I enjoy debate. I have this insane notion that I don’t know everything that there is to know, and I thrive on conversation with multiple people who can reasonably or imaginatively argue their stance on a question. Although I finished my PhD a dozen years ago, I’m struggling with this recent discovery that the world is not like graduate school. People are threatened when you disagree. Or they silence you. Or they hate you, which is so weird to me, that I cannot grasp it. The energy that it takes to hate does not feel worth it ever—despite how cruel some folks have treated me or those I love. What’s the solution? Reading more Dostoevsky novels? Maybe a thousand pages of polyphony and disagreement over the existence of God and the demonic would cure people of their thin skin (by the way, here’s my convo with John Miller on Crime and Punishment). Or Chris Beha’s The Index of Self- Destructive Acts, what a polyphonic novel, set in our contemporary cosmos, dealing with people who make huge mistakes. I don’t know. I’m open to suggestions. After all, I have a lot to learn.
If you haven’t seen my latest book cover, I’m ecstatic about it. Learning the Good Life is available for preorder. While my favorite bookstore is Eighth Day Books, they carry my previous four titles. You’ll have to bug Warren about adding my new ones (The Scandal of Holiness also comes out in March 2022). Recently I posted a Hail Mary pass to find funds to cover the permissions for this project. We applied for a grant, so I appreciate your prayers over this good work that it may receive those funds. When I die, can I stipulate that publishers not ask for permissions costs but encourage people to donate to churches and classical schools in my honor?
I’m so grateful for the classical school movement—even though founding and governing a school has been among the most challenging calls I’ve accepted. If you have not seen the new course on the Black Intellectual Tradition and the Great Conversation by my friends Angel Adams Parham (UVA) and Anika Prather, then you must check it out. I’ve had the privilege to speak on several panels with these two scholars over the past year and learned much. Both of them contributed to Learning the Good Life (above).
Unfortunately, when Angel and I spoke at the CiRCE Conference in Charleston, I contracted Covid-19. I survived after only a handful of days in bed (I’m grateful for the vaccine), but it was heartbreaking to be without my kids for so long. Thankfully, I was still able to hold conversations with friends about great books, including talking to Jenn Frey at Sacred and Profane Love about A Confederacy of Dunces, which I also wrote about in Public Discourse; discussing Love in the Ruins on the Catholic Culture Cast (had no idea that was being visually recorded), and most recently, Andy Crouch joined me on The Liberating Arts to innovate ways of reimagining liberal arts education (that should go live this week, if you subscribe to our podcast).
Upcoming Events: My August was booked with professional development at classical schools. In September, I will be speaking in Colorado Springs—at a castle!—on our redeemed imagination. There may still be spots, if you’d like to join me.
Until next month, feel free to email me about what you’re reading, ask for book recommendations, or come join me at the University of Dallas for a course on the Bible and how Christians should read, starting Fall 2021.