Dr. Joseph Loconte.
Undergraduate: University of Illinois for Journalism.
Masters: Wheaton College for Christian History and Theology.
PhD: The King’s College, London while studying John Locke.
Brooklyn, New York.
Advisor to the House of Margaret Thatcher.
We all know and love him. As student’s makes their way through the Western Civilization courses at King’s, some of us have the pleasure of listening to Professor Loconte’s storytelling every week. We get drawn in and are intrigued at his unique approach to telling the history of the West. I was so excited when Loconte agreed to let me interview him this week. It was nothing short of what I expected.
I started off with a question dealing with history because there is no better way to start off a Loconte conversation than with that. He told me how if there was one event in history he could change, it would probably be the Munich Agreement of 1938 (as that is currently our topic in class). “The moment of Munich in 1938 is where the European democracies traded away the sovereignty of Czechoslovakia for the promise of peace with Hitler. I would have tried to bring in the United States and Great Britain to agree and confront Hitler at that moment. That could have averted the Second World War and the catastrophe of that conflict.” I highly enjoyed learning about this topic in class. I hadn’t learned too much about it previously, so having Professor Loconte dig into the material with us explaining how this one decision had affected the whole war surprised me more than expected.
We had a switch of topic when we began talking a little bit about Loconte’s childhood. He told me he is the same as his childhood self because there is still a part of him that is just naturally shy. “I used to hide when it was time to go to a birthday party because that meant going to meet new people. It was something I did not want to do. That little shy boy is still in me.” This was really surprising to me that someone so friendly as Professor Loconte still has some shy inclinations. He told me the story of when he first started writing for his school paper the first week of class, that he was very intimidated and felt out of his depth when he was forced to go talk to people. “I had to get information out of people who didn’t want to talk to me to write an article I didn’t know how to write. That was incredibly intimidating, but it had to be done. It was one of those panic moments.” On the opposite spectrum, Loconte still loves a good adventure which didn’t surprise me very much. He said, “The uncertainty of adventure and discovery is still appealing to me.”
One of Dr. Loconte’s greatest personal heros is certainly Winston Churchill. “I can’t think of a more impressive statesmen from the 20th century. Not just because he had such a great love and understanding of history or that he was such a great orator, but that he had such moral courage.” I loved hearing this. Loconte’s acknowledgment that Churchill was a great orator and understood history are great things, but his moral courage to stand up for what he knew was right in a pressing time is the most impressive of all. Like Churchill, Professor Loconte told me that without sounding pious, his driving force is “to honor God with the time and gifts that he’s given me.”
If you’ve sat in on Loconte’s class, you must admit that one of your favorite things is probably his music selection. Lately, he’s gotten into jazz, specifically Chet Baker! He’s also a huge Beetles fan. “The Beetles songs are impossible to narrow down to just one. When I’m melancholy, I always listen to “Yesterday.” When I’m not feeling melancholy, its “Here Comes the Sun.” I, of course agree, “Here Comes the Sun” is always a winner in my book. Professor Loconte also told me how you can never go wrong with Benny Goodman. However, when listening to “Sing, Sing, Sing” you must remember the long version is the only acceptable version!
If you haven’t had a chance to sit in on any of Professor Loconte’s class, I would definitely seek to make that a priority in your next semester. You will laugh. You will cry. You will feel more American than ever before. Don’t miss out on reading his latest book either, A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-18. Next time you see him, ask him about Winston Churchill or Margaret Thatcher, his childhood growing up in Brooklyn, or his love of the Beetles.
Follow Dr. Joseph Loconte on twitter here!
Check out his most recent book here!