In this world we find ourselves feeling alienated and in exile, looking for communion with others and a true home. The reason is what Dr. Glenn Arbery calls out "primal exile," the banishment from Paradise. In this podcast he summarizes his lecture "Exile from Eden" which is also available as a podcast.
This past June 11-15, Wyoming Catholic College held what will be the annual Wyoming School of Catholic Thought. Our topic was “The Splendor of Imagination: Returning from Exile.”
On the first evening of the school, Wyoming Catholic College President Glenn Arbery delivered this lecture on John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost. With it he introduced the topic of exile in the Fall and banishment of Adam and Eve.
The term “postmodern” is used regularly today. Barak Obama was dubbed the first postmodern president. ISIS has been called a postmodern terrorist group. Postmodernism, we’re told, has taken over higher education and is a threat to Western civilization and to Christianity. At the same time, there are churches that cheerfully brand themselves as postmodern.
So what is Postmodernism? Is it a philosophy? A means of analysis? An aesthetic? An attitude? Is it a reaction against the rationalism, scientism, and authority of modernity? Is it an attempt to unmoor and destroy Western civilization?
To answer at least some of those questions this podcast and the one next week feature Dr. Thaddeus Kozinski who, among other things, teaches Martin Heidegger, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and other postmoderns to seniors here at Wyoming Catholic College.
In St. Luke’s brief description of Jesus as a child, he emphasized that Jesus grew in wisdom. That is, Jesus not only learned the Scriptures, but went beyond learning information to learning how to live well under the good laws and just reign of God. In learning the Scriptures, Jesus would have read, studied, and memorized the sayings in the Old Testament wisdom books including the Book of Wisdom sometimes known as the Wisdom of Solomon.
Dr. Kent Lasnoski, Assistant Professor of Theology here at Wyoming Catholic College explains wisdom literature generally and the Book of Wisdom in particular.
It was the 1970s and the young radical noticed the politically conservative bumper stickers on the car of a new acquaintance and an argument began immediately. It was hot and heavy until the radical’s new friend stopped and said, “You are delightfully dumb. I am going to undertake the task of educating you.”
The “delightfully dumb” radical is known today as Fr. Robert Sirico, a Catholic priest and president and founder of The Acton Institute. The story of how a ‘70s radical became a stalwart defender of Christian truth and economic liberty involves a huge pile of book.
Fr. Sirico, our guest on this podcast, was the commencement speaker at Wyoming Catholic College this past weekend
You may already be aware that Wyoming Catholic College freshmen begin their four-year journey into the Liberal Arts with a twenty-one day journey into the Wyoming Wilderness. What you may not know is that the freshman expedition is an integral part of their liberal arts education. It prepares them intellectually and spiritually for their studies.
Immersed in the natural world, they gaze at the stars, they marvel at speckled trout, they grasp stony crags at the summit of mountains topping 12,000 feet, they look into the faces of wildflowers, and they shudder at the voice of the thunder. Through it all, the feeling of awe, of wonder grows and with it the desire to know.
To talk about why encountering nature is so vital in a Liberal Arts education, we are joined by Dr. Stanley Grove, Assistant Professor of Philosophy. Dr. Grove in addition to being a great outdoorsman himself spends hours in the woods and meadows around Lander teaching field science.
In On Christian Doctrine, St. Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430) offers a guide for interpreting and expounding Scripture. “There are certain precepts for treating the Scriptures,” he wrote, “which I think may not inconveniently be transmitted to students, so that they may profit not only from reading the work of expositors, but also in their own explanations of the sacred writings to others.”
That is, he produced a practical guide with rules for interpreting the Bible and for explaining the Bible to other people.
Freshmen at Wyoming Catholic College have been reading On Christian Doctrine and their professor, Dr. Kent Lasnoski who is our guest on this podcast.
Wyoming Catholic’s founding document, our “Philosophical Vision Statement,” talks a great deal about the imagination. “The College will,” it states, “seek to educate the whole person—the mind, heart, and imagination.”
Imagination is vital because it is the way we see the world around us, the way we image reality before we even think about it. As American humorist Mark Twain observed, “You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” Fortunately our imaginations are not fixed, but can be properly focused for the good through worship, through study and community, and through encountering the beauty and power of Creation.
To talk about imagination and how we form Catholic imaginations in ourselves, in our students, and in our children, we have with us Dr. Glenn Arbery, President of Wyoming Catholic College.
“What do you think, would not one tiny crime be wiped out by thousands of good deeds?” asks a student as he considers murder as a road to justice. If one death could mean liberation for many, why not kill? For him it's just a hypothetical question, but at a nearby table Radion Raskolnikov listens, takes in the argument, and later kills.
In Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky considers what happens after the blood is shed: the confusion, the remorse, the justifications, the anguish, and finally in Raskolnikov's case redemption. Dr. Thaddeus Kozinski, Academic Dean and Associate Professor of Philosophy and Humanities here at Wyoming Catholic College has been reading Crime and Punishment with our senior class. Inthis podcast, he shares his and their insights into this exploration of the human heart.
Gothic cathedrals are certainly wonders of architectural imagination and engineering ingenuity. But, according to Dr. Jason Baxter, Wyoming Catholic College’s Assistant Professor of Fine Arts and Humanities they are far more than that.
"The Gothic Cathedral," says Dr. Baxter, "is architecture of contemplation. Born in the great age of the masters of the interior life, the cathedral gave physical shape to contemplation, but it also invited it, incited it, evoked it, performed it within. In a word, it created silence, a richness of experience that is wordless only because it is too deep for words."