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Jaroslav Pelikan – Living Tradition

June 19, 2014

“Knowledge of the traditions that have shaped us, for good or ill or some of both, is not a sufficient preparation for the kind of future that will face our children and our grandchildren in the twenty-first century – not a sufficient preparation, but a necessary preparation. The rediscovery of tradition belongs to the design of the curriculum, and to the definition of the goals and the content of general education, also in a nation that has – if I may say so, traditionally – been more hungry for its future than addicted to its past. That rediscovery is made possible, and made necessary, by the continuity of tradition, what Edmund Burke called a ‘partnership in all science, all art, every virtue.’ But, Burke added, ‘As the ends of such a partnership cannot be obtained in many generations, it becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.’ And that, come to think of it, is not a bad definition of living tradition.”

(from The Vindication of Tradition; the Burke quote is from Reflections on the Revolution in France)

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