Thomas Smith, Don Briel, and Alasdair MacIntyre: New Programs in Old Universities

This video features an excellent panel discussion between Thomas Smith of Villanova, Don Briel of the Catholic Studies Department at the University of St. Thomas and Alasdair MacIntyre at Notre Dame.  Here they discuss new programs exploring theology, philosophy, literature, history, and other disciplines in an academic, integrated, and rigorous way.  The popularity of these programs rises exponentially every year.  And where are they gaining ground?  In the undergraduate world as well as amongst faculty who want to teach in such an environment, who want, as Thomas Smith says, "something unique, interesting, and necessary."   This panel discussion was part of the Center for Ethics and Culture Conference Joy in the Truth (2005).

Walks and Leisure

Overwhelmed these last few months by the amount of work I felt I had to do, I decided to consider serious ways to carve out time for leisure.  Here were my resolutions.

One month ago, I began walking to work.  At the end of a month, I find I sleep better and notice more--the kind of things I used to notice as catalogued in What's Around Me.

Last week, I set timers so that I would end work at a certain time, and then upon going home was allowed to work only forty more minutes.  At the end of one week, I found the important work had been accomplished.  In fact, the unimportant work had also been accomplished.  I was still returning tests and quizzes in less than a week.  I had even found one free evening to total all my grades.  And in the meantime, I wrote a paper, gathered music for Christ the King, attended a conference, got my house ready for guests, cleaned, listened to a novel, and got enough sleep.

So there you have it.  Leisure is indispensable.  Try it.

Debating Historical Moments

I am running three debates in the next week for my students who recently finished studying the "Glorious" Revolution.  I let them read James II's Declaration of Indulgence and sang them six Jacobite songs (Cam Ye O'er Frae France, Prince Charlie Stuart, Wae's Me For Prince Charlie, Bonny Moorhen, Will Ye No Come Back Again?, and the Skye Boat Song), so they got the Jacobite view as well.  The following site helped me prepare how to run the debates.  Part of the goal is to give time for the students to think seriously and carefully about arguments on the losing side.

These will be the resolutions:

1. The Act of Union (1707) will benefit Scotland.

2. The Act of Exclusion (1679) is justifiable.

3. The Act of Succession (1701) is justifiable.

Students will prepare to argue for or against the resolution, and then debate in the following day.

Educating for Resistance

Enjoy Wendell Berry's excellent commencement address at Bellarmine University.

Here is a great excerpt:

You will have to avoid thinking of yourselves as employable minds equipped with a few digits useful for pushing buttons. You will have to recover for yourselves the old understanding that you are whole beings inextricably and mysteriously compounded of minds and bodies.

You will have to understand that the logic of success is radically different from the logic of vocation. The logic of what our society means by “success” supposedly leads you ever upward to any higher-paying job that can be done sitting down. The logic of vocation holds that there is an indispensable justice, to yourself and to others, in doing well the work that you are “called” or prepared by your talents to do.

Christ the King at St. Paul's-Outside-the-Walls

A good idea . . . This time in 2006 I was in Rome at St. Paul's-Outside-the-Walls where an amazing event was going on. For the feast of Christ the King, the priests, choir, Knights of Malta, and parishioners had put together a kind of Lessons and Carols.  The readings were from both Old and New Testament.  The music was a mix of hymns, chant, and polyphony on the theme as Christ as King.  The readings ran the gamit--from Christ as the humilated King crowned with thorns (and music like Palestrina's Jesu Rex Admirabilis) to Christ Risen and Triumphant with Handel's Hallelujah Chorus.

Now that there are 51 weeks left to prepare for Christ the King 2011, this might be worth exploring.