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Fellowship of the Book: T. M. Doran's Toward the Gleam (Review)

Christmas is upon us, and Peter Jackson's new Hobbit movie has recently premiered, which reminds me of a great book I've been meaning to recommend. Anyone looking for a Christmas gift for fans of Tolkien's tales of Middle Earth should take a look at T. M. Doran's novel, Toward the Gleam (from Ignatius Press , available in hardback, ereader, and audio editions; get the Kindle version from Amazon .) It is both an homage to Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and a gripping tale in its own right. The makers of the book's trailer definitely wanted to draw attention to the connection between Doran's novel and Tolkien's. The cover art design for the book should also remind readers of LOTR. Toward the Gleam 's cover was designed by John Herreid and executed by a wonderful Catholic artist, Daniel Mitsui . You can see that it incorporates some of the design elements from the well-known covers of the 1986 Houghton Mifflin edition (below), such as the r

Study the Great Works of the Western Cultural Tradition in Kansas City, Missouri

Walsingham Society of Christian Culture and Western Civilization
Some readers may know that over the last year or so I have been privileged to teach a couple of literature classes in the epic tradition for the Walsingham Society of Christian Culture and Western Civilization. The Walshingham Society is a relatively new organization in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, although it actually is carrying on the work of the (former) College of Saint Thomas More, which offered a curriculum in the great Christian liberal arts tradition for some thirty years or more. (It has recently undergone a sea change and been reborn as "Fisher-More College," offering a somewhat different, although thoroughly traditional and Catholic, curriculum.)

The erstwhile College of Saint Thomas More always had two overlapping circles of "clientele" -- traditional-aged college students looking for a more substantial and challenging education than most colleges and universities offer, and adults who wanted to steep themselves more thoroughly in the great Western, Christian tradition. The Walsingham Society also seeks to offer educational opportunities and cultural events for people of all ages, so I'm very happy to say that the founders of the Walsingham Society have recently been invited by Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph to found a four-year classical liberal arts college in his diocese. He must really want them, because he has even donated a building to house it!

The new institution is to be known as Christ College, and will offer a single major, i.e., a single, common curriculum culminating in a bachelor of arts degree in the liberal arts. You can read more about it in this recent article in the National Catholic Register. If you know anyone looking for a worthy cause to support, I'm sure donations will be welcome and there will undoubtedly be lectures and cultural events planned for folks in the greater Kansas City area before long (if not already).

Those of you with children entering high school should seriously consider this type of education for them -- that is, if you actually want them to be educated, rather than merely processed through a diploma mill. "Education" in the traditional sense has to do with forming the "soul" -- i.e., both the mind and the character of the student, and this is exactly what real liberal arts institutions aim to do. On the other hand, "educators" at 99.9% of colleges and universities these days would vehemently deny that their institutions have any right or aim to do such a thing, as if it would be presumptuous and offensive to suggest that educational institutions should do what they, in fact, understood to be their primary purpose until the rise of the "modern university" about a hundred and fifty years ago (this sad truth became crystal clear to me while I was teaching at a certain midwestern state university).

If you're interested in reading more about the classical model of education and how  & why it differs from what is called "education" these days, I recommend this article. If you'd like to read about the value of a Catholic liberal arts education, try this. Or just talk to anyone who has been blessed to have experienced such an education -- he or she is bound to be an enthusiastic proponent. As were the two brothers who created this video, "A Student Defense of Classical, Catholic Liberal Arts Education."


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Fellowship of the Book: T. M. Doran's Toward the Gleam (Review)