Dear Friends of Western Civilization,
I informed you mid-October about my itinerary for my trip to Ohio to present my views on beauty at the Franciscan University in Steubenville.
It was a whirlwind trip, but it was also an intense trip, and it felt as though I had been away for much longer.
I took the bus from Toronto to Pittsburgh, and the school's students met us (me) there and drove me to the remote, rural campus.
I had several bus changes on my trip, with hours to wait in some cases. But, making lemons into lemonade, I used every one of these "hours" to good use, and visited some cities I would have never seen otherwise.
I saw Pittsburgh, and was surprised at the small, dignified city. I had a few hours in Erie Pennsylvania, and saw another Great Lake (Erie) as well as a lovely little exhibition at the Erie Museum of Art.
A careless, and callous, bus driver directed me into his wrong (for me) bus, despite a clear ticket in my hand and I ended up in Cleveland, Ohio from my transfer in Buffalo. I had every intention to report him, but the paperwork is long and tedious. He will probably get fired soon. But I got a free ride from Cleveland to Pittsburgh, refusing to pay for the extra ticket.
I walked through the city as much as I could, visited the Cleveland Museum of Art, and had lunch at a little diner called "Becky's."
All this time (in all these places), I was lugging around my cheap suitcase with built-in wheels, and praying that the wheels don't break. They didn't, and I'm sure I have a few extra muscles I developed along the way.
Finally, my speech was very well received. I got a few people come and "congratulate" me, whatever that means.
I met some great people, had excellent meals, saw a beautiful campus, and spent two days of reflection and discussion with many like-minded people.
At one of the dinners, I sat with a lovely Hungarian lady, who left her country as a young girl, as the communists were seizing it. She came especially to the conference to listen, and I was honored that she chose my lecture as one of her choices.
At the Friday dinner/banquet, I sat with a group of people, including a Catholic priest. He said he knew Toronto, and Montreal. He had a sharp wit, and often I was the only one laughing. The dinner included fish and chicken, and non-Catholic that I am, I chose chicken. I think they have forgiven me.
I have to say that I was not impressed with Roger Scruton, whose was the Plenary speaker at one of the dinners. As much as I love Paris, I would never introduce myself as a "Francophile," which is what he did. Even the language necessary to speak to make some things clear to an English-speaking audience would be an affront. I felt he was snubbing Americans, and the English , despite his very strong English accent. I'm not sure why the University gave him such an honor, but like many things these days, I think they were probably doing the best with what they could find (visibly) out there. Next Year at Steubenville! I told my fellow-presenters, as I said good bye.
I was often sharp with people, especially the younger members. It seems that there is a strange arrogance going around in students these days, and trandscendent, or holy, things are taking a back seat - even at a Catholic school!
Rebellious that I am, I changed my speech at the last minute. I decided I would make it personal, rather than the intellectual/historical/academic speech that I had prepared. I sat most of the night before restructuring it.
I wanted to show them my practical experience with beauty, and perhaps how I might be the best candidate to support it. I also took the this chance to advertize my "Beauty Movement" and to send people over to my website Reclaiming Beauty.
One great thing that may come out of this is that the Hildebrand Project has its own, very new, publishing house. The conference organizers have got me in contact with it. This way, I can fulfill my promise and deliver the intellectual/historical/academic work that I had said I would come with to the conference, but more complete than a mere lecture would have accomplished!
ONE MORE THING!
Dietrich von Hildebrand's memoirs have been published by the Hildebrand Project and the Franciscan University, under the title: My Battle Against Hitler. I have bought the book. It just came out in mid-October. It is an intriguing account of the pre-war years, and how Hitler gained steady support through his own deviousness, and and the inability of others around him to SEE what he was doing through the fear, lack of understanding, or opportunistic motives. Hildebrand feels that it was something that was completely avoidable, that he saw Hitler's thuggish and criminal way very early on, and that he left Austria to avoid his execution, and that he felt he could do more out of Europe to make his case against Hitler. He makes a big case about the anti-Semitism that was infiltrating Hitler's circles, whether "genuine" or once again opportunistic. He said that he was never bitten by that bug. His memoirs give a very readable account of all this, along with dates, names, events and other points of historical interest and importance. It is a surprisingly optimistic and innocent book despite the very heavy topic. Needless to say, I bought the book at campus bookstore, and was probably one of the first to have done so!
I have posted the press release on the book here, at my website. And for more information on how to acquire the book, here is the website.
Please visit Reclaiming Beauty for photographs I have posted on:
And of course, the beautiful Franciscan University campus
And the small hotel, in the valley, where I stayed.
I have posted the presentation I gave here.
And thank you all, for your support, even if it is to read a long rant like this one!!
Finally, I have a Facebook page here. If you would like to join, and join in the discussion and the battle!, please let me know. Here is the link.