological foundations of history. This is followed by another ten essays on different broad aspects of history. The second half of the book deals with how Christianity provides meaning with history, and the last part examines key historians, ranging from St. Augustine to Karl Marx to Arnold Toynbee.

3. Religion and the Rise of Western Culture and The Making of Europe are both useful surveys of the impact of Christianity upon European cultural history. Both of these books survey movements and events in European history from the end of the Roman Empire up through the latter Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

4. More on the Medieval period is found in Medieval Essays, which has played a key role in the whole field of Medieval studies. This book is a topical study and also includes chapters on Medieval literature, including discussions of Dante’s Divine Comedy and Langdon’s Piers Plowman.

5. The Dividing of Christendom surveys events from the Renaissance and Reformation through the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. Certainly, my historical sympathies are much closer to Luther and Calvin than was Dawson’s. But even though he might not always have judged history “correctly,” Dawson always judged it judiciously and insightfully. His insights into the further theological, political, and philosophical developments after Europe’s spiritual unity was fractured are most worthy of consideration.

6. The French Revolution and other revolutionary upheavals are given more coverage in The Gods of Revolution and The Movement of World Revolution Dawson’s historical studies focused on the larger movements rather than biographies and source materials. His aim was to examine the impact of culture in its broader dimensions.

7. The Crisis of Western Education first appeared in 1961. It was an appeal to Catholics, making making a strongly defended case for the necessity for Christian education. But we Protestants find much to "Amen" in this call for Christian schooling. Notice just this one quote: “But for the Christian the past can never be dead, as it often seems to the secularist, since we believe the past and the present are united in the one Body of the Church and that the Christians of the past are still present as witnesses and helpers in the life of the Church today.”

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ode to the Confederate Dead

A powerful poem at any time, but especially worth reading in the Autumn:

Ode to the Confederate Dead
by Alan Tate

Row after row with strict impunity
The headstones yield their names to the element,
The wind whirrs without recollection;
In the riven troughs the splayed leaves
Pile up, of nature the casual sacrament
To the seasonal eternity of death;
Then driven by the fierce scrutiny
Of heaven to their election in the vast breath,
They sough the rumour of mortality.
Autumn is desolation in the plot
Of a thousand acres where these memories grow
From the inexhaustible bodies that are not
Dead, but feed the grass row after rich row.
Think of the autumns that have come and gone!--
Ambitious November with the humors of the year,
With a particular zeal for every slab,
Staining the uncomfortable angels that rot
On the slabs, a wing chipped here, an arm there:
The brute curiosity of an angel's stare
Turns you, like them, to stone,
Transforms the heaving air
Till plunged to a heavier world below
You shift your sea-space blindly
Heaving, turning like the blind crab.
Dazed by the wind, only the wind
The leaves flying, plunge
You know who have waited by the wall
The twilight certainty of an animal,
Those midnight restitutions of the blood
You know--the immitigable pines, the smoky frieze
Of the sky, the sudden call: you know the rage,
The cold pool left by the mounting flood,
Of muted Zeno and Parmenides.
You who have waited for the angry resolution
Of those desires that should be yours tomorrow,
You know the unimportant shrift of death
And praise the vision
And praise the arrogant circumstance
Of those who fall
Rank upon rank, hurried beyond decision--
Here by the sagging gate, stopped by the wall.
Seeing, seeing only the leaves
Flying, plunge and expire
Turn your eyes to the immoderate past,
Turn to the inscrutable infantry rising
Demons out of the earth they will not last.
Stonewall, Stonewall, and the sunken fields of hemp,
Shiloh, Antietam, Malvern Hill, Bull Run.
Lost in that orient of the thick and fast
You will curse the setting sun.
Cursing only the leaves crying
Like an old man in a storm
You hear the shout, the crazy hemlocks point
With troubled fingers to the silence which
Smothers you, a mummy, in time.
The hound bitch
Toothless and dying, in a musty cellar
Hears the wind only.

Now that the salt of their blood
Stiffens the saltier oblivion of the sea,
Seals the malignant purity of the flood,
What shall we who count our days and bow
Our heads with a commemorial woe
In the ribboned coats of grim felicity,
What shall we say of the bones, unclean,
Whose verdurous anonymity will grow?
The ragged arms, the ragged heads and eyes
Lost in these acres of the insane green?
The gray lean spiders come, they come and go;
In a tangle of willows without light
The singular screech-owl's tight
Invisible lyric seeds the mind
With the furious murmur of their chivalry.
We shall say only the leaves
Flying, plunge and expire
We shall say only the leaves whispering
In the improbable mist of nightfall
That flies on multiple wing:
Night is the beginning and the end
And in between the ends of distraction
Waits mute speculation, the patient curse
That stones the eyes, or like the jaguar leaps
For his own image in a jungle pool, his victim.
What shall we say who have knowledge
Carried to the heart? Shall we take the act
To the grave? Shall we, more hopeful, set up the grave
In the house? The ravenous grave?
Leave now
The shut gate and the decomposing wall:
The gentle serpent, green in the mulberry bush,
Riots with his tongue through the hush--
Sentinel of the grave who counts us all!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Autumn Poetry

A Vagabond Song
Bliss Carmen

There is something in the autumn that is native to my blood--
Touch of manner, hint of mood;
And my heart is like a rhyme,
With the yellow and the purple and the crimson keeping time.

The scarlet of the maples can shake me like a cry
Of bugles going by.
And my lonely spirit thrills
To see the frosty asters like a smoke upon the hills.

There is something in October sets my gypsy blood astir;
We must rise and follow her,
When from every hill of flame
She calls and calls each vagabond by name.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Week 6: October 4--8


1.  Bondage of the Will.  Read through chapters 1--3, to page 136. 
2.  A Place to Stand: The Word of God in the Life of Martin Luther by Gene Edward Veith.  Begin a leisurely read through this easy, but well done biography.  Read to enjoy.  The book is approximately 225 pages long.  Try to get 20% of it read.
3.  How Should We Then Live?  by Francis Schaeffer.  Read chapters 11--13.  This will complete the book.  We will also finish watching the video series.  The discussion questions will also soon be completed.
4.  Hamlet by Shakespeare.  To read or not to read, there really is no question.  We will start reading/acting out this play, hopefully in the outdoor theatre (the front porch).  The reading of the play will be spontaneous and at whatever times we happen to have 15 to 30 minutes.
5.  Assorted and sundry poetry, partially dictated by the season.

Monday:  Readings in class:  Essays on A Tale of Two Cities

                 Read tonight and every night from Luther and about Luther.

Tuesday:  Terms Test for Philosophy and Science
                 Discussion of Francis Schaeffer and How Should We Then Live?
                 Background helps on understanding Bondage of the Will

Wednesday:  Terms Test on the Age of     t   rag F on i m ta e n (Fragmentation)
                       Thankfully, this test will be different; perhaps easier.                   
                       Francis Schaeffer Video, Session 9, "The Age of Personal Peace and Affluence."

Thursday:  Francis Schaeffer Video,  Session 10, "Final Choices."
                   What issues do we face today?
                    What has changed since 1976?               

Friday:      Final Assessments of Schaeffer's Work

"How beautiful Christianity is; first, because of the sparkling quality of its intellectual answers, but, secondly, because of the beautiful quality of its human and personal answers."
Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality

"Why should we honor those who die on the field of battle? A man may show as restless a courage in entering into the abyss of himself." 
William Butler Yeats

"He (Hamlet) accepts the world as it is, the world as a duel, in which, whether we know it or not, evil holds the poisoned rapier and the poisoned chalice waits; and in which, if we win at all, it costs not less than everything."
Maynard Mack, "The World of Hamlet"