Article XI: The Headmaster Illustrates Worldview through Great Stories
The wise teacher will use real events or fiction to help students learn to discover the underlying worldview of main characters to assess their thoughts and actions and thereby learn wisdom for their own lives. Let me illustrate by comparing and contrasting Alexander the Great and Alfred the Great, two great leaders, worldviews apart.
It was 336 years before Christ when Alexander succeeded his father Phillip as King of Greece. Soon after consolidating power, the 20-year-old King invaded Persia taking control of Asia Minor. Before his death, Phillip staged for the invasion under the pretense of avenging Persian desecration of Greek temples during their invasion of Greece 150 years earlier. Later, with the defeat of Darius, Alexander declared himself Emperor and it would seem vengeance was complete. Since he was far from satisfied, Egypt welcomed Alexander as a liberator while the priests of the god Ammon pronounced him the son of Zeus (meaning the son of god). He founded Alexandria in Egypt, which would become the prosperous capital of the Ptolemaic dynasty after his death. He swept through the eastern reaches of the Persian Empire, married Roxanne of Bactria, now Afghanistan, to win Persian hearts to their new ruler. Finally, as Alexander staged for the invasion of India at the Indus River, his men, after 11,000 miles of marching and fighting and years away from family, farm and friends, refused to continue, forcing him to turn back or lose his fighting force. Soon thereafter Alexander suddenly died of a fever from dissipation without a mature heir or established order of succession. He left behind Greek poetry, art and architecture, language, education and customs, and multiple cities bearing his name in what we know as the Hellenization of that part of the world. Alexander earned the title Great as the avenger of the Greeks, a military genius without contemporary rival, and a magnificently energetic leader, although applied as an international robber. Alexander’s name and reputation secured an immortal place in the minds of every Greek and every educated westerner up to the present age.
About 1,000 years later Alfred King of Wessex (the kingdom of England) earned the title Great for similar reasons but with a very different core motivation. Alfred, like Alexander succeeded a relative after his sudden death when he was only about 20, facing war immediately. The Danish Vikings had swept up the Themes in their colorful shallow draw boats pillaging the peaceful English villages, schools, farms, churches and monasteries in their quest for land. Threatened with genocide, Alfred a man of Christian piety as well as policy and skill at arms painted his face and lead his Saxon countrymen straight into the plunderers. After years of war, Alfred defeated the Danish invaders at the Battle of Edington in 878.
After a Viking defeat, Alfred would have the gospel preached to his enemies and would baptize them into the Christian Faith. Some say Olaf, King of Norway converted to the Christian Faith in this way while leading Viking raids in England. Upon his return King Olaf, lead a great conversion of the people of Norway and Iceland to the Christian religion. Meanwhile Alfred reestablished his nearly destroyed kingdom, made laws consistent with biblical law and the English traditions, restored scholarship, learning and monasteries and opened Christian schools. In his History of the English Speaking Peoples, Churchill said, “King Alfred saved Christianity for England.” Truly, he earned the title Great, as did Alexander.
Alexander immortalized himself through military exploit and cultural exploitation. His name emblazoned on cities and in history books for 2,300 years. Alfred made the name of the Lord great while he restored a just peace to England and is nearly forgotten even by the descendants of Christian civilization. Alexander conquered an Empire for his own glory while Alfred led an Empire to Christ.
Our mission to educate youth in a historic Christian worldview compels us to examine men and movements like these through use of questions like those developed by Walsh and Middleton, in The Transforming Vision. With their questions let us seek some rudimentary analysis of these two great leaders who are nonetheless worldviews apart.
Worldview Continued: Questions that Compel Analysis
The Strategic Academy Assessment and Action Plan
And many more