27 October, 2021
If you are intending to enrol in one of our summer schools, would you please register in the next week or two? Details below.
I recently returned from a visit to Perth. Western Australia and Tasmania are Covid-free ‘bubbles’ and one is able to travel fairly freely between them (freely, that is to say, if you except the necessity of obtaining what amounts to a visa to pass from one state of the Commonwealth to another). Naturally our aircraft avoided Victorian airspace entirely! We are all familiar with the ‘white noise’ that is an inescapable feature of modern air travel – no smoking, no unnecessary moving around, no use of ‘devices’ while taking off or landing – but this is now extended by almost non-stop commentary arising from the pandemic. Add to that the compulsory wearing of masks (particularly unpleasant for those of us who wear glasses) and the whole travel process has become pretty ghastly.
We were of course cautioned to keep ‘an appropriate distance’ from each other as we disembarked. That in itself is unexceptionable. But we were then lined up, compacted together in an enclosed passage for 30 minutes, to await the admission process (temperature check, examination of documents, etc). No mask could have provided much protection in that close and fetid environment. It made me wonder at the awesome chasm between theory and practice that seems to be particularly characteristic of our times. If the Nawab of Bengal were alive today, would he advise his prisoners to maintain an appropriate distance before entering the Black Hole? I wouldn’t be surprised.
During the 70s of last century the term ‘Mickey Mouse subjects’ was coined to describe certain arts and semi-scientific subjects that universities were at that time starting to make available to undergraduates in response to the rapidly growing number of enrolments in the post World War II world. This trend was driven by the universities’ emerging view of themselves as retailers of knowledge: to stock their shelves with an attractive range of pre-cooked and easy-care products made very good business sense. In this strategy they formed a not always easy but generally workable liaison with the political left that had its own agenda: a radical restructuring of society towards the advent of a Marxist and post-capitalist future. Could anyone forty years ago have dreamt of the extent to which this trend would come to permeate both universities and schools as it does today?
The burden of offering a broad and non-partisan approach to humane studies is now passing to smaller institutions: Campion College, Christian Heritage College in Australia, and Chavagnes in France, (three with which I have had a recent association) are doing exactly this, as are the Augustine Academy, the Australian Catholic University’s Western Civilisation programme, and the Chesterton Schoolsnetwork in the US. Individuals from several states and various vocational backgrounds came together last month to form the Australian Classical Education Society Inc (ACES), which seeks to promote public dialogue about the liberal arts by educating relevant stakeholders, hosting seminars, lobbying politicians, developing curricula, and ultimately, helping to establish schools dedicated to classical education.
I would be very interested to hear from readers about other institutions that are seeking to offer broad, general courses in key subjects such as History and English, that honour quality and truth. If the arts are about preserving ‘the best which has been thought and said’, without regard to the changing trends of politics and demands for the re-configuration of human societies, then small institutions like these have a mighty burden to bear if civilization is to be saved from cultural devastation.
Thank you for reading our newsletter, and best wishes,
‘A STAGGERING LACK OF RELIGIOUS LITERACY…’
Sir David Amess was refused a priest as he lay dying, reports Brendan O’Neill. Clearly in a post-Christian society religious rites are no longer seen as ‘essential services’. O’Neill is not a Christian or even a believer, I understand, but his generous defence of the rights of religious people is noble – and I think typical of the man.
In Australia we all respect Indigenous culture – provided that it agrees with us! Labor MP Pat Dodson’s powerful 2018 speech against Euthanasia deserves another airing, but will probably be filed away and forgotten. Former NSW Premier Mike Baird has another solution.
A ‘CANCEL STORY’ WITH A HAPPY ENDING
MIT cancels geophysicist Dorian Abbot, but Princeton steps in with a better option! – Cancel Culture has a lot to answer for, by Peter Schuck. I notice that Abbot’s ‘rescuer’ was Prof Robert George, who visited Campion College during my time there. Cancel culture thrives on the cowardice of those who let it happen. People like George, and leaders of Universities such as Chicago and Sussex (mentioned last time in the Kathleen Stock case) show real courage in standing up to it, and they succeed.
JOHN HALDANE RETURNS TO AUSTRALIA
Prof Haldane was a popular visiting scholar in 2016 and we had hoped to have him return next month, but this now seems impossible. In the meantime, and by way of consolation, a number of his lectures are available online:
Talk 1. What does it mean to be Catholic?
a). How would go about defining what it means to be Catholic, and is this a subjective or an objective approach?
b). How might you distinguish between ‘tradition’ and ‘traditionalism’?
Talk 2 A Four-Fold Foundation: Judaeo-Christian/Graeco-Roman Synthesis
a) Is reason a challenge or an aid to religious belief?
b) Can we make sense of Natural Law without a religious foundation?
Talk 3. Rebuilding the West
a) What would you regard as the greatest achievements of Catholic medieval culture?
b) What aspects of this might be most relevant today?
Talk 4 The Church and Society
a) What does it mean to say that ‘the Church is to be in the World but not of it’?
b) How might we distinguish between the hard to hear voice of the Spirit, and the hard to avoid voluble Sprit of the age?
Talk 5 Catholic Anthropology and Catholic Education
a) What might it mean to say that human beings are spiritually oriented creatures, and how might this show itself?
b) What is the purpose of Catholic education and how is it related to the mission given by Jesus to his Apostles?
SUMMER SCHOOLS 2022
Bookings for both these courses should now be made online through Eventbrite. If you intend to join you are asked to enrol with full payment by 15 November.
Please follow the links below:
Alternatively use any of the payment methods here.
HISTORY OF WESTERN MUSIC
We’re proud to be able to announce that our Western Civilization Summer School (17-21 January) will include a session on chant and the emergence of modern music, to be presented by brothers of the Benedictine Monastery of our Lady of Cana, at Colebrook.
Write for further details or to request a concessional rate or deferred payment. A full refund will be made for cancellations received at least 30 days prior to the commencement of your course.