Stuff You Should Read

I have been meaning for a while to write about the Common Core, since it has been causing such an uproar in certain Catholic circles. Yet I do not think I have researched it sufficiently to say anything extensive about it yet. I know the Common Core standards for high school English (since I’ve had to try to implement them for two years), and I have spoken to “higher ups” in the ACE program at Notre Dame for their opinions on the matter–which so far seem strangely genial and un-curious.

Here are two articles that present pretty different views. To give you an idea, I am actually much more inclined to agree with Rocha, but I’ll let you decide:

1. “Why I’m Not Too Worked Up About Common Core” – Sam Rocha

2. “Common Core’s Substandard Writing Standards” – Anthony Esolen

Note: Stay tuned for an upcoming post on why I think Esolen is very wrong about his theory of teaching writing–at least at the secondary level. His claims might work better for the more sophisticated college student who already knows how to write, but from my own experience, as much as I appreciate his ideals, I think his comments are irrelevant for the high school English teacher.

Students - Death_to_high_school_English

I just discovered a new blog (new in the sense that it is “new” to me), and I am quickly becoming a big fan: Artur Rosman’s Cosmos in the Lost. Literature, philosophy, theology – you name it – all of my favorite things seem to be here.

He has two particularly helpful posts for my English major friends out there about contemporary writers who actually take religion seriously and who aren’t suffocated by “nihilism,” which according to O’Connor is the very “air we breathe” these days:

3. Fresh Caught Fish: Part I

Note: The best part about this list is that Rosman actually gives you substantial pieces of his favorite poems by these poets, so that you can get a feel for them. I am already adding names to my Christmas list.

A taste:

Full religion is the large poem in loving repetition;

like any poem, it must be inexhaustible and complete

with turns where we ask Now why did the poet do that?

(Les Murray)

4. Fresh Caught Fish: Part II

Note: For me, more of these are familiar names, but I am still looking forward to exploring new landscapes.

And, thanks to Rosman, a beautiful Advent reflection by my favorite theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar:

5. “Into the Dark with God” – Hans Urs von Balthasar

A taste:

Because the Lord, the High God, has taken the same path as they have: he has left his glory behind him and gone into the dark world, into the child’s apparent insignificance, into the unfreedom of human restrictions and bonds, into the poverty of the crib. This is the Word in action, and as yet the shepherds do not know, no one knows, how far down into the darkness this Word-in-action will lead. At all events it will descend much deeper than anyone else into what is worldly, apparently insignificant and profane; into what is bound, poor and powerless; so much so that we shall not be able to follow the last stage of his path. A heavy stone will block the way, preventing the others from approaching, while, in utter night, in ultimate loneliness and forsakenness, he descends to his dead human brothers. (Balthasar)

Lastly, because this Advent has been so dark — with the shootings at nearby Arapahoe High School, a major accident on LA 1 which I took every day for the past two years to drive to my old school, the anniversary of Sandy Hook, the suffering of my friends who are grieving the untimely loss of loved ones so close to Christmas… need I say more? Because it has been so dark:

6. Presence as Absence – by Marc at “Bad Catholic”

Especially this: “We feel the missing person like an atmosphere, not gone so much as everywhere, the whole world crowded as a Parisian metro with their nearness.”

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