Monday, July 28, 2008

C.S. Lewis: The Screwtape Letters

After a recommendation from my home teaching companion--and him lending me the book, I read C.S. Lewis' "The Screwtape Letters". They are a series of missives from a 'loving' Uncle Screwtape, (a senior Devil) to his "junior temptor" nephew, Wormwood--a newly graduated Devil.

This book is a delightful and eye opening perspective on Satan's methods. Lewis shows how the Devil can use almost anything to get us back into the hands of "Our Father Below".

While all the letters are excellent, the part that I wanted to share with you actually comes from an appended essay called "Screwtape Proposes A Toast"

"In that promising land [In this story he is referring to England, but I feel it's applicable to most countries these days, especially the USA] the spirit of I’m as good as you has already begun something more than a generally social influence. It begins to work itself into their educational system. How far its operations there have gone at the present moment, I should not like to say with certainty. Nor does it matter. Once you have grasped the tendency, you can easily predict its future developments; especially as we ourselves will play our part in the developing. The basic principle of the new education is to be that dunces and idlers must not be made to feel inferior to intelligent and industrious pupils. That would be “undemocratic.” These differences between pupils – for they are obviously and nakedly individual differences – must be disguised. This can be done at various levels. At universities, examinations must be framed so that nearly all the students get good marks. Entrance examinations must be framed so that all, or nearly all, citizens can go to universities, whether they have any power (or wish) to profit by higher education or not. At schools, the children who are too stupid or lazy to learn languages and mathematics and elementary science can be set to doing things that children used to do in their spare time. Let, them, for example, make mud pies and call it modelling. But all the time there must be no faintest hint that they are inferior to the children who are at work. Whatever nonsense they are engaged in must have – I believe the English already use the phrase – “parity of esteem.” An even more drastic scheme is not possible. Children who are fit to proceed to a higher class may be artificially kept back, because the others would get a trauma -- Beelzebub, what a useful word! – by being left behind. The bright pupil thus remains democratically fettered to his own age group throughout his school career, and a boy who would be capable of tackling Aeschylus or Dante sits listening to his coeval’s attempts to spell out A CAT SAT ON A MAT."

When I read that I was amazed--Lewis was writing this in 1959--what you and I might consider a Golden Age of public education in the United States--we had the highest scores across the board world-wide. Lewis hit this nail on the head, and if he were alive today, he'd probably be in complete shock.

Just some food for thought.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Another Night Ride

I had to ride again, and my fanny is feeling it.

I rode 11 miles tonight, and if my butt wasn't so sore, I'd have been able to go longer.

You can view my path here.

It doesn't look like it's as far, but that's because I went to the end of the bike path and back to the corner of Cahuenga and Chandler before turning around and going back, and this time going further, to buy a bottle of water.

Like I said before--awesome, but my rump roast is totally toast.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Chandler Bike Path is AMAZING

I am ready for bed tonight, but I just wanted to share that I have biked about 15 miles today, and I feel amazing. I biked to and from church, and then all the way to northern Burbank to visit Seth. Riding back along the path at 10pm was quite possibly the most invigorating and simultaneously peaceful things I've experienced in a long time.

And I always need more peace in my life.