SEi Above Ground

year's end cultivation drive

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"No," Mister Ernest said. "That ain't enough any more...You got to belong to the business of mankind."

"Mankind?" I said.

"Yes,..So you're going to school. Because you got to know why...that used to be enough--just to do right. But not now. You got to know why it's right and why it's wrong, and be able to tell the folks that never had no chance to learn it; teach them how to do what's right, not just because they know it's right, but because they know now why it's right because you showed them, told them, taught them why..."

~ from RACE AT MORNING by William Faulkner

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"it's time to renew culture & to grow bravely"

Ariel singing to Ferdinand from Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST
The Samuel & Erasmus institute is ready to take the next strides and, with your support and enthusiasm, to add the necessary elements to firmly emerge "above ground." Thinking of now and of tomorrow, and perhaps even of tomorrow's tomorrow, it is the right time, a vital time, to grow the mission and impact of SEi. For our "American dream", for our schools, and for Western culture itself, we need to cultivate strong, deep life and to let fresh winds catch still embers of the truth, practical wisdom, and enduring light of liberal arts learning and Christian humanism!
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Thinking of now and of tomorrow, and perhaps even of tomorrow's tomorrow, it is the right time, a vital time, to grow the mission and impact of SEi.

As ever, it is time to renew and to form men and women who have the perception, strength, and communication skills to heal, to create, and to persuasively lead. Many "dreams," including our American one, depend on them. Our stated goal for the newly formed SEi clubs and societies for high school and college students is "to form leaders (servants and shepherds) capable of loving, defending, and cultivating liberty in its manifold and deepest meanings."

SEi is prepared to conclude the "seed-sowing" phase, which has included securing our 501(c) (3) status, testing events and programs, initiating pilot groups with students and educators, identifying and engaging foundational friends and leaders, and honing our strategic vision. form leaders (servants and shepherds) capable of loving, defending, and cultivating liberty in its manifold and deepest meanings.

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Jeff Presberg and a few SEi student leaders from UVA at a MACBETH weekend

(the event featured a reading and exploration of the great work by Shakespeare and of such ideas as courage, conscience, and perception)

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SEi pilot groups with students and educators and initiatives like our Renaissance Trails trips and monthly Salons for adults have flourished. They are ready to expand. We have numerous active groups running monthly meetings and are on 2 college campuses. There is present interest and ability to establish groups at several more colleges and universities and to expand SEi throughout the country beyond our current regions of Houston and the Washington D.C area. It's easily foreseeable for SEi to have more than 25 active groups with a variety of educators, students, and adults, and to be on more than 15 college campuses within a few years. With little infrastructure development, growth can be exponential.

"SEi has rekindled an intellectual fire..."

SEi has pushed me to read beyond the common comfort levels, and has deepened my friendships with colleagues and peers. I am a more discerning teacher and my classes are more creative, thoughtful...I now strive to give my students a greater understanding of the bigger picture perspectives, and draw in anecdotes and references to great works of Western Civilization more frequently...SEi has rekindled an intellectual fire. It has reopened horizons for me as a teacher, musician, poet, and artist.

~ ERIC, leads outdoor adventure clubs, mentors high school students, and is a teacher

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"What I did not expect was the joy and rejuvenation..."

When I began with SEI, I knew that it would be a fantastic means of forwarding my own personal education. What I did not expect was the joy and rejuvenation that these meetings have produced—the meetings feel almost like short intellectual retreats...I have begun to include SEI-type readings and discussions in my weekly meetings with our faculty, and have a clearer idea of how to guide teachers. I realized how important it was to bring the liberal arts more fully to life at the school, and shortly after getting involved with SEI, began an effort that—through the work and direction of others involved with the institute—saw the first Lower School play take the stage...

~ COLIN, is a varsity soccer coach, school administrator, and a teacher

vision, wings & sources

No doubt, there is more awareness of the congealed and spreading homogenous spill of political correctness and sentimental nihilistic materialism, even in subtle forms. There is also awareness of its enabling forces, calculated or unintentional: a mass centralization of powers (political, economic, cultural, and otherwise). Clearly, it is not a time to form and educate mere "educated consumers" and nice sheep who blindly obey the latest trends and "experts" and quake with the manipulations of fear-mongerers. We need to form leaders, of all sorts and personalities, who have courage and who draw vision and wings from the true, living sources--past and present--of Western (and American) culture.

Big deals, little ways

These big issues naturally spark inclinations to play it "safe" and to find "big" solutions that have the appearance of "big" impacts. No doubt, a variety of efforts are necessary. But we cannot overlook that these "big deals" also require the patience, trust, and risk of "little ways". And they require the imaginative forethought to see and prepare for future rippling impacts that begin as and may appear as little harmless mustard seeds, but directly and indirectly, in schools, homes, local communities and broader culture, the growth and impacts can be profound, far-ranging, and lasting.

We need to remember it is persons who will encourage and inspire renewal and transformation, and this only happens when it is persons who are renewed and transformed themselves. It is not simply a matter of "programming" or of simple right "modified" behavior or of "one-time" information "clearly" communicated. It is a matter of freedom, insight, experience, silence, beauty, wonder, discovery, self-sacrifice, love, friendship, wise judgment, daring, and... These matters are not easy and require processes that can't be short-changed or stream-lined for fast results. Such results, heavy in appearance and light in substance, tend to fade or blow with whatever winds may be (or not be).

The ideas and sources that are the foundation of the American dream and the West require regular and repeated visits, beginning with stories and the young. Educating free persons who are capable of understanding and being inspired by ideas such as liberty and virtues like justice, love, and fortitude, requires artful cultivation and "little ways." And the educators need to experience and understand these ways and ideas, undergoing regular renewal and enlightenment themselves, while also discussing and understanding practical ways to implement improvements.


With the spirit of our namesakes whose sharp and whimsical wit, daring work, and insightful wisdom that often appeared foolish, we aim for serious things while not taking ourselves too seriously...

"Ah, well, I am a great and sublime fool. But then I am God's fool, and all His work must be contemplated with respect." ~ Samuel Clemens

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"To allow a student to explore...and to begin a journey toward truth..."

SEi has had a profound impact on me as an educator. The focuses on open conversation and deep friendship have rekindled my desire to know, my desire to apprehend truth and my desire to expand my understanding of humanity. The content has been challenging and thought provoking...To allow a student to explore what is in front of him and to begin a journey toward truth is a mark of how I teach now, and one that I owe to SEi.

~ PATRICK, leads a high school jazz band, boys choir, and lower school theatre productions, and is a teacher

This is why our first strategic and primary foundation for SEi is the formation of small groups and group leaders. These SEi groups meet regularly, explore and discover important ideas, engage in open fluid conversation, and deepen ennobling friendships. These groups build the trust that enables rich dynamic exploration and insight into practical resolutions. And they form the kinds of friendships and attitudes that last a lifetime and lead to all sorts of collaborations, including organizing larger local outreach events. Furthermore, these groups don't end in high school or college or within a profession. A high school participant may likely help to form a group in college and then form a group after college, and so forth. After all, the joys, insights, and liberation experienced by these groups are not just for a stage of life, or for a single profession, but simply for a more fully "alive", wise, transcendent, "liberated" human life. (a human-being-lifetime-type endeavor)

"The little knots of Friends who turn their backs on the “World” are those who really transform it." ~ C.S. Lewis

Such strategic ways may seem too indirect, unimpactful, possibly foolish. But turning a humble and open gaze to the beginnings of such things as the American founding and other undertakings that have profoundly shaped our culture, we may suspect otherwise. Persons like More and Erasmus knew otherwise. Their friendship and group of Christan humanists transformed Europe and started numerous schools and institutions still in existence today. C.S. Lewis knew otherwise, by understanding history and his own experience with a group of friends dedicated to writing great stories, the "inklings" (included Tolkien). He encourages us: it is "the little knots of friends who turn their backs on the world...who really transform it."
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"there are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some who face reality; and then there are are those who turn one into the other." ~ Erasmus

or mail a check: Samuel & Erasmus Inst., 22903 Emily Trace Ln., Katy, TX 77494

SEi is a federal 501 (c) (3) tax exempt public charity. Donations are tax deductible.

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Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself. ~ Erasmus