Socrates’ Apology: Courage or Comedy? by Dr. Virginia Arbery

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.

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Courage and Courageous Children: Lessons from Plato and Aristotle with Prof. Kyle Washut

July 17, 2018

Kyle Washut was part of the work crew at that first Wyoming School of Catholic Thought. He spent his days listening in as he set tables, washed dishes, and scrubbed. At the end, he did the final clean up while Fr. Schall and the other faculty chatted over a steak dinner.

At this year’s Wyoming School, Professor Kyle Washut did not set table. As a presenter, one of his topics was courage in Plato’s Laches and in Aristotle’s Nichomacean Ethics. And it turns out that the question Plato and Aristotle addressed in the fourth century BC is critical even—or perhaps critical especially today: How do we form men out of boys? What kind of cultivation is required?

Professor Washut is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.

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Courage and Antigone’s Choice by Dr. Virginia Arbery

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.

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Achilles: His Fate, His Courage, and His Shield with Dr. Glenn Arbery

June 26, 2018

 “Ah me, son of valiant Peleus;” said the messager to Achilles in book 18 of The Iliad, “you must hear from me the ghastly message of a thing I wish never had happened. Patroklos has fallen, and now they are fighting over his body which is naked. Hektor of the shining helm has taken his armor.”

As we began discussing courage at this year’s Wyoming School of Catholic Thought, we turned our attention to Achilleus, the paragon of courage. In book 18 of The Iliad, Achilles, who has refused to help the nearly-defeated Greeks, mourns the loss of his friend Paroklos and resolves to rejoin the battle. And he does that knowing that his death in battle is absolutely certainty once he avenges Patroklos death by killing Hecktor.

Dr. Glenn Arbery, president of Wyoming Catholic College, explains how Achilles’ decision and the shield and armor that are then designed for him, give us a picture of courage that becomes the baseline for all other depictions of this virtue.

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The Wyoming School of Catholic Thought and the Paradox of Courage with Dr. Glenn Arbery

June 19, 2018

This past week, Wyoming Catholic College hosted our annual Wyoming School of Catholic Thought here in Lander, Wyoming. Adult learners came from as far away as California, South Carolina, and Florida to consider the topic “The Paradox of Courage: Desire to Live, Readiness to Die.”

We read and discussed authors as diverse as Homer, Plato, St. Athanasius, St. Thomas Aquinas, Sophocles, the Bible, and T. S. Eliot, watched Sophie Scholl, a film about a brave young woman in Nazi Germany and the 1928 silent film “The Passion of Joan of Arc,” and left enough time for horseback riding, hiking, and many fruitful conversations about courage in the works we considered and in the world today.

The After Dinner Scholar in the next weeks will feature interviews and lectures from the Wyoming School of Catholic Thought. To introduce the topic, this week’s interview with Wyoming Catholic College president Dr. Glenn Arbery was recorded back in January and offers a broad overview of courage in philosophy and literature.

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Reflections on Graduation 2018 with Dr. Glenn Arbery

May 22, 2018

Wyoming Catholic College graduation was Saturday, May 12. It came with all the pomp and circumstance, academic regalia, and excitement that you might expect. Our speaker was author and scholar Joseph Pearce who was our guest on last week’s After Dinner Scholar.

The evening before the big event, however, was a smaller, more intimate gathering of graduates and their families along with college faculty and staff. That night, at the President’s Dinner, college president Dr. Glenn Arbery reflected on the seniors, their four years of liberal arts education, and their participation in the great tradition of the Christian West.

Dr. Arbery is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.

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Literature, Poetry, and Literary Converts with Prof. Joseph Pearce

May 15, 2018

The Wyoming Catholic College Class of 2018 graduated on Saturday, May 12. Their graduation speaker was author and scholar Joseph Pearce.

Pearce has authored more than 24 books including The Quest for Shakespeare, Tolkien: Man and Myth, The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde, C. S. Lewis and The Catholic Church, Literary Converts, Wisdom and Innocence: A Life of G.K. Chesterton, Solzhenitsyn: A Soul in Exile and Old Thunder: A Life of Hilaire Belloc.

Pearce is a man of books and books figure prominently into his conversion and his life. Joseph Pearce is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Dante’s Divine Comedy with Dr. Jason Baxter

April 3, 2018

Dante’s descent into Hell in Inferno, begins on Good Friday in the year 1300. He sojourns in that place of pain, despair, and noise emerging appropriately at dawn on Easter. Then in the days following Easter, he climbs Mount Purgatory and is swept up to the heights of Heaven.

Dante’s Comedy tells an amazing tale, but perhaps just the thought of tackling Dante is overwhelming. Maybe you’ve tried to read it or thumbed through only to quit discouraged. Or perhaps you read all the words, but with little real satisfaction.

What you need is a guide and Wyoming Catholic College professor Dr. Jason Baxter, after guiding many of our students through Dante has a brand new book aptly titled, A Beginner’s Guide to Dante’s Comedy. To tell us about the book, Dr. Baxter is our guest on this edition of The After Dinner Scholar.

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Falling Inward: Humanities in the Age of Technology with Dr. Jason Baxter

March 13, 2018

“I begin this book, on the humanities,” writes Wyoming Catholic College Associate Professor of Fine Arts and Humanities, Dr. Jason Baxter, “with a description of travel, because I think the experience of being immersed in a world of surprises, like I was in Ischia, and the experience of reading a ‘great book’… is fundamentally analogous.”

Dr. Baxter goes on to write that his just-released book Falling Inward: Humanities in the Age of Technology is an answer to the question, “How is the profound sense of travel like the experience of reading?” Both are fundamentally the experience he calls “falling inward.”

To discuss his book and the meaning of its title, Dr. Baxter is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.

Order Dr. Baxter's book, Falling Inward from Cluny Media or Amazon.

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Restless and Rational: The Traveler’s Heart in Philosopher’s Terms with Elizabeth Meluch

March 6, 2018

“The world is a book,” wrote St. Augustine of Hippo some 1,600 years ago, “and those who do not travel read only one page.” 

The idea of reading page after page of the book of the world is not unique to St. Augustine. We are all homo viator, human travelers both in the sense that we are pilgrims in earth moving toward our eternal homes and in the sense that as embodied beings, we are naturally drawn to explore the world of places that we inhabit. Something in us wants to know what’s over the next hill and over the next hill and beyond that river.

Wyoming Catholic College senior Elizabeth Meluch certainly had a sense of that when she began writing her thesis and the accompanying oration she delivered last week on the subject of travel. Miss Meluch is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.

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