The Proper Understanding of Grades

2014-7 Unhappy Student

This past year I tutored a high school freshman in introductory science.  We will call him Adam.  Adam struggled mightily with most of the subjects he was taking at the time, and seemed much more interested in slacking off and relaxing once he got home rather than putting in the effort to study and do his homework.  I was even privy to several of the rather unpleasant adult “tantrums” he would throw if he realized that he was expected to work with me for longer than he initially expected.  Naturally, I tried to impress upon him the importance of working hard, Continue reading


2014-00-00 Catharsis img01“It’s late, Will.” A sharp gaze pierces the gloomy air, sweeping the untidy study with a mix of concern and resignation. “Nearly the witching hour.”

William pauses for a moment before he carefully moves his hand to the side. The quill’s dark tip hovers over a spattered square of thick paper and slowly drips a fat drop of sable ink. In the dim light of the smoldering hearth, the dark spot glistens ever so faintly with a deep red cast. When it finally splatters quietly on the creamy but sullied scrap, John is reminded of darker rooms and deeds darker still.

“I know,” William murmurs dully. His watery eyes are fixed on the words that he has written, and on the empty space below them. “Did Meg send you down?” he asks in the same tone: remote and weary.

John shakes his head. “She’s given up on that, I think. The room was dark when I passed it.” He runs a hand through his lank and sandy hair, but he doesn’t mention the solitary, muffled sob from behind that door.

John understands better than she does, and knows what cannot be changed. Continue reading

Word Law

2014-8-14 Word Crimes img01A few weeks ago “Weird Al” Yankovic released a song titled “Word Crimes” in which he listed a series of pet peeves regarding the misuse of the English language. Shortly thereafter Kevin Gallagher wrote a response on the popular “First Things” website criticizing Weird Al’s criticisms.

The first half of the article decries the tone of “Word Crimes”, noting that “The joke, such as it is, consists in mockery of those stupider than we.” I have to acknowledge that Mr. Gallagher has a point there, and when I first read his article I felt duly chastised for having enjoyed the song so much. That was also the last point at which I agreed with him. Continue reading

Egyptian Gold in the Christian’s Treasury

2014-8-7 Egyptians img01When the people of Israel were thrust out of Egypt in the time of Moses, they took at God’s command some of Egypt’s riches with them. To a Christian observer of the Western Heritage, the phrase “plundering the Egyptians” may have an additional, metaphorical meaning. From Tertullian’s “What indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” to Clement of Alexandria’s “The way of truth is therefore one. . . . into it, as into a perennial river, streams flow from all sides,” the early church writers ran the gamut of attitudes towards extra-biblical philosophy. Augustine’s use of imagery from the book of Exodus, arguing for a sanctification of pagan philosophy, has prompted enthusiastic battle cries of “Plunder ALL the Egyptians!”

But before we take their stuff, can we make positively certain our use for it is better than theirs? Continue reading