What if religious and conservative higher education ceased speaking about marriage and family life as an accomplishment and began to treat marriage and children as that which enable human flourishing and a meaningful future?
Pillar: <span>Education & Culture</span>
The fourth pillar, education and culture, is built upon the recognition of two essential realities. First, the Western intellectual tradition requires a dedication to and desire for truth. Second, education takes place not only within colleges and universities but within our broader culture, whose institutions and practices form us as whole persons.
If people are more than wage-earners, then they must see that all of life is not about the practical activity of getting ahead. If they are more than political actors, then we must have education that is not expressly political. In other words, if we want to “do justice” to the total human condition, we must explore all the things that comprise the liberal arts: religion, philosophy, art, music, and literature.
Nicholas Mathieu’s novel And Their Children After Them shows the effects of globalization and progressive idealism on a de-industrialized French town. Comparisons between Mathieu’s story and JD Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy offer insight into rural poverty and populism in France and America.
Whatever your raw intelligence, whatever your background, what you have control over, and therefore what you should focus on, is your actions. The cure for impostor syndrome is to do what intellectuals do, and you’ll become an intellectual.
The Netflix adaptation of The Queen’s Gambit and the original version are based on two radically different visions of the human person. They bring the reader or viewer to one of two endpoints: either we recognize the importance of making the best choices and inherit a position of moral responsibility, or we face the despair of living in a world without moral agency.
Given the Church’s unequivocal endorsement of prayer before the Eucharist, and given that Masses are underway again in most dioceses, churches should be reopened for the private prayer of the faithful.
Dipping into Shakespeare’s plays from time to time was unsatisfying; I grew ambitious to read all of his works. Yet how to proceed through it all? Some eight years ago, I resolved to make my own daily reading plan for moving through all of Shakespeare’s works in a year. Here, I present the 2021 version.
The Christmas message is one of joy, even “great joy,” but not superficial joy. Christmas confronts us with the sobering claim that humankind is in a state of sin—a state from which we cannot save ourselves. Hence the need for a savior, and hence the joyful Christian claim that God himself offers the salvation by coming to live among us.
In “The God in the Cave,” G.K, Chesterton explains that when Christians celebrate the Nativity, they are celebrating an event that changed the course of history and permanently transformed the DNA of human society.
Offered daily through the liturgical prayer of the Church, the Magnificat invites every Christian, through Jesus, to see the Holy Spirit in the rare expression of the woman from whose flesh our Savior took his own. The Magnificat is Mary in her own words. It inspires study and imitation of the scriptures by presenting Mary as a gift and invitation, a mother of prayer and listening for all.
Reading recommendations from The Witherspoon Institute staff.
The film “Klaus” is a tale of political refounding that tells of our need for a common good based in common loves. It shows how a political order can mold souls, whether for good or for ill.
Mary’s fiat is a magnanimous expression of receptivity and gratitude, rather than revolt. It is a humble and even joyous reception of something given that she did not choose: God’s will. In the broader cultural sense, adopting Mary’s receptivity would entail a thankful and receptive attitude towards a rich cultural patrimony, inherited tradition, and indeed given nature.
An education in the liberal arts is one that teaches students to love what is true, good, and beautiful. It frees the soul and makes those who have received it want to pass that freedom on to others.
Perhaps what unites the books that I’ve dragged my feet about reading is that they are Big Books, long and serious works of great literary merit. These require an investment of one’s time and energy, representing a reader’s marathon. There is no training for these marathons, of course. One must simply plunge in.
The problem France is facing with radical Islamism is not separatism, but conquest. To fight Islamic terror, France needs to recall the Christian roots of her culture and robustly defend them.
In the current moment, we critique and demand, but from a negation; we know—or some think they know—what they don’t want, but it is quite unclear if they know what they do want. And since they have rejected moral norms it is impossible for them to give a rational justification for their wants and dislikes. Theirs is an exercise of will, for they have exorcised the logos, and mere will—willfulness—remains.
Love in the Ruins speaks to our present moment in the United States like few other books. Most important is what Percy has to teach us about the dangers of moral superiority, ideological idealism, and the capacity of intellectual humility and hard work for achieving genuine progress.
The sermons, political speeches, and protests about America’s origin rely on harmful myths. This is true not only of the 1619 Project’s, but also the traditional view of the Pilgrims. The task of history, however, ought to replace myth with the far more compelling chronicles of human complexity.
Marilynne Robinson’s “Jack” dives deep into the protagonist’s mind in order, paradoxically, to show how our lives mean things that are only apparent to other people. She depicts Jack’s redemption as something that occurs partly outside his conscious awareness. By giving us Jack’s consciousness illuminated but not wholly transformed by his wife Della’s love, Robinson achieves an artistic analogue to forgiveness.
I have called books and authors “friends,” and that they are. Aristotle tells us the highest form of friendship is that which aims at another’s good as though it were one’s own, for in truth it is indistinguishable from one’s own. We reread our favorite books in gratitude, not only for the repeated pleasure of the experience but to know once again the good that our old friends have selflessly done us.
Thirty-five years ago, New York University professor of communications Neil Postman predicted the political and social implosion we have witnessed in 2020. We must learn to dominate digital media technology, lest it dominate us. Otherwise, we may very well amuse ourselves, and our polis, to death.
If we combine the beauty of art and the power of narrative with rational argument, we can convince people of the worthiness of marriage and family life more effectively than by argument alone. Anna Karenina is an example of how to do this. It beckons the reader to choose the better path, contrasting the destructive adultery of Vronsky and Anna with Levin and Kitty’s enchanting journey into the life of married love.
The uniting of differing spheres of excellence is a hallmark of John Henry Newman’s fully fleshed out idea of a university. What young men and women most need is adults in their midst who joyfully embody integration, integration of the parts of knowledge and integration of the intellectual, moral, and spiritual dimensions of human existence.
We often assume that unity is the norm in human affairs, and strife the exception. But a cold-eyed view of history suggests the reverse. Unity is what needs the special cause, and today we lack the cause.