LONDON, ONTARIO – In my stash of Christmas books I received Lessons in Hope: My Unexpected Life with St. John Paul II, by Baltimore-born biographer and Catholic apologist, George Weigel, who reflects in a highly personal way on the 15 years he devoted to chronicling the life and times and impact of John Paul II in his two hefty and insight-packed volumes, Witness to Hope (1999) and The End and the Beginning (2010). Weigel’s account of both his own intellectual and spiritual formation and how he came to be invited by the Pope to take on the literary assignment of a lifetime is a tale that emphasizes, repeatedly and powerfully, the idea of providence.
LONDON, ONTARIO – Like most Canadians, I first heard of Jordan Peterson in September of 2016 and the first impression he made on me was very favourable indeed. Could it be that we finally have an academic with sufficient spine and wit to call out the spiralling inanity of our institutes of higher but narrower learning? A clinical psychologist and a very popular University of Toronto psychology professor as well as a researcher in the psychology of religious and ideological belief, Peterson shot to national prominence by putting down his foot. By the simple act of saying ‘no’ to governmental bullying dressed up as compassion and accommodation for those of untraditional sexual identities, Peterson suddenly became headline fodder right across the country.
LONDON, ONTARIO - It’s a little known fact that I attended university for a grand total of two days; just long enough to earn a profound Degree of Distaste. It’s not the kind of accomplishment that I’ve ever been able to list on a CV when applying for jobs. But those two days did constitute an education of sorts and have provided an effective inoculation against the kind of regret I’ve often heard older, self-made people express when they look back over their lives and say that they wish they’d been able to spend more time in school. It also probably explains my uncontrollable sneer reflex whenever I’m in the company of someone who identifies herself (except for the late Roy McDonald, it always seems to be a woman) as a lifelong learner.
LONDON, ONTARIO - I’ve been invited by Justin Press in Ottawa to submit an essay for a collection to come out later this year in which an assortment of writers will recount how they made their way into the Roman Catholic Church. That publisher’s first collection of Canadian Converts came out in 2009 and included essays by such worthies as Conrad Black, Douglas Farrow, Ian Hunter, Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, Fr. Jonathan Robinson and David Warren, so I’m thrilled to have been asked to contribute to this second gathering of such stories.
As that little project is monopolizing my attention right now, I’ve gone rooting through the tickle trunk to put up something relevant or timely for this week’s Hermaneutics post and realizing that we’re now at the midway point of Lent, I’ve pulled out this 2001 interview I did with Fr. Michael Prieur (whose The Art of the Confessor we reviewed here a couple of weeks ago) then the Professor of Moral and Sacramental Theology at St. Peter's Seminary, in which he talked about the challenges of his job and reflected on the traditions and significance of this season of repentance and renewal.
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THE AQUINAS LECTURE
G.K. CHESTERTON AND THE GIFT OF GRATITUDE
ALL LIFE IS A GIFT :
THE IMPORTANCE OF TRADITION :