This is John Corneliu and you’re probably wondering who I am, what I’m all about, and what qualifies me to talk in-depth about ‘Virtue Formation Education‘?
So I thought I’d take this space here, to briefly introduce myself and to write you a short letter, as to get a more personal experience on who I am.
As you may have experienced yourself, there’s a fine line as you write these ‘about me’ sections, as to what exactly do you put down… It’s like the much dreaded interview question, “So tell me about yourself?” 🙂
The challenge is to ensure you don’t write too much, neither too little, nor say what you don’t believe – and always of course, to stay relevant. Hopefully then this page provides you with the ‘info’ you want to know. 🙂
So who am ‘I’ then?
Well, I’m an average guy, with an above average passion for ideas and wisdom that can improve the quality our personal lives, our society and our environment.
This calling came to me quite forcefully early in my career, when I decided to ‘burn the bridge’ behind me and permanently leave the architectural profession that I was trained and educated in – and chose to become a student of the ‘Wisdom of the Ages’.
In the process, I’ve went on to study dozens of different educational pathways, through hundreds of books and courses, and completed along the way a few majors such as – a Masters in Education (mostly in Leadership) at Monash University; a Masters in Business (mostly in Communications) at Swinburne University; and a Masters of Arts (mostly in Theology) at Melbourne Divinity.
I’ve worked in lots of places too – starting from being a cleaner, a house painter, and a sales rep to ‘make ends meet’ very early on; to being an executive coach, a manager and a business lecturer in higher education later on. And yet amidst all these experiences, through all their various guises and forms, the common thread and purpose has been all about the ‘education for the soul’.
From teenage years, I’ve been inspired by the ancient philosopher Socrates who affirmed that the education for the soul is indeed the most important, as well as the most challenging education to both learn and to teach. In many ways, I’ve sought to follow in his footsteps and took on the challenge regardless…
Why? Well, because if you really think about it – everything that’s good in our lives, rests fully upon this kind of education. It’s not really the technical know-how or what we learn in our work or for our work that shapes who we fundamentally are – although for many it does appear as such…
What truly determines who we are for the better – in what we do and what we create – depends on what we learn from the wise. It is the words and the actions of the wise that make the biggest difference – whether near or afar, alive or immortalized in the page of history.
This is why I am passionate about this form of education, and what I aspire here at Jonah’s Club to both learn and to teach.
We intuitively know this of course. But as our common experience also shows us, this learning is also the most difficult to acquire. For unlike all other forms of education, cultivating our soul requires our free will, absolutely.
There is no coercion in getting the knowledge and education for the ‘way of heaven’. We cannot learn it without our full intention and attention present.
It’s always a free choice. And it most often runs against our ‘lower nature’.
The sages and saints throughout history have all unanimously stated this truth in one form or another. Their counsel has always been to prioritize this kind of education above all other kinds of education for the real purpose of our lives, is the perfection of our soul.
To quote Jesus: we are to ‘be perfect as the Father is perfect’, for when we do this and ‘put first the Kingdom of Heaven, everything else shall be added’.
Which is of course, the exact opposite of what the world teaches.
When it comes to education, just about everything else comes first – education about our careers, finances, relationships, health, recreation, sports, travels, investments and property and on and on abounds… and we go through life not knowing what is most important of all to know, virtue and happiness.
As C.S. Lewis once explain, the most tragic thing in life is the pursuit of secondary things. It is tragic not just because one misses out on the marvel of primary things – and that is a great loss indeed – but it’s tragic because one ends up losing the secondary things as well. As he put it:
The woman who makes a dog the centre of her life loses, in the end, not only her human usefulness and dignity but even the proper pleasure of dog-keeping.
The man who makes alcohol his chief good loses not only his job but his palate and all power of enjoying the earlier (and only pleasurable) levels of intoxication.
It is a glorious thing to feel for a moment or two that the whole meaning of the universe is summed up in one woman—glorious so long as other duties and pleasures keep tearing you away from her. But clear the decks and so arrange your life (it is sometimes feasible) that you will have nothing to do but contemplate her, and what happens?
Of course this law has been discovered before, but it will stand re-discovery. It may be stated as follows: every preference of a small good to a great, or partial good to a total good, involves the loss of the small or partial good for which the sacrifice is made.
. . . You can’t get second things by putting them first. You get second things only by putting first things first.
This project then is about decisively putting first things first – for those who so freely choose.
Jonah’s Club is all about the full development and integration of our highest faculties/ the total realization of goods across the physical, mental and spiritual dimensions of our lives.
It is about the direct and congruent cultivation of wisdom, courage, self-control, justice, faith, hope and love.
It is my honor to travel this journey together with you.
“Exerce Te Ispsu Ad Virtute”,
John Corneliu Angheli