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 »

Uncredentialed Wonder

He has authored over a dozen books, written a syndicated newspaper column and countless essays and articles covering a broad range of subjects—sports, politics, mobsters, union thugs, cultural touchstones, booze, and blades of grass—all of it written in a smart, literate voice of the casual sophisticate who takes his subject, but not himself, seriously. Continue Reading »

Newman in the Modern Classroom

I really think learning should be optional, ma’am.” This statement comes from one of my ninth graders in response to yet another lecture of mine on how important it is for students to bring their literature books to class—a particular hurdle in my case because I teach at a military school. . . . . Continue Reading »

To Be a Christian College

In 1877 some concerned citizens of Wheaton, Illinois, decided that they needed to do something about the strange little college that stood in the midst of their town. It had been there since the early 1850s, first as a Wesleyan school called the Illinois Institute and then—reinvented by Jonathan . . . . Continue Reading »

Kierkegaard for Grownups

That extraordinary writer of stories about the “Christ-haunted” American South, Flannery O’Connor, was frequently asked why her people and plots were so often outlandish, even grotesque. She answered, “To the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you have to draw large and . . . . Continue Reading »

Remembering Robert Wood

I am at a Labor Day cookout in Finneytown, Ohio, and all the food has been eaten. Kids run around the yard playing a messy game of tee-ball as the sun dips below the horizon. Fluorescent pink plastic balls and bats fly everywhere. The adults sit lazily, and talk turns from mild state-of-the-nation . . . . Continue Reading »

Proposing Courtship

Anyone interested in improving relations between men and women today and tomorrow must proceed by taking a page from yesterday. For today’s tale regarding manhood and womanhood is, alas, both too brief and hardly edifying. True, as they multiply taboos on speech and gesture, our sexual harassment . . . . Continue Reading »

A Bible Fit for Children

In a famous passage from Science and the Modern World, Alfred North Whitehead gives this counsel to scholars in the various historical disciplines: “Do not chiefly direct your attention to those intellectual positions which [controversialists] feel it necessary explicitly to defend.” More . . . . Continue Reading »

The Achievement of Alasdair MacIntyre

Moral philosophers are caught in a peculiar paradox these days. On the one hand, their field is flourishing: No longer intimidated by the logical positivists (who denied truth to moral assertions except as expressions of likes and dislikes), thinkers as diverse as Iris Murdoch, Martha Nussbaum, and . . . . Continue Reading »