October 23, 2018
“What is the highest of all practical goods?” asked Aristotle at the beginning of The Nichomachean Ethics. “Well,” he went on, “so far as the name goes, there is pretty general agreement. ‘It is happiness’.” Aristotle then continued, “But when it comes to saying in what happiness consists, opinions differ.” As the Ray Conniff singers sang back in 1966, “Happiness is different things to different people.” And within our culture even the most irreligious people would answer, Amen.
But is happiness simply different things to different people? Or are their common threads? Can we explore happiness and human nature to learn what happiness is apart from everyone’s subjective opinion?
For Aristotle—and with him the Western tradition until just recently—the answer is, Yes. We can discover what happiness is, a quest he took up in The Nichomachean Ethics.
Dr. Michael Bolin has been teaching Aristotle’s Ethics to Wyoming Catholic College juniors this semester. Dr. Bolin is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.
September 18, 2018
Last week theologian Dr. Jeremy Holmes gave us an introduction to St. John Paul II’s 1993 encyclical, Veritatis Splendor, The Splendor of Truth.
St. John Paul II wrote the encyclical in response to trends in moral theology that for the most part denied that morality can be universal, objective, and permanent.
He critiqued any doctrines that would “grant to individuals or social groups the right to determine what is good or evil.”
Yet we make judgments about good and evil every day and the source of those judgments is our consciences.
Dr. Kent Lasnoski teaches moral theology at Wyoming Catholic College and has for many years been a student of St. John Paul II and his ethical writings. In this edition of The After Dinner Scholar, he explains the nature of conscience in Pope St. John Paul's writings.
September 11, 2018
As George Weigel’s biography of St. John Paul II makes clear, even as a young man, Karol Wojtyła had a passionate concern for truth. In his theological and philosophical studies, the question “What is truth?” was utmost in his mind along with the question of how to communicate the truth to others. And truth became a theme of his pontificate.
Twenty-five years ago last month on August 6, 1993, the Feast of the Transfiguration, John Paul promulgated the encyclical Veritatis Splendor, The Splendor of Truth. What he had to say needed to be heard twenty-five years ago and needs to be heard with even greater urgency today.
In this week’s podcast, part one of a two part series, Dr. Jeremy Holmes explains the need for the encyclical, the argument St. John Paul made, and some of the errors he addressed.
August 7, 2018
The religions of the Babylonian Empire and the Persian Empire that followed it were, from a Jewish point of view, idolatry pure and simple. Bowing down to a giant golden image, praying only to the king were unacceptable to those who worshipped the Lord, God of Israel.
Daniel along with his companions—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—however, were captives in those empires. Because of their intelligence and the grace of God, they were given special privileges and responsibilities as part of the government of the empires. But they could have been demoted from satrap to slave in about two seconds. Or from satrap to pile of hot ashes or lion food in just a bit longer than two seconds.
At the Wyoming School of Catholic Thought in June, Dr. Jim Tonkowich lectured about the meaning of courage in the Bible and then led a discussion about courage in the Book of Daniel.
In this podcast, Prof. Kyle Washut interviews Dr. Tonkowich on the topic of courage in the Bible and the Book of Daniel.
July 31, 2018
For most American Christians, contraception is simply a part of life requiring no more thought than whether to eat lunch or bathe regularly. It’s just done. What most don’t know is that for more than 1900 years, every Christian church taught that artificial contraception was a grave sin.
That changed in 1930 when the Anglican Communion ruled that contraception by married couples in certain limited circumstances was permissible. In 1931, the Federal Council of Churches—precursor to the National Council of Churches—followed suit.
Thirty-seven years later, on July 25, 1968, fifty years ago, Blessed Paul VI promulgated his encyclical Humanae Vitae, restating what Christians had believed for nearly two millennia. His rejection of artificial birth control was met with shock “Where did the pope get these ideas?” with anger “How dare he?” and with dissent that fifty years later continues to plague the Church and the world. Today, Humanae Vitae continues to be an encyclical that is as vilified and unheeded as it is unread.
Wyoming Catholic College theologians, Dr. Kent Lasnoski and Dr. Jeremy Holmes discuss what Paul VI actually said and why it matters this week on The After Dinner Scholar.
July 24, 2018
In court, on trial for his life, Socrates begins his defense saying, “I do not know, men of Athens, how my accusers affected you; as for me, I was almost carried away in spite of myself, so persuasively did they speak. And yet, hardly anything of what they said is true.”
This summer, we’ve been featuring interviews and lectures from The Wyoming School of Catholic Thought with its theme “The Paradox of Courage.”
This week, Dr. Virginia Arbery considers Socrates Apology, which in no way apologizes for anything. His apologia is his defense in the court of Athens that will, in fact, condemn him to death for not believing in the gods and for corrupting the youth of Athens. Is Socrates courageous before the court? Or would Aristotle, for example, consider him simply rash, bring about an avoidable death penalty?
Here is Dr. Arbery’s lecture in its entirety to help you decide.
July 17, 2018
“Let us train boys from earliest childhood to be patient when they suffer wrongs themselves,” wrote St. John Chrysostom in the late fourth century AD, “but, if they see another being wronged, to sally forth courageously and aid the sufferer in fitting measure.”
How to raise children to be good and courageous adults is a perennial question. Our civilization requires good and courageous adults and the Church requires good and courageous adults as well.
Some 800 years before St. John Chrysostom, Plato and then Aristotle asked how we form boys in to courageous young men.
At June’s Wyoming School of Catholic Thought, Professor Kyle Whashut discussed what Plato and Aristotle had to say on the issue. Here is his lecture in its entirety.
July 3, 2018
“Antigone,” written by the Athenian poet Sophocles in the fifth century BC poses a dilemma: What do we do when the government says one thing, but God—or in this case the gods—say otherwise?
In the play Antigone’s two brothers, Eteocles and Polyneices, chose opposite sides in the civil war in Thebes. In battle the two brothers kill each other just as the side Eteocles chose wins the war. The victorious new ruler, Creon, decrees that Eteocles will be honored as a great hero and buried with all dignity and holy rites.
As for Polyneices’ body, Creon says, “it has been proclaimed to the city that no one honor with a tomb or lament with cries, but let him lie unburied, his body devoured by birds and by dogs and mangled for the seeing.” Disobedience will be punished by death.
But the gods decree the dead should be buried. “That one I shall give rites,” says Antigone, “It is noble for me to die doing this.”
Dr. Virginia Arbery taught a class on Antigone and her courage at The Wyoming School of Catholic Thought. Here are her comments.
June 5, 2018
In the fall of 1971—a couple of months before the U. S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade—the journal Philosophy and Public Affairs published an article by philosopher Judith Jarvis Thompson entitled “A Defense of Abortion.”
Rather than being shrill and angry, Thompson’s defense of abortion is carefully reasoned and nuanced, which makes it a wonderful teaching tool and a wonderful way to convince students of the need to study philosophy.
Wyoming Catholic College philosopher, Dr. Michael Bolin is entirely pro-life. Yet he has been teaching “A Defense of Abortion” for years at PEAK, the college’s summer program for high school juniors and seniors. Dr. Bolin is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.
April 24, 2018
Wyoming, in addition to being a destination for skiing, hiking, backpacking, and rock climbing, has some of the best hunting and fishing in the country. Unlike skiing, backpacking and the like, hunting and fishing involve taking an animal’s life. The trout, salmon, pheasant, deer, elk, or pronghorn we hunt dies.
How exactly does that fit into Catholic theology and faith? Some might answer, “Not at all.” And yet, with the exception of dairy, regardless of what we eat—be it venison chops or pork chops—something always dies so that we can live. It’s a fact of life from which we typically buffer ourselves, purchasing meat on Styrofoam trays sealed with plastic wrap with little hint of the animal from which it came. But could it be the direct encounter with animals and death and life is good and right?
To discuss that and other matters related to life, God, creation, and human dominion over creation, we’re joined by Dr. Jeremy Holmes, theologian and hunter.