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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Western Civilization

So I've been dragging this textbook around with me for 10 years.  10 years ago in November I married Joanna.  Prior to that date I had a perfect record of getting As in college.  The day we got married I had to skip a class, the class as a childhood development class and that day I skipped was one of the pop quizzes that was 10 percent of our grade.  Because of this I fell one point short of an A grade and the professor who I guess didn't believe in pluses or minuses gave me a straight B.

The next semester was supposed to be my last and I had been working a temporary night job while I went to school.  In mid semester I was offered a permanent job, the downside was that training would be 7 weeks and it would be in the daytime.  I was enrolled for four classes during daytime, I was doing well but it was take a job that I knew I would love or pass it up hoping to finish school and get another offer in the same type of work.  Luckily I took it, I'm still at the same company and I've loved it as much as one can love a job and when I look around and see that everything I have was from working there I know I did the right thing.

Because of that choice though, I had to decide what to do about school.  I'm superman sometimes, but studying for a licensing exam and doing classwork and at the same time trying to learn how to do an actual job was something I couldn't take on all at once.  I got A grades in two of the classes and failed the other two.  One of the two I took a dive in was Modern Western Civilization.  At the end of the semester I went to sell my books but there was a new version of the textbook coming out so there I was, stuck with a book from a class I failed so I decided to do what every reasonable American does, I added it to the horde of stuff that I don't remotely need but somehow gives me comfort late a night when I wonder what I've done with my life.  Well look at this mountain of stuff, I say to myself.  I'm obviously a valuable person!

So after reading Common Sense I realized that my gap in Western History was costing me a bit in understanding the enlightenment era non-fiction that I've become a fan of.  I'm good on America so I was having a hard time reconciling how the Louisiana purchased was made from Napoleon after the French threw off the shackles of despotism for good by executing Louis XIV. I guess it wasn't smooth sailing into democracy and I guess it was Louis XVI that was executed.   That much I now know now thanks to this book.

What I love about Western Civilization is that it's a Civilization of ideas.  In spurts and fits we've come to hold the individual person as a sacred being.  It was very interesting to see how these ideas evolved and how Christianity intertwined with this evolution.  What was interesting is to see how they aren't necessarily parallel ideas, this is contradictory to the conventional wisdom that people seem to accept today but both the omnipresent western philosophy that defines our culture and the Christian religion that is an omnipresent feature of our culture as well have forced each other to evolve into what I think is a fairly tolerable place to be altogether.

So yes I now have most of my dates and places straight.  I can't give you the whole line of English succession or the dates of many battles, after all this was a large broad brushstroke but if you give me a year I can give you a broad overview of what happened in that century, and I guess that's worth 10 years of hauling a book around the country for no apparent reason.

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Hey I appreciate you leaving your thoughts behind! Be well my friend.