The always-interesting Tony Esolen has an article over at First Things called “Restoring the Village” which I highly recommend to those concerned about place, liberty and limits. One recalls that in Greek an idiotes was a person who withdrew from broad participation in the civic life of the community. Esolen reminds us that, given the loss of associative life, we are all village idiots, and argues for a muscular and masculine reclaiming of our common ground.

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Jeffrey Polet
Jeffrey Polet grew up in an immigrant household in the immigrant town of Holland MI. After twenty years of academic wandering he returned to Holland and now teaches political science at Hope College, where he also grudgingly serves as chair of the department, having unsuccessfully evaded all requests. In the interim, he continues to nurture quirky beliefs: Division III basketball is both athletically and morally superior to Division I; the Hope/Calvin rivalry is the greatest in sports; the lecture is still the best form of classroom instruction; never buy a car with less than 100,000 miles on it; putts will still lip out in heaven; bears are the incarnation of evil; Athens actually has something to do with Jerusalem; and Tombstone is a cinematic classic. His academic work has mirrored his peripatetic career. Originally trained at the Catholic University of America in German philosophy and hermeneutical theory, he has since gravitated to American Political Thought. He still occasionally writes about European thinkers such as Michel Foucault or the great Max Weber, but mostly is interested in the relationship between theological reflection and political formation in the American context. In the process of working on a book on John Marshall for The Johns Hopkins University Press, he became more sensitive to the ways in which centralized decision-making undid local communities and autonomy. He has also written on figures such as William James and the unjustly neglected Swedish novelist Paer Lagerkvist. A knee injury and arthritis eliminated daily basketball playing, and he now spends his excess energy annoying his saintly wife and their three children, two of whom are off to college. Expressions of sympathy for the one who remains can be posted in the comments section. He doesn’t care too much for movies, but thinks opera is indeed the Gesamtkuntswerk, that the music of Gustav Mahler is as close as human beings get to expressing the ineffable, that God listens to Mozart in his spare time, and that Bach is history’s greatest genius.


  1. Esolen’s piece, as usual for him, is outstanding. No Porcher should miss his recent book, ‘Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child.’

  2. I only wish that the Boy Scouts were hanging on for dear life. As I’ve mentioned in past FRP instances, my personal experience is that Boy Scouts has devolved into yet another scheduled activity, where boys where uniforms with patches on them instead of jerseys with numbers. Parents and leaders alike treat it like basketball practice.

    I’m glad he brought it up, but I’m also glad for the general disposition of the article. It is the sort of excellent writing, though without excessive flourish, that gives me the impression that I might write better after reading it.

  3. My son is headed for a Boy Scout meeting as I type this. I think your experience is going to vary greatly from troop to troop. Leadership makes all the difference. I had all but despaired of the Scouts until someone referred me to an unlikely troop I would not otherwise have considered. It’s great to see my 12 y/o homeschooled son so excited about it. He gets up early and runs a quarter mile (1 min 25 seconds this morning!) just to beat yesterday’s time and knock another accomplishment down. He’s got the Scout manual practically memorized, and he’s chomping at the bit for his first campout next month. Looks great in the uniform, too, and he’s proud to wear it. Anyway – God bless Dr. Esolen for another gem of an article. Even when I don’t agree with him entirely I’m always better for reading his stuff.

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