Wisdom and Eloquence (and me, too) at the Renaissance

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Saint Augustine Academy's fall banquet, titled "Wisdom and Eloquence at the Renaissance" (the Renaissance Hotel, that is), was a wonderful event. People even thought the 25 minutes when I spoke went well; at least that's what they told me. It was a privilege to serve as the keynote speaker.

I'm used to writing for publication, where I can perfect the delivery of my thoughts before I actually "deliver" them to the reader. I'm used to speaking extemporaneously on whatever topic is thrown my way, as I do every Tuesday morning at 6:10 on KFAQ with Gwen Freeman and Chris Medlock. Giving a prepared speech is in some ways the worst of both worlds. There's a need to be conversational and engaging and to "read the room" (a challenge when everyone is sitting at banquet tables a great distance away). At the same time, there's a need to choose words with great care, something that can't be done spur of the moment. I'm afraid I wound up reading most of my speech.

I was preceded by the local chapter of the Gospel Music Workshop of America, a 100-voice gospel choir sound produced by about 15 singers. They were a fitting and rousing introduction to my talk, which I announced as "Tax Increment Financing: The Benefits and the Risks." (Another dad told me afterwards he was sort of hoping I would talk about TIF districts. I told him to read my column in this coming Wednesday's Urban Tulsa Weekly. Or you could read about them here.)

Later we had the pleasure of listening to testimonials from Caleb Gayle, class of '07, and Leah Farish, whose daughter Colleen graduated from SAA. Both spoke about the excellent preparation that SAA gives to its students to prepare them to think and to contend for the truth. (Colleen served in Congressman Sullivan's Washington office and as an intern in the White House speechwriters' office. She served as a scheduler and constituent services assistant for Texas State Rep. Dan Gaddis in the last legislative session. You can read about her post-SAA background in the resolution passed by the Texas House thanking her for her service.)

Kirk Post, the principal and one of the founders of SAA, then spoke eloquently about the school's distinctive qualities, and Dr. Larry Ehrlich, the school's administrator, closed out the evening with an appeal for funds to support the school's programs.

At some point, probably not until after the weekend, I'll post the audio of my talk. In the meantime, several people asked me about some of the anecdotes and quotes I used and the books I mentioned, so here are some links to point you in the right direction. (You'll find many of them in the linkblog, which is on the left sidebar of the main page. I used the linkblog to bookmark quotes of interest as I worked on the speech.)

The anecdote I opened with came from the blog of the Dallas Observer, in an item by Julie Lyons, "How Jesus Found Dawn Eden Goldstein". Here's a link to Dawn Eden's blog and the website for her first book, The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On.

You can read G. K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday online at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library. You can also download the book in various formats.

Dorothy L. Sayers' essay, "The Lost Tools of Learning," may be read on the Saint Augustine Academy website. As I mentioned in my talk, it's one of the foundational documents for the present-day effort to recover classical education. In the essay, she explains the concept of the trivium and its suitability to the ways children learn at different stages in their growth. I'll give you one paragraph to whet your appetite for more:

Has it ever struck you as odd, or unfortunate, that today, when the proportion of literacy throughout Western Europe is higher than it has ever been, people should have become susceptible to the influence of advertisement and mass propaganda to an extent hitherto unheard of and unimagined? Do you put this down to the mere mechanical fact that the press and the radio and so on have made propaganda much easier to distribute over a wide area? Or do you sometimes have an uneasy suspicion that the product of modern educational methods is less good than he or she might be at disentangling fact from opinion and the proven from the plausible?

"Today" in that quote was in 1947.

The Joel Belz quote came from his May 13, 2006, WORLD Magazine column, "Confessing Our Weaknesses." (For some reason, I was able to Google into the full article, but following my own link, I only get the opening paragraphs.)

Although I didn't quote directly from it, I was helped by this Susan Olasky column from 2001.

The Gene Veith quote was from an interview about homeschooling and classical Christian education on The Old Schoolhouse website.

I mentioned the Oklahoma Council for Public Affairs (OCPA), a free-market think-tank leading the effort for school choice in Oklahoma. Here's a recent column by OCPA's Brandon Dutcher, reminding us that, "Yes, school choice is alive and well in Oklahoma--if you can afford it. Simply pay tuition to a private school, or buy a house near the public school of your choice. If you can't afford it, well, sorry. No exceptions."

UPDATE: Here are several audio excerpts:

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1 Comments

Mark said:

Great job, Michael. You didn't SOUND like you were reading . . . save for the rustling of papers!

Would love to hear more about the school.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 26, 2007 10:53 PM.

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