The faculty of arts (or faculty of letters) granted only the degree of master of arts, a prerequisite to later obtaining the title of bachelor in one of the other three faculties (theology, law, medicine), followed by the licence and the thèse. . . . Instruction in arts comprised the trivium (grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic) and the quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy). Philosophy was added to this. . . . Young men ordinarily began their studies about the age of thirteen with grammar. About age fifteen they enrolled, in Paris, . . . to pursue courses in one of about forty existing colleges. The first examination, the determinatio, permitted them to obtain the title of bachelor, followed by three and a half years of study for the licence. It was generally necessary to complete five years of study, the quinquennium, to obtain the license, licentia docendi, and the title of master of arts about the age of twenty-one. This in turn permitted them to become “regents” and to teach, while following courses in the higher faculties of theology, law, and medicine. (349)
The plan was in fact for a double institution, both a college and an academy. Three professors were to teach Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. The college itself was divided into seven classes, “two for reading and writing, the third to begin declensions, the fourth where they will begin Latin syntax and the elements of the Greek language, the fifth where they will continue with Greek syntax and begin dialectic, the sixth and seventh always advancing further.” . . . [T]here chairs for lecturers (or professors) were established, along with seven regents (teachers). (257)
The principle, a man who must “fear God,” was elected by the ministers and professors and confirmed by the syndics and Council. The life of the students was highly regulated: a sermon on Wednesday morning, two sermons on Sunday morning, and another on Sunday afternoon – without forgetting, one supposes, the catechism. In church they were under the vigilant observation of at least four teachers to enforce their assiduity and attention. Life followed an immutable rhythm: rise at six o’clock in summer, seven in winter, then prayers and teaching. Finally breakfast. Dinner at ten o’clock. Then the good children exercised their lungs by singing psalms for an hour before returning to their work. Any corporal punishment needed was administered at four o’clock, followed by the Lord’s Prayer, the Confession of Faith, the Ten Commandments, and the principal’s blessing. The discipline was rigorous: spanking, birching, and being given bread and water were part of a repressive arsenal employed against games, insolence, and absence from catechism. Nevertheless, in 1563 the teacher Claude Bardet was suspended for mistreatment of the children. (258)
Ricoeur . . . [suggests] that parables work on a pattern of orientation, disorientation, and reorientation: a parable begins in the ordinary world with its conventional standards and expectations, but in the course of the story a radically different perspective is introduced that distorts the listener, and finally, through the interaction of the two competing viewpoints, tension is created that results in a redescription of life in the world. The uneasiness generated by the disorientation of a parable, introduced by the alien perspective, is nicely suggested by John Dominic Crossan: “I don’t know what you mean by that story, but I’m certain I don’t like it.” A parable is, in this analysis, an assault on the accepted, conventional way of viewing reality. It is an assault on the social, economic, and mythic structures people build for their own comfort and security. A parable is a story meant to invert and subvert these structures and to suggest that the way of the kingdom is not the way of the world. . . .I especially appreciate the emphasis at the end on the “permanent function” of the parables. It puts one in mind of the Reformed tradition’s approach to theology . . .
Throughout the parables, then, two standards—or we could say, two models—are in permanent tension with each other, and the effect of their interaction, for anyone who allows himself or herself to be personally involved, is profound disorientation. Thus, not “liking” the parables is the appropriate initial reaction to them. Crossan says the parables place the listener “on the edge of a raft” and what this means is the end of conventional security: “You have built a lovely home, myth assures us: but, whispers parable, you are right above an earthquake fault.” Ricoeur insists on the same point when he say that the reorientation in a parable is of an open-ended and relative sort, which does not allow us to remake our world according to a new set of rules and standards. If this is the case with parables, then “Christian” politics, art, morals, economics, philosophy, and so forth, are all questionable ventures, unless undertaken with appreciation for the relativity and partiality of all such “systems.” What the parables stand for is opposition to all forms of idolatry and absolutism, even the new orientation to reality brought about through the parables’ redescription of reality. The permanent function of parables is to enhance consciousness of the radical relativity of human models of reality, even when these models are “divinely inspired,” that is, based on the new way of the kingdom.
The conversion to which the Christian community is called daily through God's word also includes turning away from its bond in the dominant system of privileges and active engagement for more just social structures no longer determined by social privilege. Therefore the important primary question today is the question about the relation of Christian existence and capitalism, not the question of the relation of Christianity and socialism. Can one as a Christian affirm and defend the present social system together with its underlying economic order or must this system be intolerable for a Christian?