Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Great Books Calling, Part 1

Wind River Peak. I lift up mine eyes to the mountains, from whence shall come my help...
In beginning my application to Wyoming Catholic College, I've had the chance to revisit my truly God-guided journey to this school and this community. Here, then, is the first installment of a ramble on the Great Books.
The call I've felt towards WCC, ever since I really started exploring it, has been very strong and certain. I began having my first thoughts of college during my junior year of high school. I was pretty sure I wanted to go into higher education, with a vague intention of becoming an English major. I'd been given a gift for creative writing and discovered a love of classic literature. I was already fairly certain of my calling to become a Catholic author. Among the streams of college pamphlets pouring into my mailbox, I was definitely attracted to the liberal arts rather than the trade schools. But amidst it all I experienced a foggy anxiety, a deep disappointment. This is it? I thought. Going to college was supposed to be the first step into my new, independent, fulfilling adult life. Why did I feel, even before I'd touched any application forms, that it wasn't enough?
To be sure, I enjoyed learning. I loved coming to new insights in literature and history and theology, felt satisfaction when mastering a new mathematics concept. I knew I could get a good intellectual education just about anywhere, if I applied myself. And wasn't that what college was about--to train your brain in a certain area well enough to earn a degree to secure a successful career? So screamed all the shiny brochures mounding on my bedroom floor. But my soul, and the faith my parents and God had instilled in my heart, ached and cried out. Something was still missing.
But even in the darkness of my uncertainty, God drew my steps. In my reading, for school and for enjoyment, and in my personal journaling and insights, I felt Him calling me again and again to understand Him and His Church through beauty. Absolute beauty. Not something static, sickeningly romantic, or overblown, but real, the living ideal, the light and desire of every human heart. Beauty, not off in its own little creative box, enjoyable but unnecessary to our other human occupations, but essential--as in twined in our essence. Harmoniously and gloriously weaving itself into our reason, and spirit, and body. If, as the adage said, beauty was in the eye of the beholder--in other words, if it contained no reigning truth--I thought I may as well go out and blind myself.  
Finally, in the spring of 2013, I received a clear answer to my wondering. I discovered at a friend's house, on Easter Sunday, a book by Catholic professor and author Anthony Esolen. His book, Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child, described in detail how our secular Western culture has exchanged its classical and Christian heritage for moral relativism and chaos. To combat this, he advocated--he championed--a classical liberal arts education.
And all at once, the missing something inside me solidified and snapped softly into place. A certainty. I had to go to a Great Books school.
(To be continued)