Universal Truth as Home Education Power of Story

17 08 2009

As the Christian versus secular curriculum comparison discussion goes on (see recent posts for more) I dredged up from drafts today this May 2006 “BS” (Before Snook!) essay, which seems right on point for our current competing power of story and its many tangents:

Teaching My Own “Faith” to My Kids

Religion is Story and so is everything else the human mind can conceive or believe. Amen.

We’re not much for church or school, but we live for Story (doesn’t everybody somehow or another?) Musical theatre, libraries, bookshops and movies are our personal venues of worship, the wellsprings of story through which my family lives and learns and engages ideas and cultures.

The more perspective that comes with age and experience, the more I understand that for me at least, schooling was all-day entertainment and power of story, which is why I loved it so.

And I don’t mean just story time, English lit, newspaper staff and the occasional A/V film projector rolled into the back of the room — to me history was indeed hi-story, math was clever symbolism used to tell the most complex and compelling stories, science was real-world commandments as miraculous story, and later came college law, economics, communications, management and social sciences, even what was being called “cybernetics” — all very human power of story to me.

(That required cybernetics course and its tedious punch card practice in the basement of Weil Hall put me deliciously in mind of Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in Desk Set!)

I still remember the wonder when I first learned about color, and probability theory, and geometric proofs. Magic! Miracle! Revelation! I’m no scientist or mathematician but I was forever transformed just by the power of the struggle to understand. I was seduced not by the cerebral riddles themselves but by how thrilled and excited they made me feel, by the very process of wanting to wrap my mind around black as no color and white as all colors, or learning about the power of superstition on even the strong-minded.

When I became a teen without a set bedtime, I remember stumbling across old late-show movies like Blue Denim and Imitation of Life and Gentleman’s Agreement, just the way I had privately “discovered” my first Narnia book, and A Wrinkle in Time and Animal Farm and Stranger in a Strange Land, and a hundred (a thousand!) other books and movies before I knew anyone else had discovered them before me, or how I was expected to respond, what I was commanded to think of them.

But back to the future of the present.
“Seussical the Musical” has been our family’s focus this weekend, and likely will be the focus of our family summer. Our kids discovered community musical theatre under their own power, and identify themselves with a company of very talented grown-ups who share their passion and story power, almost like a congregation — at least maybe like a Methodist congregation of my youth, in which each individual is privately and modestly responsible for his or her own beliefs, work and expressions, rather than having every particular set in stone for them by some collective and their conspicuous, competitive collecting.

A method-ist style congregation is like a performance company, sort of.

Other kids spend their summers planning to take over the world, this world, in the name of the next I suppose. These kids and their folks live in a radically different reality than ours, it seems, and belong in a different fictional story too; they’d fit right into the new movie I saw with my kids right before Seussical’s auditions Friday night: The Da Vinci Code fictionalizes all manner of true zealots, who justify all manner of sin as their personal marching orders from whatever they worship (the divine or perhaps secrets, treasure, power, love, pain, duty or just plain winning no matter what.)

There IS no truth we can
agree on objectively, to teach kids. And the truth is we know it and won’t fix it.

Wilde again:

. . . tired of the intelligent person whose reminiscences are always based upon memory, whose statements are invariably limited by probability . . . Society sooner or later must return to its lost leader, the cultured and fascinating liar.

Catholic leaders claim The Da Vinci Code is manipulation of belief, fraud for profit, harmful lies we must warn the world to reject. Now comes the titillating and, one supposes, quite predictable reverse play, the crowning glory of the news and belief cycle (whoops, not to be redundant!) — historical Christianity itself challenged as fraud, with the courts as the objective Standard of Truth.

It’s being called “abuse of popular belief” by the plaintiff.
Can we even call these stories about the stories actual news — or is it closer to sensationalized fiction in service of larger redemptive “truth?” Words seldom fail me, let’s see, where’s the connected Power of Story in all this . . . yeah, ” abuse of popular belief” is a keeper.

We are all “homeschoolers” — if you find that term useful –but that may be about the only thing we have in common. Certainly not enough to base a whole story on, much less Universal Truth. . .



2 responses

11 09 2010
More Than Muslims, Remember Real Threat Today « Cocking A Snook!

[…] symbolic belief in “who we are” beyond all reason and science is all some folks have, the only story with any power to put them on top of a social group, and so they are willing to turn the sciences of larger society upside down, on […]

30 05 2013

E.O. Wilson: “In the early stages of creation of both art and science, everything in the mind is a story.”

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