Without the ideas that were the foundation of the Christian West – ideas that could be called the very thinking of the Church – Christians today remain weak in the face of the challenges of our time.
As Christopher Lasch observed already thirty years ago, “In the space of two or three generations, enormous stretches of the ‘Judaeo-Christian tradition,’ so often invoked by educators but so seldom taught in any form, have passed into oblivion.”
Our programs are designed to strengthen students spiritually and intellectually as they go forth into the world, whether at university or in the workforce.
Our one-year program explores the most important knowledge, art, literature, and music from western culture. We also offer an optional second-year program: those accepted into it may choose either a practicum or an academic independent study.
PROGRAM 1 – THE ANCIENT WORLD
THE ANCIENT WORLD program, which covers the period from 3000 BC to 1400 AD, is an attempt to bring back to college education the vital elements of the Christian understanding of life before the Modern age – a view of the world that is so rarely taught today (even at many Christian colleges). Yet this understanding of the world, which has deep Scriptural roots since it is shaped by Jewish and Greek thought transformed by the Church, even as it fades from the scene of higher education, has no equal in the profound way it illuminates the troubles we see in our 21st-century world.
You will learn the answers to questions such as these:
- What are the alternatives to what people today believe? What did people – both Christians and pagans – believe about life for thousands of years, and why?
- Is belief in God, truth, purpose, meaning, order, sin, salvation, etc., really irrational?
- How did institutions like the university and the hospital arise, and why?
- What was the attitude of Christians to the thought of their pagan ancestors?
THE ANCIENT WORLD program is designed to strengthen students spiritually and intellectually, helping them to set their own thought on the enduring foundations that were once the basis of all education. Six of the ten courses in this program (Philosophy, Science, Literature, Art, History of Christian Thought, and History of Christianity) proceed chronologically, parallel to each other in time, beginning with the earliest works in September and proceeding to the Middle Ages in December.
The four remaining courses introduce students to what ancient Greeks, Romans, and Christians considered the most essential training in how to think, a course known as the Trivium; the course in Reading the Scriptures covers the Pentateuch and the Prophets; students also read Augustine’s Confessions. In addition they study New Testament Greek.
PROGRAM 2 – THE MODERN WORLD
THE MODERN WORLD program is designed to give students a deeper understanding of why so many people today have rejected belief in God, truth, purpose, meaning, order, sin, salvation, etc. How can we challenge the presumptions behind such beliefs if we do not understand what they are based on? We will study the views of the critics of Ancient thought, and how the great thinkers of the past engage with their Modern critics.You will learn the answers to questions such as these:
- What are the distinctive insights of Modern times and do they overturn Ancient thought?
- What are the reasons for the Modern reaction against Ancient thought?
- How did Art, Philosophy, and Science come to be what they are today?
- Do we really wish to return to the past?
Seven of the ten courses in THE MODERN WORLD program (Philosophy, Science, Literature, Art, History of Christian Thought, History of Christianity, and Music) proceed chronologically, most beginning in the Renaissance in January and all continuing to the 21st century in April. The course in Reading the Scriptures proceeds from the books of Wisdom through to the book of Revelation.