Thomas Hibbs
Thomas Hibbs
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"The Princess Bride" at 30

October 14, 2017  •  Catholic World Report

It is hard to believe that the film The Princess Bride is now 30 years old. For its anniversary, it will have a return to the big screen, with show-times across the country in mid-October. After numerous failed attempts to secure a movie deal, William Goldman's story—he wrote the screenplay as well as the original story—finally made the transition to film, in 1987, directed by Rob Reiner (This Is Spinal Tap, Stand By Me, The Sure Thing), who masterfully identified a perfect cast. Not a huge box office success in its initial release, the film has become a cult hit. With a combination terrific characters (and performances by actors well suited to their roles), memorable, witty dialogue (few films are as quotable), and a credible romance at its core, The Princess Bride holds up remarkably well.

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review of The End of Loyalty: The Rise and Fall of Good Jobs in America

August 31, 2017  •  National Review Online

In the literature that helps explain the shocking results of the presidential election of 2016, Rick Wartzman's new book, The End of Loyalty: The Rise and Fall of Good Jobs in America, merits a place alongside J. D. Vance's well-known memoir of white working class alienation and despair, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis and the less well-known sociological study of American mores just before the election, The Vanishing Center of American Democracy, by James Davison Hunter and Carl Desportes Bowman, both of the Institute for the Advanced Study of Culture. The last two focus on the mores of citizens, but they reveal a growing skepticism in our major institutions: government, churches, the media, etc. We are, as Hunter is fond of saying, in the midst of a "legitimation crisis" for our institutions.

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The Liberating Power of the Humanities

Summer 2017  •  Modern Age

In contemporary discussions of liberal education and the humanities, the appeal to the role of liberal education in inculcating useful, transferrable skills is increasingly prominent. Institutions of higher learning tout the critical thinking skills of students exposed to the humanities. Major national documents on the humanities have come to highlight these skills as well. The most recent national report, The Heart of the Matter (2013), fails to mention beauty, virtue, truth, ethics, morality, goodness, religion, justice, or wisdom, while the term skills, critical thinking and communication skills, surfaces forty times. It seems as though even the leading defenders of the humanities have caved to the increasingly instrumentalist conception of all American higher education. Another problem is that the conception of skills itself has become increasingly parochial and undeveloped. Yet any number of classic statements of the indispensable role of the humanities in a fully human education rest precisely upon a rich conception of skills and their liberating power. In what follows I want briefly to rehearse some reasons for, and consequences of, the rise of the skills-acquisition defense of the humanities and some criticisms of this conception. Then I will turn to two quite distinct but overlapping defenses of the role of humanistic skills in the liberation of human souls from conditions of being bound: one from George Orwell and the other from Frederick Douglass.

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Benedictine Monks Roll Up Their Sleeves and Relish Manual Labor

August 5, 2017  •  National Review Online

In his justly celebrated new book, The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance, Senator Ben Sasse recommends manual labor as a way for children to inculcate self-reliance and overcome habits of passivity. Sasse broaches issues here that are developed in greater detail in Matthew Crawford's popular book Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work. Both tap into a wisdom with roots in the ancient, Benedictine monastic tradition. Combining ora et labora, prayer and work, the Benedictines cultivate silence and reverent speech alongside meaningful, productive work, two practices that for many of us are fading from our world.

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Facing Extinction, Iraqi Christians Look to America

July 28, 2017  •  National Review Online

In March 2016, the Obama administration, with the encouragement of a unanimous vote in the House of Representatives, declared that ISIS was committing genocide against religious minorities in the Middle East. Secretary of State John Kerry observed that the terror group "is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims. Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology, and by actions — in what it says, what it believes, and what it does." Republicans lambasted the Obama administration for taking so long to make the declaration and, in the wake of the declaration, for having no response plan. The absence of any follow-up was particularly embarrassing for an administration that featured as its ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, who wrote the book on genocide, making a scathing indictment of government failure to act.

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Books by Thomas Hibbs

Cover of Rouault-Fujimura: Soliloquies Cover of Arts of Darkness Cover of Aquinas, Ethics, and Philosophy of Religion Cover of Virtue's Splendor Cover of Shows About Nothing Cover of Dialectic Narrative In Aquinas

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