As I wind down from this semester of teaching everything from prepositional phrases to Paradise Lost, I’d thought I’d share my own list of recommended reading.
These are not political, pared-down tomes. Some authors are dead. Others are quietly teaching at universities. But all lead to contemplation, of which we have way too little today.
It’s a good idea to revisit some of the classics and the principles of conservatism they lay out. Awareness of our rich heritage and vigorous intellectual tradition can help to counter false charges.
Pick up if you can the current issue of Modern Age (http://www.isi.org/journals/modern_age.html), a volume celebrating its fiftieth anniversary after the founding by one of the greatest conservative intellectuals, Russell Kirk. (I chose my dissertation director when I read one of his essays in Modern Age.) This journal is full of wisdom, common sense, and clear prose—and so unlike the journals held in prestige by most hiring and tenure committees. Its contributors are men and women of learning (real learning). And real learning requires the humility of acknowledging the great minds that came before. I identified with an essay by Ewa Thompson, a Polish émigré, who writes about her and her family’s horrific experiences under communism, her emigration to the U.S., and then her encounter with violent radicals on her college campus as they attempted to institute communism here. Although I never suffered under communism directly, my parents and other relatives have. I have the same contempt for the spoiled radicals who wreak havoc on our neighborhoods and campuses, destroying the good and the beautiful in their attempts to institute their own ideologies. In the same issue is a commentary about the Hungarian chemist-turned-philosopher Michael Polanyi—who systematically challenged the belief that men through science would eventually obtain a “God’s-eye-view” of the world. This of course is the justification for all “progressive” ideologies, especially those totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century that killed millions.
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