Posted by: Peadar Ban | December 4, 2011

The Grandeur of the Happy Few

I saw the author of this fine article speaking just yesterday. If what he did before me is repeated every time he steps into a classroom they are fortunate beyond measure who are there with him. I had one like him when I was in school, and remember it and him nearly fifty years later with the same kind of awe that some kids have after meeting The Mick, or Willie, or shaking the hand of a heavy weight champ; a kind of breathless reverie, a dreamlike awe that never goes away, and always yearns for more. Maybe that was the feeling the blind man had. If I may just touch you, or be touched by you.  Let me see…

I compared the two as Professor Esolen spoke to us in the mid-afternoon sun, in the large room of the old building.  They were both athletes, well trained, well conditioned.  Boxers, I thought, as the ghost of my old teacher shadowed every move, echoed every tone and subtle shading of a phrase Dr. Esolen used to win the contest of ideas he had entered on the side of truth.  Middleweights, one long ago weeping as he moved across the empty land; mad, foolish, unforgettable for his too, too trusting love, and blind in his pride to Love too meek to say its name but full of mercy at the end.  The other still vigorous, attacking, feinting, thrusting,  jabbing and finishing over his prone foe in triumphant silence.

I’d like his photo at that moment, in trunks and gloves looking down, just to make sure the other guy stays there.  I’d put it in a classroom or two, I would; below, just below the crucifix I’d have there, below and to the right.

He writes here in defense and support of a kind of vision for higher education that is in place just down the road from me at the Thomas More College of the Liberal Arts in Marrimack, NH, and some few places more.  Less than a hundred?  Less than a dozen?  God, no, I hope.

If you are at all concerned about the next hundred years as we move into another Dark Age and the “last light off the black West” goes, and your hope for morning to spring at the “brown brink eastward” dims with it, support this school and others like it with more than your prayers and anxious good wishes.  And spare a prayer for men and women like Dr. Esolen and his comrades in arms.  They fight a brave fight with great energy and not a little joy in the combat.

I know.  I’ve seen them, the happy few.


  1. I am SO happy you had the opportunity to hear Tony speak. I’ve been following him for a few years now. His thinking is so important and his writing is so good. I am always trying to “introduce” folks to him, so to speak. So glad that you’ve met him!

    • Thank you, Sister. I would have asked him to autograph my shirt collar is I had the guts, he was that impressive. I felt like a bobby soxer at a Sinatra concert. (Boy am I dating myself) He was the third of three who spoke that afternoon, R.R. Reno was between him and Fr. George Rutler. Fr. Benedict Groeschel spoke later on after dinner, and Fr. Robert Reed of catholic Radio was the celebrant and homilist during the Mass. Great generals for the Army of Youth.

    • That sounds like quite a day! I think he would have gotten a kick out of autographing your collar. 😉

    • It was, indeed, quite a day. I wll not soon, if ever, forget it.

    • He probably would have, Sister. He strikes me as that kind of fellow.


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