Explore by Author

Introducing some friends, mentors, and voices featured in John’s Wednesday Reflections. Discover what their perspectives can teach us about living well today.


Hesiod (8th century B.C.)

Hesiod was a Greek contemporary of Homer, and likewise an epic poet. His Works and Days sketches the year-round work on a homestead.

Start with: Time to Plow Again

Socrates (c. 469-399 B.C.)

Socrates is known primarily through the writings of his great student Plato. Plato’s Apology gives an account of the trial in which Socrates was condemned to death by an Athenian jury.

Start with: When in Doubt: The Go-To Principle, Living an Examined Life, and Looking Forward to Death

Xenophon (430-354 B.C.)

Xenophon was a soldier, historian, and philosopher of Athens. Like Plato, he wrote dialogues featuring Socrates as a great teacher. Among these dialogues is Oeconomicus, translated as The Estate Manager, in which we get an insight into the structure and principles of the ancient household, and perhaps ours too.

Start with: Need: The Hidden Key to Wealth, Two Reasons to Take Cool Showers and Eating Like a Human

Ben Sira

Ben Sira (died 175 B.C.)

Ben Sira is a Jewish scribe whose writings present the cosmos as a masterpiece of order.

Start with: Why a Doctor Prays and The Hunt for Wisdom


Virgil (70-19 B.C.)

Virgil, a great Roman poet, is the author of The Aeneid and the lesser-known work, The Georgics. In the Divine Comedy he appears as Dante’s guide through hell and purgatory. 

Start with: Cleaving the Earth with a Plow, Another Gift in Suffering, Cherishing Your Spouse in Your Children, and Thankful for When Children Were Young

Augustine of Hippo

Augustine (354-430 A.D.)

Augustine was one of the greatest minds and most influential writers in early Christianity. In addition to his Confessions, the landmark autobiography in which he details his conversion from vanity and sexual immorality, he wrote numerous works in defense and exposition of his late-found faith, most notably The City of God.

Start with: The Key to Peace and Enduring Change


Benedict of Nursia (480-524 A.D.)

Saint Benedict of Nursia is considered the father of western monasticism.

Start with: Silence of Monks

Ben Sira

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 A.D.)

Saint Thomas Aquinas is considered one of the greatest of medieval theologians and philosophers. He called Aristotle “The Philosopher” and wrote commentaries on all his major works.

Start with: Hearing the Way to Life


Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1899 A.D.)

Gerard Manley Hopkins was an English Jesuit priest and is considered one of the greatest of Victorian poets.

Start with: What is all this Juice?


Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953 A.D.)

Hilaire Belloc, born of a French father and English mother, was a poet, historian, and essayist.

Start with: Making the Times that Matter and The Fall of Leaves


J. R. R. Tolkien (1892-1973 A.D.)

J. R. R. Tolkien was an English professor, poet, and author. His fictional works, most notably the The Lord of the Rings trilogy, are among the best-selling books ever published.

Start with: Living in Times You Did Not Choose and The Last Defense of Our Homes


Josef Pieper (1904-1997 A.D.)

Josef Pieper was a German philosopher in the tradition of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Many of his works have been translated into English and are still in print, including Leisure the Basis of Culture, Happiness and Contemplation, A Theory of Festivity, and The Four Cardinal Virtues, to name a few.

Start with: A New Attitude Toward Tradition and Easter, That the Hidden Festivity Break Through


Wendell Berry (1934-)

Wendell Berry (1934–) is a farmer, essayist, novelist, and activist who lives on his homeplace in northern Kentucky.

Start with: Every Household: The Home of Stewardship and Knowing Where Our Food Comes From

Leon Kass (1936-)

Leon Kass (1939–) is Addie Clark Harding Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago. In his words, he is an “old-fashioned humanist. A humanist is concerned broadly with all aspects of human life, not just the ethical.”

Start with: Start with How You Eat and Reclaiming Manners Silence of Monks


Confucius (551-479 B.C.)

Confucius was a Chinese philosopher whose moral teachings have had an immense impact on both Asian and non-Asian peoples. The Analects is the major source of his teachings. 

Start with: Restoring Respects for Elders and The Manliness Behind the Martial


Thucydides (460-395 B.C.)

Thucydides was a great Athenian historian and general.

Start with: Discipline and Silence and When Your Way of Life is Out of Date

Plato (427-347 B.C.)

Plato, student of Socrates, and teacher of Aristotle, is considered one of the greatest philosophers of all time. Plato’s Republic is one of the most widely read and influential of all books.

Start with: Saved by Education, Being Free from Jealousy and Gestures: A Meeting of Body and Soul

Aristotle (384-322 B.C.)

Aristotle, student of Plato and tutor of Alexander the Great, has been considered by many to be the greatest ancient philosopher. The Nicomachean Ethics is his major ethical work. His other works include Physics, Metaphysics, Politics, and On the Soul and Poetics.

Start with: Desire Not in Vain, What Aristotle Says About Christmas and Aristotle and the Elections


Cicero (106-43 B.C.)

Cicero was a great Roman statesman, orator, and philosopher.

Start with: You Know You’re Middle-Aged When…


Plutarch (46-120 A.D.)

Plutarch, a Boeotian Greek who became a Roman citizen, was especially known as a biographer of famous Greek and Roman men.

Start with: What We Are Watching and The Glory of Being Poor


Boethius (477-524 A.D.)

Boethius was a Roman senator and philosopher. His Consolation of Philosophy is a seminal work that brought ancient thinking to the medieval world.

Start with: Out Standing on the Earth


Gregory the Great (c. 540-604 A.D.)

Gregory the Great set aside the wealth of his Roman family to pursue the monastic life. Called to a life of action as a papal legate, he was later elected pope, in which office he became known as a reformer.

Start with: Learning to Wait

Ben Sira

William Shakespeare (1564-1616 A.D.)

William Shakespeare was a renowned English poet, playwright, and actor.

Start with: A Man’s Fear about Being a Man and Love First Learned from a Lady

Ben Sira

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894 A.D.)

Robert Louis Stevenson is the great Scottish author of Treasure Island, Kidnapped, A Child’s Garden of Verses, and other classics.

Start with: Making Good Play Happen Today, Playing in the Sand, Slumber Hold Me Tightly: The Gift of Sleep 

Ben Sira

Pierre-Thomas Dehau (1870-1953 A.D.)

Pierre-Thomas Dehau was a French priest and a friar of the Dominican Order. His books include Eve and Mary and The Living Water, which is the text of a retreat he gave.

Start with: The Primacy of Contemplation

Ben Sira

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008 A.D.)

Aleksandr Solzhentisyn was a major Russian literary figure whose works include The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. His 1978 Harvard commencement address established him as a controversial critic not only of socialism and his native homeland but also of the western ‘free’ world.

Start with: Defending Your Right Not to Know and The Longing for Things Higher


Christopher Alexander (1936-2022)

Christopher Alexander was born in Austria and was an emeritus professor of architecture at the University of California, where he taught for almost forty years. He has been widely influential through his theories of architecture, and is especially known for his 1977 book, A Pattern Language.

Start with: Restoring Home Life: Room by Room

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