Monday, March 10, 2014

Learning from Whales and Other Inspiring Ideas

This month, the Charlotte Mason blog carnival is considering the topic of moral training — closely related to next month's topic, religious training. Both flow out of the idea of authority: what we ought to do depends upon who is the final authority. As a Christian, I see God as the final authority who decides what I ought to do. I believe that God is the final authority for all, even those who disagree with this view, as did Charlotte Mason. Just as gravity affects those who don't understand it or try to ignore it as demonstrated by countless disasters on America's Funniest Video, the moral Law set up by the Lawgiver still holds true.

I've never considered the word ought until now,
"Ought" is part of the verb "to owe," and that which we owe is a personal debt to a Lawgiver and Ruler, however men name the final authority. If they choose to speak of Buddha or Humanity, they do not escape from the sense of a moral authority. They know that that which they ought is that which they owe to do, a debt to some power or personality external to themselves. God has made us so that, however much we may be in the dark as to the divine Name, we can never for a minute escape from the sense of "Ought, the law. ~ Charlotte Mason (pages 126-127)
As Jesus, the One who paid my debt, attested, this Law isn't a rigidly enforced set of Do's and Don't's that creep into most religions. He boiled it down a simple principle. Love God and love others as yourself. What a timely whisper from God a week after a teen put this on the chalkboard at our school and the day after my pastor shared in his sermon that "We're number three!" in this look-out-for-number-one world.

Some moral impulses, such as generosity, come more easily than others. Recently, a friend leaving soon for a mission trip to Peru (yes, Amy, you read that correctly) shared her experiences with the kids at school. She showed us a video of the orphanage that we are supporting with the gift of construction paper and scissors. Seeing what little they have tugged at the hearts of our children. One, who suffers immensely in our hot summers, asked his mother if he could get a job to help buy an air conditioner for the kids. They all want to raise money, and we are considering something they can do with true work. A worm or cricket farm, perhaps.

Most feel the impulse to take care of the birds in our school yard and feed the fish in the pond and in the fish tank. They love animals! They care for the plants in our garden and watch to see them grow. Even chores get done with alacrity when they know that recess follows.

We also see what Mason called "selfish, resentful, unamiable movement of children's minds." Our task is to figure out what inspires a selfish heart to consider how actions affect people around it. What inspires an impatient heart to slow down and regroup. What helps a deceitful tongue tell the truth.

Mason recommended poetry, biography, and the Bible ("storehouse of the most inspiring biographies") for source material. Even a science book can offer a nugget of moral ideas. We'd noticed a bad habit creeping in one of the classes. They've become very good friends but, along with that friendship, came the desire to chatter all day long, even during a narration or while the teacher gave instructions. One day, we learned from Secrets of Sound that humpback whales sing songs that are more than calls (simple short sequences). They sing songs lasting as long as a half hour. Not only do they improvise like jazz singers but they sing their own "folk" songs unique to a region that change from season to season. And, whales NEVER interrupt the singer. Now, when they are too chatty, merely mentioning whales quietens them.
Stern lawgiver I yet thou dost wear
The Godhead's most benignant grace;
Nor know we anything so fair
As is the smile upon thy face;
Flowers laugh before thee on their beds;
And fragrance in thy footing treads;
Thou dost preserve the stars from wrong;
And the most ancient heavens, through thee,
Are fresh and strong.
~ William Wordsworth

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love this and love your blog. DianeG