By Daniel Crandall

I’m sure you’ve picked up a book or magazine article, started reading, and thought, ‘Wow, this guy gets it.’ I had that experience while reading Angelo Codevilla’s American Spectator article, “America’s Ruling Class — And the Perils of Revolution,” which he’s subsequently expanded into a book, The Ruling Class, and which S.T. Karnick insightfully explored at American Thinker.

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the Catholic Medical Association’s Education Conference, “Restoring the Integrity of Medicine: The Imperative for a Christian Anthropology,” where I picked up Stratford Caldecott’s Beauty for Truth’s Sake: On the Re-enchantment of Education. I began reading and quickly discovered the following in the Introduction, wherein Prof. Caldecott presents education as a life-long process that integrates faith and reason:

Education is our path to true humanity and wisdom. By this I do not mean simply what goes on in school and university — which all to often turns out to be a path in another direction entirely away from both humanity and reason. I mean the broader process that engages us all through life. To be alive is be a learner. Much of the learning we do takes place at home, in the family, or after we leave both home and college and begin the struggle to survive in the wider world. Increasingly, in a society shaped by technology that is continually changing, we need to learn a new skill: how to keep learning. We must be flexible and adaptable enough to survive in any circumstances. Even more important than flexibility is a virtuous character and set of guiding principles that will enable us to keep track to goodness amid the moral and social chaos that surrounds us.

I believe it is possible to remain an active learner throughout life, and yet to maintain a moral compass in good working order. But vital though they are, adaptability and ethics are not enough by themselves. There is a structural flaw in our education that we need to overcome. It is related to a profound malaise in our civilization, which by progressive stages has slipped into a way of thinking and living that is dualistic in character. The division between arts and sciences, between faith and reason, between nature and grace, have a common root. In particular, our struggle to reconcile religious faith with modern science is symptomatic of a failure to understand the full scope of human reason and its true grandeur.

The classical “Liberal Arts” tradition of the West once offered a form of humane education that sought the integration of faith and reason, and that combined the arts and the sciences, before these things became separated, fragmented, and trivialized. We need to retrace our steps, to find the “wisdom we have lost in knowledge,” the “knowledge we have lost in information” (T.S. Eliot).

This guy, Caldecott, gets it! For more of a taste of his important book, check out Prof. Caldecott’s Beauty in Education blog or really indulge and buy your own copy.