Anthony Esolen

Dr. Anthony Esolen is the author of 28 books on literature, culture, and the Christian life, whose most recent work is In the Beginning Was the Word: An Annotated Reading of the Prologue of John. He and his wife Debra also produce a new web magazine, Word and Song, devoted to reintroducing people to the good, the true, and the beautiful.

Books by esolen

recent articles

Megan Rapinoe

The Faith and Women’s Sports

A few days ago, as everyone on social media knows, the American gymnast Simone Biles, a truly spectacular athlete, removed herself from her team at the Olympics because she could no longer trust her sense of her body as it must spin and somersault in the air and plunge to the floor. Divers have been … Read more

First things first

First Things First

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” That is from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who is one among our gallery of honored men and women at Magdalen College of the … Read more

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The Sins of the Children

I have been thinking lately about the three sons of Noah. Some people have had monsters for parents, and they should tell their admonitory stories, as dispassionately but as accurately as they can, lest others fall into the same patterns of wickedness. Yet most people have for parents just the ordinary stuff of human sinners … Read more

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Prodigal Nation

In my recent book-length poem The Hundredfold, you will find this hymn, inspired by the parable of the Prodigal Son, to be sung to the melody “Old One Hundred Twenty-Fourth,” a melody you may know from the hymn “Turn Back, O Man”: I shall arise, and seek my Father’s house. Sated am I with all … Read more

race

The Roots of Race

The Word of the Month is RADISH. I’ve long told my students that one really interesting thing about the Roman Empire is that nobody seemed to care much about what we call “race,” that is, a large group of people, not bound by ethnicity, who share a few physical characteristics held to be definitive and … Read more

Feelings

When Your Feelings Are Wrong

“If I have to choose between my feelings or experiences and the Bible,” I heard someone say recently, “it’s impossible for me to choose the Bible.” Well, people lie about their feelings all the time, to others and even to themselves. Very often, “He offended me” means “I was looking for a way to hurt … Read more

Courthouse

Ignoble Simplism

According to the instruction Inter Oecumenici (1964), certain rites performed during the Mass were to be revised, that the services might “manifest a noble simplicity more attuned to the spirit of the times.” The noble simplicity apparently demanded that the so-called Last Gospel, the soaring prologue to the Gospel of John, was no longer to … Read more

discord

Antisocial Justice

Which is better for your own sake, to think that most people will treat you well, even if that is not quite true, or to think that most people will treat you badly? If it is the former, then people who discourage you do not have your best interest in mind. Why would they do … Read more

Police

An Accident of Attention

Officer Derek Chauvin has been convicted of second-degree murder in the death of George Floyd. I won’t express any opinion about the verdict because I was not at the trial, and I have not examined the evidence closely. I’ve been advised by a policeman whose opinion I trust that a conviction for manslaughter was appropriate. … Read more

Trinity College

The Church and the Barbarians

One of the ironic things about my diploma from Princeton is that it is written in a language that almost none of the graduates understand: Latin. It confers upon me the degree of Artium baccalaureus, literally, crowned with bay leaves for knowledge of the arts. Since most college graduates write badly, if they write at … Read more

divorce

Another Kind of Death Sentence

“If you forgive men their trespasses,” says Jesus, “your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Mt. 6:14-15). In permitting divorced and remarried Catholics to partake of the Eucharist, Pope Francis may seem to have such words in mind, words … Read more

Building

Pagans without Nature

Sometimes I think that a people more starved for beauty has never walked the earth. And it is a scandal that our Church does not help. We talk, for example, about “the planet,” but not about woods, hedgerows, small streams, sparrows, badgers, rocks, and moors. The poet Wordsworth could sense, in his memories of the … Read more

Boys

Boys to Men

Many years ago, in an article for Touchstone called, “A Requiem for Friendship,” I wrote that the public acceptance of homosexuality would cast suspicion on physical expressions of friendship among males, and would make it more difficult for boys to forge strong friendships in the first place, especially if such boys were shy, or not … Read more

My New Year’s Resolution

Grace builds upon nature, and perfects it. But what if the foundation of nature is missing? I look out of the window to the broad stretch of open yard behind our house. It is covered with the snow we got last week. If you stand in it, and look at it in the light of … Read more

Finally, the Bishops Talk Sense About Hymns

It is axiomatic that nothing well-written ever comes from a committee. So, I regard as miraculous the recent report, Catholic Hymnody at the Service of the Church, put forth by the doctrinal watchdogs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. It is incisive, intelligent, and precise, blessedly free of political correctness, and sensitive to … Read more

The Suicide of a Civilization

Suppose an anthropologist were asked, apart from the sound and fury of current politics, what were the signs of a dying culture, or a culture committing suicide? What might he respond, as following from human nature and from the terms of the question itself? What might he notice in our own? Such a culture would … Read more

‘Platonic Parenting’ and the War on Love

The latest step of our descent into selfishness and perversity is a trend called “platonic parenting.” A woman finds a stud male who is pleasant enough, who will be her “friend,” who will make no claims upon her, so that he can get her pregnant and they can raise the resultant experiment together while they … Read more

Thank You, Mr. President

In my last article, I wrote that I would soon cast a vote against the party that promises to persecute the Church, and to subjugate all her schools, colleges, and beneficent organizations to an ideology that is fundamentally inhuman. I said also that that was no ringing endorsement for the other party. Several readers accused … Read more

Persecution? Bring It On

As our readers must know, Amy Coney Barrett, whom President Trump has nominated for a position on the Supreme Court, was a long-time member of a charismatic and ecumenical Christian group called People of Praise. The women in the group are called handmaids, after the world-changing fiat of Mary: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be … Read more

The Poorest of the Poor

The Lord has commanded us to assist the poor. This is not an option. How shall we do it? One of the paradoxical results of obsessive political agitation is that it makes political discussions almost impossible. Imagine someone on a sickbed, afflicted with a disease that makes the lightest touch upon the skin feel like … Read more

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