Dr. Glenn C. Arbery is President of Wyoming Catholic College. He is the author of Why Literature Matters (2001) and the editor of two volumes, The Tragic Abyss (2004) and, most recently, The Southern Critics: An Anthology (2010).

Horseman and Poet

By |2019-04-14T16:26:48-05:00April 13th, 2019|

This morning, I had the privilege of speaking to the entire student body and faculty of Portsmouth Abbey School on the eastern shore of Narragansett Bay, nine or ten miles north of Newport, Rhode Island. My topic was “why literature matters,” but my emphasis was on the way that identity politics ruins both literature [...]

Tolkien, Lewis, and the Need for Literary Realism

By |2019-04-06T22:40:38-05:00April 6th, 2019|

J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis tempt us to escape to a self-evidently numinous world rather than to seek out the texture of wonder in this one. What we need is an unsparing literary realism—literature without recourse to fantasy, literature in which talking trees do not come to the rescue. It’s quiet at Wyoming Catholic [...]

I Call You Friends

By |2019-03-21T15:08:02-05:00March 21st, 2019|

What exactly is friendship? It’s a crucial question, one of the most important any of us will ever face—personally, politically, or theologically. But when do we ever, as adults, get a chance to think such a question through, especially in a context that allows friendship to blossom? In the ancient world, friendship was a high [...]

Up From Entitlement

By |2019-03-16T23:33:37-05:00March 16th, 2019|

Lent is an extended occasion for us to re-examine characteristic and mostly unconscious feelings of “entitlement,” that buzzword of our day... Lent is once again upon us—and not a moment too soon. When Ash Wednesday comes, even mild fasting and abstinence wake us up and reveal all kinds of things we have taken for granted. [...]

Remembering To Be

By |2019-02-25T10:40:37-05:00February 24th, 2019|

“Forgetfulness of being”—perhaps we could also call it “forgetfulness of givenness”—underlies most of the problems that we face. To forget being means to forget how astonishing it is that anything exists at all... Today’s offering in our Timeless Essay series affords our readers the opportunity to join Glenn Arbery, as he ponders the wonder of [...]

Horizons of Wonder

By |2019-01-26T22:53:05-05:00January 26th, 2019|

All through the 1960s, my generation had been riveted by the space race started by President Kennedy. But what the astronauts accomplished on Christmas Eve of 1968 left us awestruck, and I remember it not as a moment of victory in the space race, but as an opening of religious wonder on that Christmas [...]

Pull Down Thy Vanity

By |2018-12-22T00:50:21-05:00December 21st, 2018|

There is something essentially comic about vanity. I ran into the phenomenon recently at the local fitness center where I have a membership. Everyone, I suspect, has seen the type: he lifts weights, often with a lot of noise, and he scorns machines like the treadmill or the elliptical trainer, much less — are [...]

We Will Give Thanks

By |2018-11-21T19:44:10-05:00November 21st, 2018|

For most of us, Thanksgiving gives rise to some of the best memories of childhood, perhaps because the day is not complicated by the dramatic rituals and more profound emotions of other holidays. For my family in Georgia and South Carolina, Thanksgiving was the occasion when all my aunts and uncles and all my cousins [...]

Civility and Noblesse Oblige

By |2018-11-13T14:08:15-05:00November 12th, 2018|

Noblesse oblige is more than merely being civil. In a Christian context, it treats those less talented or less fortunate without a show of superiority because it recognizes that they, too, are made in the image and likeness of God… What it means to be “civil” has undergone severe scrutiny lately. Hillary Clinton, for [...]

Reason and Its Usurpers

By |2018-10-13T01:14:45-05:00October 12th, 2018|

The clashes of contemporary political life can alienate anyone, but this is not the time to withdraw from the fight. As recent events clearly show, the most hopeful signs sometimes come from the places we least expect.  This past week has been a watershed in American political life—or so we are told. After the confirmation [...]

The Cave and the Consumer

By |2019-02-27T10:20:50-05:00October 6th, 2018|

Whether the wisest should rule has always been a vexed question, largely because the wisest are least likely to seek (or be granted) the power and prominence that accompany the highest position. But even being educated—simply knowing more or seeing with greater depth—can lead to friction in a democratic society. The great 19th-century convert, Orestes [...]

The Last Infinity

By |2018-09-25T23:24:57-05:00September 25th, 2018|

Is it worth it to try to do great things in business or politics or art or education—or even the Church? Recently, when I was reflecting on honor and fame as praiseworthy ambitions for our students, I ended with a famous quotation from Milton’s “Lycidas,” where Milton speaks of fame as the “spur” of the [...]

Honor and Fame

By |2018-09-17T21:57:03-05:00September 17th, 2018|

Should honor and fame no longer be ends of ambition in such a world? The ancient philosophers doubted the ultimate merit of fame, but they also looked for the most spirited students, those most inclined to “undertake extensive and arduous enterprises"... In response to my essay about baptizing ambition, a friend from Boston College recommended [...]

Baptizing Ambition

By |2019-02-25T14:38:11-05:00September 3rd, 2018|

Those who truly seek to bring about the good also have to be ambitious for power, just not for their personal satisfaction, but for the greater good; they need to “baptize” their strong personal drive and accept power when it comes so that they can root out mediocrity and accomplish what actually needs doing... On [...]