Classical Conversations staff members are avid readers. We thought you might enjoy a peek at our personal reading this month.
Matt Bianco – Education Director
I am currently reading C.S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man and Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities. The Abolition of Man is an incredible book on the role of education and the presuppositions or, rather, the principles that guide us with regard to virtue. It is a discussion of how education can bolster or undermine those principles, often quite subtly. It is a must read for educators, either parents or tutors.
I have not actually begun reading A Tale of Two Cities, but I expect to this week. I have not read much of Dickens work, previous excursions being limited to A Christmas Carol and Hard Times. The former pulled me through it; the latter I had to work through. I’m going to read this book because friends have basically peer pressured me into it, calling into question my credentials as a lover of books until I’ve read it. I hope to enjoy it and cultivate a love for Dickens in the process. After all, how can I ask my children to read books they aren’t immediately interested in, if I am unwilling to do the same?
Jennifer Courtney – Communications Director
I am currently reading On the Incarnation by Athanasius. I set a goal this year to read through the works of some of the early church fathers. I have been so blessed by his clearly reasoned arguments. The beauty of his prose has revealed many new thoughts to me about Christ’s incarnation, His suffering on the cross, and His resurrection. Here’s one sentence to give you a taste.
For seeing the rational race perishing, and death reigning over them through corruption, and seeing also the threat of the transgression giving firm hold to the corruption which was upon us, and that it was absurd for the law to be dissolved before being fulfilled, and seeing the impropriety in what had happened, that the very things of which he himself was the Creator were disappearing, and seeing the excessive wickedness of human beings, that they gradually increased it to an intolerable pitch against themselves, and seeing the liability of all human beings to death—having mercy upon our race, and having pity upon our weakness, and condescending to our corruption, and not enduring the dominion of death, lest what had been created should perish and the work of the Father himself for human beings should be in vain, he takes for himself a body and that not foreign to our own.
I am also beginning Flannery O’Connor’s The Violent Bear It Away as part of a bet with some friends. I have been repeatedly assured that she is the foremost Christian author of the twentieth century and that her absence from my previous reading is a major hole in my education. Since I am always up for a new book, I’ve accepted the challenge.
Jen Greenholt – Production Director
I just finished reading How the Laser Happened: Adventures of a Scientist by Charles H. Townes (Oxford University Press, 2002). http://www.amazon.com/How-Laser-Happened-Adventures-Scientist/dp/0195153766
Townes is a Nobel laureate, so his explanations of advanced physics can be heady, but I loved his descriptions of studying science through nature as a boy. Even after a long career in science, including frustrating patent battles and political challenges, Townes comes across as both humble and inquisitive. I was inspired by his consistent joy in the pursuit of science:
“I am both thrilled and intrigued by nature’s beauty. Somehow, essentially every aspect of nature can be inspiring and beautiful. A calm sea and a stormy sea are both strikingly esthetic and stimulating. So is the structure of an atom, a field fresh with flowers, a desert, an insect, bird, fish, star, galaxy, or the mysteries of a black hole. As I have had a chance to explore and try to understand, I feel enriched—not just by the usefulness of science, but by its awesomeness, connectedness, and the beauty of all its dimensions.”
Scott Whitaker – Director of New Initiatives
My wife and I are currently three-fourths of the way into reading If God Already Knows, Why Pray? by Dr. Douglas Kelly (Amazon link). A Bible study group started in this book when Dr. Kelly, the author, offered to lead the study for us. He is a retired professor of systematic theology, so we are under good teaching.
While studies of the Lord’s Prayer abound, Dr. Kelly’s book on the Lord’s Prayer has enlivened it for our current, relevant situations. I learned how congregational prayer (the “our” in “Our Father”) makes a substantial difference in God’s domain of heaven and here on earth. God has in His wisdom decided that the prayers of people be an essential instrument in the outcomes of heavenly and earthly events. Daniel’s prayer caused a battle in heaven to sway towards the saints. And Moses’s prayers with lifted arms or sagging arms decided the sway of a battle. Though the pervasive materialism of the current culture contends for my mind, Dr. Kelly persuaded my mind, but more importantly my heart and spirit, of the “why” of prayer, especially in the immaterial, spiritual realm. I am forever changed! Moreover, my wife and I are going through this experience together, with our relationship improving in a real, tangible experience. Our joint experience is changing us. Furthermore, it knits us to our fellow Bible study fellows.