Stratford Caldecott – Recovering Springs of Catholic Education

Stratford Caldecott, author of Beauty for Truth’s Sake, spoke on campus this evening for the annual Earth Day Talk. His visit was sponsored by the John Paul II Forum in cooperation with the Environmental Studies Program and the Honors Program at the University of St. Thomas.
Mr. Caldecott taps into the springs of authentic Catholic education through his meditations on beauty. The transcript of his talk may be found here.
The context for his talk could be found in the efforts made by Pope John Paul II to ecology of the earth to a deeper “human ecology.” John Paul said “Not only is a ‘physical’ ecology at stake, attentive to safeguarding the habitat of different living beings, but also a “human” ecology that will render the life of creatures more dignified, protecting the radical good of life in all its manifestations and preparing an environment for future generations that is closer to the plan of the Creator.” (See more quotes from John Paul II on ecology here)
The tremendous contribution of Stratford Caldecott is the s he has uncovered between mathematics and science with beauty and a religious, contemplative attitude. He attempts to wrest away from Descartes the subordination of science to the domination of nature and the inflation of human pride and appetite. Mr. Caldecott shows rather how mathematics should instill a sense of awe and wonder. Rather than use science to subdue the earth, Mr. Caldecott would have lift up the soul to contemplation, in the tradition of the Christian Pythagorean tradition re-discovered by him in this book.
Ecology must begin with the soul — its order and its very approach to the world. An adequate “human ecology” as called for by Pope John Paul II must seek to heal the malaise of the soul through education. An education in beauty for truth’s sake is the way to human wholeness. Mr. Caldecott says “One implication from the doctrine that man is a microcosm, a ‘little world,’ is that the disorder in the macrocosm is our fault, being a reflection or projection of our own interior dis-ease. When Adam fell from grace, the whole creation somehow dis-graced, or put out of joint. The healing of the world therefore cannot be envisaged without a reordering and a healing of the inner world of imagination, intelligence, and will.”
Catholic education has an irreplaceable role to play in restoring respect for the earth, God’s creation.

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