Ralston College presents a conversation between Stephen Blackwood and award-winning architect and author Marwa Al-Sabouni, followed by an audience Q&A. A voice of penetrating clarity and prophetic power, Al-Sabouni discusses the role of architecture in cultivating or undermining our social fabric, arguing that the seeds of the devastating Syria Civil War were sown by the choices of architects and city planners. Though born of particular and painful experience, Al-Sabouni’s insights on the nature of human life and community are universal, and offer consolation and hope amidst the civic alienation and aesthetic degradation facing so many of us today.

The event took place online on June 24th, 2021.

In Part II of their discussion Stephen Blackwood and Alexander Stoddart speak about the transhistorical community of past, present, and future. Stoddart explicates his Schopenhauerian view of art as life-denying and thus paradoxically able to help us relinquish our own will to power. He contrasts this view with that of a shallow presentism, a self-absorbed modernist outlook that views the present as inherently superior to both past and future, cutting off its own vital resources and neglecting its fundamental obligations. Stoddart shows another way.

Artists, Art, and Writings Mentioned in this Episode: Homer; Palmyra; Br’er Rabbit and the Tar-Baby; Arthur Schopenhauer; Sean-Paul Sartre; Michel Foucault; Friedrich Nietzsche; Walter Scott; Richard Wagner; Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina; Charles Dickens; Walter Pater; Gian Lorenzo Bernini; Buddhas of Bamiyan; Trajan’s Forum; The Colosseum; Bartolomeo Colleoni Monument; The Shard of London; Albert Speer’s Volkshalle (“People’s Hall”); T. S. Eliot: “Four Quartets”; Gone with the Wind, House of Tara (Antebellum architecture); Richard James Wyatt; Lincoln Memorial; John Flaxman: Am I Not a Man; Thomas Banks profile of Thomas Muir of Huntershill (https://www.nationalgalleries.org/art-and-artists/artists/thomas-banks); Edgar Degas; Paul Cézanne; Pierre-Auguste Renoir; The Acropolis; Tyche; Statue of Tyche and Plutus in Istanbul; Statue of Liberty; Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro; Mount Rushmore

Have we killed Homer for good? Stephen Blackwood and historian-farmer Victor Davis Hanson examine the state of the contemporary West by returning to its ancient Greek origins. They explore the richness of its first principles, including self-critique, the elevation of rational understanding, the democratization of learning, and the unification of thought and action. They also bring to light our current cultural crisis: the uncritical rejection of the inherited past, an intellectualism divorced from reality, and a surrender to relativism at the cost of true self-reflection. They close by reflecting on the lateness of the hour, and offer a vital call to seek and speak truth, to ignite the fire of independence of mind, and to remember that while we may know more than those who came before, they are, as T.S. Eliot said, that which we know.

Ralston College presents a lecture with Andrew Doyle followed by a discussion and audience Q & A with Stephen Blackwood. Doyle discusses his new book, ‘Free Speech and Why it Matters,’ and offers trenchant examples of recent curtailment of the freedom of speech and thought. He provides a lively account of why free speech and free expression are vital for a thriving culture and describes the kinds of degradation that result when a wide array of ideas are not examined in the public square. The event took place online on March 4, 2021.