Forum Replies Created

  • Author
  • June 15, 2016 at 8:18 pm #738


    This seems to me to be one of the most important questions we can ask, in so far as it raises one of the most basic questions about school culture and the vision of human flourishing that is embedded in our practices. With respect to your specific question, the only concrete example that comes to mind is the attempt in one school to designate a specific segment of the day as “schole”; however, this seemed in practice to be little more than calling “recess” by a different name. The deeper issue, in my experience, is in helping students learn that their lives need not consist of alternating pendulum swings between externally constrained “order” and mere anarchy. Do many classical schools invite teachers to read Josef Pieper’s book on leisure? I know that some have, but is it a common practice? That would be a good place to begin. Another important step might be to introduce teachers to the important distinction between leisure and entertainment.


    June 7, 2016 at 11:31 pm #737

    Thanks for posting this.
    O’Donovan’s distinction strikes me as, in some sense, correct; however, I worry that his notion of “imitation” is assuming a rather wooden high-modern caricature of what “imitation” involves, rather than a more subtle and flexible Aristotelian notion of imitation as involving a general similitude susceptible of recognition (and allowing for differences). The point is not a matter of hair splitting, but goes to key assumptions regarding the moral-formation rationale for studying literature. At one level, O’Donovan is clearly correct–and the same point is made most vividly by Dante–the purpose of virtuous exempla is not merely a direct implication to “go and do likewise”; rather, the main benefit is to re-orient the affections that are integral to true virtue. However, I would hesitate to draw a sharp distinction between imitation and admiration because of the central place of “following” Christ in Christian formation. 1 John is helpful on this point: Christian “following” involves not only obedience but also presumes the capacity to recognize how Christ’s example of self-giving love is to be practiced in one’s own life. The assumption that self-giving can take a variety of forms rather assumes that the “imitation” of Christ a far more subtle affair than O’Donovan’s use implies and necessarily requires some role for imaginative interpretation and discernment (rather than a direct one-to-one correspondence, as though literal crucifixion were the only acceptable mode of Christian fidelity). Of course, O’Donovan knows this, but by rejecting the mere caricature of “imitation” he risks missing the necessary role for literary formation in moral formation–the growth in the capacity to discern what similitudes do and do not apply in comparing two human actions (verbally rendered or otherwise).