Paideia // The Liturgy of Culture

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I’ve heard much about “Hygge” lately, haven’t you? It’s a daily tradition, embedded in Scandinavian culture, and it’s found popularity within the United States, this past year. Bloggers write about it, books are being sold and Pinterest is filled with perfectly curated photos of people enjoying “it”. A friend sent me an article, quite some time ago, detailing the essence of “Hygge” and once I learned about it, I realized why I enjoyed the concept so much – it’s what I’ve been doing, working toward and searching for…… for years. After over a decade of truly desiring (and working towards) peaceful, quiet and intentional living, learning, education and loving….I have finally began reaping the benefits of discovering it. I am immersed in it and the abundance is overflowing. Hygge doesn’t have to be reserved for one hour a day of sheer enjoyment. No, it can become a culture.

It had to become a culture before I could completely enjoy and surrender to it, which took work. A culture, as defined in the dictionary is, “the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group.” In order to have the culture our family is drawn to – methodical, slow, restful, intentional, Godly, virtuous and lovely….we had to work for almost a decade, dismantling the culture we had bought into. The only culture we had really known – the Southern California culture we (my husband and I) were brought up in – very thick and layered and not all together bad, but not precisely the culture I wanted to leave to raise my children. This played a large role in why we chose to educate our children at home.  What began with my love for classical literature has blossomed, in the last four years, into a deep searching for virtuous, high-minded and principled thinking.  Not “intellectual” studies simply to become intellectual, but an honest searching out of the most beautiful and lovely lessons that one can learn – so they may take those thoughts, arguments and logic and set the world a blaze with their love of the Lord and the depth of what He has created.

In order to welcome this culture into our home, we had to change things. We had to stop things. We reorganized how we prioritized, what we allowed, what we chose to ponder and be entertained by.

Culture is a liturgy.

How we live and what we do is how and what we worship – it’s our liturgy. If I dismantle that true statement, the culture we construct for our family is our worship to the Lord and the precious few years I have with my three daughters is my opportunity to give them culture.

I have a choice and I choose Paideia of the highest and most God-pleasing manner as I am able. Sean and I both desire to transmit a culture which is free (as much as possible) from bland entertainment, meaningless logic and sinful components. If it all sounds so pious, I suppose that’s because it is and should be. After all, “piety” is simply the love and fear of God and man. It’s a commandment in the Bible.

Proverbs 27:17 says, “Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.”

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

When taken seriously, our task as parent is immense. If I stop and think about it long enough, my heart feels heavy, as if someone is sitting on my chest. It’s all too much! I am a sinner with inherent evil, written into my DNA. Often selfish, who am I to raise these children? Who am I to direct them? I make foolish choices all the time – I choose the low road. As does my husband. We are sinners, saved by grace (because trust me, on my own merit, I’m not worth it.)

But.

The crux of the issue is this: Either my husband and I cultivate a culture for my children or they will adopt the nearest one to them, created by others.

They will cling to one. One will permeate them.

As parents, we know that nothing is fool-proof, and children are humans who will seek on their own. Perhaps they will drift from what we have instructed them. We can’t be certain. But we can be intentional. Slow. Peaceful. Loving. God-fearing. Seeking righteousness and beauty and virtue. In all we do. And doesn’t that sound like something we all desire?! I have found the most restfulness in slowing my world and focusing on what matters.

When I think of the “liturgy of culture” we are offering our girls, I do sometimes think about how exhausted I am at the end of the day. Educating them, mind, body and soul, is a daily task. Unrelenting. Yet, even in my physical exhaustion, I have clear eyes and a restful spirit for what may come next in our home. I take solace in how education, culture and virtue can and are married. While our school tasks may daily focus on the seven pillars of the Liberal Arts, it is wise (and essential) to remember that it is much more than mere academic work we are striving for:

“The seven liberal arts were never meant to stand on their own as the entire curriculum, for they are designed particularly for cultivating intellectual virtue. Since human beings are more than just intellects, however, the curriculum must develop more than just intellectual virtue. Creatures formed in God’s image must be cultivated in body and soul – mind, will, and affections.” –Kevin Clark and Ravi Scott Jain “The Liberal Arts Tradition

Our children (and ourselves) will adopt a culture, which will become one of the largest parts of who they/we are. It will encompass what is believed, and what will be transmitted to future generations (Paideia). We have been handed the supreme opportunity to continually select the most pure and good and dwell on those things. Think on those things (Phil 4:8). In our waking and in our sleeping. Entertainment, consumption, discussion and education.

All choices are contributing to culture. And we must measure each according to what pleases the Lord most of all.

Certainly not easy. But what a noble task!

 

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