One of my favorite pedagogues these days is James K. A. Smith, professor of philosophy at Calvin College. In his series-in-progress entitled Cultural Liturgies, he argues that human beings are not primarily thinking animals but must be regarded instead as “desiring animals.” Head knowledge, especially head knowledge gained from an instructor who is “teaching to the test,” is aimed at the wrong part of the moral anatomy to make good citizens. We need a pedagogy that “aims below the head,” says Smith, in order to help students rightly order their loves and desires.
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The kind of close reading advocated by Lewis meets what I believe is an innate desire for self-transcendence. “We want to see with other eyes, to imagine with other imaginations, to feel with other hearts, as well as with our own,” Lewis writes. He compares close reading with love, with moral action, and even with the fundamental act of learning. “In love we escape from our self into one another …. [E]very act of justice or charity involves putting ourselves in the other person’s place .”
Thanks, David Neff, for your reflection on education today. You (and C. S. Lewis and James K. A. Smith) hit the nail on the head.
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Posted in Resources for Radical Living
Tagged Books, C S Lewis, Calvin College, Close reading, David Neff, education, emotion, heart, James K. A. Smith, moral philosophy, morality, reading
Folks, something very, very good is happening in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with potential to impact the Christian Church worldwide. Two articles in a city newspaper explain:
KENTWOOD — Talking amid shelves of books in a warehouse littered with huge boxes of even more books, Kurt Berends offered one perspective on the work of the nonprofit organization he started four years ago: “We’re waste removal.”
Of course, that’s only half the story. The real magic of Theological Book Network comes in turning academic trash from U.S. libraries into treasure for under-resourced areas in other parts of the world.
The small but growing operation takes unwanted books from U.S. schools and ships them to schools in Africa, southeast Asia and eastern Europe. Continue reading →
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Africa, Asia, Books, Calvin College, Eastern Europe, Grand Rapids Michigan, Kurt Berends, Latin America, libraries, Middle East, Theological Book Network, Theology
Reading the New York Times article that appeared today on recently retired Calvin College philosopher Alvin Plantinga almost (only almost) makes me want to join the apologetic fray. I’m just not cut out for it. But I’m glad that there are people like Dr. Plantinga around to point out that science and Christian faith, far from being incompatible, are in fact twins in the womb (or to be more precise, Western science would not have happened without Christianity):
On the telephone Mr. Plantinga was milder in tone but no less direct. “It seems to me that many naturalists, people who are super-atheists, try to co-opt science and say it supports naturalism,” he said. “I think it’s a complete mistake and ought to be pointed out.” Continue reading →
Posted in Resources for Radical Living, Uncategorized
Tagged Alvin Plantinga, Analytic philosophy, apologetics, Calvin College, evolution, Existence of God, intelligent design, New York Times, philosophy, science, science and religion, Theism