Educator, Scholar, & Cultural Reformer
Alcuin understood that his reforms needed to begin with the formation of the imagination through a robust and immediate contact with reality before being able to live a life governed by logic and reason, all of which necessarily precedes any fruitful apostolic life of charity. His first act therefore was to call for the forests of Europe to be stocked with boar and deer. By inculcating an ‘outdoor culture’ he not only provided the practical requirements of learning (brushes from boar hair and paper from deer skin) he more importantly established a poetic culture—one wedded to reality.
Lastly, Alcuin understood that man is a composite being, and that any truths learned needed to be integrated into all aspects of daily living, and the best way to teach such an integration is through the cultivation of authentic friendship, amicitia. Friendship between student and teacher is the only context for the full reception of the faith.
Ultimately, Alcuin’s efforts resulted in the establishment of true Christian society (a ‘Christendom’), which endured for almost a thousand years as a blessed synthesis between the Gospel and culture.