After much deliberation, I've decided to discontinue use of that OTHER blog, and the name along with it. It was fun while it lasted, but I think it's about time to take on the responsibility of attaching the family name to my work. Also, that old persona had started to feel a bit like a straitjacket. He was a fun character to play, but he wasn't me, and that gets tiring.
I don't have a ton of time today due to various pressing issues, but I'd like to begin the new blog with a recommendation of an old book that was given to me by my dear sister up in Massachusetts. The book is called "Home Economics," and it's a collection of excellent essays by Wendell Berry, noted agrarian author.
As is often the case for me when I read Berry's work, I tend to lose him when he wanders into the realm of abstract philosophy or religion. Our perspectives on things such as scripture, the nature of truth, the nature of knowledge, etc. are not that similar and are informed by very different backgrounds. Fortunately the meat of his work hinges not on these abstract ideas but on his observations and analysis of areas of human life with which he has an intimate familiarity. His incisive commentary is always refreshing for me, as it tends to articulate and affirm many nebulous thoughts and feelings I have harbored since childhood.
I am particularly charmed by Berry's thoughts on education, since I went through almost all of school (from about the third grade onward) with a creeping feeling that something was very wrong with the way my contemporaries and I were being "educated." Berry correctly observes that modern education is increasingly not education at all, but processing. This occurs in part because real education takes place amid uncertainty, since we adults (the educators) are imperfect and often ignorant.
An ignorant man can process a person, turning him or her into an engineer, a bus driver, a torch singer or a soldier. But the question of whether that ignorant man can truly educate is another question, shrouded in mystery and doubt. We have, overwhelmingly in modern times, opted for the certain but limited (ultimately destructive) path over the mysterious path, with its boundless possibilities.
Perhaps at some point in the past this decision made sense. It is now time to revisit it.