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By Anthony Esolen, The Catholic Thing, Jan. 22, 2022
Anthony Esolen is a lecturer, translator, and writer. Among his books are Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture, and Nostalgia: Going Home in a Homeless World, and most recently The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord. He is a professor and writer in residence at Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts, in Warner, New Hampshire.
A few years ago, Ta-Nehisi Coates, winner of a MacArthur genius award, and a popular writer on race in America, admitted he had never heard of Saint Augustine. Many people rushed to point out the irony, that an African American who makes much of Africa – he has named one of his sons for an African fighter against French colonialism – should be unaware of the greatest writer ever to come from the continent.
But that was not the real trouble, the real cause for disappointment. Coates, I am sure, is but one among the millions of our American elites whose education violates the law of flowing water, and manages to be narrow and shallow at once. He hadn’t heard of Saint Augustine – but who has?
Can we be sure that the professors hanging about in the faculty lounge at State College have heard of him, let alone have read or at least opened the Confessions? …