Letter from the Editor: Summer 2023

title card with mothers holding their children

In 1946, for the preface to How Heathen Is Britain?, C. S. Lewis shared this observation:

Education is only the most fully conscious of the channels whereby each generation influences the next. It is not a closed system. Nothing which was not in the teachers can flow from them into the pupils…. A man whose mind was formed in a period of cynicism and disillusion cannot teach hope or fortitude.

Few would disagree that we live in a period of cynicism and disillusion. How do we counter all that attacks our children and youth from without and from within? How do we train character? How do we pass on the faith? Lewis expounds further:

Hence the futility of many schemes for education. None can give to another what he does not possess himself. No generation can bequeath to its successor what it has not got. You may frame the syllabus as you please. But when you have planned and reported ad nauseam, if we are skeptical we shall teach only skepticism to our pupils, if fools only folly, if vulgar only vulgarity, if saints sanctity, if heroes heroism.

Where must a moral education originate? As Christian parents, teachers, grandparents, and neighbors, we know we must be transformed by the Holy Spirit working through the Word of God. Romans 12:2 says, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind….” Only then, by the grace of God, will this be echoed in the children we teach.

I observed the fruit of this recently when a Christian neighbor’s son, Sam, took my son, Michael, on an outing. Both young men were homeschooled in our small Missouri town with a classical Christian education. Due to my son’s onset of debilitating parkinsonism, Sam had suggested a nearby farm offering gentle rides, live music, and outdoor games, rather than their usual annual daylong trek to Six Flags. They packed lunches and set out to enjoy the day.

For hours after arriving home, Michael chattered happily about the experience. As a person who, due to his disabilities, must remain home far more than most young adults, Michael spoke with words like “enthralled” and “entranced” as he described the harmonica player, the hayride among the trees, and the tall slide.

That evening after Michael completed his thankfulness journal, he looked up at me and asked, “Do you know what I really appreciated?” I paused to hear. “We said grace together before we ate our picnic lunches.”

The remainder of those verses in Romans 12 include this:

Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; … Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.

This, perhaps, is the pinnacle of character, but it does not originate from ourselves. Let us hold fast with gladness of heart to our role in conveying a moral education by being “kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love.” Let us teach hope and fortitude by knowing first where our hope and strength are found.

As we persevere, this will be the greatest moral education our children can both witness and receive. We can rebuke and discipline, and we can also restore and forgive as we are forgiven in Christ. May our children and youth be formed and transformed for their good and for the good of everyone they encounter.