The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Unbidden Thoughts

There I was this afternoon, sitting on my overutilized duff watching college football and letting my underutilized mind completely empty itself when, unbidden, a series of thoughts forced themselves on me. It was actually pretty irritating because I just wanted to veg out and watch these games in which I had absolutely no stake. But these intruding thoughts simply wouldn't go away.

The first of these thoughts originated in a dream I had last night, a rather odd dream in which I was standing in the forum at Pompeii (a place Diane and I visited on our recent trip) engaged in a little Q&A with Socrates. At least I think he was Socrates because he was standing there in a cool robe and asking me question after question that I was apparently unable to answer. Now I'm pretty sure Socrates never spent any time in Pompeii, but dreams are no respecters of historical fact.

We weren't alone. Other people were there too, presumably local Pompeians, witnessing this embarrassing exchange and laughing aloud at my non-answers. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, I can't recall any of the questions he asked. In fact, I can recall only one thing that my fanciful Socrates said. At the end of our dialogue he shook his head and grumbled, "Your ignorance is enough to make me drink a cup of hemlock juice." With that I awoke convinced, at least for a moment, that I was personally responsible for the untimely death of Socrates.

As for the deep psychological meaning of this dream, I haven't a clue and really don't want  to know. I experience enough humbling moments in real life. Anyway, recalling this dream today I found myself thinking about Socrates and education. It's been said on many occasions and by many very smart people that the perfect school was Socrates standing in the agora with a couple of students and asking questions to help his students find their way to the truth. If this is true, and based on my own experience I suspect it is, why then do we not imitate it in our systems of education today? Instead it would seem, at least based on the results, educational "professionals" adopt one faddish and ineffective method after another in a never-ending quest for...what? The truth? More tax money? Job security? I think perhaps it's time to get back to the real basics when it comes to education.

Thoughts of Socrates and the ineffectiveness of most of our educational institutions, got me thinking about other cultural issues. The first that came to mind was political correctness, Originating in our institutions of higher learning, PC has become a remarkably successful effort by our cultural elites and their language police to distort the language to conform to their own political views. For example, pro-abortion becomes pro-choice even though those who espouse this position really don't want women to make an informed choice. It is, of course, a tyranny designed to alter the way people both speak and think. It's simply one more manifestation of what Pope Benedict XVI calls the "dictatorship of relativism." In essence political correctness is really just another form of dishonesty since it aims to distort reality for the sake of ideology under the guise of individual or group feelings, To be PC, then, is to be a liar. The ramifications of political correctness are not trivial. Indeed, I really believe that no society can be truly healthy unless its language is pure and reflective of the truth.

Those were a few of my odd thoughts as I watched West Virginia and Nebraska win in lopsided, boring games. Happily the later Auburn-Alabama game was far more exciting.

Pax et bonum...

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