Pooping Elephants

IMAGINE AUGUSTINE AS YOUR PROFESSOR!

Some books are long, but relative to their length you don’t benefit much. Some books are short, but relative to their length you benefit greatly. Joseph Clair’s new book, On Education, Formation, Citizenship and the Lost Purpose of Learning fits in the latter category.  

In 120 pages Clair gives a crisp and thoughtful account of how higher education has lost its moral rudder. To make his case, Clair uses the always insightful and relevant, Bishop of Hippo: Augustine.

Instead of simply detailing the problem, Clair offers some suggestive and practical antidotes. I will mention just one as it is similar to something I’ve been thinking about. Clair mentions that teacher training ought to consider learning from “demanding vocations for inspiration and guidance—for example, Navy Seals, Jesuits, professional athletics—where a sense of identity and purpose provide a strong team spirit and where the results of a shared effort are judged on the basis of the whole community’s performance.”

There was one thing that made me reticent to recommend this book: the cost. That has now been rectified due to being out in a reasonable paperback.

 

ANTHONY BOURDAIN

I like food and I like folks who can carry a good conversation, so I liked watching Bourdain’s shows.  Our older son and I got to meet him years ago at Book People.  We had to wait for a few hours as we were at the back of the line.  We got to him after he signed autographs for hundreds.  He was present with our son, affable, and very kind.

A good interview with Bourdain.  HT: James K.A. Smith

https://www.newyorker.com/podcast/the-new-yorker-radio-hour/anthony-bourdains-interview-with-david-remnick

 

LITTLE THINGS MATTER

Adapted from my reading of After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory by Alasdair MacIntyre:

In the Pensées, Pascal remarks “Cleopatra’s nose, had it been shorter, the whole face of the world would have been changed” (180). Ironically, what he means is that, had her nose been smaller, she would have lacked the dominance and strength of character which, in the physiognomy of the seventeenth century (or, indeed, the nineteenth), a large nose symbolized. It is a salutary reminder that the aesthetics of beauty change over time and place. 

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/miscellanea/cleopatra/bust.html

William died at Kensington Palace where he had moved the royal household to escape swampy Westminster, which was bad for his asthma. His demise was the direct result of a fall from his horse which stumbled on a molehill, throwing its royal rider.

“…to the little gentleman in the black velvet waistcoat.”

LEARNING FROM PRESIDENT JAMES POLK!

Yes, that’s right.  You heard me.  Here are a few things about Polk I learned from reading Walking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson by David Reynolds:

He determined to serve one term.

He rarely took vacations.

He sought to address four main campaign promises and did!

He worked extremely hard.

(Waking Giant, p. 351-53 by David Reynolds)