Levan Center: St. John’s Lecture. Greg Schneider and The Brothers Karamazov

Full Moon April 2 2015 early morning

My brief Spring Break trip to Hawaii has confirmed that spring breaks are a necessity for sanity and this year, I’m taking full advantage of it.  Here is the full moon over the pacific at 4:00 a.m. Hawaii time on April 2nd.  I am out on the balcony of my room catching up on some of reading and social media…reflecting on difficulties facing a few of our colleagues who are dealing with medical issues related to themselves or loved ones.  These are by far the most difficult times one faces on life.  So here is some Hawaiian warmth, love and well wishes coming your way.

Last week, Jack Hernandez invited Dr. Greg Schneider to BC for the annual St. John’s Levan lecture. I had a crazy day and at 7:00 p.m., walking into the Levan Center, I felt exhausted with the weight of the world on my shoulders. However, the lecture had me captivated the entire time….Schneider’s words elevated me so much so that when I was driving back I felt uplifted.

Greg Schneider, to me, was pretty hardcore; his piece was meticulous with deep-dive analysis and thorough, insightful evaluation that reflects a top-notch mind.


Dr. Greg Schneider

A faculty member at St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Schneider delivered a fascinating interpretation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s classic novel “The Brothers Karamazov.”

Most who know the Russian master’s final work are already familiar with the deep philosophical themes of God and morality at play in the story of murdered patriarch Fyodor Karamazov and his three extremely different sons.  But Schneider’s intriguing take delved into the connection between the mind and body of the novel’s characters, showcasing how physical moments in the book inform and explain the intellectual ideas at the heart of the story.

Schneider-Karamazov-5I loved the way he examined how a bow, or a kiss, or a character laying on the ground speaks to concepts like mutual responsibility or spiritual vs. atheistic arguments in the 135-year-old story.

Studying great works of the past has special value when you look at it through the prism of our 21st century world, illuminating how universal themes resonate through time to a modern audience.

As Schneider beautifully expounded on Doestoyevsky’s realm of murder and moral ambiguity, it wasn’t a long walk to connect his thoughts with some of the dangers and crises, both domestic and international, darkening our world today.


Tom and Pauline Larwood with other attendees at the Levan lecture

It’s in moments like those, applying elements of long-forgotten answers to some of our most perplexing modern-day questions, that academia is uniquely engaging, a kind of archaeology, unearthing treasures of the past for the enrichment and betterment of today and future generations.

And isn’t that what education is all about, anyway? I was sorry my mentee Mariaha wasn’t there there to experience this brilliant Levan lecture.  Dr. Norm Levan’s gift is so meaningful to the communities of Bakersfield, Arvin, Lamont, Wasco, McFarland, Shafter, and Delano.  It is our obligation at BC to expose our own minds and the minds of our students and community to first-rate scholarship and thought shared by the likes of Schneider.

Thank you, Dr. Schneider, Levan Center director Dr. Jack Hernandez and most of all, thank you Norm Levan. Here’s to you for making this a possibility at Bakersfield College.

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2 thoughts on “Levan Center: St. John’s Lecture. Greg Schneider and The Brothers Karamazov

  1. Pablo Cervantes April 3, 2015 at 11:58 am Reply

    I hope you are having a blast in Hawaii! Be safe and enjoy (:

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