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Advice for Grad School Students

It took me five years of graduate school to realize that my study is a vocation. My thinking about this was prompted by finally reading A.G. Sertillanges’s The Intellectual Life, which along with Josef Pieper’s Leisure: The Basis of Culture and Elizabeth Corey’s “Learning in Love” make essential reading for anyone considering graduate work or a career in the intellectual world. Culling insights from those thinkers and from my own time in graduate school, I thought I would offer some thoughts for those beginning graduate school. Continue Reading »

Explosive Business in North Dakota

The “Official Portal for the North Dakota State Government” lists that commonwealth’s nicknames as the Peace Garden State, the Flickertail State (something to do with squirrels, evidently), and the Roughrider State. Most Americans know today’s North Dakota as the Fracking State, where fortunes are being made in the energy industry. Catholics in the United States may soon know North Dakota as the cutting edge of Catholic higher education reform. Continue Reading »

The Evangelical Academy

We were doing an interview on an NPR station, a kind of “point-counterpoint” thing. The other interviewee was a self-identified agnostic , and the topic was the rights of academic institutions to “discriminate” on the basis of religious beliefs. My dialogue partner was not overtly hostile to religion as such. Indeed he said some nice things about the school where I was president at the time. Fuller Seminary produces some excellent scholarship based on our religious convictions, he observed. But why do we hire only folks who subscribe to those convictions? Having religious beliefs is fine, he said. But for institutions to hire only faculty who subscribe to those beliefs is contrary to the principles of academic inquiry. Continue Reading »

For City Kids and City Neighborhoods

It’s commencement season and tens of thousands of students are graduating from inner-city Catholic elementary schools. As decades of empirical research have shown, these kids have a better chance of successfully completing high school and college, and are better prepared for life-after-the-classroom, than their peers attending government schools. These inner-city Catholic schools are “public schools” in the best sense of the term; they’re open to the public (not just to Catholics), and they serve a genuine public interest, the empowerment of the youthful poor. Continue Reading »

Against Great Books

For many years, traditionalist thinkers have promoted the teaching of a set of core texts—the “great books”—as a vital element of a liberal arts education during a time when demands for multiculturalism led to the dismantling of a number of traditional programs of study. In more . . . . Continue Reading »

A Philosopher in the Twilight

In his preface to the Philosophy of Right, Hegel famously remarks that the owl of Minerva takes flight only as dusk is falling, which is to say that philosophy comes only at the end of an age, far too late in the day to tell us how the world ought to be; it can at most merely ponder what already . . . . Continue Reading »

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