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Joe Stack ('17)Joseph Stack (’17) is doing his part to revive the study of the Angelic Doctor with The Daily Thomist, an online newsletter which “breaks down the ideas of Thomas Aquinas and others into brief, digestible pieces so you can live an intellectual life while you are busy.”

Mr. Stack himself has faced the challenge of sustaining a life of study in the midst of a busy career. “Immediately after graduation, I got into the business world,” he recalls. “I found myself in a lot of conversations about the TAC curriculum, which was refreshing and rewarding. I realized that people were really starved for this!”

Though he would retain that insight, Mr. Stack was not bound to stay in business. He left professional life in 2019 for a period of religious discernment, after which he began his current pursuit of a doctorate in philosophy at the University of St. Thomas in Houston. One of his duties includes serving as an undergraduate instructor — a task with an onerous reputation among graduate students, but which he has found enjoyable.

“It’s a completely different experience,” says Mr. Stack. “Just in terms of the intellectual virtues required, and even the moral virtues. It requires a sense of humility. It’s easy to raise objections against the teacher, but it’s hard to answer those in a satisfying way as a teacher.” As an instructor in philosophy, he especially enjoys touching on points of Catholic doctrine with his students. “Engaging them with serious discussion and seeing their souls change is awesome.”

When Mr. Stack integrated this newfound love of teaching with his earlier insight that professionals are no less interested in the intellectual life than are academics, The Daily Thomist was born. “Being able to go to graduate school is a privilege, but it doesn’t mean that others can’t do it in different circumstances,” he says. “Everyone can live an intellectual life with those around them; we’re meant to live such a life with friends. I wanted to contribute to that in some way.”

Those contributions take the form of short posts unpacking Thomism — from basic definitions to reflections on St. Thomas’s political thought and the Trinitarian processions. In every case, however, the key is accessibility. “Philosophy can become popular, if presented and formatted the right way to reach a wider audience,” he says, citing the increasingly mainstream popularity of other classical — but false — philosophical traditions. “I say I’m a philosophy Ph.D. student, and people usually respond, ‘Oh, yeah? I read philosophy too.’ But I ask them about it, and they read Stoicism!” he laughs. “I want the Uber driver to turn around and say, ‘I read philosophy, too — St. Thomas Aquinas!’”

Thanks to The Daily Thomist, that just may happen.