Know Virtue Know Freedom

Today nearly 100 students will carry torn cardboard boxes holding lamps, post-it notes, and whatever else was a last minute need up flights of stairs into Hillcrest's historic residence halls. It's move-in day tomorrow. These students are embarking on a life-changing endeavor.

There is an aroma in the front hall that is unique to Hillcrest that will greet these students. It holds scents of aged wood that spark instant memories in alumni from nearly 100 years in the past. And for many walking the front hall their eyes will wander heavenward, part of the natural design of Hillcrest's 100 year old building. The front hall guides students to think of God.

As students carry their eyes over the heads of their parents who set the pace down the hallway, they will read a set of three signs that hang simply in the hallway. "The heart never replaces the head. But it can, and should, obey it." The words will guide students in Hillcrest's pursuit of virtue, something that the speaker of the phrase, C.S. Lewis, wrote about extensively.

Lewis once said that the head guides the stomach through the chest. He wrote a treatise called Men Without Chests that called for a greater education of Britain's youth. Lewis cried for grater courage and a stronger commitment to thinking in education. He wanted students to build habits that would drive them deeper into life without having them trip over bad mistakes and poor planning. He was concerned with virtue.

The theme at Hillcrest this year is FreeDone, coming primarily out of Ephesians 5:1. Essentially, students will continually hear that there is nothing they can do to earn freedom. The founders of the United States said freedom was a self-evident truth. Os Guinness believes that the only way for someone to lose their freedom is for them to give it up. But it seems to many that freedom slips through fingers as society works toward organization. Freedom doesn't seem to be free.

In his book A Free People's Suicide, Os Guinness says freedom is something each generation must work out. He paints a subtle picture of a triangle that creates equal tension on the corners when they're exercised, lifting up freedom. On one corner stands faith. On another stands character. And on the final corner stands virtue. 

Lewis believed the role of education was to foster a virtuous people, one of the key corners in Os Guinness' tight grip on freedom. At Hillcrest we seek to build virtue by subtly creating habits that guide the heart. We do this by weaving the seven virtues into daily life in the castle. The seven virtues are broken into two categories. The first four are the cardinal virtues: courage, prudence, temperance, and justice. The last three are theological virtues. Faith, hope, and love.

Over the coming weeks we will detail these virtues in the Principal's blog, highlighting ways students are working to, as Lewis would say, build out the chest to control the stomach and desires. This is best accomplished through routine practice of the virtues, that guide the mind rough by making them obedient to their mind which is centered on Jesus Christ.  

Wayne StenderComment