For the weekend crowd, this is a sampling of what we’ve been reading this week.
Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi argues that the “federal government has made it easier than ever to borrow money for higher education – saddling a generation with crushing debts and inflating a bubble that could bring down the economy.”:
“But the dirty secret of American higher education is that student-loan interest rates are almost irrelevant. It’s not the cost of the loan that’s the problem, it’s the principal – the appallingly high tuition costs that have been soaring at two to three times the rate of inflation, an irrational upward trajectory eerily reminiscent of skyrocketing housing prices in the years before 2008.”
- In the New Yorker, Dan Chiasson reflects on the poetry of the great Seamus Heaney, who passed away this week:
“Just as a peat bog might contain an elk skeleton, a stick of butter, or the entire, snug corpse of a murder victim, the “word hoard” of English held, for Heaney, infinite discoveries. When he was commissioned to translate “Beowulf,” he said he found the task onerous until he had a breakthrough: he discovered in the Anglo-Saxon text a word he remembered his grandmother using that he hadn’t heard since—“thole,” which means “suffer.” Everything about this epiphany is classic Heaney: finding the seed of English poetry, “Beowulf,” on the tip of his grandmother’s tongue; finding a word so downcast in a memory so warm, the mingled pain and sweetness, history and the hearth.”
- Ploughshares offers a piece on what writers can learn from Over the Rhine, husband-and-wife folk duo from Ohio, whose new album came out this week (and is amazing):
“….we respect the mystery of the process. A song can’t be completely dissected and reduced to a formula in a laboratory. There is something bigger happening that defies categorization or analysis. Maybe that’s called soul. It’s hard to define, but you know it when you hear it.”
“New data released by the National Center on Education Statistics show that 1.77 million American students are now taught at home. Roughly equal proportions of students at each grade level learned at home. “
“So here’s another solid takeaway from the show: few students whose majors end in “studies” have the education, talent, or discipline to succeed. In lieu of marketable skills and a work ethic, they boast a rich sense of entitlement. They spend lots of time, quite shamelessly, figuring out how to thrive as parasites. Their extended undergraduate adolescence prepared them only to scheme to stretch dependency out ever further. Thegirls aren’t becoming women. They do know they’re supposed to grow up, to change in a maturely relational direction. But they lack most of the resources—beyond mixed-up longings—to figure out how.”
“A brilliant execution of a jejune, self-indulgent project: rejecting God, family, and country in order to invent a new form of art and reforge the human imagination . . in James Joyce’s image. The author said that he expected his readers to spend their entire lives learning how to read his novels. In fact, his later “masterpieces” are now read only when they are assigned—if then. Compare them to the magnificent myths painstakingly crafted by the humble traditionalist J. R. R. Tolkien.” [About A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man]
- For Christ and Pop Culture Geoffrey Reiter answers the question, what is Coptic Christianity anyway?:
“Understanding the origins of Coptic Christianity requires a dip into Church history. Christianity in Egypt is traditionally traced back to the Gospel writer Mark, and in the early centuries of the faith, the Egyptian city of Alexandria was one of the most important Christian centers. Some philosophical tensions were evident early, however. Alexandria was an outpost of “eastern” Christianity, which tended to emphasize Christ’s transcendent deity. “Western” Christian centers, on the other hand, stressed His humanity more heavily. These differences in theological emphasis — coupled with the late Roman Empire’s geographical politics — all came to a head in 451 A.D. at the Fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon.”
“Alone in Washington, Sen. Rand Paul has stood up, and stood tall, for the interests of Syria’s Christians, pointing out to the rest of us Americans something we never think about, and rarely hear about in coverage of the Middle East: the fate of Arab Christians, who have lived there continuously since the time of Jesus, and whose presence predates the founding of Islam by six centuries. The rise of Islamism in the 20th century has put these Christian communities, as well as other religious minorities (Jews, Baha’is, etc.) in increasing danger. The United States of America is not a confessional nation, but the fact that a country in which nearly 80 percent of the people identify as Christian never considers the lives and interests of the Arab Christian minority when it makes regional policy is not only shocking, but disgraceful.”
- For The Imaginative Conservative Stephen Richard Turley Classical Christian Education and Public Witness:
“If Christians are to remain faithful to the biblical gospel, we must once again affirm the public witness of the church, particularly in the field of education. For such an affirmation not only awakens the soul to the True, the Good, and the Beautiful, but in embodying the Truth, it exposes the state-financed educational system which denies Truth as what it is: a lie. We cannot teach our students that Truth is relative and expect our politicians to be honest; we can’t claim that the Good has been replaced by situational ethics and expect Wall Street executives to ground their business decisions in anything other than profit, greed, and expediency; and we cannot relegate Beauty to personal preference and then feign shock when we encounter a urinal as part of an art exhibit.
Christians will never expose this lie as long as they support and fund it. Classical Christian education offers nothing less than a parallel public, a revelation of Truth that in its social splendor awakens wonder and awe in teacher and student alike, as together they fellowship in Him who is the divine renewal of all things.”
What have you been reading? Let us know in the comments below!