Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

More about Ralph McInerny


Candace, thank you for your memorial to Ralph McInerny. I agree that it was a mistake for Notre Dame to try to copy its “peers,” and McInerny was right to oppose its drift toward relativism and modernity.

Sixteen months ago, McInerny gave a talk about Great Books in Charlotte, N.C., at an event sponsored by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute and the Pope Center. He explained why academic scholars hate the classics of the Western canon: Because today’s humanities scholars hate religion. Most of the classics — Chaucer and Shakespeare as well as Dante — were written “under Christian auspices,” he said, and even ancient Greek and Roman authors had a sense of divine providence. All that is anathema to the academy.

Sprinkling his talk with names of writers ranging over centuries, McInerny shared provocative thoughts about literature (he was a mystery writer in his spare time, with both the Father Dowling series and a series set at Notre Dame to his credit). I am sorry not to have met him sooner.


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