“Can virtue (human excellence) be taught, or is it acquired by practice ... or if neither ... does Man acquire it by nature, or by some other way?”
Theme: “True Religion and Virtue”
Topic: “Virtue ... by some other way”
Readings in Poetry & Prose,
Sacred & Secular
led by Dean William McKeachie
Topic: “Poetic Liturgy”
Readings in “The Consolation of Philosophy” (Boethius)
led by Dr Stephen Blackwood
Topic: “Comfortable Words, Humble Access”
Readings in the Prayer Book of Thomas Cranmer; “Divine Allurement” (J.A. Null)
led by Dr Ashley Null
Eve of Saint Andrew’s Day
Evensong (Britten’s “Rejoice in the Lamb”)
Bishop Jack Iker presiding
Reception following the Service
Those who have followed the course of the Great Books syllabus at Saint Andrew’s in recent months will have noticed a certain continuity of theme. It has flowed from our first two Readings and two Opening Questions last Fall, from Psalm 8 (among Ancient Israel’s Songs of Sion) and from Plato’s “Meno” (among Plato’s Dialogues set in Ancient Athens): David asks God, “What is Man that thou art mindful of him?”; Meno asks Socrates, “Can virtue (human excellence) be taught, or is it acquired by practice ... or if neither ... does Man acquire it by nature, or by some other way?”
This past season, in our exploration of this overall theme, we considered contrasting Answers, explicit or implicit, to these Questions, through the writings of Martin Luther, Alexander Pope, Walker Percy, and Wendell Berry. Indeed, for the past eight years our entire Great Books series has -- through Readings of a variety of texts in philosophy, poetry, fiction, history, and religion -- revolved around this recurrent theme.
This Fall it is my hope to bring our exploration not so much to an end but to a kind of recapitulation, to one transcendent Answer to the perennial Question, reflected in the season’s overall theme: “True Religion and Virtue” (which Saint Andrew’s parishioners will recognize as a phrase from Thomas Cranmer’s Prayer Book).
On Monday, September 18th, I shall endeavor to set the scene! On Monday, October 16th, we shall be joined by Dr Stephen Blackwood to lead us in considering the early Christian philosopher Boethius (480-524 A.D.), without whose work Western Christian Civilization would not have become as we have known it. On Monday, November 6th, Saint Andrew’s friend and frequent visitor Dr Ashley Null will lead us in considering how worship in Word and Sacrament, according to Thomas Cranmer’s Prayer Book, sets the Seal of the Spirit on the distinctive Catholic yet Reformed “Answer” to our two-fold Opening Question(s).
Finally, on Wednesday, November 29th, the Eve of Saint Andrew’s Day, we shall gather both to “worship in the beauty of holiness” at Choral Evensong (according to our 1928 American edition of Cranmer’s Prayer Book) and to enjoy Christian “koinonia” sacred and secular alike (“true religion and virtue”), with Bishop Jack Iker presiding at Evensong and present with us for the Reception following.