by Margarita Mooney
It’s more authentic to stand before a young person and humbly say, “I’ve found something I’m eager to share with you, and I want to provoke you to go on your own journey for the truth,” than to deny that teachers, mentors, and other role models are speaking from tradition with authority.
For the past several years, I have assigned Monsignor Luigi Giussani’s The Risk of Education as the final book in a seminar I teach on liberal arts education. One student’s response to Risk of Education echoed what I felt when I first picked up a book by Giussani, just a few years ago. She remarked that “Giussani uses common words in uncommon ways, which is strange.” Pausing, she then continued, “But it’s also compelling.”
Giussani, the Italian Catholic priest and founder of Communion and Liberation, isn’t playing language games. Rather, the unconventional ways that he defines terms like tradition, authority, reason, verification, and provocation are actually challenges to implicit assumptions about the person and community that are expressed in our use (or misuse) of language. Thus, Risk of Education isn’t only a model for educators. It’s also a critique of modernity—and a sketch of a way forward.
Originally published on 15 April 2019 at Public Discourse