(with apologies to Peter Maurin)
I'm for the liberated liberal arts not the monetized
and politicized liberal arts,
the virginal liberal arts, not the pandering liberal arts.
The humanities after all, belong to the humans and the humane.
Why should the university be the gatekeeper of the human?
In the university, students do not learn to connect
the particular to the whole, but instead
to regard each subject as the master of all the others
during class... and as an abstraction immediately afterward.
A bachelor of arts is a certified human;
a master of arts is a certified teacher;
a doctor of arts is a certified teacher of teachers;
but certification is not essential to the human.
What’s essential to the human person is
connection to the whole, establishing ties,
that is, religion.
Without religion, says Peter Maurin,
so-called education is:
“plenty of facts
but no understanding.”
universities are no longer the wardens of merit, but
the gatekeepers of mammon and power.
In their book Trust Agents, Chris Brogan and Julien Smith advocate
gatejumping for the sake of the human.
A gatejumper builds credibility
man to man — without the approval of gatekeepers.
Gatejumpers are not automatically worthy of trust
but at least they don’t rely on credentials
purchased with borrowed funds.
Is it just for students to complain
that the liberal arts are too pricey when they borrow
with the expectation of earning many times the amount?
Is it just for the university to train adjunct professors at costs
beyond what can be recovered?
If you want to be human,
learn the liberal arts at personal cost.
Read The Quiet Light as background to The
Divine Comedy. Read Christopher Dawson
for a non-sanitized history. Fr. Giussani gave books
to his friend, Enzo Piccinini.
These books became Books of the Christian Spirit.
And Spirito Gentil is a classical music series
with notes from Fr. Giussani.
So on vacation, on lunch break, in the evenings,
and weekends, get together with friends to
learn appreciation for music and drama;
learn politics and philosophy and economics and
For Christ’s sake,
for humanity’s sake,
for yourself and your children,
and their children.
Something happened in Cairo October 2010: a cultural event inspired by The Meeting in Rimini, as may be seen in the photo slideshow above. Davide Perillo describes the course of events in the #10 issue of Traces. Here's a snippet, but go read the whole account: "You Have Brightened Egypt"
The clear impression is that it is as if the very idea of 'dialogue between religions' has been swept away, leaving room for reality: people who are in dialogue precisely because they are religious–that is to say, zealous for the heart, for the question of meaning, for beauty. One distinguished man, unidentified, during a pause, began a discussion with Emilia Guarnieri: (the English is rather improbable, but the point gets through), 'You spoke of certainties and the fight against relativism; can you explain better?.' She explains, and he nods, and replies, saying something like: 'I understand. Whatever is an obstacle to man’s imagination is to be fought.' In his own way, he sounds like Fr. Giussani when he speaks of 'the category of possibility,' which keeps reason open to the Mystery. Another point made by an Egyptian friend and highlighted was: 'We are looking at things with your eyes.'
The final concert was an apotheosis of what we have in common and of what distinguishes us. The Schubert Trio and classical music inside the walls of Saladin’s Citadel: all eager to hear beauty (Brahms, Paganini, and Dvorak), many ready to acknowledge that it is only a relation of the other music, played by the Sama’a group the previous evening: Eastern chorales and polyphony entwined with 'our' melodies. They, too, are beautiful, but different, without that note of melancholy that echoes, so to speak, in the 2nd movement of Schubert’s Trio, presented as 'one of the pieces that Fr. Giussani loved most.' At this point, we realize how often that name has been quoted continually over these days, on the stage and off it, in both Italian and Arabic speeches, and how alive Fr. Giussani still is, present more than ever.
The editorial in the same issue of Traces notes the remarkable contours of this event:
"For two days, there were assemblies and exhibitions, a demonstration of earthly beauty as the basis for a dialogue, in an Islamic country. It was organized by Muslims, people who live their tradition deeply, but who were struck by a friendship with those who live Christianity deeply, making it flesh and blood–that is, culture."
Although I haven't seen The Meeting in Cairo or The Meeting in Rimini, I will have the opportunity to see the American edition of The Meeting: The New York Encounter. It's happening January 14-17. The presentations are free and open to the public — I hope to see you there!