About Lou Markos
Professor in English
Robert H. Ray Chair in Humanities
Scholar in Residence
If you need a professional, high-resolution digital picture of me for advertising or promotion, please view the following gallery. If you use one of these pictures, I just ask that you please give credit to the Houston Baptist University photographer who took the pictures, Michael Tims. Thank you.
Office: UAC #100B;
Phone: (281) 649-3617 (office)
Fax: (281) 649-3012
Mail: Department of English
Houston Baptist University
7502 Fondren Road
Houston, TX 77074
Louis Markos holds a BA in English and History from Colgate University and an MA and PhD in English from the University of Michigan. He is a Professor of English and Scholar in Residence at Houston Baptist University, where he teaches courses on British Romantic and Victorian Poetry and Prose, the Classics, C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, and Film.
Dr. Markos holds the Robert H. Ray Chair in Humanities and teaches classes on Ancient Greece and Rome for HBU’s Honors College. He is the author of From Achilles to Christ: Why Christians Should Read the Pagan Classics, Pressing Forward: Alfred, Lord Tennyson and the Victorian Age, The Eye of the Beholder: How to See the World like a Romantic Poet, Lewis Agonistes: How C. S. Lewis can Train us to Wrestle with the Modern and Postmodern World, Apologetics for the 21st Century, and Restoring Beauty: The Good, the True, and the Beautiful in the Writings of C. S. Lewis, Literature: A Student’s Guide, and On the Shoulders of Hobbits: The Road to Virtue in Tolkien and Lewis. His Heaven and Hell: Visions of the Afterlife in the Western Poetic Tradition is due out in 2013-4. All these books are available at his amazon author page:
He has also produced two lecture series with the Teaching Company, The Life and Writings of C. S. Lewis; Plato to Postmodernism: Understanding the Essence of Literature and the Role of the Author (available at www.teach12.com), published 100 articles and reviews in such journals as Christianity Today, Touchstone, Theology Today, Christian Research Journal, Mythlore, Christian Scholar’s Review, Saint Austin Review, American Arts Quarterly, and The City, and had his modern adaptation of Euripides’ Iphigenia in Tauris, Euripides’ Helen, and Sophocles’ Electra performed off-Broadway in the Fall of 2011, Fall of 2012, and Spring of 2013, respectively. His adaptations of Medea and Oedipus are on the docket for 2014.
He is a popular speaker in Houston, and has spoken on such topics as C. S. Lewis, ancient Greece, ancient Rome, and Dante in over a dozen states and in Oxford and Rome. He is committed to the concept of the Professor as Public Educator and believes that knowledge must not be walled up in the Academy but must be disseminated to all who have ears to hear. He lives in Houston with his wife, Donna, his son, Alex, and his daughter, Stacey.
I invite anyone with questions (either about myself, my work, or HBU) to call or email me at the numbers listed above. Those living in the Houston area who would like to visit my home Bible Study or would like to sit in on one of my classes are also encouraged to contact me. If you would like to have me speak for your group, please feel free to contact me at any of the numbers above (see Lectures, Speeches, & Papers for a list of the various topics on which I have spoken). I would be happy to work with you to put together a conference or an individual talk. Those who would like to read one of the many essays I have written are encouraged to scroll through my Books & Essays section for the titles and descriptions of some of these essays and to click on the links for a full text of the essay. Also see Announcements for talks that I will be giving in the near future. Finally, if you scroll through the description of each of my books, you will find a link that will allow you to read a selected chapter from that book. As I hope is clear by now, I am quite accessible and would be happy to correspond with you on a host of academic/literary matters; I would also be happy to answer any of your questions (or engage in dialogue with you) about Jesus, the Bible, and the Christian faith. Please don’t hesitate to write.
Personal Vision Statement
Although a devoted professor who works closely with his students, I am dedicated to the concept of the professor as public educator. I firmly believe that knowledge must not be walled up in the academy, but must be freely and enthusiastically disseminated to all those “who have ears to hear.” As a specifically Christian professor, I also adhere to a second goal: to fuse into a single stream the humanist strivings of Athens and the Christian truths of Jerusalem. Believing that “all truth is God’s truth,” I seek to measure all human knowledge against the touchstone of orthodox Christian doctrine (the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, and the Resurrection). Believing further that Christianity is not the only truth but the only COMPLETE truth, I seek to discover in the cultures, mythologies, religions and philosophies of the ancient (and modern) world intimations and foreshadowings of the greater truths revealed in Christ and the Bible. In pursuing this goal, my three principle mentors have been Plato, Dante, and C. S. Lewis, my central vision has been that of the Magi (whose pagan wisdom proved a partial guide to encountering the Christ child), and my core biblical passage Paul’s address to the Areopagus at Athens (Acts 17).
I was born on January 22, 1964, exactly two months after the death of C. S. Lewis and the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I grew up in Mountainside, NJ in the Greek Orthodox faith of my 100% Greek family (all four of my grandparents were born in Greece and immigrated to America around 1930). Through the ministry of my 4th grade husband-and-wife Sunday School teachers (participants in the Jesus Movement of the late 60′s/early 70′s), I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior at the age of 11. Although I learned and grew spiritually in the Orthodox Church, my real spiritual growth occurred during my undergraduate years at Colgate when I was a member of Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship. Since that time, I have been a strong supporter of the para-Church movement and have retained both a non-denominational focus and a firm commitment to small-group prayer and Bible Study.
Though I maintain to this day a love for the traditions and mysteries of the Orthodox faith, the Lord eventually led me into the realm of evangelical protestantism, with its firm focus on the Bible and its strong commitment to share the Gospel. Perhaps the best way to describe my theology is to say that I am an Evangelical but not a Calvinist: which is to say, I believe in salvation by grace through faith, the authority of scripture, and the sovereignty of God while yet affirming fully the reality, integrity, and temporal and eternal consequences of human choice. In addition, though I believe that man is fallen and that he cannot save himself apart from Christ, I do not believe in total depravity: that is to say, I believe that man (though fallen) still retains the image of God and is capable of limited moral behavior and can act in such a way as to “attract” the notice of God (as does Cornelius in Acts). Though I am not a pentecostal, I affirm the existence of all the spiritual gifts; though I am not a Catholic, I have fed lavishly on the rich tradition of Catholic theology and practice and in many ways model much of my thought on Origen, Dante, and Erasmus. For me, the Christian faith is not a dry academic thing, nor a set of legalistic codes, nor a stick to beat others with, but a love affair, a living, personal relationship that imbues everything I write (whether it be sacred or secular) and that enables me to find seeds of God’s Beauty and Truth in all ages and all peoples.
What I Believe
I am a Christian. I believe in a divine Creator who exists outside of his creation and yet is actively involved in it. I believe this Creator, though he transcends historical time and space, is the prime mover of history–both sacred and secular. I believe this Creator created the first man and woman in his own image to live in a state of grace, but that they disobeyed the Creator and fell from grace. I believe that at a precise moment in time this Creator, out of his love for fallen humanity, entered into his creation in the form of a man. I believe this man, Jesus Christ, to be fully human and fully divine and believe that through his sacrificial death on the cross the reconciliation of Man and God was effected. I believe Jesus resurrected bodily from the tomb, is alive today, and can be known personally and intimately by those who open their hearts to him. I believe the Creator and Jesus exist eternally in the relationship of Father and Son and yet share in the same God-head. I believe the Holy Spirit also shares in this God-head. I believe the Holy Spirit is active both in the Church and the life of each individual believer and that he endows each believer with gifts. I believe history is moving unswervingly toward a telos (a purposeful end), at which time Christ will return to establish his kingdom and judge, finally and irrevocably, all of humanity. I believe both that the soul is immortal, and that, at the Final Judgment Day, we will be clothed in glorious Resurrection Bodies like the one that Christ wore when he ascended to the Father. I believe that, after the Final Judgment, those who have received unto themselves Christ’s free gift of grace will spend eternity in the presence of God (heaven) while those who have closed their hearts to this gift will be cast forever out of the presence of God (hell). I believe the Bible is a faithful and wholly trustworthy account of God’s interactions with and interventions in human history, that, like Jesus, it is fully human and fully divine, and that it holds absolute authority in the life of the believer.
I am a humanist. I believe man is a free and rational creature who possesses innate dignity and value, and whose life and achievements on this earth are of intrinsic and lasting worth. I believe in the power of human reason and creativity to shape and change the world, to delve into the mysteries of nature and of the human psyche, to order human society through the establishment of laws, institutions, and ethical codes, to perfect nature through the cultivation of the arts and the sciences, and to preserve a record, in various mediums, of these accomplishments. I believe the proper study of man is man, and, as the civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome constitute the root and first flowering of humanistic thought, I believe that Greco-Roman art, literature, history, philosophy, and religion must form the basis of any true education. I believe it is the duty of every enlightened individual to seek to know and to participate in the flow of human ideas through a study of and a grappling with the major expressions of the human imagination. I believe such a study must lead in the end to the creation of good and noble citizens who seek both to enrich their society without and to fulfill within the Socratic mandate: Know Thyself.
I am a humanist Christian. I stand, like the Colossus of Rhodes, with my legs stretched out across two shores: my right foot poised atop Golgotha (Jerusalem); my left upon the Acropolis (Athens). I feel neither discomfort nor conflict, and, though I do yearn within for the day when my legs will be drawn together in a geographical consummation that will leave both my feet planted firmly in the good soil of Zion (New Jerusalem), I do not perceive that these opposing shores are either hostile or alien. I do not hear, as Matthew Arnold did, the sound of ignorant armies clashing by night. I hear rather the low rumble of deep calling out to deep, as though the Eastern shore were calling out to the Western like a lover wooing his beloved. And I sense (as even Arnold did in a moment of illumination) that the two shores are but torn halves of a single continent. Once unified, now divided, they are yet joined by two criss-crossing lights, two beams in darkness. The guiding light that flows from the one (Jerusalem) illuminates and dignifies the other (Athens), while the searching light that gropes outward from the other loses itself finally in the one.
I am a humanist Christian. Though I admit the euphonic superiority of the alternate phrase, Christian humanist, I must still insist on the grammatical (and perhaps ontological) precision of the former phrase. Christian is the substantive; humanist the descriptive. I am a humanist Christian in the same sense that I am a Greek American. I, like my parents, was born and raised in America. My self-identity, my allegiance, my very reason for being are linked to America. But my grandparents were born and raised in Greece, and there is a something in my soul that yet responds to this ancestry, that resonates with the legacy of three millennia. My firm citizenship in the one frees me to explore those elemental ties to the other that even now flow along my blood like the sound of Derwent water flowed along the dreams of the young Wordsworth. My participation in my Greek heritage individualizes and strengthens me, a strength and an individuality that I carry with me into my primary and fuller citizenship.
Christian is the substantive; humanist the descriptive. Of the two, Christian (and all that it implies) is the more real, the more concrete term. In my own experience, it is the “evidence of things not seen” that forms the firm foundation of my life and thought. The Trinity, the Incarnation, the Resurrection, these are my verities, the touchstones against which I measure all earthly manifestations. I am aware that I have just switched the poles. Like Plato, I have suggested that what we loosely term heaven is in fact the home of the real, the essential, the actual (the Forms) while this world is but the haunt of shadows (indeed of the shadows of shadows). Like Descartes, I have suggested that I have more proof (more real proof) of the existence of God and of mind/soul (Plato’s psyche) than I do of the physical world of matter. And to some extent I mean to suggest this. The final locus of reality must belong to the one who created reality, to the cause, not the effect, to the mover, not that which is moved. The one who, though outside time, initiated, controls, and will bring to an end human history must be more truly historical than any mere facet of the historical process itself. The Incarnation is not a mere aesthetic expression of the human need for cosmic reconciliation; it is the historical and meta-historical reality that is both the source of and the answer to the deepest needs (aesthetic or otherwise) of mankind. Christ incarnate, crucified, resurrected seizes the mind with the power of reality, not of myth. It is rather those sublime expressions of humanistic thought that resonate with mythic force and that point, forward and backward, to the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Why I Teach
The reasons that I teach are many-fold: 1) to introduce students to the great issues and ideas of our tradition and to encourage them to wrestle with these ideas in a serious, adult fashion; 2) to teach students, through the medium of great literature, that the choices we make in life have consequences and to foster in them the desire to seek answers to the great questions (Who am I? Why am I here? What is the basis of my self worth? etc.); 3) to instill in students a love for literature and for meaningful academic exchange; 4) to counsel and edify students who are going through transitional periods in their lives and to offer them my wisdom, experience, insight, and compassion as a friendly guide; 5) to help students to develop their creative and analytical powers and their ability (and desire) to express themselves in written form; 6) to teach students to think within the strictures of my discipline (literature).
But this is only a partial answer, for I must answer why I desire to teach at a Christian university. My call is to teach Christian students that they need not be afraid of knowledge, but that indeed all truth is God’s truth. I teach them that it is the duty of every enlightened individual to seek to know and to participate in the flow of human ideas through a study of and a grappling with the major expressions of the human imagination, and that this duty is not inconsistent with scripture but is rather a sublime affirmation that man IS a rational creature created in the image of God whose deepest yearnings are for the Way, the Truth, and the Life. True, only Christ and the Bible provide us with the full and complete revelation of this truth, but non-Christian literature can point us toward that truth and raise those essential human questions that Christ came to answer. It is my vision that HBU students would not avoid humanistic studies, but learn to discern in them those transcendent issues and desires whose final source is the triune God. It is on the basis of my success in this endeavor that I wish finally to be judged as a teacher.