April/May Staff Reading Blog

The CSW faculty is comprised of men and women who share a deep passion for continued education through intellectual and leisure reading. We would like to continue sharing with you some of the titles our faculty are reading or have recently finished. This is the sixth installment of this series.

Mr. Wade Ortego
Paradise Lost, John Milton with the 11th Graders
Heaven and Hell: Visions of the Afterlife in the Western Poetic Tradition, Louis Markos
Postmodern Times, Veith
How Should We then Live?, Schaeffer

Mr. Josh Dyson
Benedict Option, Rod Dreher
Theogony, Hesiod

Mr. Kevin Thames
2 Timothy
Anatomy of the Soul, Curt Thompson

Mr. Jacob Allee
The Trivuim, Sister Miriam Joseph
God Over All: Divine Aseity and the Challenge of Platonism
Come Let Us Reason: An Introduction to Logical Thinking
Universals, J.P. Moreland
Beyond the Control of God?: Six Views on the Problem of God and Abstract Objects

February/March Staff Reading List

The CSW faculty is comprised of men and women who share a deep passion for continued education through intellectual and leisure reading. We would like to continue sharing with you some of the titles our faculty are reading or have recently finished. This is the fifth installment of this series.

Josh Dyson
Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child by Anthony M. Esolen

Pastor Al Hoger
 I am about to begin reading lesser-known poems by John Milton with Omnibus V students, to be followed by Paradise Lost.
My wife and I are two-thirds through Anthony Trollope’s The Prime Minister.
I continue reading Augustine Thompson’s Francis of Assisi: A New Biography.
Greek III students and I are translating The Martyrdom of Polycarp.

Wade Ortego
A History of Europe, J.M. Roberts
The Benedict Option, Rod Dreher
The Last Season, Eric Blehm
Missing in the Minarets, William Alsup

January Staff Reading List

The CSW faculty is comprised of men and women who share a deep passion for continued education through intellectual and leisure reading. We would like to continue sharing with you some of the titles our faculty are reading or have recently finished. This is the fourth installment of this series.

D. P. Fahrenthold
Ossa Latinitatis Sola by Reginaldus Foster
The Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus
The Nature of Things by Lucretius
The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr

Jen Bookhout
I am currently reading The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer. I am approximately half-way through this World War II saga. It is the story of a young Hungarian Jew who begins attending an architectural college in Paris shortly before the beginning of World War II. It follows him and his close friends through the Jewish experience in World War II. It is fascinating and horrifying—I am having a hard time putting it down to do all the things life requires of me.

Josh Dyson
Reading with the kids currently: The Magician’s Nephew by CS Lewis and North or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson

Dan Snyder
I’ve just finished The House of the Seven Gables. Whew! Gothic.
Peter Green’s Alexander of Macedon — a terrifically detailed, researched, and authoritatively opinionated book that combines the available sources into an impressive portrait of the catalyst of Hellenism.
I’m reading Umberto Eco’s Baudolino — historical fiction concerning Frederick Barbarossa and his failed crusade. The Name of the Rose is on the reading list for eleventh graders (by the same author), and is a fun mashup of historical characters and medieval scholastic debates with linguistic puzzles.
I finished The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer. Anyone wanting to be ‘well read’ should have this on their reading list. You will recognize it as the source of any twentieth century documentary you have ever seen concerning Germany and ‘der Fuhrer.’  Having read the Ian Kershaw two volume Hubris and Nemesis, I am feeling like an annotated cross reading of these two works to get a feel for a conversation between these authors. You should start with the Schirer before joining in the more recent readings.
Coming in the mail today: Polybius. A prominent member of the Achaean league, he was carried away by the Romans during the third Macedonian War with Perseus. From there, he narrates the coming to power of Rome — thereby detailing its militaristic conquest of the Mediterranean. This period (218 – 146 BC) benefits from Polybius’ contemporary witnesses of the wars he reports, from the second and third Punic wars, the annexation of Greece and Macedonia, and the beginnings of the fall of the Seleucids. This makes a great companion to Josephus Antiquities, and the books of Maccabees in the Apocrypha.
Livy: Readings mostly in books 31 – 45. This goes along with Polybius. Livy writes at a much later date, his career spanning the collapse of the republic, he is a client of Caesar Augustus, and records the Roman side of things. We will be reading books 21 – 30 in 10th grade omnibus after the break, concerning Hannibal and the second Punic War. Seventh grade will be reading books 1 through 5 dealing with the foundation of Rome and its republic. (This ends up being something of a civics class.)
Also, we [some of the faculty] are reading Storm of Steel by Ernst Jünger. I’m reading it in German.

November/December Staff Reading List

The CSW faculty is comprised of men and women who share a deep passion for continued education through intellectual and leisure reading. We would like to continue sharing with you some of the titles our faculty are reading or have recently finished. This is the third installment of this series.

Catherine Calderwood
I am reading “The Land of Stories” series and working my way through “Tela Charlottae” which is the Latin translation of Charlotte’s Web. I’m also planning to start “The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow.”
Also, I’m really enjoying my newest book. It’s called “Why Isn’t a Pretty Girl Like You Married and other useful comments” by Nancy Wilson.

Wade Ortego
Coming Apart by Charles Murray

Josh Dyson
Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry

Jen Bookhout
Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman (for class)
This has been a fun book to read with the 10th grade Rhetoric/Composition class. It is challenging all of us to think about the way we collect, perceive and understand messages through things such as television, Facebook, Instagram and other media.
The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp
When I read Voskamp’s first book, One Thousand Gifts, I said that she writes the language of the deepest crevices of my heart. This still holds true with her second book. She is refreshingly honest and vulnerable with her struggles, both past and present. She is a gifted poet, and challenges my heart in ways I still don’t fully understand. I highly recommend you read her work.

D.P. Fahrenthold
For School:
Cicero, Pro Archia (in Latin)
Multinational Business Finance
An Introduction to Derivatives and Risk Management
Dorothy Sayers, Nine Tailors

October Staff Reading List

The CSW faculty is comprised of men and women who share a deep passion for continued education through intellectual and leisure reading. We would like to continue sharing with you some of the titles our faculty are reading or have recently finished. This is the second installment of this series.

Grant Bickell
Pride and Prejudice

Dana Klaassen
The original Mary Poppins
You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit
Confident Heart

D.P. Fahrenthold
For School:
Cicero, Pro Archia (in Latin)
Caesar, On the Gallic Wars (in Latin)
The Hobbit
Multinational Business Finance
An Introduction to Derivatives and Risk Management

For Fun:
Robert Harris, Pompeii
Steven Cerutti, Pro Archia Poeta Oratio: A Structural Analysis of the Speech and Companion to the Commentary
Cicero, First Oration Against Cataline (in Latin)

Twenty Seconds of Courage

Twenty Seconds of Courage
Catherine Calderwood, Grammar School Latin and Kindergarten Instructor

“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage and I promise you something good will come out of it.” ~Benjamin Mee, We Bought a Zoo

Sometimes in my life, I feel like this is exactly what God is saying to me. I know it’s what I quoted to myself on the day I pulled into the parking lot of the Sedgwick County Zoo, gripping a resume folder with increasingly white knuckles. It’s what I said as I typed my very first email to Wade Ortego about a job I wanted. I had started the extensive application, and wanted him to know that I was interested in working for this school I’d only really heard about the night before. I already felt the tug on my heart of what God could do with and for me at CSW.

Twenty seconds in each of those cases was both a split second and an eternity. God has also taught me to wait. I’ve had stretches in my life where I put one foot in front of the other and stayed the course. Each one of them was an exercise in trusting that God knew what he was doing and that my next “twenty second” decision was on its way.

My family began talking about going on the mission field when I was about twelve. We finally moved to Spain when I was 14. The “twenty second decision” I made then was that, no matter what it was like, I was going to enjoy the adventure. And adventure we did! My parents worked at a K-12 missionary kids school that was smaller than CSW, and I had the opportunity to travel and see the world. From the minute I got there, I was helping with the younger children on the field and at the school. It also ignited my passion for languages, as I learned Spanish during those three-and-a-half years.

That “twenty second decision” at the zoo has been a fun one. What started as a search for a summer job transitioned into a nights and weekend part time position, which has taught me an infinite amount about both animals and people. If you’ve ever wondered what the education department of the zoo does, ask me. I’ve probably done everything at least once. Also, third graders and parents, I look forward to continuing our new tradition of a sleepover in the gorilla building this February.

Probably the silliest “twenty second decision” I made was buying my camera. I dreamt my whole life of having a camera like my dad’s old SLRs. I had finally saved the money, done the research and was ready to buy. Unfortunately, Wichita was in the middle of one of the worst February snowstorms on record. We’d already missed two days of school and were set to miss another. I was feeling very stuck in my little one-bedroom apartment with only the cat for company. When I called my parents, my dad volunteered to come pick me up and drive me to the store to purchase the camera. We drove through whiteout conditions and bought it that night. The good that has come from that is a passionate hobby that has helped at CSW, as I’ve been able to get pictures of Grammar School events and sports games.

My newest “twenty second decision” was teaching Latin and Kindergarten. We all experienced a period of waiting as we watched what God was going to do with CSW’s future. I certainly felt the words of Isaiah 26:3 as I felt the perfect peace of God steady my heart and my emotions while I trusted in His plan.  When the needs became clear, I knew God had been preparing me for this my whole life. Spending high school working with kids of all ages gave me the confidence to work with Kindergarten. Loving languages and speaking Spanish ignited a passion in me to teach students to love Latin. Even my past two years at CSW have helped, as I’m excited to see how much my past students have grown.

We’re four weeks in, and I can confidently assure you that twenty seconds have never brought so much good.


September Staff Reading List

The CSW faculty is comprised of men and women who share a deep passion for continued education through intellectual and leisure reading. We would like to share with you some of the titles our faculty are reading or have recently finished.

Dani Poe
The book I wanted to write has already been written: “The Art of Rivalry” by Sebastian Smee

Dan Snyder
“The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” by William L. Shirer
This is a classic by now. The contemporary views of Shirer, a journalist in Austria during the rise of Hitler, assure plenty of eyewitness insight. I thought it was a timely read as I considered what happens to prematurely senile republics. I read it after reading Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.

“Homer and the Heroic Tradition” by Cedric H. Whitman
Fabulous is the word, as the fables of the Homeric world are revealed in their history and presence. Now in my third year of teaching the Iliad, I found a treasure in this book – out of print I believe and hard to find, but a fountain source of scholarship and fascination with tradition that grips us on the surface, but reveals much much depth with a patient scrutiny. My tenth graders this year are the beneficiaries of Whitman in absentia. I can’t recommend this enough to anyone who cares about Homer or the epic tradition.

“Joseph and His Brothers” by Thomas Mann (in German)
I occasionally get books in their original languages to challenge and revive the skills I studied to acquire, and to enjoy the fruit of that labor; namely, literature in another voice and mind. Thomas Mann is an author with a thrilling grasp and integration of much study. This background of his is displayed in a meditative style as he recounts the story of Joseph, from the time of the protopatriarchs forward. The story presents Genesis and Exodus in light of mid twentieth century biblical and historical criticism in a novelized form. As such, it is a twofer. A story of criticism and its implications, and an historical novel of the patriarchal age. If you would like to know what the secularizing theologians were thinking of the Old testament in the 1930’s, this is a great series of books. If you would like to experience the layout of the time of Abraham forward from a first person perspective, this is also your book.
Can an orthodox Christian appreciate this book? Yes. There are some anachronisms of archeology and critical literary theory in the suppositions, but if you notice them, they add to the double historical layer of the presentation. This book explains how a phenomenon like the Cecil B. Demille ‘Ten Commandments’ could find its place in pop culture. Notice that the recent ‘Moses’ movie and the ‘Noah’ movie fell flat. There is a cultural reason, both in the construction of the story for those efforts, and in the underlying assumptions of the secular mind in the two ages (20th versus 21st century).
Great writing, a mythic theorist of the Jungian variety to argue with, and my seventh graders are benefitting from new creative insights into the story of Abraham and his sons – foremost Joseph.

Deborah Toews
“A Sun Scorched Land” by Jennifer Ebenhack.
A very personal story by a mom and missionary wife who endured and sacrificed in incredible ways to complete the adoption of her Haitian children.

Kevin Thames
“When the Lights Go Down” by Mark D. Eckel
I enjoy watching movies because they depict truth that is all around us in their story lines. Whether the truth is internal struggle, or good vs evil, every movie contains some truth that people can identify with. If this were not the case, there would be no interest in watching the movie.
Mark challenges us to review movies critically through the lenses of a biblical worldview. This tool helps us to engage our culture with challenging thoughts centered around God’s truth. Enjoy!

Jacob Allee
“Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy
Aristotle’s poetics
Boethius’ “Consolation of Philosophy”
Eusebius’ “The Church History”
Cicero’s “The Value of Literature”

Justin Kenas
9th Grade Omnibus: We finished “Frankenstein” and have started “Of Plymouth Plantation”
12th Omnibus: We finished “Robinson Crusoe” and have started “Emma”
9th Bible: We finished Foxe’s “Book of Martyrs” and have started the Westminster Confession of Faith.
10th Bible: We finished Proverbs and have started Job

Josh Dyson
Dante’s “Inferno”
The book is a beautiful reminder that though mankind has achieved many great things, it is only God’s grace that can bring us to God.
“The Brothers Karamazov” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (audio book)

Jen Bookhout
“The Seven Laws of Teaching” by John Milton Gregory
“The Language of Sisters” by Cathy Lamb

Ian Snyder
“Operation of Grace” by Gregory Wolfe

Wade Ortego
Recently finished:
“Desert Solitaire” by Edward Abbey (ebook)
“My First Summer in the Sierra” by John Muir (ebook)
“Poems Household Edition” by Ralph Waldo Emerson (ebook)
“Walking” by Henry David Thoreau (ebook)
“Lost in the Yellowstone: ‘Thirty-seven days of Peril’ and ‘A Handwritten Account of Being Lost’ by Truman Everts and Lee H. Whittlesey (paperback)

Pastor Allen Hoger
Pastor Hoger and his wife, Sue Hoger, are reading The Collected Stories of P.G. Wodehouse together. “P.G. Wodehouse is amazing,” he said. He finds the stories quite amusing.
He is also reading periodic literature regarding the text of the New Testament.

A Place to Belong

A Place to Belong
Jen Bookhout, Director of Communications and Upper School Rhetoric Teacher

I once read in a book that a Mayan tribe in Guatemala asks, “Where do you belong?” rather than our accustomed, “Where are you from?” I love this tradition. It gets at the heart of relationship immediately, and isn’t relationship our ultimate purpose? Beyond that, this greeting asks us the question we rarely dare ask ourselves. Where do we belong?

For many years, I couldn’t shake the impression that I was going about life all wrong, missing all the milestones, making a real embarrassment of myself. It seemed as though I was behind all my peers on life’s timeline. It took me eight years to complete a four-year degree, another two to complete a master’s degree with a cohort younger than myself. With each passing year, more of my friends were getting married, having children, buying houses. At 28, I still lived above my parents’ garage, and it was just me — well, me, and the two cats. My heart longed to know if God did, indeed, have a plan for me, if I was wasting my time and money on education I wouldn’t utilize.

How foolish I was to give way to that raging beast, Comparison. Of course, God had a plan; my waiting would not be in vain. During my two-year tenure as a Graduate Teaching Assistant at Wichita State, He sent me a student from Classical School of Wichita. Prior to my encounter with her, I had never heard of CSW. Suddenly, I was fascinated. What was classical education? How does one get involved?

As May of 2016 drew nearer, my anxiety about finding a job soared. I knew I needed to be looking, but I felt directionless. Did I look for communications positions? Teaching positions? Did I look to return to the newspaper industry? It was all so unclear and daunting.

On the off chance CSW might be hiring, I checked the website. And because we serve a brilliant, creative and comical God, there were, indeed, positions available. CSW needed a Director of Communications and Upper School instructors. I completed any application available and arranged to drop them off with Mr. Dyson. I thought we would talk for a couple of minutes, I’d leave my applications and hear back later.

The next thing I knew, I was in the conference room with Mr. Dyson and Mr. Ortego for an hour-long interview. The interview was so unexpected, I internally thanked God I’d had enough foresight to wear interview attire and makeup — a social norm I am known for eschewing.

The following week I sat in on an Upper School Rhetoric class, and a week later I spent an hour with Mrs. Shanfelt and Mrs. Kice. In a rapid turn of events, I had a job; I hadn’t even dawned my cap and gown yet.

What I thought I signed up for and what I encountered were two completely different experiences. I thought I signed a contract for a job — a part-time teaching position and part-time communications position; I would type up newsletters and teach kids to write well. Instead, I got a community, a purpose and a lifestyle — God placed me where I belong.

You see, it isn’t “nerdy” to love to learn at CSW. Christ is openly discussed and called upon in the hallways. Marriage and family are sacred institutions we must nurture and strengthen. These ideas in themselves are not unusual. What is, however, unusual is that it’s not all talk — I see it lived out every day.

I see strong men of God loving their wives, holding doors open for women and leaning on Christ for strength in leadership. I see families supporting one another in the hallways. I see Upper School students hugging, high-fiving and praying with Grammar School students on tough days.

CSW cultivates a love for Christ, a love for relationship and a love for learning. I could not have dreamed up this job; I could not have imagined this overwhelming sense of purpose. For though I felt discouraged along the way, as though I did not know where I belonged, God always knew.


All Too Human, Pt. 2

All Too Human, pt. 2
Nebuchadnezzar the Upright Man
by Dan Snyder, Upper School Omnibus, Logic, and Rhetoric teacher

“Virtue, then, is a state of character concerned with choice, lying in a mean, i.e. the mean relative to us, this being determined by a rational principle…”

-Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, II; 1107a

Nebuchadnezzar had his aspirations, and he had his dreams. Today, we often conflate the two concepts under one word, or perhaps make them cousins under the tired concoction of “hopes and dreams”. I have listened to Amway practitioners, politicians, and popular singers cement aspirations to dreams. Dreams though, as anyone can honestly admit to a close friend, are not goals. They are more often ghouls. These dreams are revenants picking through dumpsters of doubt. Freud in his Interpretation of Dreams suggested that the symbols colliding in uncanny ways in dreams provide distance to a mind unable to confront the unacceptable situation of existence in its working and wanting hours. A dream is the telemetry of crashing life.

Nebuchadnezzar brought his dreams and aspirations into acquaintance and crashed. His waking consciousness had been interrupted by his expulsion from the world of sentient men. His manifestation of animality; the claw-like talons, the shaggy hide, the grass chewing and raving at the moon, had simplified his force. His being had been relieved of disjunction and unified into the unquestioning presence of instinctual volition. Do dogs dream? The aspirations of Nebuchadnezzar, in spite of the oracles of his dreams, had become actualized, and paradoxically unholy. He had been cast from the society of God and man.

Perhaps Nebuchadnezzar, restored to his human state, now reflected on the previously unthinkable. A mighty tree, giving shelter to many, a source of relief and fruit, cut down to a stump; he was symbolically banded with bronze and iron. What had once stood in the main between heaven and earth, and in parallel branching forms suffused the dirt in the tiny capillary roots, the fresh breeze high above in ever smaller questing twigs, was now a cul-de- sac of thwarted growth. The stump signs an abrupt violence that signals the end of change, freezing the aspiration now, commemorative of the past worked only in the colors of regret.

So much for the tree. The hopes had collided with the dreams. The bimetal banding of the stump, in bronze and iron; the crucial ‘and’ – a conjunction- seems a wasteful application of the art of the smith. Bronze and Iron form the tension of the ancient technology. The urge to dominate in war and peace produced the great leap in metallurgy and the subsequent age of confusion in the 12th century. These were years of tumult including the exodus of the Hebrews, the Trojan War, the fall of the Hittites and the marauding of the ‘Sea Peoples’, perhaps known ever after as Philistines. All the unbalance and destruction of a balanced society coming from technological innovation and subsequent revolution can be seen as a cutting short. Standing in the mastery of violence of ambition was Nebuchadnezzar, his empire replacing the brutality and warlike opportunism of the bloody Assyrians. Seven centuries had regrown civilization. It was a tree. Like the roots of a tree, the new Babylon had gravity and staying power. Its roots extended into and inherited the earth. Fixating on this self- satisfaction, Nebuchadnezzar had grasped the earth, transforming into a beast on all fours to better hold the earth close, its loam rich with the ores of metals.

This was not the Babylonian king’s end. He recovers his uprightness. Standing now beside a tree in his garden, the garden of Babylon, he reclaimed a place of symbolic aptness. He recounts his dream to a scribe for the benefit of those ‘birds’ who would nest in his branches. What is man? Dietrich Bonhoeffer describes him as a ‘creature of the middle’. As such, he is inordinately concerned with what he can never fully understand: his beginning and his end. Like the tree, he stands upright in the place between heaven and earth. He is suspended and in suspense. In attempting to subdue nature and grasp his end, he reveals his enslavement to that same nature. The stump is banded with the struggles of technological mastery, and subjugated. Man struggles for mastery of the environment, and in the mastery forfeits his destiny – he becomes a stump. We care about this clash between aspirations and dreams. The future seems barred.

In the complete picture of humanity, in as much as we can discern it, man’s essence is reflected in his physical manifestation. The upright man is possible. Man’s feet are on the earth, the footstool of God. Man’s head tends toward the heavens, dwelling place of the Most High. He hangs between heaven and earth, and as Justin Martyr noted, his goal is prophesied in this way. Not merely in the words of the prophets, but in the plain relationship of things is the telos evident, and because of this man is encouraged and convicted. Downward he points to the center and unified reality of the creature, limited and sustained by law, even gravity that makes it so. Above, his yearning is expressed in the nature of a ray, each man’s destiny and pointing individually toward a heavenly eventuality that is eternal and unique. And now, we know more than Nebuchadnezzar, and like Justin Martyr we see. The Logos in the flesh comes, hangs on a tree and mediates between heaven and earth, arms wide to offer relief to all who shade beneath those branches.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

What a magnificent end to the semester!  All the Christmas concerts, plays, and class parties have been wrapped up. Semester exams, projects, and essays have all been completed and submitted (filed away for grading over the break I am sure). All the plans and preparations have run their course and come to fulfillment in the form of snacks, games, gifts, and memories that will delight parents and students for years to come. The hustle and bustle in the halls vanished fairly quickly, after the office was able to gain control of the tv in the foyer, and now the school sits strangely quiet.

The rhythm of the academic year is extremely predictable to most educators and parents. The weather turns colder, grass fades, and leaves begin to fall; all these coincide with shorter days and mysteriously shorter attention spans.  Now, I know this is a great generalization and doesn’t apply to all students, so I say it mostly in jest, but for sure these last two weeks of school present major hurdles to students’ focus.  And why shouldn’t it?  If anything should be able to draw our attention, it should be Christmas.

With all the racing and running towards Christmas Break, I believe it is all too easy for us to glance over the beauty of Christmas break. We need Christmas break; it’s good for us. There is no doubt in our CSW community that Christ has come. There is no argument of that amongst us. His birth was an actual event that ushered the Savior into the world. We don’t have to justify our “Merry Christmas” as we pass in the hall, and that is amazing, in and of itself, and I am extremely grateful for that.

Christmas Break is necessary because it allows us to alter our “normal” schedules. It shakes us out of our comfortable routines and gives us the opportunity, if we will take it, to focus on the truth, goodness, and beauty of Christ. The three things we desire to teach our students to recognize and pursue (Truth, Goodness, Beauty) are so obvious in Christ’s birth that the world does whatever it can to obscure them. The world would have us busy ourselves, chasing our tails and the ever elusive, must-have “something or other”, so as to have us skip over the Truth of His coming, the Goodness of the Gift, and the Beauty in its presentation.

Fortunately, the world can’t help but acknowledge something is different during this season and we are blessed to know what that difference is. Christmas break should be used to acknowledge, rest in, and revel in His birth and His gift.

I pray your Christmas break will be shared with family and friends, focusing on Christ and His gift to us, with much rest and just as much revelry. I’m also pretty content in the knowledge that the hustle and bustle has moved from our halls to your homes.

Merry Christmas,

Wade Ortego for all of the CSW Administration