When I see Anthony Esolen’s name I am compelled to read on. Professor Esolen teaches Renaissance English Literature and the Development of Western Civilization at Providence College. He has also authored numerous books. Apparently Esolen has come under attack in response to a couple of recent articles he wrote. James M. Kishiner of Mere Comments blog writes:
If you have benefitted from the writings of Touchstone Senior Editor Anthony Esolen–and there are many of us out there who have–you need to know that he is under severe attack at his school, Providence College, where he teaches Renaissance Literature. His “crimes” include 2 articles written for the Catholic web-magazine ‘Crisis’ which Rod Dreher links to in his post today at The American Conservative:
“We may wish to maintain a faithful presence in the institutions of culture, but that doesn’t mean the culture wants us there, or will let us remain without crossing lines that we cannot in good conscience cross. What then? At the present moment, the literature professor, Dante scholar, and orthodox Catholic Anthony Esolen is under severe attack at his own institution, Providence College, for having recently written a couple of essays criticizing the present conception of “diversity” on his Catholic campus, and reflecting on the persecutorial phase of our culture (here’s one, and here’s the other). Protesting students and even some faculty are attempting to drive him out of the college for wrongthink. They may not succeed, not if tenure means anything, but they are likely to succeed in making his life there hell, such that he would love to shake the dust off his feet and get out of town. But where would he go?
Both of Esolen’s articles are worthwhile reads. I particularly liked the second (“other”) one, titled “What Will You Do When Persecution Comes?” Esolen thinks that Catholics will most likely belong to four categories in that situation: the persecutor, the quisling, the avenger and the soldier. It is the soldier that interests me. Esolen:
The Soldier does not say, “I will fight, but my generals must be perfectly wise.” Generals are never perfectly wise or perfectly anything else. The Soldier does not say, “I will fight, but only if I do not have to share the field with these others,” which others may be traditionalists, the ecumenically minded, Protestants friendly to the Catholic Church, or Catholics who disagree with him on some political point. The Soldier is grateful for his brothers in arms, and if their uniforms are a little different from his, he figures that the Lord of Hosts will sort the matter out in the end.
The Soldier does not make light of the desperate situation. His name is not Pollyanna. But he remembers the words of Jesus: “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.” The Soldier will not refuse a hearty meal, but he will not grumble if he has to fast. The Soldier is filled with thymos: his eyes narrow and look to the horizon; his nostrils flare and his heart beats with excitement; he sings Rise Up, O Men of God; he craves honor, most of all the honor of the Church; he does not care who calls him a fool. He is immensely attractive and wins the respect even of his enemies. He brings both men and women into the Church without that being his principal aim, because it is sweeter to spend one day in the field with the Soldier than a thousand in the halls of the wealthy, the powerful, the timid, the faithless, and the mad.
May God grant us the grace to be Soldiers—all of us, now. The war is here.