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01 February 2017

Commonplace Book: January

We have this desire to give our kids what we call an academically "rigorous" education. Andrew Kern and Christopher Perrin both taught me a bit about that. ... I asked them how we could pursue a rigorous education while retaining a sense of rest. What I didn't realize at the time was that the word "rigor" comes from the Latin rigor, rigoris, which means "numbness,stiffness, hardness, firmness, roughness, rudeness." Rigor mortis literally means "the stiffness of death," which I think we can all agree is not the goal of homeschooling our children!

Don't aim for rigorous education, Kern and Perrin both told me. If we are aiming to order our children's affections, learn to love what is lovely, join in the great conversation, and cultivate a soul so that the person is read in every sense of the word to take on the challenges around the corner and on the other side of the college entrance exams; work toward "diligence" instead.

"Diligence" come from the Latin diligere, which means to "single out, value highly, esteem, prize, love; aspire to, take delight in, appreciate." What we are really aiming for in giving our children a rigorous education is not just doing hard things, but cultivating a habit of focused attention. The word "student" comes from the Latin studium, meaning "Zeal, affection, eagerness." A diligent student, then, takes delight, eagerly and with great zeal, in what he loves.
-Sarah Mackenzie, Teaching From Rest, 4-5

Learn everything; later you will see that nothing is superfluous.
-Hugh of St.Victor, quoted in Paideia Notes

But the one achievement possible and necessary for every man is character; and character is as finely wrought metal beaten into shape and beauty by the repeated and accustomed action of will.
-Charlotte Mason 6:129

The will, too, is of slow growth, nourished upon the ideas proposed to it, and so all things work together for good to the child who is duly educated. It is well that children should know that while the turbulent person is not ruled by will at all but by impulse, the movement of his passions or desires, yet it is possible to have a constant will with unworthy or evil ends, or even to have a steady will towards a good end and to compass that end by unworthy means.
-Charlotte Mason 6:132-3

You will come to know that what appears today to be a sacrifice will prove instead to be the greatest investment that you will ever make.
-Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, April 1986, The Question of a Mission

There was this luxury of living.
-Pearl S. Buck, The Good Earth, 26

Wang Lung sat smoking, think of the silver as it had lain upon the table. It had come out of the earth, this silver, out of his earth that he ploughed and turned and spent himself upon. He took his life from this earth; drop by drop by his sweat he wrung food from it and from the food, silver. Each time before this that he had taken the silver out to give to anyone, it had been like taking a piece of his life and giving it to someone carelessly. But now for the first time such giving was not pain. He saw, not the silver in the alien hand of a merchant in the town; he saw the silver transmuted into something worth even more than itself -- clothes upon the body of his son. And this strange woman of his, who worked about, saying nothing, seeming to see nothing, she had first seen the child thus clothed.
-Pearl S. Buck, The Good Earth, 36

Is self-denial wise because there is something wrong with our passions, or because there is something right with our passions? Alma taught his son: “See that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love.” (Alma 38:12; emphasis added.) He did not say we should suppress or eliminate our passions but rather bridle them—harness, channel, and focus them. Why? Because disciplining our passions makes possible a richer, deeper love.
-Bruce and Marie Hafen, Bridle All Your Passions

Education which leaves out God is destitute of all true value. Satan is aware of the great power which a true system of education gives to the people. He is, therefore, opposed to such a system. He knows full well that a generation trained in all  true knowledge cannot be lead by him, as they would if their education were neglected. He therefore stirs up all the agencies under his control to do everything in their power to defeat the purposes of God in regard to the education of our children.
-George Q. Cannon, Juvenile Instructor, 15 Apr 1890

It is easy to forget that teaching is holy work. The building up of the intellect - teaching children  to really thing - does not happen by the might of human reason, but rather by the grace of God. On an ordinary day, you and I likely have a set of tasks we've scheduled for our kids. But it's more than math. It's more than history. It is the building of our children's hearts and minds, and we can only do that if we realize that this is how we thank Him for the graces He so lavishly pours upon us.
-Sarah Mackenzie, Teaching From Rest, 11

 How can the Christian know divine rest and yet educate out of and to anxiety? How can a Christian “learn from Christ” who gives rest and then give no rest to their students? How can the Christian “pause” for refreshment every Sunday but offer no sabbath to students? Where is the sabbath pattern in our schools and studies?
-Christopher Perrin, Let's Pause a Moment

Now there is a pride a man has when he sees his eldest son reading aloud the letters upon a paper and putting the brush and ink to paper and writing that which may be ready by others, and this pride Wang Lung now had.
-Pearl S. Buck, The Good Earth, 231

It takes a certain fortitude, after all, to look at a pile of dishes and see in it the makings of a cathedral. The daily mundane is holy ground because the ordinary tasks of a monotonous Monday are where we meet our Maker.

The builders of medieval cathedrals knew what it meant to work their entire lives to please God without ever expecting to see their work completed. Many cathedrals would take more than a hundred years to build -- more than the span of a man's lifetime. I once heard a story of an artisan who worked tirelessly for many years to carve a beautiful bird into a portion of the cathedral that would be covered up. When someone asked why he was working so hard on something that no one would ever see, he replied, "Because God sees."

God sees your little wooden bird, too. Just as the artisans and carpenters of old built beautiful cathedrals for the glory of God, so do you. Yes, you - you who work tirelessly day after day over a geography lesson, a math test, a laundry pile, a kitchen sink. These are th moments wherein you build cathedrals for God.
-Sarah Mackenzie, Teaching From Rest, 11-12

And Wang Lung stood beside the two graves and watched and his grief was hard and dry, and he would not cry out loud as others did for there were no tears in his eyes, because it seemed to him that what had come about was come about, and there was nothing to be done more than he had done.

But when the earth was covered over and the graves smoothed, he turned away silently and he sent away the chair and he walked home alone with himself...

Thus thinking heavily, he went on alone and he said to himself,

"There in that land of mine is buried the first good half of my life and more. It is as though half of me were buried there, and now it is a different life in my house."

And suddenly he wept a little, and he dried his eyes with the back of his hand, as a child does.
-Pearl S. Buck, The Good Earth, 289-90

Now as the winter wore away and the waters began to recede so that Wang Lung could walk abroad over his land it happened one day that his eldest son followed him and said to him proudly,

"Well, and there will soon be another mouth in the house and it will be the mouth of your grandson."

Then Wang Lung, when he heard this, turned himself about and he laughed and he rubbed his hands together and said,

"Here is a good day, indeed!"
-Pearl S. Buck, The Good Earth, 303

Odin took the horn in both his hands and drank and drank. And as he drank all the future became clear to him. He saw all the sorrows and troubles that would fall upon Men and Gods. But he saw, too, why the sorrows and troubles had to fall, and he saw how they might be borne so that Gods and Men, by being noble in the days of sorrow and trouble, would leave in the world a force that one day, a day that was far off indeed, would destroy the evil that brought terror and sorrow and despair into the world.
-Padric Colum, Children of Odin

"Well, alright," he said. "If that's the way you want it, I'm for it even if it's only an agreement between you and your dogs. If a man's word isn't any good, he's no good himself."
-Wilson Rawls, Where the Red Fern Grows, 93

What is this earth and sea, of which I have seen so much? Whence is it produced? And what am I and all the other creatures, wild and tame, human and brutal, whence are we?

Sure we are all made by some secret Power who formed the earth adn sea, the air and sky; and who is that?

Then it followed most naturally; It is God that has made it all. Well, but then, it came on strangely, if God has made all these things, He guides and governs them all and all things that concern them; for the Power that could make all things must certainly have the power to guide and direct them.
-Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe, 144

This term in its particular application means "that dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in exclusion of every other individual." In its larger and juster meaning, it embraces every thing to which a man may attach a value and have a right; and which leaves to every one else the like advantage. In the former sense, a man's land, or merchandize, or money is called his property. In the latter sense, a man has a property in his opinions and the free communication of them.

He has a property of peculiar value in his religious opinions, and in the profession and practice dictated by them. He has a property very dear to him in the safety and liberty of his person.
He has an equal property in the free use of his faculties and free choice of the objects on which to employ them. In a word, as a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights.

Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions. Where there is an excess of liberty, the effect is the same, tho' from an opposite cause.

Government is instituted to protect property of every sort; as well that which lies in the various rights of individuals, as that which the term particularly expresses. This being the end of government, that alone is a just government, which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own.
-James Madison, On Property, emphasis original

But mere reading of wise books will not make you wise men: you must use for yourselves the tools with which books are made wise; and that is -- your eyes, and your ears, and common sense.
-Madam How and Lady Why, 4

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