Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Book Club: Beauty in the Word - Introduction

Cindy is always coming up with good things for us to read.  I don't always follow through on reading what she does, but I like attending her classes for homeschoolers.  What a great mentor!

She's going to be reading Beauty in the Word this spring and I've decided to try again (follow her link, I love that she uses the proceeds for her grandchildren). 

If nothing else, I get the beginnings of the books read that way.  I think trying to sustain a single book over time is something I have a difficult time with -I tend to power through or stop books- but I'm going to try.

I also have the same caveat as Cindy; I read a lot of Roman Catholic education stuff - but am not Catholic - because they kept the Classical Education tradition a lot longer.  Caldecott writes from a decidedly Roman position; reader beware.

Anyway, I read the introduction this morning. Wow.

Caldecott is deeply concerned with the development of a person, a free person, a real person. "I wanted to emphasize the fact that we are discussing the fundamental skills of humanity itself." (pg 10, bold mine) He argues that only through the liberal arts can people realize their potential - a potential that is realized in the sacraments. Or, since I'm a good Reformed girl, I read it as "realized within the New Covenant. 

Because of this Introduction I've been thinking about what the "formation of souls" has to do with "humanity itself."  Being a "real person" within "humanity" certainly requires a relationship with our Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer.  I believe man (in the inclusive sense) is incomplete without Christ Jesus and reliance upon him and his work. 

If we educators are engaging in the work of soul-formation, surely the highest goal is that we and our children know Christ and fellowship with him. There's a disconnect here, though. As educators, we can show, explain, teach, encourage, lead our children toward Christ.  We can reason and divulge, but we cannot change the heart. Sometimes the arrogance of what we think we can do apart from Christ to draw anyone to Christ is a jagged edge I get caught on in this endeavor.

We cannot push our children into the Covenant; that is the domain of the Holy Spirit.  Thankfully, He promises to work in generations; we are not left without hope, yet we do not presume.  Oh, we can (and should!) baptize them.  We should pray with and for them.  We should teach them when we rise up, walk along the path, and go to bed. We must be faithful with what the Lord has given us. We work at acting justly, showing mercy, and walking humbly with our God.  We abide in Christ while sojourning in this fallen world, but we must ultimately trust God for our children's souls. 

Children are born persons, I think some educator once said (wink).  The Catechism for Young Children asks, "Have you a soul as well as a body?" and answers, "I have a soul that can never die." If children are born persons with a soul that can never die, that soul is not but a lump of clay to be formed or molded by us. Ought we fit it into a mold of our choosing? Can we? Perhaps, instead, we should talk of nourishing or feeding the soul.  Just like our bodies grow from infancy with proper nutrients, can our souls mature with Liberal Arts?

These are all questions.  Maybe I don't understand the philosophical and theological underpinnings of the idea of 'soul formation.'  Let me know.  I love comments, correction, and discussion.

OK, that was a bit of a tangent. I really *do* like what Caldecott had to say.  I think, however that I'll wrap up here and say more later.


  1. I still need to read the introduction, but how about this from other good reformed girl: "is realized in Christ." And we only can participate in it now, post fall, when we are found in him - reminding me again of Kern's "it's all yours" in the rest videos.

    1. I agree with you that man's potential is realized in Christ - and that the only way we can is union with Him - but the context is Caldecott's statement, "I should like everyone to have the benefit of God's intimate presence in the sacraments." with the footnote, "... Perhaps we should admit the fact that the closer we come to Christ, or he to us (and in the Eucharist he comes as close as he can), the more graces we may obtain, but also the more dangers and temptations beset us -- including the temptation to self-righteousness, which is a form of pride, the sin of sins." I want to disagree with the idea of the sacraments being how we achieve true humanity *and* say that we are changed by the New Covenant by moving into the kingdom of His Son.

      Our union with Christ is closer than a repeated sacrifice and eating of His flesh. He is here with us, "it's all yours" when we are united with him. That can only be when we are in the New Covenant.


Thanks for commenting! I love and reply to comments because I love building community with my readers!