• Neither Modern nor Post-Modern: Newman on Certitude

    Our reasoning might be user-relative, but truth is not itself relative. Our path to truth is only as subjects who seek it out from particular perspectives, but we must reject what C. S. Lewis later called “the poison of subjectivism” which posits that there are only perspectives and no full picture to which those perspectives attach.

  • The Importance of Being Inadequate

    “I don’t know, I guess opera’s just not my thing,” I concluded, slouching against the wall of the music building hallway. After travelling across the state to Western Michigan University for a vocal competition, I’d sung some operatic repertoire for a panel of judges. Later in the day I received feedback from the judges, confirming, in part, what my teacher had been telling me for weeks.

  • Tradition and Authority in Luigi Giussani’s Educational Method

    It’s more authentic to stand before a young person and humbly say, “I’ve found something I’m eager to share with you, and I want to provoke you to go on your own journey for the truth,” than to implicitly or explicitly deny that teachers, mentors, and other role models are speaking from tradition with authority. This kind of authority—the kind that loves the mystery of each human so much that it wants to guide each soul in the use of the great gift of freedom—is not a burdensome imposition. Rather, it’s a helping hand on the arduous journey of knowing one’s own purpose and place in the world.

  • “Thoughts that Wound from Behind:” Literary Allusions as Pedagogical Opportunities

    Dante places the ancient hero Ulysses into the eighth circle of hell. A fraudulent counselor of war, deception, and exploration beyond the bounds of God’s law, Ulysses suffers eternal encasement in flame. But Tennyson’s poem, great in its own right, calls Dante’s judgment into question. The tension between these two poems – one epic, one lyrical – gets at the very question of the meaning of life.