Anthony Esolen’s Passion for Truth Leads Him to Thomas More College

Effective this summer, acclaimed Catholic author and Dante scholar Anthony Esolen will join the faculty of The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, N.H. and also help found a new center dedicating to the restoration of Catholic culture through which Thomas More College will provide more lectures, educational programs and opportunities for people in New England and throughout the country. Every student at Thomas More College will experience courses with Esolen during their studies at the College.

William Fahey, president of Thomas More College, told The Cardinal Newman Society that he is “thrilled” about the addition of Esolen, a professor of English who has been under fire from liberal activists at Providence College in Providence, R.I., where he taught courses in Western civilization. Esolen’s translation of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy is highly respected.

“I think Tony Esolen joining the faculty at Thomas More College is a tremendous sign that faith and reason are truly compatible in a dynamic and wise academic,” Fahey told the Newman Society. “Dr. Esolen coming to TMC is a sign of the attractiveness and vitality of institutions robustly faithful to the teaching of the Catholic Church. This is a cause for joy.”

Esolen has been under sustained criticism from Providence College activists since last year, when he argued in a Crisis Magazine article that alleged champions of secular diversity have instead “worked their hardest to efface [the] difference” that a distinctly Catholic institution offers the world.

“Why should a Catholic institution not then be itself,” Esolen asked, “precisely to offer to that increasingly homogeneous and nothing-adoring world a different word, the word of Christ and his Church?”

Esolen called on Catholics, especially those tasked with the important task of educating and evangelizing the next generation, to “stand forth as boldly as the Cross upon that barren rock, opposing the world, because the ways of the world, when they are not baptized, lead to death.”

Esolen explained his stance in an interview with the Providence College student newspaper, in which he wondered whether those who push for diversity were “really thinking about an educational encounter with a different culture from ours, or if they’re conceiving this in contemporary political terms.” He lamented the fact that people haven’t defined what they mean by diversity and, as a result, have failed to understand diversity as an issue which the Catholic Church is particularly well-suited to address, since it “is the most multi-cultural institution in the world right now, and it has always been that way.”

In another Crisis Magazine article, Esolen argued that Catholic colleges and universities must do more to hire faithful Catholic faculty members to better protect and preserve Catholic identity on theircampuses.

After his articles in Crisis Magazine were published, a group of students accused him of racism, refused his offers to discuss the issues with them and led a protest on campus that called for his firing and the elimination of the Western Civilizations program in which he taught courses.

His Crisis articles, he explained in an interview with Rod Dreher of The American Conservative, were written in response to the mistreatment of five of his Catholic colleagues at the hands of secular professors and the Providence College’s “Bias Response” team.

In that interview, Esolen spoke highly of Thomas More College as well as several other colleges recommended in the Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College, including Our Lady Seat of Wisdom in Ontario, Canada; Wyoming Catholic College in Lander, Wyo.; the University of Dallas in Irving, Tex.; and Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., calling them “the real deals” in terms of Catholic education.

Esolen assisted The Cardinal Newman Society with the creation of the Catholic School Curriculum Standards that were released last year and are being adopted by many schools around the country.

“Anthony Esolen is a brilliant Christian intellectual in a secular, anti-intellectual age,” said Patrick Reilly, president of The Cardinal Newman Society. “He will find a perfect home at Thomas More College, where both faith and reason are embraced without pretense or agenda, just a love for truth.”

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