In his column for The Catholic Thing, Anthony Esolen, the Catholic literature scholar and translator of Dante, complains about the president of Princeton saying he’d like incoming freshman to read a book in common, but not one of the classics, because that would encourage them to “venerate” the book. His conclusion is powerful:
Eisgruber’s attitude is common enough, it pains me to say. It favors suspicion over reverence, and prides itself on being “critical,” when actually it encourages a shallow and adolescent flippancy, a refusal to listen to voices other than those pounding in our ears from the mass phenomena of our day.
Why do I write these words for The Catholic Thing? The purpose of a human education is not to raise clever barbarians. The purpose of a Catholic education is not to raise clever barbarians who attend Mass on Sunday and vote for pro-life candidates. If your Catholic school and its curriculum are not permeated with reverence for the permanent things – if its spirit is that of President Ice Digger and not that of Manzoni – you should shut down and send the children to the public schools. If they are going to get a bad education, it might as well be for free.
Preach it, brother.