“I helped assemble some brothers up from the community. We converged, we prayed, we sang, we stopped some fights, we stopped some rioting. We just held them by the hand and talked to them, and told them to calm down.” -Malcolm Taylor, Baltimore city bus driver responding to the 2015 Baltimore riots
In April of 2015, Baltimore, Maryland was violated by extreme violence and heartache. As the news reports rolled in I began to forget that good things existed. My heart was hurting for our brothers and sisters in Baltimore. The next morning, however, I opened up Facebook and was reminded that truth, goodness, and beauty still exist. You know, those truly human things that we are drawn to and are compelled by when we are at our best. These truly human things are of course in stark contrast to the riot descriptions, videos, and photos, which were plastered all over the internet and describe a state that seems more animal-like than human. Malcolm Taylor shows us one small, but beautiful, act that embodies something we are all aware that exists and is deserving of honor. If we compare Mr. Taylor’s act to the chaos of the riots something in us rises to the surface and we celebrate one and detest the other. There is something in us that responds a certain way to certain things. A sort of “deep calling to deep.” It is a bit of a mystery, but if we are honest we know it is there.
How do we name that and how do we talk about it? I believe that is the refreshment and the struggle of Stephen R. Turley’s new book ‘Awakening Wonder: A Classical Guide to Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.’ Refreshment, because it is always harmonizing to hear someone name something you had not known the name of. Struggle, because we have forgotten the value of those human things, have divorced them from our lives and curriculum, and because apprehending and encountering truth, goodness, and beauty will always be a bit of wrestling match.
Stephen R. Turley graciously tells us the human and scholarly story of man’s encounter with the good, the true, and the beautiful, he opens the door to what these ideas have meant for the life of the Christian, and what it calls us to and makes possible in our pedagogy and curriculum that was never possible before.
“Our tasks as educators is nothing less than to awaken students to the self-replenishing fountain of indescribable delights of a new creation in Christ, to give them the gift of the freedom to be human again, and in so doing to watch their lives blossom into rational, poetic, worshipers of God, and through their lives to get a taste of what life will be like when Christ returns, when God will be all in all.” -Stephen R. Turley, Awakening Wonder: A Classical Guide to Truth, Beauty, & Goodness
In his book, Awakening Wonder, Stephen Turley gives us a frame of reference for how to think about the idea of the good, true, and beautiful. He also explains how the good, true, and beautiful are the means by which we heal. Furthermore, Turley shares a way to pursue the good, true, and beautiful that is formal and imitative.
Turley’s frame of reference, which helps us think about the idea of the good, the true, and the beautiful is a historical one and a cosmological one. Turley begins his tour with Creation, turning next to the Classical world, and then to the Christian world, through the lens of the Greek East and then the Latin West. He shows the progression and development of these ideas over time, most profoundly of course when Christ himself came on the scene as The Truth, The Good, and The Beautiful one. I was awestruck to see how intimately the allure of the true, good, and beautiful was tied to the very person of Christ.
Since sin entered the world, all of creation cries out. We were created for harmony, but instead everything feels a sense of disorder. It is the good, the true, and the beautiful One that orders and harmonizes. This is a great mystery to me, so I do not want to give too many words here. All I can say it that after reading Turley’s book I have a new and renewed faith in the good, the true, and the beautiful to heal and restore my senses and my imagination to a more Eden-like state. I do not know whether this can happen completely on this side of eternity, but I do know it is worth pursuing regardless.
One of my favorite things and one of the hardest things about classical education is this business of contemplation. What is contemplation anyway and how does one do it? Many of us have heard beautiful and appealing things like “You become what you behold” or “The only thing worth beholding.” Of course, that would be Christ, and now we know that Christ is the good, true, and beautiful one, but how do you behold Him? Turley gives a great answer, and I am eager to reread this section of his book a few more times. He shows us how the three branches of aesthetics knowledge give us three different ways to give form to our contemplation. This is good news for me. Mostly because my imagination still needs a lot of healing, and my thoughts need a guide.
I am so excited to think more deeply about the ideas and suggestions in Awakening Wonder. More than anything I, my children, and my students need the good, true, and beautiful One in as many waking moments as we can. Can you imagine a day filled with the good, true, and beautiful bursting out at the seams? Well, there is good news, our days are bursting at the seems with the good, true, and beautiful and Stephen Turley helps to show us how and in what ways we can access it. I do hope you get a copy of his book, I think it would bless you. Plus, I would love to discuss it with you!
Expanding wisdom, extending grace,
Of course, this brings us to a giveaway! Classical Academic Press has kindly offered to giveaway two copies of Stephen Turley’s book Awakening Wonder! All you have to do to enter the giveaway is to comment on this post with a question or a comment related to our discussion about the good, the true, and the beautiful and then enter your email by clicking the Giveaway link below. If you don’t want to wait, you can go ahead and pick up your own copy of Awakening Wonder right here. Giveaway is open through this Sunday May 10th! Furthermore, Classical Academic Press is giving you, my readers, a chance save 20% on CAP products through the remainder of May! Just use the code EW20 at checkout!
I look forward to thinking and discussing with you all.