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The Importance of Words in Light of the WORD

Excerpts from a talk given by Dr. Jenny Small, Christian Schools Canada Conference, September 2018

In 1947, with the backdrop of a world reeling from the horrors of the second world war, the Christian author and novelist Dorothy L. Sayers gave a lecture to educators at Oxford University. In it she said: “For we let our young men and women go out unarmed, in a day when armour was never so necessary. By teaching them to read, we have left them at the mercy of the written word. By the invention of the film and the radio, we have made certain that no aversion to reading shall secure them from the incessant battery of words, words, words. They do not know what they mean, they do not know how to ward them off or blunt their edge or fling them back; they are prey to words in their emotions instead of being masters of them in their intellects.” Does this sound familiar? I would say that our generation is even more susceptible to words than ever before, with the influence of the internet and social media. At St. Timothy’s words are at the heart of what we do; the Word being central. How can we be a faithful presence without faithfully presenting the Word of life to the world: intelligently, eloquently, compassionately and beautifully speaking the Word full of His Power and with His Spirit? At St. Tim’s words are important to our student’s education: - the words they hear - the words they memorize - the words they think - the words they write and - the words they speak But it is the Divine Word that glues them together and gives all the others meaning and life. As Sayers went on in her lecture, she described a solution to the problem she was presenting: that our young people were being unduly swayed by society’s influences. She proposed a return to the classical system of education, which had been tried and tested over thousands of years, as an effective method of educating students to read well, think well, and speak and write well, and therefore be equipped to learn and practice in any field they might be called to serve God in. This is the exceptional educational model that we follow at St. Timothy’s, a classical, Christian model.

Excerpts from a talk given by the Very Rev. Maxym Lysack, St. Timothy's Pastor's Breakfast, November 2016

"[In classical education] we might say that grammar is the word correctly used, that logic is the word correctly conceived, and that rhetoric is the word correctly and beautifully spoken. And of course, there are direct connections for Christian theology which is why the marriage between the two is completely natural, between classical education and Christian theology. When we hear the word “Word”, our minds are taken back to the gospel of John, Chapter 1. Indeed, in the beginning, there was the one Word, and if we have any kind of other wordto say, no matter how we say it, whether correctly or beautifully (because sometimes we fall from our vocation of using words well and beautifully), it’s because the one Word was eternally existent before all ages, Jesus Christ. It’s because there was one Word in the beginning who was with God and who was God that we have any word to say at all. All words are possible because of the one Word and early Christians were absolutely convinced that all knowledge, including all scientific knowledge, all culture, was rooted in the incarnation of the Word." "In Christian teaching we also have a correct word that needs to be learned and believed, and we call that word theology. It is exactly a word, because it is a "Logos", a word, about God, "Theos". Here at St. Timothy’s the students are learning and being formed by holy scripture because it is very important for every Christian to speak the word correctly. If there is a word to be spoken about God it needs to be the right word about God, because only the right word reveals the person of Jesus Christ."

"But there is another word or another use of words which is very important, and we see how this is made real at St. Timothy's, and the word still includes that word Logos, and the word is doxology, the word for glory, the word for worship. In fact, in Greek, one of the ways you can write worship is “to glorify with words”. This is the highest and most beautiful use of the word when people worship God. As Christians, we believe that every human being was created as a doxological creature, as a creature who was created to worship God, and every human being finds his or her highest human vocation at that point. And so doxology is very important and it leads back to theology, the correct word, because every correct word of God ought to be a word of worship and, in turn, it should lead back to every word that is spoken. That every word that is spoken, in other words in the way in which we live, reflects doxology and theology so that the unity between life and Christian teaching and prayer is complete. I think this ought to be the bold vision of every Christian school."

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