Although the primary point of this final section of chapter 1 was a critique and expanding of the concept of worldview, replacing it with the term social imaginaries, it was these few lines further developing how what we do, what we know, and what we love are all tied up together and interdependent.
An ancient wisdom in the Christian tradition […] might be formulated as an axiom: “desire forms knowledge.” What we do (practices) is intimately linked to what we desire (love), so what we do determines whether, how, and what we can know. […] Desire shapes how one sees and understands the world, and so the key question for the Christian in pursuit of knowledge is first to consider the shape and “aim” of one’s desire, and to specifically seek to increase one’s desire for God. How does that happen? […] the key to direction and increasing one’s desire for God is the acquisition of the virtues […] acquired through practices. So how does one acquire such virtues, such dispositions of desire? Through participation in concrete Christian practices like confession.
So, we have something sort of like a love triangle here. None of these goes one way, but each of them builds and forms and shapes the others: desire (love), knowledge, and practices.
I have experienced this sort of thing myself.
I am not a naturally tidy and clean person. I am, by nature and inclination, a Messie. I have tried over the years and still do try to reform myself in this, because I have been convinced that Messiness is not next to godliness. When I finally stopped fighting the clear truth that order and cleanliness were Good and True and Beautiful, and started actually applying myself to pursue them, however haphazard, incomplete, and pathetic my attempts, something strange happened: my feelings toward cleanliness softened, and whereas I had at first been merely intellectually convinced against my inclinations, it was acting on that, changing, practicing cleaning habits that changed my disposition. I cleaned my room today and I felt better and more like myself with a clean room, whereas a mere three or four years ago, if my room was clean I felt alien and uncomfortable in the space. It was the doing that spurred the desire, not the intellectual assent (though in this case I did begin there).
We are fundamentally creatures of desire who crave particular visions of the kingdom – the good life – and our desire is shaped and directed by practices that point the heart.
The daily things we do in our family – our family culture, our family practices – are what are forming the desires, cravings, visions of ourselves as well as our children. This sort of formation knows no bounds such as school hours or planned activities. It encompasses everything from how breakfast goes down, to how chores are parceled out, to the expressions on people’s faces during math or Circle Time or whatever. It includes how we say good morning, hello, goodbye, and good night. It includes what we prioritize not in our written plan, but in our acted practice. These are the things, repeated over and over and over again during the course of a life, that form and shape how we all (not only our children, but ourselves as well) see the world and our place in it.
A homeschool life offers a wealth of such identity-giving opportunities and also a wealth of temptations to “skip it” and to sigh and just plow, head down, through the day. Let us see how we are living and giving life in our homes, with every meal served, with every smile shared, with every book read, with every math page completed.