In the last several years, it has become common to hear about the importance of being a “lifelong learner.” While the first time I ever heard the phrase was in the context of classical education, I have since learned it derives from the world of TED talks and corporate virtue signaling. If one considers the term for a moment, it becomes suspect. A lifelong learner of what? In and of itself, learning has no moral value. Learning can be good or bad. Eve learned quite a lot when she ate of the fruit. In the dark corners of the internet, one may learn all sorts of wretched and destructive things. But in the pages of Scripture, we can learn of Christ and be saved. In the pages of old books, we can learn wisdom.Josh Gibbs
Learning is not virtuous unless one is learning virtue.
What is more, acting as if it is an accomplishment to be a “lifelong learner” sets the bar ridiculously low. The modern man lives in a deluge of information where he is constantly hearing trivial facts, lurid stories, and inconsequential data. We browse the internet every day, we read the news every day, we watch banal documentaries on Netflix all the time, and then we forget most what we learned because it wasn’t important or because it asked nothing of us. Simply put, we’re already lifelong learners. Lifelong learners need nobler, higher, and more definite ambitions.
“Even if there be no hereafter, I would live my time believing in a grand thing that ought to be true if it is not. And if these be not truths, then is the loftiest part of our nature a waste. Let me hold by the better than the actual, and fall into nothingness off the same precipice with Jesus and Paul and a thousand more, who were lovely in their lives, and with their death make even the nothingness into which they have passed like the garden of the Lord. I will go further, and say I would rather die forevermore believing as Jesus believed, than live forevermore believing as those that deny Him.”~ George MacDonald, Thomas Wingfold, Curate
Puddleglum must have been a MacDonald fan, according to what he says to the Queen of Underland:
Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.The Silver Chair (via Goodreads)
(MacDonald quote via Alan Jacobs)
Those who join in the work of animation are people who dream more than others and who wish to convey these dreams to others. After a while they realize how incredibly difficult it is to entertain others. Anyone who has tried to describe the wonderful or bittersweet qualities of his dreams should be able to understand how hard this is.Hayao Miyazaki
A novel, according to my tastes, does not come into the first class unless it contains some person whom one can thoroughly love, and if a pretty woman all the better.Charles Darwin
For the quantified, self-Taylorized self, there is no one to blame when something goes wrong, when productivity and perfectibility grind to a halt — no one, that is, except oneself. For the man who is his own manager is blamed twice-over for a weak growth rate: first, for mismanaging, and second, for being unmanageable. Rather than unionizing, we feel disappointed with our own poor performance.Source
I would like to… accuse Marx of plagiarism. His critique of capitalism is, in essence, the biblical concern for widows and orphans, stripped of its theological foundations and applied to the conditions of modernity.Merold Westphal, Suspicion and Faith, p. 203 (qtd. in Keller, The Reason for God, p. 59
The Trinity is proof of a witty God, gently letting us know that we have brains enough to understand our world, but not His.P. J. O’Rourke
In danger of life, our own or others, in self defense, if it the only way of saving our identity in a crisis. We must speak and write and think and teach and testify when we and our mind would disintegrate without it. We speak lest we go mad.Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, Fruit of Lips, p. 30
Speaking for myself, I can say that this is fairly accurate.
Scribbled on a classmate’s presentation outline in a class on James Joyce:
fart can be art at the right moment
Grad school was money well spent, clearly.