Great Books

Heroes of Love

By |2020-01-15T15:10:03-06:00January 15th, 2020|Categories: Great Books, Greek Epic Poetry, Heroism, Homer, Iliad, Imagination, Literature, Love, Odyssey, Paul Krause, Senior Contributors|

One of the most defining aspects of our humanity is love. We are creatures of affectivity made in love for love. It is the recognition of this fact that makes Homer so eternal: his heroes are heroes of love. In a cosmos governed by lust, strife, and war, the loving deeds of our Homeric heroes stand [...]

The Ancient Hebrew Roots of the Christian Logos

By |2020-01-10T00:43:14-06:00January 9th, 2020|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Christianity, Classics, Great Books, Senior Contributors|

Though originally a Jew, St. John was clearly a Hellenized Jew who might have taken his own concepts from either the pagans or the Jews. As he describes the Incarnate Word in his Gospel, the Incarnation resembles most closely the Memra of the Jews. As I discussed in my previous essay, the Pagan Logos [...]

The Pagan Roots of the Christian Logos

By |2020-01-10T09:38:29-06:00January 7th, 2020|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Christian Humanism, Christianity, Cicero, Classics, Great Books, Liberal Learning, Virgil|

Any understanding of human dignity in the twenty-first century demands an understanding of the Judeo-Christian Logos (Memra in Hebrew). Without it, there is only chaos and darkness, dispiritedness and confusion, blackness and the abyss. One only has to witness the evil sown by the attempted coup against the Judeo-Christian Logos in the last century [...]

The Travels of Jonathan Swift

By |2020-01-08T10:45:46-06:00January 6th, 2020|Categories: Books, Great Books, History, Jonathan Swift, Paul Krause, Senior Contributors|

John Stubbs should be commended for his biography of the great Anglo-Irish satirist and clergyman. The work is not merely a biography; it is also an account that details the turbulence of the times in which Jonathan Swift lived, painting lively portraits of the many figures and personalities with whom he interacted. Jonathan Swift: The [...]

Deal Hudson on How to Keep From Losing Your Mind

By |2019-12-31T22:07:45-06:00December 31st, 2019|Categories: Books, Classical Education, Classics, Great Books, Liberal Learning|

In his new book, “How to Keep From Losing Your Mind,” Deal W. Hudson sets out to not merely defend—in a traditional and philosophical sense—Western thought but also to share the beauty of culture and the approach he took as he was writing, namely that of “a mounting sense of joy.” How to Keep [...]

Plato on Wealth, Poverty, and the Conditions of Happiness

By |2020-01-06T17:39:58-06:00December 29th, 2019|Categories: Community, Conservatism, Plato, Political Philosophy, Politics, Rights|

At least since the time of the ancient philosopher Plato, private property rights have posed challenges to those aspiring to craft a just political society. During the nascent years of American civilization, the Pilgrim settlers of the New Plymouth Plantation followed a partly Platonic model of a commonwealth. The survival of their settlement, they [...]

Kant’s Imperative

By |2019-12-29T14:20:10-06:00December 29th, 2019|Categories: Culture, E.B., Ethics, Eva Brann, Immanuel Kant, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, Philosophy, Reason, Senior Contributors, St. John's College, Virtue|

What makes freedom possible is beyond all knowing, but what makes the moral law possible is freedom itself. The fact that we have a faculty of freedom is the critical ground of the possibility of morality. I have called this lecture “Kant’s Imperative” so that I might begin by pointing up an ever-intriguing circumstance. [...]

The Face of Love: Beatrice as Type of Christ

By |2019-12-12T12:22:40-06:00December 18th, 2019|Categories: Christianity, Dante, Great Books, Heaven, Imagination, Literature, Love, Paul Krause, Senior Contributors|

Throughout “Paradiso,” Beatrice is Dante’s companion, his light in the darkness, his first fruit guide to Divine Love itself. Dante is transfigured and transformed in Beatrice’s presence and through Beatrice’s wisdom. In this way, she mirrors the typological and sacramental reality of the messiah. Dante sees Beatrice, but hears Love itself in her voice [...]

The Enduring Legend of “Antigone”

By |2019-12-16T11:53:37-06:00December 16th, 2019|Categories: Books, E.B., Eva Brann, Great Books, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, Sophocles, St. John's College|

Greek myths have had an unbroken authority over the imagination of the West, and among them the Antigone legend is paramount in both shaping and expressing the moral constitution of Western humanity. Antigones, by George Steiner (Clarendon Press, 1984; Oxford Paperback, 1986; 328 pages) Anyone who has reread the Antigone about as often as is [...]

Petrarch on Seeking the Ideal

By |2019-12-16T11:10:36-06:00December 16th, 2019|Categories: Great Books, Imagination, Louis Markos, Love, Petrarch, Poetry, Senior Contributors, Wisdom|

Keep climbing, my friends of the future; though the ideal elude you, do not give up on the journey. Others before you have stuck to the path and found their way out of the Cave and into the glorious light of the Beatific Vision. Author’s Introduction: Imagine if Homer, Virgil, Dante, Chaucer, and the other [...]

The Unexamined Life

By |2019-12-15T20:38:29-06:00December 15th, 2019|Categories: Civilization, Community, Compassion, Culture, George Stanciu, Philosophy, Senior Contributors, Socrates|

Twenty-four centuries after his death, the words of Socrates can still unsettle an attentive listener. However, before we can understand his most famous dictum, we must clear away who we are not to grasp who we are—something only done when we are grounded in the fundamental relationships that are universal to humankind. Probably, the [...]

How to Think about God: A Pagan “Mere Christianity”

By |2019-12-14T16:06:27-06:00December 14th, 2019|Categories: Books, Bradley J. Birzer, Christianity, Cicero, Culture, Great Books, Religion, Senior Contributors, Western Civilization|

Princeton University Press’s most recent volume, “How to Think About God,” is a handbook of paganism, an antique “Mere Christianity.” While none of its wisdom will get you to Heaven, it will certainly help you lead a better and more fulfilling life here and now. Over the last several years, Princeton University Press has [...]

Ascending the Mountain of Love

By |2019-12-12T01:49:38-06:00December 11th, 2019|Categories: Christianity, Dante, Great Books, Imagination, Literature, Love, Paul Krause, Senior Contributors|

“Here let death’s poetry arise to life, / O Muses sacrosanct whose liege I am! / And let Calliope rise up and play / her sweet accompaniment in the same strain / that pierced the wretched magpies with the truth / of unforgivable presumptuousness.” Thus was Dante’s opening prayer as he entered Purgatory and [...]

Chaucer on Self-Delusion

By |2019-12-11T00:34:05-06:00December 9th, 2019|Categories: Geoffrey Chaucer, Great Books, Imagination, Louis Markos, Poetry, Wisdom|

There is perhaps no spell stronger or more lasting than self-delusion. Who among us cannot see the hypocrisy in others; how few of us can see the hypocrisy in ourselves. Author’s Introduction: Imagine if Homer, Virgil, Dante, Chaucer, and the other great poets of ancient Greece, Rome, and the Middle Ages had been given [...]