Accessible Augustine: Beauty Ancient and New

I apologize for my infrequent blogging this month. Between travels, the flu, and some other work, I've been unable to write. In the meantime, here is the video of a talk I gave at St. William Catholic Church in Round Rock, Texas, on December 14th, 2013. The talk is a general introduction to Augustine's Confessions.  … [Read more...]

Something Remarkable in Steubenville

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I attended Franciscan University of Steubenville from 2001 to 2005; I used to play music most Thursday nights in the back room of the The Spot Bar, to a group of students. The "townies" stayed at the front end of the bar, segregated by class, custom, and self-importance. We shared the gross bathrooms. A stinky solidarity.I played two benefit concerts for The Harmonium Project this past October and, in the process, I got to know the core group of young visionaries working there. I saw their … [Read more...]

GUEST POST: How David Bentley Hart Censored My Review of His New Book at First Things

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NOTE: One thing I've always admired about First Things is its longstanding commitment to publishing the give-and-take between its writers and its readership (and many times these categories are mutually inclusive). It was shocking, then, to find out that Stephen Webb's recent review of David Bentley Hart's most recent book was edited, post-publication, to satisfy Hart's sensitive constitution. Factual corrections are one thing, but sentimental corrections are quite different. This i … [Read more...]

On Rigor

(The late David Foster Wallace's 2005 "This Is Water" Kenyon College commencement speech drones in my headphones and Rebel Without a Cause plays on mute in the corner; it is chilling to listen to DFW speak descriptively about suicide and I am arrogant to enough to find it all quite underwhelming, in a very comforting, soothing, and self-assuring way.)A young professor from Fordham showed up late to my talk in New York a month ago. He asked me a very serious question though, one of those … [Read more...]

Thoughts on Phil Robertson and Duck Dynasty

I like to watch TV, which is why I don't own one. Plus, I watch plenty of television shows online, so having a television would at this point interfere with my television watching. Needless to say, I've never watched a full Duck Dynasty episode, although some snippets here and there, a quick Google search, and not living under a rock give me a decent general impression.I started watching Survivor this past year and really like it. I also like Project Runway, although I was recently put off … [Read more...]

Fear, Jealousy, and Paranoia: We Love to Wrestle

There can be good clean fun in the political give and take. The sport of politics can be as enjoyable as any other hobby, snack, or professional wrestling. Debate is fun for some of us, and the pleasure we take is in the debate itself, not the issues. I'd rather be interesting than right, sometimes.So I have a hard time taking an absolute position against politics in toto. Politics can be okay. It depends.But these days things are not so innocent and it seems to be getting worse. A lot … [Read more...]

The Harmonium Project Must Fail

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The Harmonium Project is the name given to a group of students at Franciscan University of Steubenville (FUS) who have made a radical choice. They've decided to live in Steubenville, OH, not by chance, force, or unfortunate accident, they have decided live in a run-down, smoggy, depressed and dirty town that they could just as easily ignore from their privileged perch on a hill that preserves the University from the streets and the people of town.Frannies vs. Townies.These students see … [Read more...]

¡No le aflojes! (from Things and Stuff)

(My first book of essays — Things and Stuff — was published in 2011 as something of an experiment. The result was, in many ways, premature. This past weekend, at a talk I gave at St. William Catholic Church in Round Rock, Texas, I looked at it again and was surprised by its appeal. I think it outsold my Primer. Here is an essay from the collection that, in many ways, paved the way for the the Primer that I dedicated to my late Abuelito Rocha. I wrote this the day after he passed away.)¡No l … [Read more...]

Indiana Teacher of the Year Reviews the Primer UPDATED

Steve Perkins is the 2014 teacher of the year for the state of Indiana. This accolade is most impressive to me because he teaches Latin. The very concept that a classicist can be honored in the present regime of schooling is a surprise and a sign of hope and promise.He came across my book, A Primer for Philosophy and Education, at First Things, in Stephen Webb's theological review, and has begun writing a series about it at his blog. Like all good book reviews, he adds to the book itself and … [Read more...]

PURPLISHGREEN: A Parable of Who and What

This is an edited version of a short story I originally wrote for a "Philosophy of the Human Person" course I taught at Wabash College in the fall of 2010. Another version was published in my first book of essays, Things and Stuff, and I've been tweaking it, in hopes of expanding and having it illustrated by my talented sister, who did the artwork for my Primer. Hopefully it offers some weekend respite from the brewing politics and popery flying around the blogosphere these days. It is also my … [Read more...]


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