The sort of formation acquired in a liberal arts education is, more often than not, centered on a familiarity with the word. As Saint John reminds us, and as is proclaimed at the end of Mass, “In Principio Erat Verbum.” The four-year acquaintance with the tradition of belles-letters that a Thomas More student gains is hardly a dull exercise in composition, taken from an equally dull textbook. Rather, individual development in the art of writing takes the characteristics of an apprenticeship, and the masters one learns under represent the great tradition of English letters. Johnson, Swift, Belloc, Twain, and Hopkins: these are only some of the essayists that students read and imitate in the course of their education in formal writing.
The art of formal composition that a student receives at Thomas More College is one that can be carried on after graduation, often in new ways. Just as the best steel is also the most pliant, so too is an education in formal writing the most adaptable. A good writer—grounded in the art of logic—is able to adapt himself to any kind of audience.
Recently, two of the College’s alumni have had the opportunity to carry on the tradition of letters with the Saint Austin Review, an international periodical of Catholic thought, literature, and cultural commentary. Co-edited by the College’s Writer-In-Residence, Mr. Joseph Pearce, the Review publishes a bi-monthly issue with contributions by authors as wide-ranging as Pope Benedict XVI, Dr. Thomas Howard, Fr. Aidan Nichols, and many others.
In addition to the formal periodical, the Saint Austin Review’s website also features the Ink Desk, a daily commentary on a range of topics relating to the cultural revival of the Catholic Faith in our time. Contributing to the Ink Desk are Hannah O’Connor, class of ’11, and Michael Lichens, class of ’09. The topics explored in this commentary are varied, serving as a meeting ground of minds similarly engaged in promoting a culture of life, love, beauty, and truth as seen in light of the Incarnation. Whether the focus is on contemporary movements dedicated to such a revival, a review of recent Catholic literature, or simply a running commentary on topics of particular interest, the virtuosity of penmanship regularly encountered in the Ink Desk is a fitting challenge to the skill of composition that a liberal art education provides.