A Simple (Literary) Plan, for Teaching Virtue - The OLMC Family Book and Film Discussion Group


OLMC faculty and parents gathered this week for this month’s meeting of the OLMC Book and Film Discussion Series. After a pleasant time of conversation and conviviality, they watched and discussed the provocative and harrowing 1998 film A Simple Plan.

A brilliantly written and produced film, with extraordinary performances from Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton, and Bridget Fonda, A Simple Plan explores the fragility of moral virtue and temptations to vice. It invites all of us to consider precisely why we hold our moral convictions—and under what circumstances we might set those convictions aside. Poignantly, the film suggests that moral compromise can lead to a loss of self—an existential crisis where we become unrecognizable, even to ourselves.

A Simple Plan is a dark and haunting film, and it’s not for everyone. For our OLMC Book and Film Series, it provided a wonderful springboard for reflecting upon Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s comment that the “line between good and evil runs through every human heart.” It was a powerful reminder for all of us that the work of OLMC School necessarily seeks to inflame the hearts of our students with a vital and passionate love for the Good.

Appeals to cost-benefit analyses, legalism, and consequentialism won’t sustain us without a properly ordered love for what is not only good for us, but good in itself. As C.S. Lewis explains in The Abolition of Man, his marvelous treatise on education and character formation, “without the aid of trained emotions, the intellect is powerless” to choose the right path. We keep that in mind every day here at OLMC as we work to impart to our students an authentic reverence for the True, the Good, and the Beautiful. Reading the right books and discussing the right stories are indispensable toward that end—both for our children, and for their parents, as well!

Anyone who would like to attend the next meeting in the series is welcome! RSVP to Mrs. Pellettiere: school@olmcboonton.org. She will send you the group schedule and the list of books and films we will be discussing.

Also, you will not want to miss next week’s lecture from theologian, ethicist, and authority on Children’s Literature, Dr. Vigen Guroian. He will discuss the role of literature in shaping the heart of children by stirring their imaginations. He will also be signing his wonderful book, Tending the Heart of Virtue: How Classic Stories Awaken a Child’s Moral Imagination. Be sure to let us know that you plan to attend: school@olmcboonton.org.

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