Welcome, students, alumni, family, and friends, to the first official issue of Scholegium, the newsletter of Schola Classical Tutorials. (No, the previous letter didn’t count; that was the “introductory” one. This way I get to send two first issues!) Thank you for subscribing – I’m very glad to have you on the list. My family and I wish you all the very best in this last week of the old church year and hope you’re looking forward to the beginning of Advent season this coming Sunday. We already have nearly a foot of snow here in Potlatch; you may have sun and seventy degree weather; but whatever your weather and circumstances, God bless you and yours and may the season be a joyful one for you.
IN THIS ISSUE, you’ll find 1) some brief news, 2) a short piece of speculation about the wife of actor Rex Harrison, and 3) some star ravings. That should be enough for now. The next issue will be this coming weekend.
There are only two more weeks of Schola classes before Christmas break, which runs December 18-January 5.
This coming Sunday is the first Sunday in Advent, the beginning of the church year. For interesting online information about the seasons of the church year and Advent in particular, visit this site: http://www.cresourcei.org/chyear.html
Collette Harrison and the Bread of Angels
I have on my shelves a nice, although somewhat weathered, green cloth hardback copy of C. S. Lewis's Surprised by Joy. Inside the front cover is handwritten "Collette Harrison, New York City, 1967" and there is an address label in the lower right corner of the same page reading "Mrs. Collette Harrison, 1160 Third Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10021" That address is about 4 blocks east of lower Central Park, a very nice neighborhood.
Collette Harrison was the first wife of famous actor Rex Harrison (My Fair Lady, Doctor Doolittle, etc.). In 1967 they had been divorced and he was on his 4th marriage (the third wife died, the other marriages also ended in divorce, and he would be married twice more, for a total of 6 before he died in 1990 at the age of 82.
So Collette Harrison was living in Manhattan, keeping her famous former husband's name (meaning she probably hadn't remarried, as her maiden name was Thomas). And I've always wondered what she thought of C. S. Lewis, and of his wonderful account of coming to faith. Lewis had died 4 years earlier and was not yet particularly famous outside of Christian circles, so it's not likely to be something she picked up idly at a bookstore -- was she searching, lonely, bitter? Did she have a Christian friend who gave her this book? Was she moved by it, did she reject it in anger and later fall on her knees in repentance and is now our sister in Christ? Or did she just read it and find mild interest and amusement and then set it aside on her shelves? As Dante would put it, Was she following in a light cockle shell or was she seeking the bread of angels?
Whenever I think of Rex Harrison, or My Fair Lady, I immediately think of his cast-off first wife Collette. (I dont' know the circumstances, but in every failed marriage it is the husband who is going to be held responsible by God at the last day, no matter whose sin was first or greatest.) And I remember that she read (or at least owned) Surprised by Joy and was at some moment in her life thinking of Christ.
(Scholegium blog post, Friday Dec. 10, 2004)
The Advent Ladder
The Pleiades, Aldebaran, Orion, and Sirius together form one of the most beautiful sights in Deep Heaven. At this time of year, the beginning of Advent, they rise in the east, one after another, a vertical ladder of celestials announcing the season. The Pleiades are the lovely cluster of jewels in mid-heaven just after dark and high overhead by midnight, said by the ancient Greeks to be seven sisters, princesses, daughters of Zeus, and considered throughout much of western civilization to be the sign of the beginning or end of the sailing season. Both the book of Job and the poet Homer mention the Pleiades. Rising directly below them is the brightest star in the forehead of Taurus the Bull, Aldebaran. It’s one of what the ancient Babylonian Magi called the Four Royal Stars, each guarding one quarter of the heavens. Below red Aldebaran is Orion, the great Hunter, already climbing the sky in the evening, magnificently straddling the celestial equator. And rising below Orion by late evening is Sirius, the Dog Star, brightest star in all the heavens. As Sirius rises, watch it scintillate. “Scintillation” is the mercurial flashing and twinkling that any star does, due to the effect of the atmosphere through which the light rays must pass, but Sirius is so bright that its scintillation is most pronounced, and if you watch you’ll see all the colors of the rainbow flashing as it climbs the sky.