Eager Hirelings

I recall a conversation among several faculty members in the small lounge of Moore Hall at Providence College, where we taught a course in the development of Western civilization. This was around 1994, and an adjunct professor in English—a devout Catholic, too, liberal-ish in her politics but not in her creed—was astonished to hear a Dominican priest say that he was by no means certain that Jesus rose from the dead. The Dominicans, even the elderly liberals, were usually better than that, at least in our eastern province.

She asked him what he did believe, and he gave the usual answers about a renewed consciousness among the apostles, a new way of life, and la-de-da. “But what does it all matter?” she persisted. And I ventured to ask, “How do you preach in church on Easter?” “Oh,” he said, “I don’t tell the people. I don’t want to disturb them.” “But if you believe that what you say is true, don’t you have a duty to tell
them?”

I am glad to say that the Dominicans sort of put him in a closet soon after that, away from students. He took it hard, but he was a serpent, he was; and I think he was swinging from the wrong side sexually, too, though that’s just an impression I got from his manner.

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Anthony Esolen is the author of over thirty books, including Real Music: A Guide to the Timeless Hymns of the Church (Tan, with a CD), Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture (Regnery), and The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord (Ignatius). He has also translated Dante’s Divine Comedy (Random House). He and his wife Debra publish a web magazine, Word and Song (anthonyesolen.substack.com), on poetry, hymnody, language, classic films, and music. He is a senior editor of Touchstone.

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