On the Road with Socrates and Christ

The Cana Academy (CA) team launched our mission this August. Since then we have gone coast-to-coast, reaching out to our neighbors in Virginia, Indiana, and Oregon. Here are a few of our latest initiatives:


The Summit Academy opened its doors this year and is carving out the leading spot in classical education in the Fredericksburg  area. This summer they sought our support in designing their high-school programs in literature and history. We helped them select original great books and scholarly textbooks on history and laid out a plan for how to deliver the program. The Cana Academy team delivered that plan in advance of Summit’s opening in late August. Then, last month, we followed up with a faculty workshop on how to teach writing. One great highlight: the workshop day started with a beautiful breakfast prepared by headmaster Julian Malcolm—an act of love for the whole team and a great way to launch our work together.


On the opposite end of the continent, CA president Andrew Zwerneman took our services to Portland and Newberg at the end of September and delivered several presentations. For the high-school students and faculty at Trinity Academy in North Portland, Andrew made A Case for Classical Education, charging them to ground what they do in the lives of Socrates and Christ. By deepening their knowledge, he suggested, and by sharpening their skills in the three pillars of classical studies, the humanities, the sciences and the arts, the students could prepare themselves to take responsibility for their city: to help each other grow in understanding, to commit to justice, to live and die true to what is good; in a Socratic nutshell—to love wisdom and live it out each day. The charge deepens with Christ. Christ reminds us to love God and our neighbor—to cross the road like the Good Samaritan where, in the fallen man, we find both our responsibility and Christ. God needs intelligent, well-educated men and women to help achieve his purposes. All the more reason to complete their classical studies.

That same night Andrew led a workshop for members of a local Christian community, the People of Praise, who were looking for fresh ways to evangelize the culture in North Portland. Together, they discussed the short story, Dance of the Happy Shades by Alice Munro, film clips from Babette’s Feast and On the Waterfront, and a great work of art—Marc Chagall’s White Crucifixion. The workshop was fun and rich. They all came away better for the encounters with each other and with the great works they discussed.

In Newberg Andrew ran two master classes utilizing the Socratic method: first, a seminar on Seamus Heaney’s Digging for the humanities faculty at Veritas School, then a seminar on Flannery O’Connor’s Revelation for the William Penn Honors Program faculty at George Fox University.  At Fox, he shared lunch with the honors students and discussed the calling to teach. These were good encounters too, marked by a lot of joy and a deepening of their understanding of the worlds they engaged through Heaney and O’Connor.

Other Works in Progress

The CA team has ten other initiatives in play at this time. Most notably, we are researching, designing or implementing each of the following products or services for a range of schools and missions:  

  • Two Cana Classical guides--one on how to teach fiction, another on how to teach writing. Both guides launch online in a few weeks.
  • A year-long seminar series for seniors at a Christian retirement community in Indiana.

  • A study on history for an association of schools.

  • A scripture study program for a women’s shelter.

  • A comprehensive reading list for grades K-8 for a Catholic school.

  • Faculty training in the Socratic method for another Catholic school.

  • A faculty development and headmaster mentoring program for an evangelical school.

  • Seminars for military personnel.

  • Educational materials for Christians in the Middle East.

  • Classical programs for prisoners and ex-prisoners.

Classical education is the best kind of education. The classical heritage is one that everyone can claim as their rightful inheritance and as such provides a common ground for friendship and unity. With its deep wellsprings in Socrates and Christ the classical vision is vital for personal and cultural renewal in our time. We are grateful for where our team is working today and look forward to where the map takes us in the days to come. We hope you are encouraged too.  Let us know how we can serve you and your neighbors.


Header image by Helen DeCelles-Zwerneman.