Author Archives: Matt

A Lewisian Psychology

C. S. Lewis’ memoir, Surprised by Joy, is a work oddly unsettling yet reassuring. In reading it for the second time I find definite areas of commonality with the author: the horror, as a youth, of being forced to play … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Religion

Perennial Christianity

While perusing The Joyful Christian, a C. S. Lewis anthology, there is a passage where the British spiritual writer criticizes the tendency to “talk about moral ‘ideals’ rather than moral rules and about moral ‘idealism’ rather than moral obedience.” There … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Religion

Pliny to the Rescue

“It very seldom happens to man that his business is his pleasure.”—Samuel Johnson (Idler, No. 102) I am slowly emerging from one of the longest projects in my career. Yet I never deviated from my habit of reading: books remain … Continue reading

Posted in Literature, Philosophy

Theory as Reality Check

“Study has been to me a sovereign remedy against the vexations of life, having never had an annoyance that one hour’s reading did not dissipate.”—Montesquieu Sometimes we need to step back from the mundane routine of life and take things … Continue reading

Posted in Eric Voegelin, Philosophy, Politics

More Off the Shelf Remarks

The following quote by William Hazlitt originally appeared in a delightful essay by Prof. E. J. Hutchison of Hillsdale College (“The Hedonism of Reading Good Books“). In praising the habit of making and maintaining the acquaintance of a venerable tome, … Continue reading

Posted in Art and Culture, Literature

Silent Friends

There are some passages in Kierkegaard’s essay “Be Satisfied with Being Human” which contain marvelous insights. Speaking of sorrow and commiseration, the Danish writer notes that [E]veryone who sorrows… is perhaps also tempted to impatience and does not want to … Continue reading

Posted in Existentialism, Philosophy, Religion

Rethinking Political Science

The best known volume by Eric Voegelin is The New Science of Politics (1952). His discussion of philosophical and revolutionary “gnosticism” is the most popularized aspect of the work; however, in this post I want to examine the concept of … Continue reading

Posted in Eric Voegelin, History, Philosophy, Politics

Sainte-Beuve’s Literary Portraits

The French writer Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve (1804-69) is deemed the founding father of modern literary criticism. He was a latter-day Plutarch. But unlike the prolific Greek biographer, most of his subjects were intellectual figures rather then generals or statesmen. Some … Continue reading

Posted in Art and Culture, History, Literature

The Quiet Desperation of Caryl Bramsley

Maurice Baring’s novel “C”, published in 1924, is a fictional memoir about a late Victorian/Edwardian character named Caryl Bramsley (nicknamed “C” by his friends). The book is similar to Baring’s stories Cat’s Cradle, Tinker’s Leave and Coat Without Seam—repeating many … Continue reading

Posted in Literature

Out West with Max Brand

For many years I have been a devoted fan of Frederick Faust (a.k.a. Max Brand), whose novels and short stories have been continuously in print for the past century. So it’s high time I put in a mention for this … Continue reading

Posted in Literature