“The most extraordinary thing in the world is an ordinary man and an ordinary woman and their ordinary children." G K Chesterton

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Education as Gratitude

As chapter one of Beauty in the Word moves into the section titled Anti-Tradition and Anamnesis we begin to grasp why this book is so important.

First of all the word anamnesis holds in it something more than just remembering. In its Platonic use it means we are remembering things from tradition or an inferred past. We are not remembering what we have learned already but what went before us.

This is the antithesis of technology because technology in principle is looking forward without looking back.  Technology makes history "external to ourselves."  Therefore, the highest goal becomes consumerism in a technological society. Education becomes the consumption of information. We become greedy for more, more, more like a fat man at a pie eating contest.

Technology looks forward without looking back "Whereas tradition requires the initiation of persons into a living world that is RECIEVED AS GIFT AND CALLS FOR GRATITUDE." 

Enter the Covenant, the Lord's Supper, the community.

Technology is a giant vacuum sucking us away from past, signifying nothing. Tradition is what holds us fast to the things that really matter.
"This is the moment when tradition becomes Covenant. Christian or not, we can see in the scriptural narration of this event a mystery opposed to the technological order, the possibility of overcoming the essence of consumerism through consumption of the Eucharist, the gift of a supreme love that creates and nourishes a new communal identity."
 I hope you are able to grasp the meaning of all of this because it has everything to do with how we plan our school years and how we look at our children. We are not or should not be consumers of education. We are receivers. That should make a difference when we are looking at those catalogs. It should help us remember that the tools we use are not the things themselves.

"..as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." II Corinthians 4:18

(And we are still not done with chapter 2. I feel like a Presbyterian pastor preaching through James or Galatians.)


  1. I am little confused as to how tradition becomes "covenant." I may go so far as to say "heritage." however I think that covenant goes way to far, especially if we are mixing education methods with special revelation of God. Which Caldecott conflates to the detriment of Christianity.

    Why would I think this matters? Our faith is based on something that actually happened in history, an event, a finished act. The Birth, Life and Death on the Cross of Jesus Christ. That by it's very nature makes it external to us, and amen to that, for it can't be changed.

    Although I especially appreciate this book, I think that we should as protestants and reformed Presbyterian's be abundantly cautious of his obvious Roman Catholic World View.... and the flying of their banner ,"Tradition."

    It's a little Fiddler on the Roofish don't ya think?

  2. ...we eat more and more and more until we finally eat our self. It's happening. As far as tradition--- Protestants lost much post-reformation. We would do well to reconnect with aspects we lost. Jesus taught and spoke much from his Jewish tradition while on earth. His imagination; the parables, metaphors, stories came from tradition of the Scriptures. Much of our imagination comes from the past. Biblically, there is always a looking back and remembering. Their story, our story, the story is steeped in remembrance and tradition. Hans Boersma, "Heavenly Participation...." I recommend on this.

  3. I agree that the Reformed and the Catholic have different views of 'tradition' and we might quibble with the overtly Catholic views of Caldecott but I think the main principle still stands especially taking it back to Plato.

    Something came before us. We are connected to that something. Our traditions connect us. The Lord's Supper connects us.

    The Covenant isn't only outside of us but in a way it connects what is outside to what is inside. Is that a Catholic view?

    That is the whole point, we are connected to real things and tradition reminds us of that. Tradition cannot save us. I agree with that but neither can technology. Tradition can lead us towards salvation. I am not sure technology can. I am not 100% sure on that because God can use anything.

    But I am interested in hearing you out further. Also I am interested in your name. I am not fond of anonymous comments although I allow them and usually it is just an oversight on the part of the commenter.

    1. Hi Cindy, this is Ginger but the select profile is being difficult. Sorry I didn't sign my name.

      I may a simpleton, however Jesus words himself warns us in Matt 15:1-3, that we should be always wary of well meaning traditions of man and the more well meaning the the more we should be careful.

      Too much philosophizing for me today but great discussion.


    2. I totally agree with the points on the problems that technology can create if not used wisely.


    3. I totally agree with the problems idealizing Technology.


    4. It can be confusing because tradition is important, but not in the same way that it is to a Catholic (where it's equal to Scripture). But I see tradition as being part of history, part of a line, instead of a solitary individual all by myself. Traditions are a way we acknowledge that - each individual doesn't have to rewrite the creeds and confessions, though we can wrestle with them as manmade and not infallible things. They are still a part of the line we're descendants of and so it is proper to honor them, even in the way we disagree (if we do).

      But, still, when a reformed Protestant and a Catholic both say "tradition," I do think they are talking about different things with different natures, which should be acknowledged, because it can sound similar.

    5. Ginger, I feel so much better now that I know who I am talking to :) My comment box is not ideal. I am not sure what's up with it. Some one said it was requiring a Google ID which is bad.

      I am notoriously able to compartmentalize ideas. I am happy to get the direction Caldecott is going and skip over the things that don't jive with my theology. I think of tradition as God choosing Abraham because HE knew that Abraham would pass it on to his children.

      I also think of the verse in Proverbs about not tearing down the ancient landmarks set up by your forefathers and then there is the Rechabites who followed their ancestor even though they were not Biblically compelled to and God commended them for it. That is how I view tradition and I think it is a good word because it really is directly in contrast to technology. But I get your hesitation and the accusation of too much philosophizing. :) That is why my mom doesn't read my blog.

    6. Hi Cindy.
      Yes my problem is with Google...

      I totally get what you are saying...I read a lot of different stuff, and glean what I can...I love Caldecott's way with words and agree with most of what he says.

      I think sometimes a disclaimer is good right up front...like "what I don't mean is......" It helps in blog posts especially.

      By the way, I am so entirely glad you are back at it, I have much enjoyed your blog and all your thoughts. Keep it up.


  4. "The Covenant isn't only outside of us but in a way it connects what is outside to what is inside." – Right, because the Covenant gives us our identity. It is outside of us, yet it also brings us in. It is because we are in covenant that we have our heritage, tradition, connection, and community.

    I'm glad you're going verse-by-verse ;) because it means I might have time to jump in and catch up.