The Broken Man
On Monday, Andrew Kern posted in a Facebook status, “The love of learning is what a person feels when his soul perceives the truth”. Through this truth perception, man integrates his mind, body, and soul into a virtue filled citizen ready to actively participate as whole man, and fulfill his role in the cosmic order. The Christian Classical Tradition (also called Classical Education) understands that in Christ, the Logos, the whole man is not only serving his role in the cosmic order but is moving ever towards a reconciliation with God.
The whole man is not a fractured or compartmentalized man. His politics, his loves, his religion, his work, his life, his relationships are not separate. They are merged. They are one and the same. The whole man has reconciled his natural bents to the will of God. He does not have a morality for his religion and one for his politics. He has one morality. He has an internal integrity that is formed from well-developed dogma. His view is the eternal view; he is focused on the long term perspective of reaching his eternal life with his Saviour, the incarnate word, the Logos, Jesus Christ. In order for a man to integrate his life, he has to have leisure or scholé.
His leisure is not a restorative endeavor; it is an integration of himself centered in a relationship with his creator. Scholé can provide that restorative element, but it is not about the man. It is about a relationship that he is unmatched to be in. It is a bending of his will to the will of God. Scholé is not a break from work. It is his true purpose.
When man compartmentalizes, he no longer has the ability to make moral stands that will further his culture towards the Logos. He becomes entrapped in a type of social self-defense. He does not want to risk being the odd man out. He does not welcome bending to the will of God. He wants God to bend to his will. He wants what he wants because he is anxious from a lack of relational knowledge. He no longer has the conception of God’s creation; the broken man has replaced his creator with socio-political success. He has compartmentalized the eternal view into his box of religion.
Mending the Broken Man
“Education concerns the whole man; an educated man is a man with a point of view from which he takes in the whole world. Education concerns the whole man, man capax universi, capable of grasping the totality of existing things” (Pieper 39). Classical education falls into the realm of scholé; “the seven liberal arts. . .are designed particularly for cultivating intellectual virtue” (Scott and Jain 2). The math, science, reading, writing, discussion we enter into each day is scholé. We complete our necessary work in order to have time for our education, our integration.
Scholé is what we work for during our days. We complete our bonum utile, our chores, our wage earning jobs, our daily grind in order to come to the education of ourselves. If all we are doing is seeking out mindless twaddle or reality television or an activity devoid of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, then we cannot be at leisure. We cannot be practicing scholé. Leisure is about a giving knowledge; it is about a relationship with the reality God created for us. If we are too fatigued, too tired, to mentally exhausted to read our Bibles or encounter the liberal arts at the end of our daily utility, then we are working to exhaustion.
That exhaustion causes a compartmentalization; it causes a further broken man. This state of exhaustion begins the search for mindless entertainment. We are what we love. We are what we adore. The mindless entertainment does not cultivate a growth of self. It makes us stand still, teaching us to be lured into what we want to do. It becomes the culture we embody because it is mindless; it is devoid of dogma. It is relativism; it is a self-serving ideology.
Scholé is not about entertainment or restoration. According to Pieper, “. . .no one who looks to leisure simply to restore his working powers will ever discover the fruit of leisure. . .” (pg. 50). Scholé is about reconciling the broken compartmentalized man to the Logos through community, paideia, and the liberal arts. This is not to say that there isn’t a pleasurable desire to be found, but it is inconsequential. What desire sparked by scholé is desire leading back to Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. The rightly oriented desire inspires us to build virtue and a rightly ordered life founded on the Logos. The lustful desire leads us away from virtue into a chaotic overwhelmed life centered on serving our whims or wants.
Scholé is a rightly ordered leisure. Rightly ordered meaning geared towards an ever deepening relationship with our creator. Scholé is driven by love not lust. Lust is the empty desire that keeps the broken man from embodiment of Beauty, Truth, and Goodness. If we do not reconcile our brokenness, we will no longer be able to recognize the Logos, before us. We like the Pharisees will crucify the incarnate word. The Truth that will set us free. A reconciled man is one that has the leisure and rest because he has found the Truth he sought. His decisions are not based in acedia or in anxiety but freedom.
Scholé is therefore not a method; it is not an end state. It is a path; it is Lectio Divina. Scholé requires a wrestling with ideas, with others, with dogma. Scholé also requires festival and worship. Festival and worship allow man to connect, to practice the virtue and embodied knowledge, and to share the restful state with others who are needing an example.
Scholé is not about frivolity or even enjoyment. It transcends our emotions allowing them to be rightly ordered next to the mind, body, and soul. It is about a tension, an uncomfortableness that integrates our mind, body, and soul with Beauty and Wonder leading us to the Good and the True. It is about using our natural bents as Aquinas would say to meet Christ here on Earth. The more we allow time for Beauty and Wonder from Scholé, the more integration and desire build in us to rightly order our loves. We reconcile our loves to Christ’s will. We bend ourselves to his plan. We are blessed by His creation. We embody virtue deep in our being to unite ourselves to the Logos.