A Letter from One of Our Great Books Program Students

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Dear Mr. Bertucci,

Please feel free to quote any and all parts of this email…I apologize for the poor quality of writing. In my freshman year of high school, I took Great Books 1 with an online Protestant tutorial service. While I derived some benefit from the course, emphasis was placed on “teaching” the works, not “exploring” them. I must confess that I do not now remember in what year Aristotle was born, nor in what year he died. I only have a dubious recollection of how the Academy received its name, and I would not be able to recount the manner of Persian bridge making. Nevertheless, I would have continued with that tutorial service on to Great Books 2 had it not been for the fact that this tutorial reads many of the Church Fathers in the second year of Great Books. As a convert to Catholicism from Protestantism, I neither had nor have a great longing to learn about the Church Fathers from Protestants. I must not be ecumenical enough. Searching online, eventually my principal and I discovered a Catholic Great Books 2 program-one that was offered for college credit! We gathered information about the program, offered by Angelicum Academy, and shortly thereafter I registered for it.

The difference in approach between Angelicum Academy and the other tutorial service was obvious from day one. As Mr. Bertucci is wont to say, their program is more concerned with wisdom than information. It took me awhile to adapt to this different spirit, but eventually I was swept into the tide of the Great Conversation, with much thanks to Mr. Robert Hutchins’ excellent essay of the same title. Angelicum Academy’s Great Books program opens up the great books while opening minds.

Their program teaches students to think, not to memorize. Everything they claim about their program is true. I have taken my first steps into a larger world, a world I might never have known. I recoil at the thought that I might have lived out the rest of my days without the wisdom that beckons to us all in the great books. I will continue to read the great books for the rest of my life, though unfortunately it will not be with Angelicum Academy. I am leaving; in the fall I shall enter the University of Wisconsin. Though I was in Angelicum Academy’s Great Books program for but a year, and a very hectic year at that (through no fault of Angelicum Academy), their program is the defining element of my pre-collegiate education, my first great beacon to our world’s common intellectual tradition, and one of the few things I will regret abandoning for the halls of vulgar knowledge.

Angelicum Academy cannot provide the wisdom gained by suffering, nor that of a St. Alphonsus Liguori; however, it can well provide wisdom of the basic sort. Though for lack of a better term I call it basic, such wisdom seems to be infrequently found these days. Our civilization is rapidly advancing technologically, but the wisdom with which to use this technology no longer lies in our citizenry at large. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but a little wisdom can ensure that said knowledge is used for the good. You may slave over your mathematical science if you wish, but you will most likely forget more than half of it within the course of a few years.

Wisdom is not so desultory a guest. (Mathematical science is vanity, anyway; this is where St. Alphonsus’ wisdom proves useful.) A person should be loath to call oneself educated without an understanding of the tradition of the West. Only the educated are free, the philosophers say, and indeed we are all philosophers. The decisions we make from day to day are based on philosophy. Is it not irresponsible to base our decisions on philosophy if we do not have training in the thinking mechanism thus called? This email need not turn into an apology for philosophy or the Great Books, however; and to write on without end would diminish the chance that you will read this message. Suffice to say, Angelicum Academy provides understanding. You must enroll in their program, whether regular track or college track. If you lack funds, request a scholarship. It will be one of the best decisions you will ever make.

Edward Chein

For more information about our Great Books Program,  please call Steve Bertucci at 360.496.0007 or visit this link:

Great Books Program


Comment on Facebook by One of Our Great Books Students

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If you’re still in the GB program right now, cherish this time! I really believe that you will never have another class quite as good as this one. Even though I have some very excellent teachers at …..college (which everyone should come to, by the way lol)… none of them will be able to compare to what Mr. Bertucci, Dr. Taylor, Dr. Redpath and Dr. Hancock have given me, the ability to think and ask questions. I know it seems like a fairly common thing to have, but frankly, it is grossly underdeveloped in many people. Just know how lucky you all are to have this, and I hope you all enjoy every moment of it as much as I did.

12-Year-Old Angelicum Student Paints Bach

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Acrylic Painting of Johann Sebastian Bach by Angelicum Student

Acrylic Painting of Johann Sebastian Bach by Angelicum Student

Original Bach Painting by Elias Gottlob Haussman

Original Bach Painting by Elias Gottlob Haussman

Press Release: Ignatius-Angelicum Liberal Studies Program


Press Release: Ignatius-Angelicum Liberal Studies Program

Click on the logo above for more information!


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How to Read a Book, Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren DVD

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A Treasure Found, Restored, and Now Available

Three years after writing the wonderfully expanded third edition of How to Read a Book, Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren did a series of thirteen 14-minute videos about the very essence of the book. The videos were produced and published by Encyclopaedia Britannica. For unknown reasons sometime after their original publication, these videos have been lost all these years.

What does the DVD contain?

The DVD includes all thirteen 14-minute programs for a total of three hours of video. Each section includes Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren in a lively, candid discussion of the art of reading and why it is so important and demonstrating its use in their own reading.

Why you should see this video if you have read the book.

If you have already read How to Read a Book, you will;

1. Find the videos an excellent review and a reminder of the advanced reading skills.

2. See a superb demonstration of reading skills in action that will inspire you to put them to use in your own reading.

Why you should see the videos if you have not read the book.

If you have not yet read How to Read a Book, you will;

1. Get an introduction to reading skills that make so much sense you will wonder why you never learned them in school.

2. View the advantages these reading skills create in their users that will inspire you to buy and read the book and begin to put the skills to use in your own reading.

The Titles:

To read or not to read.

How to keep awake while reading.

Coming to terms with the author.

What’s the proposition and why?

The questions to ask a book.

Talking back to the author.

Sorting out the books.

How to read stories.

What makes a story good.

How to read a poem.

Activating poetry and plays.

How to read two books at a time.

The pyramid of books.


Pope Asks Catholics to Give a Soul to the Internet

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Members of the Angelicum Academy with his holiness, Pope Benedict XVI

Members of the Angelicum Academy with his holiness, Pope Benedict XVI

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 25, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is urging Catholics in equip themselves with faith as well as technology so as to add soul to Internet communications and networks. The Pope stated this Saturday in an audience in Paul VI Hall with participants in a national conference on “Digital Witnesses: Faces and Languages in the Cross-Media Age,” an initiative promoted by the Italian bishops’ conference.  

“Without fear we want to set out upon the digital sea embracing the unrestricted navigation with the same passion that for 2,000 years has steered the barque of the Church,” he said. 

“More than with technical resources,” the Pontiff continued, “although necessary, we want to qualify ourselves dwelling in this universe too with a believing heart that contributes to giving a soul to the uninterrupted communicational flow of the Internet.” 

“This is our mission,” he affirmed, “the Church’s mission that she cannot renounce.” 

“The time in which we live is experiencing an enormous expansion of the frontiers of communication, realizing an untold convergence between different media and making interaction possible,” he noted. 

“Thus the Internet manifests an open vocation,” the Pope added, “with an egalitarian and pluralistic tendency. 

“At the same time it has dug a moat about itself,” he noted, and thus people speak about the “digital divide.” 

The Holy Father explained: “It separates the included from the excluded and adds to the other discrepancies that separate nations from each other and divide them internally. 

“The dangers of homogenization and control, of intellectual and moral relativism, already quite evident in the bent of the critical spirit, in truth reduced to the play of opinions, in the multiple forms of the degradation and humiliation of the human person in his intimate dimension.” 

Benedict XVI urged his listeners to overcome these “collective dynamics that can make us lose the perception of the depth of persons and remain at the surface,” seeing persons as “bodies without souls, objects of trade and consumption.” 

Citing “Caritas in Veritate,” he affirmed that “the media can become a factor in humanization not only when, thanks to technological development, it increases the possibilities of communicating information, but above all when it is geared towards a vision of the person and the common good that reflects truly universal values.” 

“Dear Friends,” he said, “you are called to take on the role of animators of the community on the Internet too attentive to prepare the ways that lead to the Word of God, and to express a particular sensitivity to the disheartened and those who have a deep, unarticulated desire for enduring truth and the absolute.” 

The Holy Father exhorted “all media professionals not to tire of nourishing in their hearts that passion for man that draws ever closer to the languages he speaks and to his true face.” 

“You will be helped in this by a solid theological formation and above all a deep and joyful passion for God, fed by a constant dialogue with the Lord,” he said. 

Benedict XVI thanked the media workers “for the service you give to the Church and therefore to the cause of man.” 

“I exhort you to walk the roads of the digital continent,” he said, “animated by the courage of the Holy Spirit.” 

The Pope continued: “Our confidence is not uncritically placed in any instrument of technology. 

“Our strength lies in being Church, believing community, able to bear witness to all the perennial newness of the Risen One, with a life that blooms in fullness in the measure that it opens up, enters into relation, gives itself gratuitously.”

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