Wednesday 17 March 2010

Astronomy and Music

Two very enjoyable TV series are currently unrolling on the BBC, one on Astronomy and one on Music (two of the seven Liberal Arts, the first being traditionally regarded as the application of Geometry and the second of Arithmetic). They can be watched online, at least in the UK, and the associated websites provide excellent resources for educators. If you can't access them through the BBC, they are available as segments on YouTube. The Wonders of the Solar System by Brian Cox is full of spectacular scenery and special effects, and suitable for all ages. If this doesn't turn your children into astronomers, nothing will! Episode 2 was all about order out of chaos, the "beauty and symmetry that lies at the heart of the universe", and featured spectacular shots of Saturn's ring system. Sacred Music presented by Simon Russell Beale is glorious in a different way. After a recent episode I am a fan of Anton Bruckner, a devout Catholic contemporary of the better-known Brahms. This is the second series already, but presumably the whole thing is available on DVD. Do take advantage of the availability of these programmes if you can. For a better view of the Saturn picture above, go here.

Thursday 4 March 2010

How the World Is Made?

One of the topics in my book is so-called "sacred geometry". I didn't do it justice, of course. It need a lot more, and better, illustrations, but that wasn't an option at the time. So instead, as readers will know, I recommend the work of educator Michael Schneider. He seems to strike the right balance of enthusiasm and sanity, and his book is full of nice pictures and geometical constructions. Unfortunately, sacred geometry and number along with numerology and astrology have become a playground of the New Age. But while this should certainly engender caution, it should not put orthodox Christians off completely. These symbolic systems are part of the great Classical and Medieval civilization and were employed in the writing of Scripture and the building of the great cathedrals. We need to understand them better. The two great modern masters of the subject are Keith Critchlow (who teaches at the Prince's School of Traditional Arts) and John Michell. Shortly before he died, Michell completed How the World is Made, which is recommended by Michael Schneider. The book is illustrated by Michell with full colour images like these, and is published by Inner Traditions in the US and Thames and Hudson in the UK. I hope to review it in Second Spring, where I will try to say why I think the subject is important, even though I have to attach a strong warning, because it is mixed together (as you will see in Michell's book) with a lot of eccentricity and downright anti-Catholic prejudice.