Monday, December 05, 2005

The Wisdom of Fenelon

We've come across a small book through a Lamplighter Publishing catalogue that some one had given Der some weeks ago entitled The Wisdom of Fenelon: Education of a Child. The book came on Friday while Der was out of town so I decided to read it before I gave it to him. While a fairly small book (I should be done with it but haven't had the time), I've found it to be simplistic yet needed, full of common sense and yet profound...and Fenelon even quotes Augustine on multiple occasions! Here are some of my favorite sections from the book so far, displaying everything from keen observation to deep Scriptural wellsprings. All in all, pieces of the well-written to reflect the well-read:

"Fear is like those violent remedies which we employ in the most severe cases of disease; they purge it is true, but thy alter the temperament, and exhaust the organs."

"We spoil our taste for simple pleasures as we do for ordinary cuisine; we accustom ourselves to high-flavored dishes, till those which are simple and unseasoned become flat and insipid. Let us then fear those great emotions of the mind which lead to weariness and disgust; but above all, they are to be feared for those children who never resist their feelings, and who are always seeking emotion. Let us give them a taste for simple things, to the end that simple amusements may content their palate. A simple walk through the woods or splashing in a stream brings contentment to the soul and appreciation for God's beauty in a manner that extravagant amusement cannot. Moderation is the best sauce; it gives sufficient appetite, requires no high seasoning, and is a stranger to intemperance."

"In every period of life, example has an astonishing influence, but in infancy it is everything. The great delight of children is to imitate others...."

"Actions have a far greater weight, and leave a far stronger impression than words; if therefore [children] see persons act differently to what they pretend to teach, they will learn to look upon Christianity as ceremonial, and upon virtue as impracticable. It is to this end that our children need to see the soul of Christianity, if I may be allowed to use this expression: to maintain a sovereign contempt for this life, and a great affection for the next."

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