Episode 17 The erotics of education

In this edition of Thinking with the Church: a conversation with David Franks.

Dr. David Franks-1

One of the great things about the age in which we live is the ease of communication. If social media have made it harder to have sustained conversations, especially when the effort of them involves placing and conducting disagreements, David Franks is a fellow whose efforts in these regards are truly a model.

He is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, and Director of Development for that same. A trained theologian and poet, David is deeply Catholic and profoundly patriotic: people don’t talk like he does anymore – and discovering him through mutual friends has been a delight.

He talks about the “erotics” of education, and he knows of what he speaks: the duty of the teacher to foster the desire for wisdom in his students, and the duty of students to be faithful lovers of the beautiful, the true, and the good, after the fashion modeled for them by their teachers.

He is steeped in the tradition, though he is no mere laudator temporis acti – no “praiser of times past”. Rather, he inhabits a world of thought he feels – and I feel with him – it is the mission of the Catholic intellectual who is also the citizen of a great republic to nurture, develop, and pass on.

That work of tradition is what the social doctrine certificate program he designed and began to implement for Massachusetts Citizens for Life last year is all about.

The program draws in particular on Catholic social doctrine, appropriating it in the spirit of the liberal arts, incorporating Scripture, theology, philosophy, political theory, American history, and literature. Though grounded in Christianity, this course is designed to be accessible to those of any faith, as well as to the non-religious.

Profound respect for the human person – for each and every real human person, flesh and blood and soul and spirit – is the hallmark of David’s didactic approach, and the true barometer of his classroom. The program is most emphatically not, however, a “safe space” for the like-minded. When David says, “All questions and viewpoints are welcome,” he means it.

David and I talked via skype over the Christmas holiday – on New Year’s Eve, to be precise – and, though I’d promised to bring you a conversation with Fr. Paul Samasumo in the next episode, the editors and I considered that David’s conversation sets out the whole range of the season’s scope, and with such perfect pitch, that we ought to bring it to you first.

Not to worry, though: we’ll bring you our conversation with Fr. Paul in the next, regularly scheduled episode, set to drop on Monday, January 8th.

*********** Show Notes ***********

David Franks is theologian, a poet, an author, and teacher. He blogs at New City Rising.

The letter of Thomas Jefferson to which I refer is one he wrote from Paris, to Michel Guillaume St. John de Crèvecoeur, who wrote the Letters from an American Farmer. You can find Jefferson’s letter to Crèvecoeur online, at the Founders Online page of the National Archives.


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