What We Can Learn from Easter 2018

write this on Good Friday 2018, but I could have written something like it on any day, any year. For the more some things change, it seems, the more they stay the same.

Good Friday 2018 comes after news story upon news story about great and damaging wickedness in high places: the most eminent of government offices, the most powerful of corporate suites, and the most famous of churches. But the high and mighty have always traded in subterfuge, abuse, manipulation, oppression, propaganda, profligacy, adultery, and murder.

Good Friday 2018 comes after a string of heart-breaking stories of huge populations of misery in Yemen/Syria/Myanmar/China/Afghanistan/Sudan/North Korea/South Africa. Awful stories, each one. Yet famine, war, disease, exile, genocide—they all go back to the dawn of human culture.

Good Friday 2018 comes after longing for a political saviour is being disappointed all around the world. Prime ministers and presidents elected on a tide of hope seem much less charming and much less competent, much more interested in themselves than in those they promised to help. Tech wizards who promised to bring us together have increased our mutual suspicion to the point of paranoia. And entertainers who brought us delight now bring us horror, disgust, and contempt. But all that’s different nowadays is the speed and vividness of the revelations.

The Easter Story deals with matters at a gigantic symbolic level. The leaders of God’s chosen people, who flattered themselves as being representatives of righteousness, and officials of the greatest empire on earth, who flattered themselves as being representatives of law and order, conspire viciously and illegally to rid themselves of the Lord of All in a gruesome spectacle of degradation, torture, and death.

Thus, however, it has ever been. Power has always resisted and killed what it could not colonize and co-opt.

[For the rest, please click HERE.]

Deciding on College? Why It’s Harder to Do than Ever

It’s that time of year again. Students are receiving acceptance/denial letters, making last-minute visits to campuses, weighing up financial aid offers, poring over websites, and talking endlessly to advice-givers.

Here is some help from the American side of things. And here, perhaps too late (!), is information about how admission decisions are made by universities on the Canadian side.

I’ve been thinking about this question since 1975, since I made my first applications for university, and I’ve been around universities and colleges ever since. So perhaps I can tell you how to know where the best teaching is.

Alas, I actually can’t.

Presuming that you’re putting first things first—and many students don’t: I remember hearing once that the top criterion for American high school students in selecting a college was “appearance of the campus”—you want to get the best education you can, which means, if nothing else, being taught by the best scholars. Despite all the published guides, however, finding out where the best scholars are is nearly impossible.

The usual criteria of “good teaching situations” are worth considering: low student/faculty ratios and class sizes; high percentage of courses taught by full-time faculty; the reputation of the school in various surveys; and so on.

A small class taught by a bad teacher is still, however, a bad class. Many sessional instructors, relatively inexperienced and terribly harried as they usually are, often teach better than do their tenured counterparts.

What about school reputation? Can’t we at least be sure that the better schools have the better people?

[For the rest, please click HERE.]

Holy Week Posts 2018

In case you’d like some material for further reflection this Lent and Eastertide:

On Tenebrae: here

On Providence, including the Garden of Gethsemane: here

On Good Friday and Atonement: here and here

On the revelatory strangeness of the Cross: here

On Easter Sunday and the Resurrection: here

On Easter Weekend in general: here

On a sad, sour note, a post on those who exploit Easter, and Christianity in general, for antithetical agendas: here

And on a more bracing one, thoughts on Easter Sunday + 1: here