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    Book Club: Ideas Have Consequences{Chapter 9}

    September 5, 2012 by Brandy Vencel

    I can’t believe we’ve made it to the end. Before I go on, I just want to take a moment to thank Mystie for hosting this fabulous book club. I wish I could have participated more than I did, but I’m so glad that {1} I had access to Mystie’s summaries to give form to my thoughts and {2} I had the push I needed to read the book, and quickly at that. Mystie, you are a wonderful hostess.

    And so we end in a good place: Piety and Justice.

    I see no way to sum up the offense of modern man except to say that he is impious.

    Thus begins the end.

    Weaver commences his discussion of piety with Socrates’ conclusion:

    [P]iety…consists of co-operation with the gods in the kind of order they have instituted…

    This is true, except that it consists of cooperation with God in the kind of order He has instituted, but still we see this as evidence of why Dante placed Socrates in the first circle of Hell.

    I’m just saying.

    Piety and justice aren’t something that we can force down other people’s throats, I don’t think. But they can be modeled, and where else but the home would we start? For we all know that this type of restoration begins at home, behind closed doors, inside of the soul.

    It begins with us.

    Ideas Have Consequences
    by Richard Weaver

    I don’t know that this has something to do exactly with education proper, but I did think a lot about childrearing as I read this portion. For instance, I never thought about the fact that each time I give God’s order or design as a reason for such-and-such to my children that I am actually teaching piety. For instance, why must I obey when I think you, my lunatic mother, are completely unreasonable? It’s pretty easy: Because God did not make the world in such a way that children are to obey themselves. They are to obey their parents.

    It’s about the order, people.

    And we do talk about these things, though of course we could to more of it {this is not to be confused of over-talking, which is to be despised}. Proverbs shows us the general rule of how there is great benefit to living in line with the Order. Which is why we read it daily.

    Piety is

    a discipline of the will through respect.

    Every single time a child learns to say “no” to himself and what he wants and yes to what someone in authority has asked him to do, he is disciplining his will. This is what Charlotte Mason was talking about in all of her musings upon habit formation, I think. It’s an interesting paradox, really. We are tempted to think that the person in authority is the one with power, but when a child disciplines his will, he is exerting power, too. When a child gives in to his instincts and emotions, he is not in control; he is out of control. It is the emotions and instincts which have the power. But when he denies himself and does what he is called to do, he shows great power. He has flexed the muscles of his will.

    And he shows that he is ready for freedom because he has embraced duty, to paraphrase Weaver.

    If we want to get into education, though, we can look to the study of history.

    [P]iety credits the past with substance.

    We don’t say, of course, that the past is all there is. That would be silly. But we are grateful to the past, which has brought us to this place, which has made us who we are. It is humbling, really, to grasp even a little of the pageant of wisdom which has gone before us. History has had its very dark hours, and yet who is living now that could be considered the equal of Plato? Aquinas? Shakespeare?

    The world has seen greatness, and it will see it again. But the future, Weaver reminds us, is not something we can study. We study the past.

    And hopefully it makes us wise, and also reverent.

    Awareness of the past is an antidote to both egotism and shallow optimism.

    Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to post some final quotes. But for today: how do you cultivate piety in your home?

    _________________________
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