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Orthodoxy and Education

Ancient Education and the Ancient Faith

There is a growing trend in the Classical Christian Education movement, a largely Roman Catholic and Protestant phenomenon in recent decades, towards Orthodoxy.  The first reason for this, and the most obvious, is that taking antiquity seriously leads one to ask some obvious questions:  what were ancient Christians doing while Nero was watching Rome burn, while Augustine was writing his Confessions, or while the Genghis Khan was building his empire?  Where was the Church, and what did she believe? What did the faith of the first Christians look like, smell like, and taste like?  Learning the story of Christianity often inspires serious soul-searching, and in some cases that search has led to the Orthodox Church.

Another reason, maybe less obvious, is that even the pagan classics testify to the truth of our Faith. When one has feasted on the works of authors like Plato, Homer, Cicero, and Marcus Aurelius, the soul begins to long for a deeper and more lasting connection to the Truth, Goodness, and Beauty written into Creation by our Maker.

harmony with the life of the church

The "and" in the phrase "Orthodoxy and classical education" is an important conjunction, for to set up a curriculum or a school as an example of what that means to offer an "Orthodox education" would be to indulge in vanity and invite families to place their hope where it does not belong.  The true Orthodox education is not a school or a curriculum but the life of the Church which hands down the fullness of the Faith to those who have ears to hear.  In light of that, theologically speaking, a school has nothing to add to or subtract from an Orthodox education.  And yet...

We live in a time in which children are increasingly isolated from a life, an atmosphere, and habits which harmonize with the Church and confirm the Faith which she proclaims.  Not only the content of the modern curriculum but its very form wars against the souls of our children.  Moreover, there is a hidden curriculum of modern education, and its agenda is not simply to remove the influence of religion; it seeks to remove that which is truly human--those works which elevate the spirit, inspire true wonder, and create a hunger for the Kingdom which will not pass away. While we do not claim or pretend to offer the final form of a truly "Orthodox education," we pray that, with God's help, we'll provide an option for families who struggle to raise their children according to the truth expressed in the words of St. Elder Porphyrios:

“The soul of the Christian needs to be refined and sensitive, to have sensibility and wings, to be constantly in flight and to live in dreams, to fly through infinity, among the stars, amidst the greatness of God, amid silence.  Whoever wants to become a Christian must first become a poet.  That's what it is!  You must suffer.  You must love and suffer – suffer for the one you love.”