The Message of Leisure & Scholé: Chapter 5, part 1 – don’t fall for fake leisure

As a summer special, Scholé Sisters is publishing a blog series through Josef Pieper’s Leisure, the Basis of Culture. This is the book that brought scholé back into our vocabulary. Instead of writing about the book or writing additional commentary, however, we’re taking a thought-by-thought paraphrase approach, chapter-by-chapter. Like The Message is to the Bible, so this series is to Leisure: common idiom, loose paraphrase, with some clarifications and connections and elaborations added for the reader’s benefit. Enjoy!

Previously: Chapter 4 – Work is for leisure, not leisure for work

So then how is leisure even possible for us now? And is it still relevant? Should we even attempt to restore it? 

Some might say that in leisure we are fully human, or that leisure deepens or nurtures our humanity. While that might be true, that is not the fundamental reason we need leisure.

And, remember that leisure is simply scholé, translated.

The heart of leisure is festival.

In festive celebration, all the elements of scholé, of leisure, come together: relaxation, receptivity, active participation in leisure, enjoyment of life instead of pushing life forward.

The heart of festival is worship. Therefore, since the heart of leisure is festival and the heart of festival is worship, then the heart of leisure is ultimately worship as well.

To be at leisure in a worshipful, festive mode of being is to be in harmony with the world as it is. Days of festivity and worship have a different feel than everyday life. And there is no more intense harmony with the world than that found in the praise of God almighty, the worship of the Creator of all.

Many find this statement uncomfortable, even if they’d agree with it. Yet, it’s true. Let us embrace truth. Let us live in harmony with true truth. Then, and only then, will we find leisure.

There is no festival that does not derive its existence and purpose from a cult – that is, from worship. And culture then, springs as well from the life of worship. What is worshiped brings about culture.

It is not that this should be so, but rather it is how it actually is, all the time, every time.

Even in the anti-religious French Revolution which attempted to establish celebration without connection to divinity or eternity or ultimate reality, but none of their attempts lasted. They had no staying power. Labor Day might be a day off, but there is no cultural meaning to it, no true festivity. Such “holidays” are not. They are only days off work – for some.

What is the difference in cultural significance between Labor Day (and the many others like it which have already died and been forgotten) and Christmas or Easter, which even unbelievers connect with and enjoy celebrating? Roots in worship, connection to true, transcendental meaning of life.

This is true for holidays and it is true for leisure.

Leisure without worship, leisure severed from deep harmony with the world as it truly is, is only frivolous time off.

Look at ancient times. When they had time off work, what was it for? It was for sacrificing, for cultic celebrations, for worship. They didn’t merely nap and take breaks when their culture gave them a day off. The day off had purpose and meaning. It was for a party – and not simply a gratification of the senses party, but a party that connected them to the meaning of their life and work and everyday duties. Celebrations make sense of all the rest.

”Worship is to time as the temple is to space.”

A temple dedicates not only space, but a multitude of resources – “wasted” for all practical purposes in service to and devotion for the gods.

In the same way, festivals are dedicated swathes of time set aside, severed from practical use, for religious connection.

The seventh day of the Jewish week is just such a time period.

However, in a world of total work, where everything is measured in monetary value and productive output, such dedication of either resources or time is deemed wasteful. Not only unnecessary, but even unethical.

The only reason to have a day off, according to the philosophy of the utilitarian materialist, is so as to return a better worker. So Labor Days are acceptable breaks, because such days off admit of no higher transcendent meaning than the world of work itself. There might even be entertainments – whether Roman gladiatorial games or American movies and sports events – but would anyone dignify these amusements with the name of festival?

Thus the world of the man who finds his meaning in his career is poor, sterile, shallow. Although filled with material goods, it has no depth, no meaning, no true satisfaction. There is no true wealth, no overflow of life, that will spring from the materialist.

Ironically, the overflow pouring forth from the truly festive, leisured worshiper is due to sacrifice rather than hoarding.

A sacrifice is something voluntarily offered, a gift. A sacrifice is never practically useful – quite the opposite. The wealth of the festive peasant outstrips the wealth of the merchant, for from his personal stock of inner riches, the festive worshiper gives bountifully, generously, from a source that the material world cannot touch. His wealth is that which neither moth nor rust destroy; it is an overflow released from the constraints of this world and free to leap to the next, forming a connection and thence a real joy.

But without this connection to worship, to ultimate meaning, to harmony with the true reality of the world, leisure has not only no meaning but no real value.

”When separated from worship, leisure becomes toilsome, and work becomes inhuman.”

With the rise of materialist productivity comes the corresponding rise of time-killing and boredom. We must break from work, but we have nothing to do with that time but kill it, but spend it in frivolous, meaningless amusement.

Without real leisure, without the leisured time of worship, we become restless. And after restlessness comes despair.

Despair serves the idol of the economy, for it motivates one to work. Work drowns out the hollow emptiness inside. Work becomes the means of ignoring the poverty of our existence.

Yet, severed from genuine festivity and true leisure, even the work which should be our portion and our duty becomes inhuman, hopeless, meaningless.

It is not our income level, social class, or any other outer circumstance that creates our alienation. We are alienated from others and from ourselves when we are cut off from our created purpose: to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

The post The Message of Leisure & Scholé: Chapter 5, part 1 – don’t fall for fake leisure appeared first on Scholé Sisters.

Want to raise lifelong learners?

Want to raise lifelong learners?

Be one.

Moms must be learners, too.

We want our kids to love learning, to be self-motivated, to not try to fight us through the school day but rather be eager and excited to learn.

The question we must ask is are we that way?

Do we want to know about history, about mankind, about Creation, about God? Whether or not we want to can be told not by our feelings or words, but by our actions.

Come join us for a day that will inspire you to be a learner alongside your children, a day that will cultivate your own desire to know, a day that will refresh your spirits and renew your perspective.

What is scholé?

Dr. Christopher Perrin of Classical Academic Press summarizes the idea of scholé as “restful learning.”

It is a Greek word that is translated as leisure and from which English derives the word “school.” How do leisure and school go together? In Industrial models, they do not; however, as home educators we are seeking to build an education that fits a home environment rather than an institution setting, a human person rather than a data-driven standard, a humble love of knowledge rather than a selfish knowledge-as-power mindset.

Scholé is an attitude that loves truth, goodness, and beauty because they are reflections of God Himself. It is teaching & learning from rest.

Pam Barnhill
Leaving a fun and successful career to homeschool her 3 kids, Pam has become an inspiration to many as a podcaster, author, and speaker.

Mystie Winckler
A second-generation homeschooler, Mystie classically educates her 5 kids while juggling many other projects and sometimes even the laundry.

Brandy Vencel
Homeschooling mother of 4, Brandy dabbles in many interests, but her passion is understanding, implementing, and teaching the educational philosophy of Charlotte Mason.

We are the Scholé Sisters.

And, like you, we have struggled feeling like our abilities did not match up to our vocation. Finally we learned that by supporting each other we can do bigger things together than we ever could alone. That’s why we created the Learning Well Online [and Local] Retreat.

Homeschooling well can be an overwhelming and lonely task. We will give you practical help to make it less overwhelming and connect you with sisters who can relate to what you are going through. Look around. Find your sisters.

featuring special guest Cindy Rollins

Cindy Rollins, homeschooling mom of 9 grown children, is the 2016 winner of the Russell Kirk Paideia Prize and the author of Mere Motherhood: Morning Time, Nursery Rhymes, and My Journey Toward Sanctification. Although her days of homeschooling her own children are over, she continues to educate as a private tutor. For over 10 years, she blogged through her efforts to homeschool under the classical principles of Charlotte Mason. Her heart’s desire is to encourage moms, with a special concern for those raising sons.

A Day of Encouragement

A Day of Insight

All times given are Eastern

Starting at noon
Session 1: “Lifelong Learning, Life-giving Leisure” – Mystie Winckler
What is scholé and what difference does it make in our real lives? Turns out, it’s what we’ve been looking for all along.

Starting at 1:15pm
Session 2: “Learning How to Live” – Brandy Vencel
Find out why it is imperative for moms to be readers if they want to homeschool for the long haul.

Starting at 2:30pm
Session 3: “Learning to See: The Art of Paying Attention” – Cindy Rollins
Without attention, we cannot learn; what we pay attention to, we see. Learn how moms can cultivate the habit of attention for themselves.

Starting at 4pm
Session 4: “Learn with PEACE” – Pam Barnhill
Pam will bring it home and make it practical with suggestions and encouragement for starting small and building a pattern of learning in our lives.

Plus a follow-up Q&A Panel led by Dawn Garrett at 5:15pm

Learning Well Online Retreat – $29

What you get:

  • FIVE LIVE online workshops on Saturday, September 15 designed to inspire you and provide actionable steps to help you improve your homeschool practices and mindset.
  • Printable schedule of workshops and chats to help you plan your online retreat day.
  • Questions for discussion to participate in a Scholé Sisters chat feature between workshops or to gather a group of friends to watch and discuss together.
  • Lifetime access to the replays

You want an atmosphere in your home that reflects the kind of education you desire to give your children.

You long for truth, goodness, and beauty.

You want peaceful days with kids who don’t have to be forced to do their work.

You want connections not only between subjects, but also between you and your children.

You are searching for that one element that you are convinced is the key to making all of this happen in your home.

Yeah. That atmosphere?

It’s YOU.

You can’t only want your children to be lifelong learners. You have to be one first.

You can’t only desire to give your kids a quality education. You have to desire it for yourself also.

You are not just a mom. You are not just a teacher. You are a fellow learner with your children.

When you redefine your role as a homeschooling mom and focus on learning alongside your children, you can design an atmosphere of peace and learning that will last the entire school year.

If, for whatever reason, the Scholé Sister’s online retreat does not leave you refreshed and energized, let us know and we’ll give you your money back.

You have nothing to lose.

We hope you’ll join us.

Broadcasting live from a single location, Pam, Brandy, Mystie, and Cindy will provide structure and encouragement to build you up with 4 talks, a Q&A session, conversation starters, worksheets – plus a lot of energy!

This is the teacher’s personal development day that you need.

Learning Well Online Retreat – $29

Want to hostess a refreshing day out for your local homeschool community?

Click here to learn more about how we’ve made it easy to give your local homeschool moms a day out to renew their vision, friendships, and mindset.

The post Want to raise lifelong learners? appeared first on Scholé Sisters.

Learning Well 2018 Local Retreat Locations

We are so excited to be gearing up for the 2018 online retreat: Learning Well. Mystie Winckler, Brandy Vencel, Pam Barnhill, and Cindy Rollins will be getting together in Chattanooga, TN along with Dawn Garrett so they can broadcast live and with energy and enthusiasm for you at home.

To participate in this retreat you don’t need to leave home, much less travel. There will be chatbox discussions so you can still experience community and know you have likeminded companions out there.

But, of course, real-life, in-person community is better. That’s why we’re super excited for the groups hosting local retreats: women gathering for the day to watch the sessions together, discuss between sessions, eat and laugh and maybe even cry together as they take a day away to renew their minds and hearts for the school year ahead.

Groups of 6 or more meeting together get a group rate of $20/attendee; the group leader should register ASAP and follow the instructions sent out after purchase. More information on the logistics of running a local group are available here.

But maybe there’s a group you can meet up with that’s already in your area. Here’s a listing of the local events that are open to accepting another participant or two. If you’d like more information, leave a comment and we’ll send your info to the group leader who will contact you.


  • Decatur


  • Sierra Vista


  • Exeter
  • Glendora
  • Santa Rosa


  • Montrose


  • Coral Springs
  • Gainesville
  • Orlando


  • Suwanee


  • Boise


  • Arkansas
  • Derby
  • Kansas City
  • Overland Park


  • Ashland
  • Berea


  • Winnsboro


  • Laurel


  • Mattawan


  • Las Vegas

New Jersey

  • Ewing

North Carolina

  • Elizabeth City


  • Holland
  • Olmstead Falls


  • Albany
  • Portland
  • St. Helens


  • Tunkhannock

South Carolina

  • Anderson


  • Chattanooga


  • Pfugerville
  • Round Rock
  • Waco


  • Richmond


  • Washoughal


  • Arena


  • Charlottetown

South Africa

  • Hilton, KalaZulu, South Africa


Do you have a local group gathering for the retreat and you’d like to be listed? Leave a comment or email us and we’ll add you.

Are you interested in hostessing some friends or broader local community for the retreat? It’s not too late! Leader packets are available with everything you need to make it a wonderful day away (or day at your home). As the hostess, simply register for the retreat (yes, at full price), then follow the instructions in the Welcome email for being a group leader. When we invoice for your event (after your event), your registration fee will be credited to your invoice (so it’s like a deposit).

Click here to learn more!

The post Learning Well 2018 Local Retreat Locations appeared first on Scholé Sisters.

The Message of Leisure & Scholé: Chapter 4 – work is for leisure, not leisure for work

As a summer special, Scholé Sisters is publishing a blog series through Josef Pieper’s Leisure, the Basis of Culture. This is the book that brought scholé back into our vocabulary. Instead of writing about the book or writing additional commentary, however, we’re taking a thought-by-thought paraphrase approach, chapter-by-chapter. Like The Message is to the Bible, so this series is to Leisure: common idiom, loose paraphrase, with some clarifications and connections and elaborations added for the reader’s benefit. Enjoy!

Previously: Chapter 3 – The nature of leisure

Now that we’ve looked at what leisure is, what prevents it, and why we need it, let’s look deeper into the why, into not only its inherent value but also its outlook in being achieved in modern society.

That is, we will ask the obvious question: Is leisure even possible in today’s world?

After all, we want not only a small portion of true leisure on Sunday in corporate worship (already too rare in people’s lives!) but also expanses of time, even daily, reserved for being truly and fully human. Such time is free time – not time to do with as we want, to spend on our own passions and selfish desires, but time to truly learn and become attune to the full reality of creation around us and of God Himself.

Is such an experience regularly possible for the one who sees himself first and foremost as a Worker, as a wage-earner and productive member of society? No. It is possible only for the one who sees himself first and foremost as a worshiper, and then becomes determined to worship only what Who should be worshiped.

Orthodox believers looking to live an intentional and God-honoring life are not the only ones who have noticed the harm in the trend toward defining value exclusively in monetary terms. But when the call to unity and resistance is founded on art or tradition or humanism, the center does not hold and the resistance is futile. Such calls do not have what it takes to withstand the demands of a society whose motto is “It’s the economy, stupid.”

No. It’s not the economy. It’s the people. And people are more than functionaries, contributing to a GDP. People are eternal beings, and the more they forget that or lose touch with that, the less satisfied, more disillusioned and despairing they become.

Attempts to counter the growing disillusionment and despair that are yet grounded in a trust in the economy as society’s ultimate end and good are doomed to fail. We cannot raise the value of a human being – or even the work of a human being – by assigning an economic value to each person and each output. Equality is not reached through such means, nor is freedom.

Instead, we all become slaves when we are defined by what we contribute to the economy, for then we are bound to that economy. We are its slaves, the state’s slaves.

Even if we should grow rich materially as slaves to the economic process, we will correspondingly grow poor spiritually.

A person whose value, identity, and very life is all tied up in the economic value he produces becomes shrunk from within, unable even to perceive reality apart from his work.

In fact, the state whose primary concern or method of evaluation is its GDP requires a spiritually-impoverished population serving as cogs in the machinery of the economy – they need workers who do not ask moral or ethical questions and who do not have higher allegiances and differently ordered priorities.

But that is precisely what true education does: It brings a person outside of himself and outside of a world of selfish gain. It shows him how broad and deep and high is creation, how holy and worthy God is, how much more there is to the world not only than the economy, but than himself.

The liberal arts are what are taught to men who are to be free – free from vice, free from slavery to the economy, free from poverty of the soul.

Such an education can be given to those who work and do contribute to the economy, who do have useful skills they enjoy, who do earn a wage. But, given that education, their wage will not define them, nor be the most important personal descriptor they know.

If the only kind of work we recognize and reward is paid work, we have a truncated view not only of the world, but of humans and how humans ought to be valued.

A state that recognized human needs and human values would not demand all waking hours as potential working hours. As in premodern Christian societies, there would be time – whole days, in fact – where people were expected not to work, but to live on a different plane.

The Ten Commandments offer us just such a societal outline. In taking one day as a day not only for rest from useful labor but also as a day of worship – not only for one class of people but even for the slave and the foreigner – God reminds us that we are whole people and that our work does not save us.

We all need rest that is not a mere break, but rest that is as full or more full of meaning than our day jobs. We need meaningful activity that is not contributing to the economy. Such activity is true leisure.

It is true that there must be a robust and stable economy of plenty for there to be leisure, otherwise we would all be completely occupied with subsistence. However, it’s not enough to only have the plenty necessary for leisure. The plenty must be given in service to the leisure, not the leisure time in service of creating the plenty.

In our lives and in our mindset, which serves which? Does our free time serve us only insofar as we are refreshed workers again? Or does our work support us in what is truly meaningful in our lives: our lives of leisure, when we remember and embrace our spiritual significance.

Do you have spare time or do you give it all to getting ahead in the workaday world?

If you have free time, with what is it filled?

That answer reveals whether or not you have leisure. It is not the schedule you keep, but what you do with the time you have.

The post The Message of Leisure & Scholé: Chapter 4 – work is for leisure, not leisure for work appeared first on Scholé Sisters.

The Message of Leisure & Scholé: Chapter 3 – the nature of leisure

As a summer special, Scholé Sisters is publishing a blog series through Josef Pieper’s Leisure, the Basis of Culture. This is the book that brought scholé back into our vocabulary. Instead of writing about the book or writing additional commentary, however, we’re taking a thought-by-thought paraphrase approach, chapter-by-chapter. Like The Message is to the Bible, so this series is to Leisure: common idiom, loose paraphrase, with some clarifications and connections and elaborations added for the reader’s benefit. Enjoy!

Previously: Chapter 2, part 3 – The leisure to be free

So, in discussing the “knowledge worker” – one who defines himself and his activity by its usefulness in the world – we see such a person has three distinguishing characteristics:

  • His energy is directed outwardly all the time
  • He does not recognize any spiritual or eternal meaning
  • He finds value in being a productive part of the economy

To such a person, leisure is a foreign concept. The only kind of leisure he would understand is as idleness and laziness.

The medievals had an entirely different idea in mind when they talked about leisure. Idleness and laziness were, to them, actually opposed to leisure rather than a type of it.

It was, indeed, a lack of leisure, a spirit of restlessness, that brought on idleness. They believed that living for one’s work actually caused restlessness and idleness while also preventing leisure.

After all, to them leisure was not a lack of activity, but activity directed at other aims than social usefulness. It was activity of the mind and spirit toward spiritual reality. It is because our culture has denied the spiritual nature of the world and of people that we are left with the economy as our highest good and with the day off as our only form of leisure.

But in the Middle Ages, idleness – called acedia – was one of the Deadly Sins. The root of acedia – which we might now call depression – was that a person gave up on being who he was. He ignored his calling, denied his spiritual identity, and spent time in restless inattention. Kierkegaard identified it as not wanting to be oneself.

Being idle, lazy, restless, and despondent is incongruous with being made in the image of God. And living for mammon, for the love of money or social status, for industriousness or productivity alone will inevitably lead to such despair precisely because it denies – or at least ignores – the fact that we are image bearers of God created for something more lasting and more important.

True leisure, on the other hand, puts us in touch with our fully human nature – the material and the spiritual together.

One who is at leisure is not at all idle. He is not one at home when he has business to do; he does not lay about when duty calls. He is not a thumb-twiddler, dawdler, or window-gazer.

Rather, his inner eye is directed at the heart of things. His heart is not set on things of this world, but on seeing truth – on seeing Christ – in all things.

The way to fix acedia – dullness-of-heart – is not through more industry and effort expended toward personal gain. Rather, we solve acedia – which most of us face at one point or another – through cheerful, contended affirmation of the created order. By not only knowing but also loving and worshiping God for what He has done: creating and sustaining the world, giving humanity His own image and calling individuals to selfless service, saving a people for Himself. Understanding and enjoying such truths is the antidote to a restless heart and an idle mind.

As Augustine said:

Our hearts are restless until they rest in You.

We must actually be lifted outside of our own selves and our personal gain to experience leisure, to experience real life. Real life is not found by becoming a workaholic nor by becoming a lazy bum. Real life is found in living according to reality – the reality God created and upholds. And such living requires leisure, requires stepping outside the means of production and subsistence and self-seeking and aligning oneself with God.

Idleness, in fact, has so little in common with leisure, that they could be said to be opposites. Idleness is actually a lack of leisure. Idleness is a lack of meaning and purpose, whereas leisure is a condition of the soul where one not only sees meaning and purpose, but loves it and desires to live according to it.

The problem with the Worker mentality is that it doesn’t allow the time, space, and spiritual awareness to know, much less love, eternal meaning and purpose – that is, the glory of God.

Leisure, then, is not necessarily found in vacations, weekends, time off, or breaks. Building such into our schedule will, by itself, not ensure we have leisure.

The man of leisure and the Worker are opposed in their identity more than in their schedules. The Worker finds his personal value and identity in what he accomplishes. The man of leisure finds his personal value and identity not from his job but in who he is – he is made in the image of God and made for relationship with God.

Leisure, then, is a state of the soul, a mindset, an attitude. It is receptive, still, calm. It is not preoccupied with worldly affairs, but attune to the spiritual. Only one who can be still and quiet can notice, can see, can hear. Leisure is time spent noticing, seeing, hearing something outside yourself and your agenda.

Leisure is a disposition that desires to behold and to receive. Leisure is opposed to inserting and asserting oneself into the world. Rather, it is the attitude, the humble posture, of one who is observing the world with loving care and interest. He does not think of himself at all; his attention is on the truth of what is before him, not so that he can improve himself or gain power, but simply because he desires to know and understand. He cares. He loves.

Leisure is also the spirit of celebration. It considers truth, it beholds the world, not to get something out of it, but simply to celebrate it, to enjoy it, to give a hearty “Amen!” to God’s work in the world. Leisure is founded on an inner joyfulness. Thus, leisure is only possible for one who is in harmony with himself as a being created for a specific purpose and who is in harmony with the entire purpose of the world itself. He sees himself as a small part of a much larger whole and celebrates the work Another is doing with it all.

Leisure lives on affirmation. Leisure is not the absence of activity – not at all. It is a different sort of activity.

Leisure is contemplative, but that is not the same as a form of meditation that empties the mind. Rather, the mind is so filled with truth and with joy that there is no room left for selfish considerations. It is similar to the atmosphere between a newlywed couple, each caught up in the joy of being one with the other – the identity has shifted from being Me, Myself, and I and what I want out of this life and has become seeing myself in another, identifying myself with another, caught up in a story where I am not the protagonist but simply part of the backdrop – and I rejoice to take my place there because it is part of the glory, not meaningless at all.

Leisure lives on affirmation, and the highest form of affirmation is festival. A festive mindset is peace and contemplation mixed with intensity of and joy in life. Leisure does not always look like outer calm and repose, but is grounded in an inner calm, a soul’s repose. If the soul is not at peace, there will be no leisure. If the soul is at peace, the body is free to truly celebrate and live life abundantly.

It is this festive nature of leisure that gives it its “effortless” feel – not because there in no activity, but because it is caught up in meaning and joy outside of oneself.

Finally, the mindset of leisure and the identity as a Worker are opposed in their use of “time off.”

To the Worker, to the man who believes we exist to get things done in the world, the only reason to take time off is the weakness of the mind and body – it will only continue working well if it receives physical rest. The point of vacations or time off is so that one can return to work, able to work better.

To be sure, leisure itself will send one back to the calls of duty renewed and refreshed and reinvigorated. Yet that is not why leisure time is taken. It is merely a side benefit and not the point, not the end.

No matter how much strength and vigor one receives from leisure, the leisure does not exist for the work but the work for the leisure. It is the leisure that is the ultimate end, for leisure time is worship time. We were created to worship and we will spend eternity worshiping. The leisure is the point. It puts us in touch with eternity, with reality.

We don’t have to justify taking leisure time by citing how it gives us bodily renewal or mental refreshment and brings us back better than ever. That is basing our worth on our work.

Rather, we take leisure time because we were designed for it and can only live as fully human when we spend time not toiling for our bread but reaching for the bread of life, the living water. Drinking in living water requires no other justification.

It is true that praying before bed helps you sleep better. But that does not make prayer a sleep-aid. In fact, using it as such diminishes and perhaps even ruins it. Rather than praying because we love God, we’re praying for own ends – and that is not prayer at all.

So leisure does give us the benefits of renewal and restoration, but that’s not why we take the time.

Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you.

Seeking first the kingdom of God so that we get all the things added unto us is actually not seeking the kingdom of God first at all.

So it is with leisure, because leisure is being mindful of God’s work in the world, of our true place in the world, and of God’s glory in it all.

True leisure provides an escape route from anxiety, restlessness, and despondency, but that’s not why we take it. We take it because we were made for it. The relief that we receive happens because rather than fighting the reality of the created order, we celebrate it and live in harmony with it.

Mystie’s opening talk for the Scholé Sisters Learning Well Retreat will apply these ideas about leisure and life to us as homeschooling moms. Don’t miss it!

The post The Message of Leisure & Scholé: Chapter 3 – the nature of leisure appeared first on Scholé Sisters.

The Message of Leisure & Scholé: Chapter 2, part 3 – The leisure to be free

As a summer special, Scholé Sisters is publishing a blog series through Josef Pieper’s Leisure, the Basis of Culture. This is the book that brought scholé back into our vocabulary. Instead of writing about the book or writing additional commentary, however, we’re taking a thought-by-thought paraphrase approach, chapter-by-chapter. Like The Message is to the Bible, so this series is to Leisure: common idiom, loose paraphrase, with some clarifications and connections and elaborations added for the reader’s benefit. Enjoy!

Previously: Chapter 2, part 2 – Effort is not virtue

What is freedom? How can it be found?

If our culture’s god is its Economy, and our priorities, values, and even identities are filtered through that frame, we lose our freedom.

If our actions are always seen in terms of what they produce in the world, of their monetary value or their outcomes, there is no longer such a category as free activity.

Free, in this sense, has less to do with personal choice and more to do with the ability to choose – even the ability to recognize activities that do not serve a worldly function.

“What’s the use?!” both we and our children cry, as if that closes the case.

When we say “use,” in this sense, we’re not talking about “good” – which would be a more traditional view – but about the likelihood of gain. We don’t ask about the inherent worth of a thing, but rather its use. That is, what will we get out of it? How will the society benefit from it? How will it fit into our five-year plan for success?

This perspective never sees value in activity or knowledge alone, but sees the value as always arising from the result that the activity or knowledge produces.

So, it’s not about whether or not math is true, good, or beautiful and therefore worth pursuing and knowing, but about having the ability to balance checkbooks, get a good job, and pass the test. Math is valued for the results we get, not for being a Good Thing apart from being useful.

But the liberal arts are, in fact, called liberal because they have value apart from use – they are both free and freeing. They are free from serving the marketplace and those who study them are elevated above a slavish, functionary role.

The opposite of a liberal art is a servile art. In Aristotle’s framework, a servile art is good and necessary, but the distinction is that they are not good in themselves. The servile arts’ true value is in the result they produce. Factory work is not true, good, or beautiful in itself. We derive good from the results of factory work, not by the process. Should machinery take it over, humanity does not lose an aspect of itself. The results remain – the produced goods – and that’s what matters.

Not so with a liberal art. A liberal art cannot be replicated by or fulfilled by a machine, because they are human arts. Humans can be aided by tools, but the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake and not to produce goods or gain power makes the study truly liberal, truly free.

The liberal arts are free because no useful result in the world is needed to make them worth pursuing. However, when we call someone a “knowledge worker,” suddenly we shift the purpose of the knowledge. It is no longer worthwhile in itself, but on the work, on the product, on the result created.

Science, as it is used and considered today, is focused on application, on technology, on giving us increasing advantage over creation. Our science is servile, not free.

The free studies are philosophical in nature. They consider the nature of things not in order to take advantage or control, but in order to know and understand. Sure, first our scientists might seek to know and understand, but if they are doing it so that they can find a cure for cancer, build a faster iPhone, or turn a boy into a girl, the knowledge is not philosophical, not free, not scholé. It is utilitarian, practical, servile.

Education, historically, has been in the liberal arts whereas the servile arts were taught through training. Today we have much training and very little education. Education seeks a holistic, unified understanding of the world. It wants to know about the world as a whole, about people as whole beings – for the sake of finding truth, for the sake of conforming to goodness, for the sake of loving created beauty.

Now, of course technology and practicality and work are not bad. It’s just that they aren’t all there is to life.

We often say we want balance, but we can’t balance something we don’t have. And today, we don’t have true leisure. The only alternative to work that we know is idleness or entertainment and so our idea of “self-care” is chocolate and a movie instead of a walk in silence or reading Scripture prayerfully or losing ourselves in an interesting book.

Our souls do need care, but the care that they need is spiritual. Don’t look to material things to sooth your soul.

We will never be fulfilled by useful work alone. We need meaning beyond ourselves. In the past, that is why the liberal arts were prioritized. Through them, we can get to know what is beyond our selves and come to understand deeper meaning and connection.

The liberal arts were considered the education fit for a gentleman. That is, even someone who didn’t have to work for a living benefited by them. The benefit was not in anything being produced; the benefit was in the knowing itself. If anything at all was being produced, it was a certain kind of human: a free, whole, mature human.

Applying even the liberal arts to life, using our knowledge in practical ways is surely necessary. Virtue, after all, is living in accordance to what you know. It’s practical. However, the impractical, the principles, the philosophy must come first if we are to have rightly ordered lives and a lasting culture.

There is more to this life than what is useful.

There is also blessing.

Are we willing to receive blessing? Are we willing to set aside our productivity in order to seek blessing?

Then we must have the leisure to do so.

Learn leisure with us this September:

The post The Message of Leisure & Scholé: Chapter 2, part 3 – The leisure to be free appeared first on Scholé Sisters.