Late last year I had the privilege of sitting in on a class at Christendom College, taught by Dr John Cuddeback, on the philosophy of the household. Dr Cuddeback’s rhetorical style was deeply engaging: soft spoken, he gripped his audience with the intensity and conviction of expression that he brought to the topic. It was an excellent class, and I was delighted to discover that he runs a website with content and mini-courses dedicated to the same topic: the philosophy of the household, and growth in virtue through the real.
Paradoxically, one of Dr Cuddeback’s main goals is to get people in touch with each other and out of the virtual world of screens… but he uses online media to do so. I believe his attitude in this regard is very balanced; he spoke in class of the difficult balance between using media for good purposes and not letting it take over one’s life. Personally, I think it’s always better to err on the side of less technology. But since we can use it for good, I highly recommend taking some time with Dr Cuddeback’s website.
His YouTube channel provides various videos and shorts on household and relationship topics, including: what to learn from observing the way women love, or how exciting firewood is! Dr Cuddeback brings enthusiasm to everything from pig-slaughtering to how to deal with failure. In the first it’s a matter of gratitude for God’s creation; in the second, a matter of focusing on the “them” in the sentence “I failed them” which can trouble a man. Whatever need you failed them in in the past: “they need you now; live in the present.”
Much of the YouTube content is about spousal and parental interactions, like how to argue or apologize for mistaken affection (a really profound one), the importance of affirming children, or much more fundamental questions like “Who is taking care of my wife?” In a brief article on friendship and conversation, he notes how important having someone to share our vision with is: “To see by oneself is scarcely to see. Seeing and sharing, seeing together, is to come alive.” In an age where “sharing” proliferates on many shallow levels, the need for real sharing is all the greater.
This provides an amazing angle into the place of friendship in human life. Having someone to tell. This is the heart of true friendship, as well as a flourishing marriage: here we are drawn to tell what we see. And our vision becomes keener. We have more reason to see, from the incomparable joy of sharing and so seeing together.
Ultimately, Dr Cuddeback is saying very ordinary things. In a blog post, he writes:
One remains calm, and gets to work. There is good news here. Given the intrinsically ‘ordinary’ character of such activities, as a rule they will always be there for the choosing—even if it takes intentional effort; and even if it feels like we’re swimming against a riptide…just trying to do the ordinary.
Of first importance is realizing that we are not alone. There are growing numbers of people who want something better and who are making different choices. I see them with my own eyes. Families are opting for the ordinary. And they are achieving something extraordinary.
If you also are trying to something extraordinary: to grow in virtue; to develop manly (or womanly) skills; to help those you love live rich lives full of beauty and love, perhaps you can learn something from Dr Cuddeback’s Life-craft site. It is meditative media at its best; high quality, but without distracting fluff. This is because it comes from decades of experience and philosophical reflection. It might be a drop in an ocean of media, but it’s a life-crafting drop—and you only need a drop to water a seed.