Straitened Sore

Thomas Stapleton, in his early and masterful biography of St. Thomas More, describes how clever the saint was at hiding his virtues from others, and at disguising the provenance of his literary works. More’s Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation, for instance, pretends to be written “in the person of a Hungarian who speaks of theContinue reading “Straitened Sore”

Book in Hand

According to Desiderius Erasmus, his dear friend and fellow intellectual prankster, St. Thomas More never went anywhere without a book in hand. Yet no one would have described him as a “bookish” man. Then as now, many were wont to blame the liberal arts for leading wayward souls into a life if impracticality. Yet More,Continue reading “Book in Hand”

A Charitable Defilement

Almighty Jesus, my sweet Savior Christ, which wouldst vouchsafe thine own almighty hands to wash the feet of thy twelve apostles, not only of the good, but of the very traitor too, vouchsafe, Good Lord, of thine excellent goodness, in such wise to wash the foul feet of my affections, that I never have suchContinue reading “A Charitable Defilement”

How Not to Drown in Scripture

Holy Scripture is, as I said, the highest and best learning that anyone can have, if one takes the right way in the learning. It is—as a good, holy saint says—so marvelously devised that a mouse could wade in it and an elephant be drowned in it. For there is no man so lowly butContinue reading “How Not to Drown in Scripture”

Our Best Friends

Give me the grace, Good Lord, to think my worst enemies my best friends, for the brethren of Joseph could never have done him so much good with their love and favor as they did him with their malice and hatred. St. Thomas More, Prayer written in the Tower of London For his trust inContinue reading “Our Best Friends”

Wise and Unwise Utopias

In this 1973 essay, Irving Kristol explains how modern progressive ideologies exhibit a “kind of madness, which we familiarly call ‘utopianism.’” At the heart of any madness is a decisive disconnection from reality. In this case, the divorce occurs through a misunderstanding of the proper role of imagination. In classical thought, utopias are the resultContinue reading “Wise and Unwise Utopias”

How We Learned to Love Leviathan

Tocqueville wants us to have a “salutary fear” of the new forms despotism threatens to take in modern times. Fear is a response to evil. Once we see how tyranny deprives us of essential goods, it becomes evident that it is something to be avoided, even at considerable cost. Free will being an essential partContinue reading “How We Learned to Love Leviathan”