Liberal Learning

Joseph Priestly, School Lessons, and Liberty in Grammar

By |2020-01-18T11:12:13-06:00January 17th, 2020|Categories: Culture, Education, Language, Western Civilization, Writing|

I did not become an English professor because of my early public education—but despite it. The standards advocated in the public schools pose a danger to our English-speaking world, and losing our language, or our ability to remake it, is indistinguishable from the diminishment of our Western civilization. Like most American children who attended [...]

Can We Save Our Dying English Departments?

By |2020-01-17T15:07:00-06:00January 16th, 2020|Categories: David Deavel, Education, Humanities, Literature, Senior Contributors|

We’ve been dumping Shakespeare, Milton, and Eliot in favor of the latest, trendy lesbian poet or controversial rapper. And then we wonder why fewer and fewer college students are majoring in English. What can be done to renew and revive our English departments in this age of political correctness? Q. What’s the difference between [...]

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 [...]

Of What Value Is a Dead Language?

By |2020-01-09T14:58:16-06:00January 8th, 2020|Categories: Books, Culture, Education, Michael De Sapio, Senior Contributors, Western Civilization, Western Tradition|

The prestige of studying classical languages like Latin and Greek is greatly eroded today. This is no mystery; but how did we get to this point? Linguist Nicholas Ostler, in his book Ad Infinitum: A Biography of Latin, chronicles how Latin remained the one constant during the growth of Western culture. The claims he [...]

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 [...]

Eva Brann on Happiness and Learning

By |2020-01-06T23:37:45-06:00January 6th, 2020|Categories: Classics, E.B., Happiness, Liberal Learning, St. John's College|

There is a moment in every class when students’ eyes light up, or go wide, and they have a moment where it clicks and makes sense, where you can see they are learning something that they will never forget—these are the very highlights for Eva Brann, longtime tutor at St. John's College, Annapolis. It was [...]

Remembering the Virtues

By |2019-12-30T10:47:46-06:00January 1st, 2020|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Culture, Education, Ethics, Senior Contributors, Virtue|

The virtues are rooted in nature, in creation, and in God’s will for us. They can be forgotten, mocked, or distorted, but, being real and true and beautiful, they can never be conquered. It was once true, unfortunately, that history was written by the victors. Now, it seems, we’ve gone terribly far in 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 [...]

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. [...]

Some Advice to Fellow Lovers of Liberal Learning

By |2019-12-26T16:02:58-06:00December 26th, 2019|Categories: E.B., Education, Eva Brann, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, Liberal Arts, Liberal Learning, St. John's College|

A preliminary function of a liberal education must be to serve as a purgative, a cleansing, of those who wish to be free. By its means we can cleanse ourselves of our undigested and unconscious prejudices. When it first came home to me that I would not be a tutor at the Graduate Institute [...]

A Jeffersonian Model of Citizenship

By |2019-12-18T16:59:48-06:00December 18th, 2019|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, Citizen, Citizenship, Civil Society, Labor/Work, Liberal Learning, Thomas Jefferson|

The assumptions linked to the more deliberative, publicly responsible model of citizenship, though utopian and far-fetched at least within the perspective of modern, western society, can be thought of in a way that makes them seem more practical. Thomas Jefferson, for example, believed both that good government was possible only when those who governed [...]

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 [...]

Why America Is in Decline… and What to Do About It

By |2019-12-15T20:40:41-06:00December 15th, 2019|Categories: American Republic, Community, Education, Journalism, Western Civilization|

A nation-state as old, and as large in territory, as the United States will experience in its old-age problems we associate with the elderly: loss of memory, preference for the past, reliance on creaky institutions that no longer work, limited income, and questions about the future. Our Constitution has logged 230 years since it was [...]