Comments. I’ve gone ahead and removed the comments feature from this weblog and the HSC weblog. It’s not due to any specific problem, just a general dissatisfaction with comments systems. If you have questions to ask or points to make about items I post, please use the “send a comment” link at left to email them to me.
Homeschooling. In Doug Phillips’ latest Vision Forum newsletter, he enters the discussion about home schooling vs. institutional schooling, noting the publication of Phil Lancaster’s article written in response to Steve Schlissel’s earlier article about the end of home schooling, and adding some worthwhile comments of his own. Until the newsletter is available at the Vision Forum website, I’ve posted a copy here.
Books. Here’s a review of that Quentin Schultze book I didn’t care for, Habits of the High-Tech Heart, which appeared in Books and Culture (an attempt by Christianity Today to capture the NPR market). You’ll notice that it actually doesn’t say much about the book, but rather collects some observations from pundits on the topic and adds some more on the part of the writer.
Outing. Today Chris, Maggie, Matthew and I went to the Barter Theater in Abingdon to see their production of Keep on the Sunny Side, a musical about the Carter Family. Well, not so much a musical as a collection of their best songs, tied together so as to tell you a bit about the history of A.P., Sara, and Maybelle Carter. We’re fans enough of their music to be curious, we’d never been to the Barter, and it was about time for an outing.
The production was much, much better than I had expected. The three actors playing A.P., Sara, and Maybelle actually played their own accompaniment. And their singing! Sara and Maybelle were dead on, A.P. not quite so much but still very good. I’ve heard these songs many times on the original recordings, but somehow hearing and watching them played live gave the music a depth and reach that I hadn’t experienced before. The story didn’t have much substance, being not much more than a rough historical sketch, but it made an entertaining setting for the songs.
Schooling. Phil Lancaster has written an article for Vision Forum that makes an excellent case for home schooling as opposed to institutional schooling of any kind. I hope that it motivates Steve Schlissel and Doug Wilson to make a similar positive case for institutional schooling, rather than simply assuming that it is a superior model.
Boone. Just returned from an overnight trip to Boone, North Carolina, where I ran a booktable while R.C. and his wife Denise spoke to a homeschooling group. The schedule was fairly sane. R.C. spoke twice between 7pm and 9pm Friday, then once again at 10am on Saturday. Following that, the men and women broke into two groups, with R.C. addressing the men and Denise the women. At noon there was a catered lunch, and the event ended with R.C. fielding questions for an hour.
It’s particularly delightful to participating in homeschooling events where there are a lot of older homeschooled children. They are almost always poised and graceful, not shy at all about talking to adults, and very eager to help in any way they can. A number of them had been asked to form a hospitality committee, and we felt quite welcome as a result. It was a welcome reminder of the joys that await us as a community once our children become young adults.
The folks in attendance were serious about their faith and their families, but largely from a broad evangelical background, only passingly familiar with Reformed thinking. Watching R.C. talk to such a group about homeschooling or about the covenant family is fun in some ways, dismaying in others. As usual, he pulled no punches, and since he covered both topics at this event, the men were staggering at the end of it.
On the way home I stopped at the Mast General Store, the original one in Valle Crusis, to pick up a case of ginger ale. Because they were out of the hot stuff, I had to settle for the not so hot (says “Not So Hot” right on the label). So if you call me while I’m in the midst of drinking one, I’m much less likely to pause in the middle for a coughing/sputtering spell.
Books. I am in the middle of a number of books at the moment, some excellent, some good, some not so great.
On the treadmill is Martin Luther: A Guided Tour to His Life and Thought by Stephen Nichols. I have yet to read Roland Bainton’s biography of Luther, nor much of anything by the man himself, so I’m finding this intellectual biography just about right—not enough by itself, but a good roadmap to reading that I want to do in the future.
By the chair in the living room is Richard Weaver’s The Southern Tradition at Bay, a cultural history of the South before the war and during Reconstruction. Not only the best of the books I’m reading, probably the best book I’ve read in a few years. It’s scary to think that this book is Weaver’s doctoral dissertation in its raw form; he saw no need to rewrite it for a general audience—and he was right.
Also by the living room chair is Quentin Schultze’s Habits of the High-Tech Heart, purportedly an examination of how to live virtuously in this modern world. Purchased after hearing an interview with Schultze on the latest Mars Hill Audio release, this one is a major disappointment. There is certainly an engaging writer lurking somewhere in those pages; there may even be a good book crying to get out. But the book has an incredibly unwieldy structure (no accident that it was published by Baker Academic Books), there is way too much effort expended on bringing in current academic scholarship, and explicitly Christian thought barely makes an appearance. I have no idea who Schultze considers to be the audience for this book.
And somewhere around here is Doug Wilson’s latest, The Case for Classical Christian Education. I won’t call this one a disappointment, since it’s largely what you would expect, a version of Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning that is ten years older and ten years more experienced. But I was disappointed to find that there still isn’t much of a positive argument for classical education; Wilson still assumes that his audience will grant him that such an education is a good thing if you can get your hands on one. His “case” is not so much an argument that classical education is a good thing, but more an exhortation to parents to see that their children get one. Again, I’m not sure who the audience is for this book; if you’re in the choir, then you won’t learn much new from it, and if you’re still uncertain (much less skeptical), then I doubt it will do much to persuade you.