Immediacy: The Ways of Humanity

By |2019-03-11T23:39:09-05:00March 11th, 2019|

Opposition to greatness comes from the kind of irrational irritation that made the Athenians ostracize Aristides because they were tired of hearing him called "the Just," or from egalitarian resentment, or from fear of the demands things of quality make on us... I want to steal four minutes of my talking time to speak of [...]

Killing Socrates: The Death of a Great Books Program

By |2019-03-09T09:22:14-05:00March 8th, 2019|

Few people know that in the early 1970s a “great books” program, founded by John Senior and two other professors, flourished at a large state university in the midwest. Even fewer know of its slow demise. Editor’s Note: Robert Carlson was a student and friend of John Senior, one of three founders of the [...]

Why Read Old (Pagan) Books?

By |2018-12-30T11:08:24-05:00December 30th, 2018|

Today’s offering in our Timeless Essay series affords our readers the opportunity to join Jason Baxter, as he considers why Christians should read the works of the pagans. —W. Winston Elliott III, Publisher At the end of each semester, I inevitably have one or two well-meaning students who are still unsure why they were asked [...]

Poetry? What Is It Good For?

By |2019-02-18T02:38:42-05:00December 20th, 2018|

Poetry is a paradox. It is the most complex and inimitable expression of thought and consciousness, but it is also the most natural and ancient. Although a form of oral and written tradition that has persisted throughout the years, poetry is dismissed as unnecessary and impractical in literary education… A decline in English majors at universities [...]

Myth, Satire, and Lucian’s “True History”

By |2018-12-14T00:54:27-05:00December 12th, 2018|

For the ancient myth-maker, there is something at the heart of all of human events that is worth preserving, something marvelous and worthy of renown, even if the account is not entirely true to life… The second-century satirist, Lucian of Samosata, makes the following inflammatory statement in his True History: [Historical accounts] are intended to [...]

Classical Education and the Future of Civilization

By |2018-11-23T23:19:54-05:00November 23rd, 2018|

We live in a pathetically dumbed-down culture. Levels of literacy and numeracy plummet and levels of ignorance rise. Knowledge of the past disappears, its lessons unlearned, as the present shows its contempt for the wisdom of the ages and its sages. In short and in sum, and to put the matter bluntly, we live [...]

“Othello” and the Devil Inside

By |2018-11-17T22:38:30-05:00November 17th, 2018|

In Othello, William Shakespeare, the philosopher of everyday life, holds up a mirror to us and shows us what human beings are capable of. Beneath our most pleasantly cultivated exterior, there often lurks a serpent… William Hazlitt is widely recognized as one of the greatest of Shakespearean critics. Yes, there is Dr. Johnson; yes, [...]

What English Professors Want: Confessions & Advice for Students

By |2018-11-02T10:02:49-05:00November 2nd, 2018|

Did you know that your words not only explain the things you want to communicate, but that your words also tell people things about you personally? When I began teaching almost 15 years ago, this time of year was often hectic for me and my students. Many of my nicest and brightest students could [...]

Questions Are Better Than Answers: On the Socratic Method

By |2018-09-11T22:08:17-05:00September 11th, 2018|

The end of liberal education is not the learning of settled truths, and the inculcation of useful habits for obtaining useful goods, but the perfection of the human as human, not, primarily, as worker, citizen, or even believer... While people with backgrounds more religious and those with more secular mindsets may disagree about what gives [...]

Walking Into Wisdom

By |2018-08-27T21:30:40-05:00August 27th, 2018|

There's a pace to reading that corresponds to walking, and probably to thought itself; the followers of Aristotle are called the “peripatetics,” a word that means “those who walk to and fro”... At the end of this week, the fifty-two new freshmen at Wyoming Catholic College descend from the mountains where they have spent the [...]

A Double Challenge for the Church

By |2018-08-25T00:14:40-05:00August 25th, 2018|

Traditional Catholic liberal arts education faces two major challenges right now: 1) the massive redirection of higher education per se away from any serious consideration of God; and 2) the corruption in the Church. The former challenge has been with us for a long time, with some recent twists, and so has the latter—but it’s [...]

Can the Humanities Save Us?

By |2018-08-10T22:22:29-05:00August 10th, 2018|

I was recently asked by a student group at my university to participate in a panel discussion about the humanities. Having been asked the rather loaded question, “why are the humanities needed more now than ever?,” the panelists were expected to defend the humanities, presumably against some charges or enemies that are particularly contemporary. But [...]

Other People’s Truths

By |2018-11-21T08:38:38-05:00August 6th, 2018|

One of our most remarkable capabilities is our power of at once being and not being in a certain condition. It gives us a way to do justice both to self-avowed fictions and to other people’s truths... Our country’s three major religions, in order of their entry into time, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, are scriptural. To adhere to [...]

In Defense of the Humanities

By |2019-03-11T14:08:22-05:00July 10th, 2018|

Any talk of saving culture, or restoring culture, begins with a defense of the humanities. Any hope of cultural revival equally begins with a re-emergence of the humanities. Any hope to truly celebrate—though not uncritically—the human person rests with being drenched in the dewfall of the humanities… There is a major revolution occurring in [...]