by Anthony EsolenI work at one of the most atavistic institutions in the world. I am a college professor, teaching in the humanities.
By "atavistic," I do not mean anything so noble as that we still cherish the poets of old and feel honored to sit at their feet and listen, if not to their wisdom, at least to their touches of sweet harmony. A few old-fashioned liberal professors, I suppose, still hold fondly to the hope of the once-Christian Matthew Arnold, that the moral order would be saved by good taste in poetry. Most professors in the humanities have reeled back into the beast—a sallow and lumpy beast, but a beast no less. If the demonstrations on college campuses are any evidence, they and their students have recovered the ancient joy of confessing other people's sins, often sins that require a perfectly mystical fault-finding to identify, and making other people pay. The process has been described by the recently deceased philosopher René Girard. Choose your scapegoat well, and cleanse yourself by happily slitting its throat and plunging your arms up to the elbow in its blood.
The Cross is a stake through the heart of this all-too-natural religion.
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Anthony Esolen is a professor and writer-in-residence at Magdalene College of the Liberal Arts in Warner, New Hampshire. His many books include Sex in the Unreal City: The Demolition of the Western Mind, Life Under Compulsion: Ten Ways to Destroy the Humanity of Your Child, Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture, and The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord. He is a regular contributor to Chronicles, Crisis Magazine, The Claremont Review, Inside the Vatican Things, The Catholic Thing, and American Greatness. He has translated Dante's Divine Comedy. He is a Roman Catholic and lives with his wife in New Hampshire. He is a senior editor of Touchstone.
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