Unless they acknowledge a divine transcendence, our universities, like our culture at large, are sentenced to pointless “debate,” full of sound and fury, no matter how free our speech is. The marketplace of ideas alone cannot save education.
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.
Mark Hall’s new book adduces solid evidence to dispel many contemporary myths concerning religion and the American founding. Let us finally be done with false claims that the founders were deists, or that they were hostile to religion and wanted to exclude it from public life.
A new book argues that fundraising is not an independent activity external to the purpose of a non-profit, but an integral part of the existence and mission of the organization. Rather than becoming a class of experts, fundraisers should be well-formed persons and citizens, who can learn the craft of fundraising and practice it in a manner that supports rather than undermines the free and relational nature of civil society.
We stewards of the western tradition have good answers for what makes life worth living. If only we could be imaginative enough to give new voice to those ancient truths and avoid the stultifying fate of pampered souls.
There are reasons to care which denizens of the wasteland hold political authority, but rejuvenating the wasteland is the more important task. Without recognizing the decadence of our culture, denouncing (or defending) the latest tweet from the president is just a desultory wind swirling dust and ashes.
In her new book, Mary Eberstadt argues that today’s identity politics arose from the deep anthropological wound slit open by the sexual revolution. The ascent of identity politics reveals that people are having an identity crisis, and they are having an identity crisis because the sexual revolution resulted in family—and, by extension, individual—breakdown.
Father Theodore Hesburgh was a dedicated priest and a leader who possessed enormous ambition, charm, intelligence, and dedication. But for all his many gifts, Father Hesburgh lacked the vision and imagination necessary to realize the goal of making Notre Dame into a great Catholic university in the modern world.
Don’t delay your life. Don’t wait until you get a job, then tenure, to do the normal things that make life sweet, like marrying and having children. Remember the time-worn observation: “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” Professors who build their career around their own ego and cutthroat ambition tend to shrivel into something you don’t want to be.
As you enter into the medical profession, I encourage you to “start with the end in mind” by studying the Hippocratic Oath. The oath articulates the true aim of medicine, guiding physicians to provide treatments that align with the purpose of medicine and so are right for a doctor to do, and to refuse to provide treatments that go against this purpose and are wrong for a doctor to do.
New teachers need concrete examples from their teaching communities to help them manage their classrooms well and begin building experience and expertise. Returning teachers need opportunities for discussion within their communities to help them reflect on the experience and expertise they have already gained.
Law students shouldn’t be content with shallow conceptions of law. Instead, they should look deeper, asking questions about the nature and destiny of the human person, and the connection between our human nature and the legal enterprise.
Some prejudices are good to have, some are bad, some are indifferent. Acquiring an education is learning to discriminate the good prejudices one carries about from the bad ones—to keep the former, as confirmed by knowledge, and discard the latter, as condemned by knowledge.
If questions of ultimate meaning and purpose are shuttled to the side, as they are in so many of our schools and colleges, the various disciplines and domains of knowledge can never attain a unifying vision.
John Hughes’s classic film, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, confronts current schemes of “free college” with a perennial human problem: What is God calling you to do?
With the help of memes, ironic satire has upended public morality, and without sound morals, hyperbole and reality, irony and sincerity, become indistinguishable.
David Novak is the only prominent Jewish natural law thinker in the world today. His work will be essential for that part of the Orthodox Jewish community that wishes to engage with our changing culture. In particular, for a defense of Orthodox Judaism in the modern world, it matters immensely that we understand the Jewish view of sex and sexuality to be a matter of mishpat, in the rational realm, the realm of natural law.
The cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris is not simply an illustration in an architectural history textbook whose value is limited to documenting a style that was popular between 1190 and 1425. Rather, it is evidence of a way of conceiving and making buildings embedded in a culture and a religious faith that retains a hold on our imaginations and affections.
Wilfred McClay rightly senses that part of our current political confusion results from a lack of a common historical narrative, an ability to talk about the American past coherently. In our current moment there is thus a need to recapture important stories and narratives about America.
Mayor de Blasio’s policies keep New York City kids trapped in violent, chronically failing schools.
As George Eliot’s Silas Marner illustrates, the reason parental love can change a person is that it requires constant self-sacrifice. But could this story take place today? It seems far more plausible that a lonely man like Silas would retreat ever more into solitude, abated only by pornography, Tinder, and a loosely bound world of online connections.
The Handmaid’s Tale is at best a thought-provoking literary work, and at worst a straw-man argument against traditionalism and conservative values. Atwood fails to deliver an intelligent critique of conservative Christian values, and her book does not reach the caliber of Orwell’s tales.
Members of Back Row America are rooted in a particular neighborhood or town that they do not want to abandon in pursuit of the American Dream. Or they are churchgoing Christians who find hope in their faith. But neither place nor faith is part of the mental geography of the Front Row.
Degrading our sense of nationhood by degrading national symbols will not end inequality or injustice. It will only move us closer to a state in which the government can no longer function, because the people behind it no longer perceive themselves all together to be part of a nation with a common purpose.
One might expect a book by Ben Shapiro to be about the task of “owning the libs” or “drinking liberal tears.” In fact, the reader comes away with a starkly different impression. In The Right Side of History, Shapiro argues that the cultural and political malaise of contemporary America is due to its being severed from its Judeo-Christian roots.
Faced with a national educational disaster that permanently cripples so many of America’s neediest children’s life chances, it is not “anti-public school” to advocate for voucher experiments. It is true to our republican aspirations to enable at least some of these kids the chance to attend a private school.