Several folks have emailed and several have asked me in person about the boy’s Summer Reading List. Specifically I’ve been asked about the second half – the non-book part of the list. The part following this statement:
“You must also familiarize or review these works and mythologies and histories.”
I’ve heard your cry and have a moment to explain the rationale.
Much of Middle Age to modern western literature has allusions and meta-narratives following “Biblical” themes. Now the argument that can be made is that the Bible is just following meta-themes from larger world themes. And I’m willing to agree. The human condition is universal. (The solutions are much more specific.) The point is that these themes, where ever they have originated, are filtered through the lens of Biblical narratives in our society.
Let’s look at this for a moment.
Ichabod Crane – Ichabod is the child of Hosea and Gomer (Old Testament book: Hosea). His name means “the Glory has departed.” People who read the Headless Horseman 150 years ago knew what the name meant and automatically were able to place a “character” onto this person by merit of their previous knowledge of the Biblical narratives.
This knowledge is important to understand the nuances of literature.
In the 16th century we began to weave the Greek and Roman mythologies with the Biblical narratives. A basic knowledge of the Odyssey allows one to see deeper meaning in, for example, the movie O Brother Where Art Thou (loosely based on the Odyssey) and even the Simpsons. Before anyone has a moment – the boys have not seen the movie and have only viewed select Simpsons episodes.