"What little sense I once possessed
Has quite gone out of my head!"
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
To The Faculty of the Erasmus Institute of Liberal Arts
Dear faculty of the Erasmus Institute,
The United States cannot afford to lose the education that I was fortunate enough to experience at Thomas More College. That you all believe this is affirmed in the recent founding of The Erasmus Institute. There is no shortage of Catholic liberal arts colleges in this country, yet amongst all these bastions of revivalism what is lacking is a subtle continuity with the past--something for which these institutions seem to yearn so much. Instead, these colleges reject or combat the world of here and now; the world that allows us even to begin to wonder. The Cowan program, however, reaches toward the truth of necessity through that of contingent reality. It participates in and builds on the living tradition of American and Classical thought in a communal joy in proximity to truth.
The fact that we studied William Faulkner in Literature, or Heidegger in Philosophy, or Voegelin in Political Science helped to define our school, but what was more essential and far more potent was the way students and faculty engaged their studies; the daily encounter on the part of everyone with poetry, tragedy and comedy, and most importantly, the idea of communitas. Communitas lay at the heart of the education and tied it in a unique way with the great community of philosophers throughout the ages. When I am asked what was so wonderful about my education I can only describe the liberating joy of understanding a part of a poem for the first or fifth time, of reveling in a philosophical debate, or of reading one of the greatest thinkers of all time, but most importantly, of knowing that we were all pursuing truth together in a community as free human beings. It was this shared joy in a community of such wildly different people that opened up the world of truth to me and to my classmates and changed all of us forever.
That the Erasmus Institute of Liberal Arts may continue this tradition is essential to all education today. Thank you for everything that you have given to all of us--your students--over the years, and know that it is with the deepest gratitude that we think of the hardships you have endured to continue the best education in America. With this vision and attitude toward truth there exists so much promise, possibility and happiness, that for it to disappear would be a an unthinkable loss to the world.