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Sample Lessons - Modernity

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  1. Lesson 1: Orientation
    12 Steps
  2. Lesson 2: The Great Stage: Introduction to the West
    12 Steps
  3. Lesson 3: Ideas Have Consequences: The Enlightenment
    11 Steps
  4. Lesson 4: The Sacred & the Secular: Empires, Pirates, and Rulers
    11 Steps
Lesson 1, Step 4
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1.2—Read Tolkien Letter

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  1. Read the following letter by J.R.R. Tolkien.
  2. Write an essay or discuss with your instructor: How does he define the purpose of life?

SELECTION: From a letter by J. R. R. Tolkien.

“At their highest [our prayers] seem simply to praise [God] for being, as He is, and for making what He has made, as He has made it. Those who believe in a personal God, Creator, do not think the Universe is in itself worshipful, though devoted study of it may be one of the ways to honoring Him. And while as living creatures we are (in part) within it and part of it, our ideas of God and ways of expressing them will be largely derived from contemplating the world about us. (Though there is also revelation both addressed to all men and to particular persons.) So it may be said that the chief purpose of life, for any one of us, is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all the means we have, and to be moved to praise and thanks. To do as we say in the Gloria in Excelsis: Laudamus te, benedicamus te, adoramus te, glorificamus te, gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam. [We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give thanks to you because of your great glory.]”

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