Thursday, December 13, 2018

Christmas C.M. Countdown, Day 13

Today we begin the second of three major themes in Ourselves Book II: The Will.

This business of understanding ourselves is, admittedly, hard work. It is made more difficult (Charlotte Mason says) by the tendency of many of our Personsoul attributes to dominate, to not play nicely with others, or (at the least) to seem to run under their own poorly-understood power, to go off on subconscious tangents which can be interesting and even useful (in the case of creative activity), but which leave us feeling sometimes like the observer rather than the initiator. Mason refers to them...or, rather, "a ménage full of unbroken horses, each minded to go his own way and each able to drag the poor [person] after him" (p. 127). She also points out that even our seemingly more decisive actions, such as the ability to "reason, imagine, love, judge" can be put on autopilot: no actual decision-making necessary.

"Life is to such persons a series of casualties; things happen well or they happen ill, but they always happen; and the absence of purpose and resolution in themselves makes it impossible for them to understand that these exist in God; so their religion, also, comes to consist of conventional phrases and superstitions" (p. 128).
Do you know what the "governor" on an engine does? It's a regulating device that contains speed or force. It keeps the system from getting out of control. When Charlotte Mason refers to the Will as a governor in Mansoul [or Personsoul], it may help us to add that mechanical image to our ideas of the things that governors do. (Consider this: to will is also a verb.) She will be examining the function of the Will much more closely throughout this section.

For now, she simply gives us that image of "the willless life, marked by a general inanition of powers and an absence of purpose,––beyond that of being as others are, and doing as others do." No regulators, but also no purpose. The prospect is bleak.

But consider this:

"The assumption of an impersonal beginning cannot adequately explain the personal beings we see around us; and when men try to explain man on the basis of an original impersonal, man soon disappears.

"In short, an impersonal beginning explains neither the form of the universe nor the personality of man. Hence it gives no basis for understanding human relationships, building just societies, or engaging in any kind of cultural effort. Itís not just the man in the university who needs to understand these questions. The farmer, the peasant, anyone at all who moves and thinks needs to know. That is, as I look and see that something is there, I need to know what to do with it.  
"...The universe had a personal beginning -- a personal beginning on the high order of the Trinity. That is, before "in the beginning" the personal was already there. Love and thought and communication existed prior to the creation of the heavens and the earth." ~~ Francis Schaeffer, Genesis in Space and Time
"Love came down at Christmas..."

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