Awakening Wonder: A Classical Guide to Truth, Goodness, and Beauty

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Steve Turley

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Title: Awakening Wonder: A Classical Guide to Truth, Goodness, and Beauty

Author: Stephen R. Turley, Ph.D.

Publisher: Classical Academic Press

Date of Publication: March 2015

Retail Price: $7.95

ISBN: 978-1-60051-265-0

Pages: 111

Sales Copy

In his masterful work, The Abolition of Man, C. S. Lewis observed how modern education was changing our conception of what it means to be human. By cutting off students from the transcendent values of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, modern schools ceased cultivating virtue in students and instead communicated a mechanistic vision of the world that viewed students as products to be engineered. Lewis believed that in seeking to control nature, modern “conditioners” would also seek to control humans and remake them according to the preference of the conditioners, since any appeal to Truth, Goodness, or Beauty had been rejected. Lewis argued that we must recover these transcendent values in order to prevent the dehumanizing tendency in modern education and renew the cultivation of virtue in our students.

With Awakening Wonder, Steve Turley demonstrates that it is precisely such a recovery that is at the heart of the current classical education renewal. Once again, Truth, Goodness, and Beauty are celebrated as those objective values that are essential for cultivating students as flourishing human beings. In these pages you will discover the history and development of these transcendent values and how they redeem our senses and sanctify our imaginations. Teachers will also learn how to incorporate these values into their teaching to awaken awe and wonder in both themselves and their students.

About the Author:
Steve Turley (PhD, Durham University) is an internationally recognized scholar, speaker, author, and blogger at TurleyTalks.com. He is a Teacher of Theology, Greek, and Rhetoric at Tall Oaks Classical School in New Castle, Delaware, and Professor of Fine Arts at Eastern University. His research and writings have appeared in such journals as Christianity and Literature, Calvin Theological Journal, First Things, Touchstone, and The Chesterton Review. He and his wife, Akiko, have four children and live in Newark, DE, where they together enjoy fishing, gardening, and watching Duck Dynasty marathons.

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Interviews

  • Janet Mefferd of “Janet Mefferd Today” interview Dr. Steve Turley on his book, Awakening Wonder: A Classical Guide to Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. Learn how classical education answered the question of how we were to conform our souls to divine reality, while modern education seeks to conform the world to one’s own desires and ambitions, and how we are seeing a renaissance of classical Christian education in our own time.
  • Pastor Kevin Boling of “Knowing the Truth” interviews Dr. Steve Turley on “What is Beauty and Why does it Matter?” Learn here about the role of Beauty in politics and education.
  • Bobby Maddex of Ancient Faith Radio interviews Dr. Steve Turley on his new book, Awakening Wonder: A Classical Guide to Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. In this interview, you will learn how Truth, Goodness, and Beauty are cosmic values that were historically considered indispensable for human flourishing and a free society.
  • Dr. Chris Perrin of Classical Academic Press interviews Dr. Steve Turley on his new book, Awakening Wonder: A Classical Guide to Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.
  • Rev. Dr. Gregg Strawbridge of Wordmp3.com interviews Steve Turley on “Truth, Goodness, and Beauty: Why Beauty is Not Subjective.”
What They’re Saying

“Since sin entered the world, all of creation cries out. We were created for harmony, but instead everything feels a sense of disorder. It is the good, the true, and the beautiful One that orders and harmonizes. … All I can say it that after reading Turley’s book I have a new and renewed faith in the good, the true, and the beautiful to heal and restore my senses and my imagination to a more Eden-like state.” Jennifer Dow, author at Expanding Wisdom

“The God who raised Jesus from the dead is perfectly beautiful, and his beauty beckons us. Turley has provided a framework for developing our ability to perceive the divine beauty which calls us with joy to himself. The result is the recovery of that which we have neglected in the modern period, and the rediscovery of full human life that faithfully incarnates the sacred vocation to shine forth the beauty of the glory of the triune God in whose image we are made. Take and read. ” Matt O’Reilly, blogger at Orthodoxy for Everyone

 

“One of the greatest books I have ever read. A powerful introduction to the classical world and its conception of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, this work is phenomenal in its explanation of the cosmos and objective value as evident through the Christian framework. It urges the pursuit of virtue, cosmic piety, and a typological understanding of the universe. Read this.” Matt Huff at GoodReads

Interview Topics

What is Beauty and Why does it Matter?

It is popular today in Christian circles to talk about the importance of Truth. But in doing so, we have overlooked that value to which Truth is wedded: Beauty. Beauty, historically understood, was an objective reality, a value that was linked to the True and the Good. Encountering Beauty was considered essential to cultivating our moral imaginations and human flourishing. The secular age, however, has over the last century consigned Beauty solely to the subjective, replacing Beauty with preference and entertainment. As a result, not only has our art, architecture, and music degenerated, but our world has become more coarse, flippant, and cynical. We will explore how classical Beauty can be recovered in our own time and reawaken the virtues that are indispensible to a flourishing society.

The Public Good: Why Truth, Goodness, and Beauty Matter in Politics

C.S. Lewis believed that at the heart of our current moral and spiritual crisis there was the loss of objective values. Truth, Goodness, and Beauty are today a matter of mere subjective preference. However, he and other scholars recognized that without any objective moral referent, the only way of bringing about mass moral conformity was through political coercion and manipulation. We will explore how the recovery of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty involves nothing less than recovering the foundations for a free and virtuous society, for without Truth, there is no freedom.

Educational Splendor: Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in Education

Statistic after statistic demonstrates that our modern public education system is failing dramatically. However, there is currently a renaissance of classical Christian education that is fostering within students a love for the True, Good, and Beautiful. We will explore the historic nature of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty and their importance to education, how the objective values have been lost in modern secular society, and how the current classical Christian education renewal is awakening a love for the True, the Good, and the Beautiful in teacher and student alike.

Redeeming the Senses: Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in the Arts

What is a Christian vision of the arts? In today’s aesthetic confusion, this question is more relevant than ever. We will explore a Christian tradition known as the ‘redemption of the senses.’ The early church recognized that it was not merely the soul that fell with Adam’s sin, the senses have become disordered as well. Against the backdrop of Christ’s redemption, the purpose of the arts is to re-awaken the senses and prepare our bodies for their future resurrection when Christ returns.

Classical vs. Modern Education: A Perspective from C.S. Lewis

This workshop will explore work Abolition of Man by one of the great literary minds of the twentieth century, C.S. Lewis. Lewis was concerned that modern education has in fact changed our conception of what it means to be human by robbing us of transcendent virtues. He was convinced that with the death of virtues, the only way to bring about moral consensus was through the coercive powers of the state. Here we will discover in-depth the constituents of classical conceptions of the world and education as a way to equip teachers, parents, and students to challenge the dominant and dehumanizing modern paradigm.

Philokalia: Theology as the Love of Beauty

Beauty in classical Christian theology is not a principle, an attribution, a condition, a form or idea. Rather, Beauty in the classical Christian tradition is God himself; specifically, the infinite love shared by the persons of the Trinity that always exalts as it empties, always shares, always rejoices. It should therefore be no surprise that the heritage of early Christian thought conceives of theology beginning only in philokalia: the ‘love of Beauty’. We will explore distinct yet interrelated themes that radiate from this conception of Theology as philokalia in order to awaken us to the theme of Beauty as the radiance of God’s glory.

Sample Interview Questions

  • What got you interested in Truth, Goodness, and Beauty?
  • Who is your audience? For whom is the book written?
  • What is a ‘classical guide’?
  • Why did you write the book?
  • What are Truth, Goodness, and Beauty and why are they so important?
  • You begin the book with CS Lewis and his concern about the loss of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in our time. Can you explain that concern?
  • What are some of the consequences of turning away from Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in politics, education, and the arts?
  • How did the early church think of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty?
  • You talk about encountering Truth, Goodness, and Beauty through two longstanding traditions of the church, the ‘redemption of the senses’ and the ‘moral imagination.’ Can you explain these traditions for us?
  • Can you give some examples of what such encounters with these traditions look like?
  • You argue that Truth, Goodness, and Beauty offer to us a different way of knowing the world than that represented by modern scientific knowledge. Can you explain what that knowledge is and why is that important for us as Christians?
  • You write about the importance of contemplation to fostering a sense of wonder. What is contemplation and how do we practice it?

Quotes from Awakening Wonder

“In short, the Christian vision of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty is an invitation, a divine call, to awaken the fullness of our humanity as the entire cosmos is incorporated into the transformative life, death, and resurrection of Christ.”

“By awakening a desiring love within us, Beauty provides us with the allure, the momentum, the gravitational pull toward the True and the Good and thus unites us with the divine source of life.”

“Beauty attracts, whereas lies seduce.”

“The cosmos is thus a glorious manifestation of Divine Love, a beatific union of God and his creation, consummated in an eternal symphony of divine praise realized proleptically in the shared lifeworld of Christian worship.”

“It is this vision of art that beckons us and welcomes us to partake of its splendors and savor its beauties, and in doing so, prepares the cosmos for its future transfiguration when Christ returns, when God will be all in all.

“We cannot teach our students that Truth is relative and expect our politicians to be honest.”

“Do our history classes present the totality of history as an eschatological narrative from Garden to city, from creation to communion, from water to wine?”

“Our task as educators is nothing less than to awaken students to the self-replenishing fountain of indescribable delights of a new creation in Christ, to give them the gift of the freedom to be human again, and in so doing to watch their lives blossom into rational, poetic, worshipers of God, and through their lives to get a taste of what life will be like when Christ returns, when God will be all in all. This is our calling, and it is beautiful.”