Saturday, August 18, 2007

Weekend Geography Quiz

In what country is the Catholic St. Maron monastery in Annaya, founded in 1828? The Maronite Church goes back to the fifth century and has always been in communion with Rome. It was founded by St. Maron and became a distinctive rite. It was rediscovered in the West during the Crusades. The Maronite rite escaped destruction by the Mohammedans because of diplomatic and military pressure by the West. Here is a picture of the mystic St. Maron:
Here is the St. Charbel church on the grounds of the St. Maron monastery:
The Maronite order of monks and hermits was formed in 1695. Here is the Hermitage on the St. Maron monastery grounds:
St. Charbel (1828-1898) is one of my favorite Catholic saints. He took vows to become a monk in 1853 in Annaya and became a priest in 1859 in the Maronite order. In 1925 the process for his beatification was begun, and he was beatified in 1865 and canonized in 1977:
Let's pray to St. Maron and St. Charbel for their intercession in the conversion of all Muslims, who worship the false moon god, to the true God and Faith:
The St. Maron monastery receives thousands of pilgrims each year. In which country was the Maronite rite founded, and where is the St. Maron monastery?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

What is the Purpose of Education?

For Catholics, the purpose of education is to gain knowledge to change the world for the better in a Catholic and traditional Western sense. This necessitates a strong liberal arts curriculum and a commitment to orthodox Catholic values.

These days it is almost impossible get a genuine liberal arts, humanistic education because of the nutty postmodernists who have taken over virtually every department in the humanities around the world and who attempt to replace truth with jejune, heretical ideas that have no origin in Western Civilization. However, it is still possible to get an excellent education outside these postmodern, Marxist reeducation centers.

From the
mission statement of Christendom College, an orthodox Catholic university on the banks of the Shenandoah River that has a graduate school in Alexandria, Virginia, President Timothy O'Donnell discusses what real education entails:

"A Catholic university must have at least four of the following "essential characteristics." First, the Holy Father says there must be a Christian inspiration which is found not only in the individuals who make up the college or university, but throughout the university community as such. Secondly, in the light of the truths of the Catholic Faith, there must be an ongoing reflection upon the growing body of human knowledge to which the university seeks to add its own unique contribution in the field of research and writing. Third, within the university there must be "fidelity to the Christian message as it comes to us through the Church." It is here, particularly within theological discourse, that the necessity of adherence to the teaching of the Magisterium as an authoritative font of truth is emphasized by the Pope. Fourth, there must be a commitment on the part of the institution to serve the entire people of God and the entire human family of mankind "in their pilgrimage to the transcendent goal which gives meaning to life." That transcendent goal is none other than God, who beckons all men to eternal happiness in the beatific vision. Here again, in all four points the importance of faith is seen. It is central and vital to the integrity to the Catholic university. In an authentic Catholic university, "Catholic ideals, attitudes, and principles penetrate and inform university activities in accordance to the proper nature and autonomy of these activities.'"

A good example of an authentic Catholic education, the new Chavagnes International College in France for grade level students. Here is the reason it was founded:

"Every profession should be able to be evaluated. The difference between Roman Catholic schools and non-Catholic schools is that Roman Catholic schools are supposed to produce young people with a substantively different worldview. As recently as the 1970s, Catholic bishops were saying that Catholicism should permeate every aspect of the curriculum. How do you measure if this is successfully communicated? It doesn’t wash for Catholic headmasters and religious-education teachers to say, 'Our pupils may not go to Mass, but they are very committed to world peace and social justice.' However, rather, than bemoaning this fact, we decided to do something about it."

I'm envious. Those boys are getting an excellent education that many of us were denied. However, you can always educate yourself at any stage in your life. I'm getting an M.A. in Theology from Christendom College. My main purpose was to get an excellent education in the humanities to best understand Western Civilization. One of my friends from Virginia Tech who eventually went on to get a doctorate in microbiology from Johns Hopkins also takes classes at the Christendom graduate school in Alexandria. He has stated how much of an education he lacked before taking these classes, and he attended the best high school in Fairfax County, The Thomas Jefferson School, and some of the best colleges in the nation.

What we are lacking is a genuine, conservative Catholic education, and this is why Christendom College has been such a blessing.

Another excellent school with an authentic Catholic focus is St. Thomas More Academy in Raleigh, North Carolina. Here is
their philosophy, a philosophy that is genuinely in the Western tradition:

"STMA recognizes that students must understand themselves and how they are created before they are able to help others. Our late Holy Father wrote in Fides et Ratio 'The admonition Know Yourself was carved on the temple portal at Delphi, as testimony to a basic truth to be adopted as a minimal norm by those who seek to set themselves apart from the rest of creation as 'human beings', that is as those who "know themselves".' We recognize that the search for truth is one that has sparked the keenest minds of all ages to understand their fundamental nature and to uncover the mysteries of the world around them. This gave rise to the arts and all the sciences, and is primarily why STMA uses a classical curriculum, because it has proven to help shape the mind and temper the intellect so that it is most disposed to think and reason, ask the right questions so that the answers can be understood within proper context."

Many Catholic colleges, in response to this need of true liberal arts, have been set up around the world or have been around for a while and are still true to authentic Catholic education. For example here is what Dr. Anne Carson Daly says about the excellent Belmont Abbey College:

"'Belmont Abbey College is a special, blessed place with a terrific sense of community, and it is a community devoted equally to faith and reason,' said Daly. 'I feel privileged to work with a faculty that is not only remarkably talented but also extremely devoted to both the College and their students.'”

Faith and Reason: Unfortunately these are two things that postmodern obsurants eschew, and so it is very difficult to get a real education these days at your average high school or university. After all, there is only one subject sacred to liberals.

A good Catholic education, of course, should always stress the liberal arts. The Christendom College webpage has an excellent explanation on the
value of the liberal arts.

Catholic education (and all education) needs to get back to our roots.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Weekend Geography Quiz

Every weekend, I have the "Weekend Geography Quiz" to celebrate the field of geography, which arrogant "progressives" subsumed under the field of "social studies" (along with history) as far back as the 1910s.

From Diane Ravitch's
Left Back, a terrific history of American education, about how "progressives" invented "social studies" in the enormously influential 1917 Commission on the Reorganization of Secondary Education (CRSE), a federal report sponsored by the National Education Association.:

"The chairman of the Committee on Social Studies was Thomas Jesse Jones, the specialist on racial matters who had written the important federal report Negro Education. A well-known proponent of industrial and trade education, Jones was one of the first to coin the term of 'social studies.' This new field was formed by the intersection of two congenial ideas: one was social efficiency, or teaching students the skills and attitudes necessary to fit into the social order; the other was 'the new history,' whose advocates believed that the content of history in the schools should be selected on the basis of 'the pupil's own immediate interest' and 'general social significance.' Proponents of social studies believed that pupils could not possibly be interested in history unless it was directly related to the present.

"The trouble with history, it seemed, was that it frequently didn't have a social purpose at all; too often, it was geared toward satisfying the student's imagination or curiosity, which modern educators deemed socially useless. In its preliminary report, the Committee on Social Studies proclaimed that 'good citizenship' would be the goal of social studies: 'Facts, conditions, theories, and activities that do not contribute rather directly to the appreciation of methods of human betterment have no claim.' Even civics, which was a study of government, had to change to a study of 'social efforts to improve mankind. It is not so important that the pupil know how the President is elected as that he shall understand the duties of the health officer in his community.'"

Diane Ravitch goes on to give a quote from this Committee's report about why they thought that "social studies" was more important than history, civics, and geography. From the report:

"'The old chronicler who recorded the deeds of kings and warriors and neglected the labors of the common man is dead. The great palaces and cathedrals and pyramids are often but the empty shells or a parasitic growth on the working group. The elaborate descriptions of these old tombs are but sounding brass and tinkling cymbals compared to the record of the joys and sorrows, the hopes and disappointments of the masses, who are infinitely more important than any arrangement of wood and stone and iron.'"

Notice the Marxist undertones from this Committee's report of 1917. This report was enormously influential and tragically transformed the entire character of America's schools. You can see its influence in the fact that we still call history and geography at the elementary and middle schools levels "social studies" and the disparagement of subject matter that has no socialist utility. This is yet another reason to take back the schools from the "progressives."

Amazingly, socialists and liberals have attempted to take credit for the Civil Rights Movement, which was a successful movement by Blacks THEMSELVES to gain equal rights that were viciously denied them by DEMOCRATS and LIBERALS in the South. This movement liberals have falsely (and racistly--as if Blacks were not able to organize the Civil Rights Movement themselves without the paternal guidance of liberals) taken credit for gives them the ability to throw the epithet "racist" to anyone who disagrees with their "progressive" and socialist ideas (think The Great Society, discarding prayer and morality in schools, and busing for integration) that tore apart Black communities. The social utilitatrian and "progressive" education methods that date back to the CRSE's report and before are the some of the root causes for societal problems facing the Black community today.

This week's Weekend Geography Quiz:
This attractive city of about 300,000 in the heart of the cotton belt was settled along a river in the area of the Alibamu Indians.
On December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus, and a bus boycott was launched until the city desegregated the mass transit system in December 1956. Martin Luther King lived here from 1954 though 1960:
This city has not only been integral to the Civil Rights Movement, it has also had important musical contributions. The great Hank Williams lived here and is buried here in in Oakwood Cemetery.

The city has an important historical and musical legacy, but it is also a city of modern cultural achievements. It has a world-renowned Shakespeare theater and is home to the seventh largest Shakespeare festival in the world. It puts on many productions throughout the year:
This city also has the fifth largest museum in the world, the new Fine Arts Museum, also in the huge and attractive Blount Cultural Park that houses the Shakespeare theater. In 1910, the Wright winter flying school was set up in this city by the Wright brothers, and its legacy is still found today in that this city is an important Air Force training center. This very hot and humid city is a city of oaks and pines with many very attractive neighborhoods. It is also very religious. Every other building seems to be a church.

Finally--best of all--this city is home of the VERY BEST hot dogs in the world--even better than Atlanta's the Varsity--and was ranked in the top ten best hot dogs in the U.S. by the Travel channel (it should be number one). They can be found at Chris' hot dogs, founded in 1917,on Dexter Avenue near the Capitol:
What is the name of this all American city?