By Dr. William Fahey
Theme: The Romance of Wisdom
Title: "With what wisdom shall he be furnished that holdeth the plough?": Liberal learning, manual labor, and experience
Taking the title of his talk from chapter thirty-eight of the Book of Ecclesiasticus, one of the seven wisdom books in the Bible, Dr. Fahey, president of Thomas More College in Merrimack, NH, raised questions concerning the role of liberal education, the arts, and manual labor born of experience, in forming a wise man who is more complete in his natural perfections. The question raised by the inspired Old Testament author, Jesus, son of Sirach, is not posed to deny wisdom to the artisan or farmer, but rather to posit it, providing that husbandry or craftsmanship does not forfeit contemplation. The verse immediately preceding the one in the title, The wisdom of a scribe cometh by his time of leisure: and he that is less in action, shall receive wisdom, may seem, if taken out of context, to contradict Dr. Fahey’s thesis, but as the speaker demonstrated so well in his erudite presentation, it complements it. The speaker drew much from Blessed John Newman’s Idea of a University, taken together with his lesser known, but perhaps better work, Rise and Progress of the Universities. More than Newman, however, Dr. Fahey highlighted the Benedictine genius for an integral and even familial oriented education, incarnated in the motto , ora et labora, with natural and supernatural studies incorporated in both work and prayer.
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