Vol. 1, Issue 2
December 3, 2006
Advent season's greetings to all Schola students, alumni, their families, and all our friends. Schola students and alumni are scattered over the U.S. and several other countries, so references to snow, sleighbells, and hearths might be a little irrelevant (though not here in Idaho); however, wishes for a blessed Advent season would not. So Happy Advent!
IN THIS ISSUE, you'll find ramblings about
1) the name SCHOLEGIUM;
2) Advent season and the Church Year;
3) C. S. Lewis and the study we mean to do;
4) the moon.
A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME
What, someone asked, does "Scholegium" mean? Or is it just supposed to sound cool without actually meaning anything? Well, the latter of course; but it's my own adaptation ("distortion" was the word someone else used, and that person will find coal in his stocking on Christmas morning, let me tell you) of the Latin word "florilegium" and the name of the tutorial service with which you've found your life inextricably intertwined, tarbaby-like. "Florilegium" comes from "flora", the word for "flower", and "legere", the word for "to gather" or "to collect". In other words, a florilegium is a bouquet. But it was commonly used to mean not a collection of literal flowers but of poetry or prose - a commonplace book or anthology. (The Greek word "anthology" means exactly the same thing - "anthos" is flower, and "legein" is "to gather or collect".) So I substituted "schola" for "flori-" and voila! a bouquet of Schola musings. Do any you Schola students and alumni remember your Eusebius?
ADVENT SEASON AND THE CHURCH YEAR
Today, Sunday December 3, was the first of the four Sundays of Advent season, the beginning of the church year. As my pastor said once, one of the most important things we can learn in our celebration of the seasons of the church year is the basic truth that calendars are not silent - they always tell a story. Calendars are not neutral. The question is, what story do they tell? Or to ask it another way, who is the Lord of time and does our answer show in the way we mark the passing of time?
Philip Schaff, one of the greatest of modern church historians, says about the church calendar that it centers on and elevates the the person and work of Jesus Christ and His glory. It developed as a yearly representation of the main events of the gospel history; the birth, passion, and resurrection of Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as well as an exhibition of the life of the Christian church, its founding, growth, and consummation, as a whole and in its individuals, from regeneration to the resurrection of the dead. "THE CHURCH YEAR IS, SO TO SPEAK, A CHRONOLOGICAL CONFESSION OF FAITH; a moving panorama of the great events of salvation; a dramatic exhibition of the gospel for the Christian people. It secures to every important article of faith its place in the cultus of the church, and conduces to wholeness and soundness of Christian doctrine, as against all unbalanced and erratic ideas. It serves to interweave religion with the, life of the people by continually recalling to the popular mind the most important events upon which our salvation rests, and by connecting them with the vicissitudes of the natural and the civil year."
Though the Scriptures contain no warrant for the festivals of the church year (neither does it contain anything that would forbid them so long as they are not presented by the church as binding on the conscience of the believer), the Old Testament patterns of religious practice are a precedent, and the necessity of at least *some* kind of Christian worship and public life demands that we think about how we mark the passing of time. The Anglican/Episcopalian Book of Common Prayer says in its preface that the church year and other extra-Biblical practices of the church are not binding on the conscience but legitimate uses of the church to promote faith. Unfortunately, the church calendar became so overlarded with saints days and other festivals in the middle ages that the Reformation leaders felt the necessity of restoring an earlier simplicity, but there was never any question of abandoning the church year entirely, as that would simply hand over the keeping of cultural time to the unbelieving world.
(adapted from an old Scholegium blog post:
Future issues of SCHOLEGIUM will ponder the specifics of Advent.
On the Schola homepage is this quote by C. S. Lewis: "If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come."
How much time have we lost putting off things we mean to do when the time is right? And yet, the time will never be right. There will always be homework, summer work, college classes, marriage preparation, working at a job, raising a family. And then, in between those things, we need to catch our breath and veg. No, the time will never be right. So we will either start doing the things we ought to do right now no matter how unfavorable conditions are, or we will never do them at all.
DE ASTRIS: LUNACY
Tomorrow night, Monday December 4, at 7:25 PM Eastern, the moon will be full. The moon is full at the exact moment of opposition to the sun; that is, when it's at that point in its orbit around the earth that is exactly opposite the sun. That's why the full moon always rises at sunset. That's also why lunar eclipses can only occur during full moons.
According to ancient and medieval moon lore, the influence of the moon is, among other things, to produce wandering in men - either physical wandering or wanderlust, or else mental wandering. Hence the term lunacy or lunatic, from the Latin word for the moon, "luna". To this very day, many policemen believe criminal activity is higher during a full moon. Of course, skeptics point out that there is more light at night which helps criminal activity. On the other hand, what criminal seeks greater *light* for his crimes? Don't they seek greater darkness? Furthermore, many nurses believe that more babies are born during the time of the full moon. Do the babies need greater light to be born?
Many of you, like me, have cloudy skies right now and can't look at the moon tonight. But if the sky clears in the next day or two, go out late in the evening and wander around a little under the full moon. Not only will you enjoy being a lunatic for a few minutes, but you'll see something most people in the cities of western civilization never see because our electricity keeps us living indoors at night with our bright lights, blaring televisions, stereos, and computers. Hmm. I'll end this missive, shut down my computer and indulge in some lunacy.