Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Classical Ed & the Church


I am a classical educator. I get it. I love it. It makes sense to me when so much of my own education didn't. It is how I am homeschooling our children and how I wish I'd truly educated our older kids. Live and learn - and I am, to quote the book title, "Learning All the Time." For those of you unaquainted with classical education I'll give ya the 30 second run-down. There are 3 stages of this model known as "the Trivium" - the 3 paths; the grammar stage (early childhood) consists of memorizing the vocabulary of whatever one is studying. The dialectic stage (Jr. High) consists of learning the rules of logic and aurgument (hey, kids this age are going to argue anyway, might as well teach them how to do it well!) and the Rhetoric stage (High School and beyond) consists of writing and speaking clearly and articulatly about a chosen subject.
As a 21rst century American Christian I am struck by how much of the church is stuck in the grammar stage of thier faith. Sure, we know some cool Bible stories and characters like when Daniel survived the lions den or when Jesus fed 5000 people. We know some major events like getting kicked out of the garden, the Flood, Christmas and Easter stuff. But that's as far as many of us go. We like knowing some facts, we have a little scripture memorized but few of us have wrestled with the nitty gritty of living our faith. When it gets tough and we question and are in pain over where God has left us, when life has thrown us a curve ball that really makes us shout at Him, the Creator of the Universe and we are trying to make sense (logic) of it all, I've noticed that not many in the church stick by their bros. We are on our own. And it's at this point that a lot of potentially powerhouse believers abandon the faith. Because the American Christian church lives by an unwritten rule of "have it all figured out." This rule might even be more important than, "look really good."
And I've noticed a trend. In the conservative homeschooling circles we've seen how familes have almost forbidden their children to wrestle with their faith. They have taken the grammar stage to an almost perverse level in order to make the faith "stick." For instance, we now of many families that go to world view weekends like they might go to a favorite fast food restaurant. They take their kids over and over, they go in groups, they spend a fortune on it. And yet, in many of these familes we've noticed that lived holiness takes a backseat. I'm left scratching my head wondering what the point of having a "world view" is when one is addicted to NFL or lies in order to get where they are convinced God has called them to go.
For many in the Christian church the logic stage means completely abandoning the faith or God. If, after one has really wrestled with and argued with the God of thier fathers and comes to decide upon a different expression of worship or "church" it is often seen by others as backsliding. They are treated condescendingly.To really struggle with God as a Person with whom one is in relationship with entails wrestling, as Jacob did. Those of us who do frequently bear the marks of being touched by Him. And this makes us more compelling as well as more repulsive to others in the church; in other words, lonlier.
Those who reach the Rhetoric stage in the faith are few and far between, for instance Billy Graham or Chuck Swindoll. Knowing someone personally who can actually read, write, speak, and live the Gospel is a rariety indeed. And of course, we might have a rhetoric level of understanding in certain areas such as giving or serving and be stuck in the grammar stage when it comes to worshipping graven images (think T.V.). I've been blessed to know a few real people who can Speak the Word. I'm hoping to be one of them before my days are done.
By Knowledge a house if built (grammar); by Understanding it is established (logic); by Wisdom it is filled with all pleasant and precious riches." Proverbs: 24: 3-4

1 comment:

Miss Elizabeth said...

You rock mom! Good job! You're becoming quite the modern techno head ;)

I love you!!