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Pillar

Education & Culture

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.

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Faithfully living what we claim to believe as Catholic Christians shapes the future. And the fact is, we can no longer afford a sclerotic Church, a comfortable Church, a get-along Church. We need to be a confessing Church, not just in our diocesan structures, but in the pews and family homes of every parish.
As we enter the third year of the war, Western nations—with the U.S. in the lead—seem unwilling to get to the heart of the matter. Yes, Ukraine has miraculously survived, but this cannot be for long. We have deluded ourselves into thinking that a compromise with Russia is possible, but it is not. Vladimir Putin will not rest until Ukraine is either subjugated or eliminated. 
The post-conversion challenges facing Christians arose when they reentered society as baptized people and navigated the conflicts raised by their new convictions. This process demanded a culturally discerning spiritual life.
We must be clear that nothing in the search for the truth entails that we recede in any way from the surety that we have with us, now as ever, the standards for judging evil ends to be truly evil.   
The plight of the Palestinians is indeed a tragic one. Peace with their stronger neighbor will not come easily to them. Only a cessation of terrorism, of attacks on civilians, and of demonization of the Jewish people will enable them to make any substantial progress. Sad to say, the first steps may have to be taken by the Western elites who have learned to make anti-Semitism fashionable again, and have a great deal of unlearning to do. 
Conservative political action can, in fact, be a bulwark of counterrevolution. This is why Whittaker Chambers was a “conservative of the heart,” even if he did not consider himself a “conservative of the head.” In the final analysis, he was a witness to the permanent things.
Although one might find oneself disagreeing with Smith, as I have on occasion, one will be better for it. And I can say that with a clear conscience.  
Thomas Aquinas had an intellect fully alive. We might not share his title of Doctor of Humanity, but we have the same obligation: to cheerfully explore all, in service of all, for the good of all.
Religion is a basic good for all human beings everywhere, therefore religious freedom is a universal human right. It is neither unfair nor parochial, but a requirement of justice.
In an age of atomization, polarization, and powerful new AI technologies, we must recover a vision of intellectual friendship in which we share our lives and loves with each other, contemplate the highest truths together, and cultivate the neglected virtues of humility, generosity, and charity. 
It’s useful to heed the words of Gabriel Marcel when it comes to desire. To paraphrase his “Life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived,” perhaps we could instead say: “Desire is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived.” Girard himself refers to desire as a “mystery” on numerous occasions. I think he spent his entire life trying to understand that mystery.
If we were to adopt Yoram’s call for censorship in areas where I am calling for freedom of speech, I invite him—and you, gentle reader—to consider the following question: Would the result be anything other than the further entrenchment of current campus orthodoxies, and the further weakening of protection for dissent and dissenters?
Is there friction between the social proclivities generated by our liberal institutions and the demands of Christian faith and teaching? It is perfectly reasonable to argue that there is—though there may be fruitful interaction as well, in which the politics of freedom and the virtues of faith foster one another.
Give young Americans the story of literature from the Puritans to the Modernists. Make it a tradition and hand it down as an ingredient in their formation as citizens and tell them that they stand in the shadow of American greatness. This is not only a matter of knowledge and skill. It’s for their health. 
Eire’s absorbing and impeccably researched book invites us to at least ponder that alternative balancing act while reminding us of historian Ethan Shagan’s apposite observation that “every era is credulous, but they are credulous in different ways.”
Many academics, perhaps recognizing the extreme nature of such boycotts, justify them by caricaturing Israeli policies as comparable to Nazism. It is only by such extreme assertions that boycotts can justify themselves.
Perhaps the time has finally come for anti-Marxist professors to concede that the liberal theory of the university as a “neutral” forum is too far removed from reality to be feasible. Instead, anti-Marxist liberals and conservatives should be defending a theory of the university as an educational institution that has no choice but to uphold at least minimal standards of substantive decency.
Tom Holland raises many important questions about the connection between Christianity and contemporary Western civilization. All Westerners, be they Christian or not, would do well to consider his insights.
Instead of submitting to the “thin” proposal for medical professional identity formation now advocated by the medical educational establishment, we should encourage our learners to lean into the richness of the various religious moral and faith commitments that are already manifest in them as they enter the profession.
The recent election clearly shows that the Poland of today is no longer the Poland of the 1990s or even of the early 2010s. It raises the question whether Poles have sustained the kind of culture necessary to build a market society based on authentic freedom and the truth about the good, one with a robust civil society to support both the logic of the state and the logic of the market.
Actively cultivating civility in our relationships with those with whom we disagree is itself a crucial way of anticipating the kind of people we want to be when the end time appears.
Amid political polarization and concerns about declining social capital, local classical music associations are a bright spot for building humane and civil communities.
Writer Rachel Lu recently penned an essay in these pages that engages my book as an example of what she calls “anti-feminist” work. Lu draws some surprising conclusions about my book that, I think, are not representative of my work. She makes four overarching points to which I would like to respond.
There are no blackout curtains, only more or less obscurity to be overcome by the work of interpretation. Much of the burden of Hirsch’s two books is to describe the methods and account for the limitations of such work. The discussion is richly informed by linguistics and epistemology, governed by rigorous logic, and elegantly written.

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