Christopher Dawson and the Religious Impulse

By |2020-05-23T17:30:06-05:00May 23rd, 2020|Categories: Books, Christianity, Christopher Dawson, Civilization, Culture, Government, History, Religion|

How does religion act as a driving force of politics and culture? Christoper Dawson argued that “we cannot understand the inner form of a society unless we understand its religion,” and we cannot make sense of any culture or its achievements without knowing the religious inspiration from which its creativity flowed. Imagine a diagram [...]

“Lord, Teach Us to Pray”: Reflections on Fulton Sheen

By |2020-05-24T10:02:23-05:00May 23rd, 2020|Categories: Books, Catholicism, Christianity, Culture, Religion|

When I was a child, my mother would regularly put my brothers and me to sleep by playing Fulton Sheen talks on tape and (later) on CD. I remember marveling first at the man’s voice, its weathered timbre and solemn cadence and massive fluctuations in volume. What held my attention next were the stories: [...]

Defending the Permanent Things

By |2020-05-20T16:04:50-05:00May 20th, 2020|Categories: Books, Classical Education, Culture, Education, Language, Liberal Learning|

Apologists for Greek and Latin have lately dwindled. Yet in the past several years there have been some notable attempts to save classical education from utter extinction—one of which is Tracy Lee Simmons’ “Climbing Parnassus.” Climbing Parnassus: A New Apologia for Greek and Latin, by Tracy Lee Simmons (290 pages, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2007) [...]

Confronting the Heart of Darkness

By |2020-05-25T11:20:22-05:00May 19th, 2020|Categories: Books, Christian Living, Christianity, Dwight Longenecker, Imagination, Joseph Pearce, Literature, Religion, Senior Contributors, War|

Immortal Combat: Confronting the Heart of Darkness, by Dwight Longenecker (160 pages, Sophia Institute Press, 2020) It was, I believe, C.S. Lewis who said, speaking of the mediaeval mind and culture, that “the very air was thick with angels.” If, however, angels are real and not merely figments of the imagination, mediaeval or otherwise, [...]

Charm and the Civilized Life

By |2020-05-18T18:30:26-05:00May 18th, 2020|Categories: Books, Character, Culture, Michael De Sapio, Modernity, Senior Contributors, Virtue|

In his latest book, Joseph Epstein takes on the elusive topic of charm, which consists of being pleasing to others and making the world seem a better place. Charm radiates light, order, and good humor; it is cool and calm, not hot and excited. Perhaps, like beauty, charm is one of the blessedly “useless” [...]

Why “Western Civ” Is Losing Its Appeal

By |2020-05-18T08:09:17-05:00May 17th, 2020|Categories: Books, Civilization, Classical Education, Culture, Education, Great Books, Liberal Arts, Literature, Modernity, Western Civilization, Western Tradition|

The Western canon as typically presented is increasingly unable to rally the enthusiasm even of devoted admirers of Western civilization, who recognize the commonly proffered canons as, at best, an impoverished rendition of Western culture and, at worst, a perpetuation of the very same cultural forces that are at the source of its decay. [...]

Glaucon’s Fate: History, Myth, and Character in Plato’s “Republic”

By |2020-05-14T18:09:03-05:00May 14th, 2020|Categories: Books, Character, Culture, History, Myth, Philosophy, Plato, Socrates|

Glaucon’s story is part of a well-known political tragedy that swept up many of Plato’s friends and fellow citizens, including Socrates. The evidence for his personal tragedy, however, is deeply embedded in the text. Like a three-dimensional image hidden within a two-dimensional picture, it requires a special adjustment of the eyes to perceive. Perhaps [...]

“Bleak House” and Original Sin

By |2020-05-09T10:30:28-05:00May 9th, 2020|Categories: Books, Charles Dickens, Christianity, Evil, Fiction, Imagination, Literature|

Charles Dickens’ Bleak House is considered by most contemporary critics to be his best novel and, although the postmodernist intellectual community should be navigated with caution, I am inclined to agree. It’s richly complex with an eclectic array of subplots, characters, and themes, and concludes with a bitter-sweet ending that is, unlike many contemporary [...]

Science Fiction and the University of Chicago

By |2020-05-08T19:05:51-05:00May 8th, 2020|Categories: Books, Bradley J. Birzer, Fiction, Imagination, Literature, Science, Senior Contributors|

During the spring semester of 1957, the University of Chicago invited a number of distinguished speakers to campus to lecture on the meaning and significance of science fiction as a genre. Robert Heinlein, C.M. Kornbluth, Robert Bloch, and Alfred Bester each gave insightful speeches, all of which were collected by Basil Davenport and published [...]

A Child’s Imaginative Conservative: Tomie dePaola, 1934-2020

By |2020-05-01T23:22:57-05:00May 1st, 2020|Categories: Books, David Deavel, Imagination, Senior Contributors|

Tomie dePaola understood that life is difficult and yet redemption is possible. What marks him out ultimately as a conservative of the imaginative variety is that his understanding of childhood includes not only the child-protagonist’s sense of self, but also the sense of self of the other children and indeed the adults in the [...]

“Dark Black” by Sam Weller

By |2020-04-29T17:03:09-05:00April 29th, 2020|Categories: Books, Bradley J. Birzer, Fiction, Imagination, Senior Contributors|

With twenty stories, accompanied by lush but tenebrous full-page images, Sam Weller’s “Dark Black” is a thing of haunting beauty and voluptuous terrors. Dark Black, by Sam Weller (254 pages, Hat & Beard Press, 2020) Most readers of The Imaginative Conservative know Sam Weller as the extraordinary biographer of Ray Bradbury and as the [...]

Robert Penn Warren’s “All the King’s Men”: The Agony of Will

By |2020-04-28T15:10:12-05:00April 27th, 2020|Categories: Books, Imagination, Literature, Morality|

All the King’s Men (1946): It’s as if Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989) wrote this classic American tale principally for college and university students. With a solid foundation in the liberal arts, they will recognize the philosophical and psychological theories that a central character, Jack Burden, has in mind when he transforms them into excuses [...]

The Best Shakespeare Story Ever

By |2020-04-22T12:05:00-05:00April 22nd, 2020|Categories: Books, Christine Norvell, England, Imagination, Literature, Senior Contributors, William Shakespeare|

Marchette Chute’s “Shakespeare of London” is a delight to read. With a fluid narrative, Chute has produced a fascinating wealth of research in a most readable form. Shakespeare of London, by Marchette Chute (397 pages, E.P. Dutton and Company, 1949) It was a classic when it was first published in 1949, but it remains [...]

Shakespeare and Classical Antiquity

By |2020-04-24T19:59:22-05:00April 22nd, 2020|Categories: Books, Classics, Culture, Literature, William Shakespeare|

Jonathan Bate’s wide-ranging and capacious knowledge of classical antiquity is what used to constitute the core of an education in England. That makes him an excellent guide to the territory he unveils in “How the Classics Made Shakespeare,” as he surveys the manifold ways in which Shakespeare drew upon classical sources. How the Classics [...]