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    Educational Philosophy, Other Thoughts

    Lessons from Charlotte: Governing the Kingdom of Mansoul (Part I)

    June 25, 2010 by Brandy Vencel

    This is, for me, the most difficult part of the reading. Here we are, in the very last part of the book, and Charlotte begins to cover the soul of man, and even though I’ve read this book before, it all feels new to me. Her ideas are, for the most part, completely foreign to me. You see, Charlotte is explaining not only how the internal life functions, but what this implies about children, and how the internal life of children can be trained and formed by their parents.

    Lessons from Charlotte: Governing the Kingdom of Mansoul {Part I}

    If what we’ve been reading began with the Parenting and Education 101 course, and then we’ve jumped around through the upper and lower division classes, well, here we are, now suddenly taking Parenting and Education 602.

    Or at least, it feels that way to me.

    Charlotte calls the internal life of the soul The Kingdom of Mansoul, a clever little allegory which she fleshes out in her Volume IV: Ourselves, a volume of which I have only read part, but it was extremely insightful, and I look forward to reading more of it in the future.

    Suffice it to say that Miss Mason, though she did leave room for mystery, did not think we need necessarily remain mysterious to ourselves. This part of Volume I is, to some extent, the introduction to the concepts in Volume IV.

    Miss Mason divides “the government” of The Kingdom of Mansoul into three “branches.” I wouldn’t take this mental picture too far, though. I tried to come up with a couple illustrative graphics. I first drew something similar to what I’d use to describe the United States Government. But then I realized that having all three on equal ground, implying our national system of checks and balances, wasn’t quite appropriate. Later, Charlotte describes it more as a system of concentric circles, as if she begins her discussion with the outermost layer of the internal life, and moves her way in, each layer being a little more hidden than the previous.

    The Flow of Power and Decision Making in the Soul

    Next post, we’ll try to break down the parts and talk about what Charlotte says about them, but for today, we need to try and see the big picture, how they all work together. Charlotte doesn’t really define the will, and chooses to talk about its functions and limitations instead. But of the conscience, she says, that it

    sits supreme in the inner chamber. Conscience is the lawgiver, and utters the ‘Thou shalt’ and the ‘Thou shalt not’ whereon the will takes action.

    So the will is the part of the soul that makes decisions and carries them out. But those decisions and actions are expressions of the conscience.

    She later explains more about conscience:

    [C]onscience is that spiritual sense whereby we have knowledge of good and evil.

    The Christian has an additional layer: deep within, there is a King enthroned, a Priest communing with us. To Him, we are loyal, and that loyalty impacts both the judgments of the conscience as well as the activities of the will.

    I suppose there is a sense in which we all have this deepest layer, what changes is who the King is. The biggest idol of our culture is Self, and when Self is the one to whom we commit our loyalty, I think no one would debate that this impacts the conscience and the will, the entire life of the man.

    The question becomes: What impact can parents have upon the deepest recesses of the children’s hearts? Charlotte seems to believe that we can have quite a bit. I am still grappling with this.

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  • Reply Ashley July 30, 2021 at 1:27 pm

    Aww the illustrations aren’t showing up. Great thoughts though, as always! 🙂

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 31, 2021 at 7:43 am

      Oh! That’s sad! And I don’t remember what I did so I can’t recreate them. Hmmm…maybe I’ll see if the Wayback Machine has an old copy I can use. Thank you for telling me! I had no idea!

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