The After Dinner Scholar
Advent: Season of Waiting with Msgr. Daniel Seiker

Advent: Season of Waiting with Msgr. Daniel Seiker

November 24, 2020

Novelist Fredrick Beuchner wrote, “In the silence of a midwinter dusk, there is a sound so faint that for all you can tell it may be only the sound of the silence itself. You hold your breath to listen. You are aware of the beating of your heart. The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment.”

As the world around us accelerates into the Christmas holiday season immediately after Thanksgiving—Santa figuring prominently at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade—we Christians wait. And waiting is precisely the theme of Advent, the four weeks preceding Christmas Day and the twelve days of the Christmas season.

As we prepare for Advent, Msgr. Daniel Seiker, one of the two chaplains at Wyoming Catholic College, shared about Advent and preparing for Christmas.

The Civic Virtue of Thanksgiving with Dr. Pavlos Papadopoulos

The Civic Virtue of Thanksgiving with Dr. Pavlos Papadopoulos

November 17, 2020

 “First of all, then,” St. Paul wrote in 1Timothy 2:1-4, “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way.”

We might have expected St. Paul to tell Timothy to pray “for kings and all who are in high position, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way.” But he goes beyond that, urging that thanksgivings “for kings and all who are in high position.” That seems a bit peculiar or at least unexpected given that in AD 64, when St. Paul wrote this epistle, the Roman emperor was Nero who, among other violent and perverse behavior, ruthlessly persecuted Christians. Give thanks for him?

Here at the college there have been discussions with political philosopher, Dr. Pavlos Papadopoulos about thanksgiving as a civic virtue—something incumbent on us not only as Christians, but as citizens. With our annual national celebration of Thanksgiving coming up, we continued the conversation as a podcast.

Carpe Diem: The Poetry of Horace with Prof. Eugene Hamilton

Carpe Diem: The Poetry of Horace with Prof. Eugene Hamilton

November 10, 2020

In 1959 Oxford University Press published a 200-page book containing 451 translations (half of them in English) of a single 16-line Latin poem, Ad Pyrrham or “The Ode to Pyrrha.” The poet—now nearly forgotten—was perhaps the most influential poet of all time. His name: Quintus Horatius Flaccus, known in the English-speaking world as Horace.

For 2,000 years Horace was admired as possibly the greatest poet in history. And then Latin—especially advanced Latin—became a thing of the past and few were able to read his grammatically complex works. Today, of course, poetry itself has become passé.

But at Wyoming Catholic College, Latin is a required subject and poems are read, studied, and memorized. Latinist Eugene Hamilton has been helping a group of students work there way through a selection of Horace’s Odes.

Euclid: From a Point to “The Death Star” with Dr. Henry Zepeda

Euclid: From a Point to “The Death Star” with Dr. Henry Zepeda

November 3, 2020

Beginning the second semester of freshman year, Wyoming Catholic College students begin studying Euclidian geometry. Students prepare for each class carefully waiting to be called to the board to demonstrate one of this week’s propositions.

Euclid wrote his Elements in about 300 BC. Beginning with the definitions of a point and a line, he constructed the geometrical principles we still use today. And our students work their way from “On a given finite straight line to construct an equilateral triangle” to “construct an icosahedron and comprehend it in a sphere” to Book XII, Proposition 17, popularly known as constructing The Death Star.

Why Euclid? Our website puts it this way, “Euclid’s Elements is the foundational text of mathematics in Western civilization.” Dr. Henry Zepeda began this interview by explaining how that's the case.

Hospitality in Homer’s “Odyssey” with Prof. Adam Cooper

Hospitality in Homer’s “Odyssey” with Prof. Adam Cooper

October 27, 2020

In Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus, struggling to get home from Calypso’s island, is shipwrecked. Naked, destitute, looking for all the world like a vagabond, he is nonetheless welcomed by Alkinoos, king of the Phaiakians. Alkinoos and his people treat him like a king, take his story to heart, and transport him to his home Ithaka with a vast trove of gifts. That is, they treated him with hospitality.

These days we think of hospitality in much less grandiose terms. There’s hospitality hour after church: donuts, coffee, and small talk. We might offer hospitality as a meal or a night or two in our spare bedroom, but only for those we know—or relatives of those we know. For everyone else, there’s "the hospitality industry" to provide rooms, beds, and meals.

Thus Odysseus’ adventures and misadventures provide a whole new perspective on how we treat guests, even those who are strangers to us.

Prof. Adam Cooper is new to Wyoming Catholic College this year and is in the midst of teaching The Odyssey to our freshmen, drawing their attention to this major theme in the poem: hospitality.

Why Sacred Art is Necessary to the Faith with Prof. David Clayton

Why Sacred Art is Necessary to the Faith with Prof. David Clayton

October 20, 2020

We’ve all experienced walking into a church in which the architecture and/or the sacred art was… let’s say "unpleasant" to the point of distraction. And we’ve all had the experience of entering a church whose beauty draws us into the mysteries of the Faith and upward to God and to worship. Sacred art can and should have a profound effect on our spiritual lives.

David Clayton has been thinking about sacred art for many years. Prof. Clayton moved to the US from his native England in 2009 and was for several years artist in residence at Thomas More College in New Hampshire where his icons adorn the college’s chapel. Currently he is Provost of Pontifex University where he designed their unique Master of Sacred Arts program, a formation in creativity for all (not just artists). His blog and podcast are at thewayofbeauty.org. His books include Painting the Nude - The Theology of the Body and the Representation of Man in Christian Art and The Way of Beauty, a book our Wyoming Catholic College seniors read in their study of art.

David Clayton was here in Lander delivering a lecture to the college last Friday entitled “Why Sacred Art is Necessary to the Faith.” Saturday morning before a bit of Wyoming hiking, Prof. Clayton was kind enough to record this interview about sacred art and beauty.

If you’re interested in watching David Clayton’s entire presentation, you can access it at the college website, wyomingcatholic.edu.

Chaplaincy and Spiritual Life at Wyoming Catholic with Msgr. Daniel Seiker

Chaplaincy and Spiritual Life at Wyoming Catholic with Msgr. Daniel Seiker

October 13, 2020

“Ours is an education of immersion,” we say on our college website “immersion in the Western tradition, immersion in the beauty and challenges of the wilderness, immersion in the treasures of our Catholic spiritual heritage.”

When planning a time to record this interview our Latin rite college chaplain Msgr. Daniel Seiker, Monsignor pulled out his schedule: “11:00 AM confessions, 11:35 Mass, 1:00 PM Adoration, 3:30 to 5:00 confessions, 5:00 PM Benediction.” He didn’t add the numerous appointments he has with students seeking spiritual direction. So it’s safe to say that our students are able to experience “immersion in the treasures of our Catholic spiritual heritage” and that we keep our chaplains exceptionally busy.

Pursuing Poetic Knowledge with Dr. Jim Tonkowich

Pursuing Poetic Knowledge with Dr. Jim Tonkowich

October 6, 2020

Poet Sally Thomas in the August/September issue of First Things wrote, “It is one thing to talk about the Resurrection. It is quite another to see the Easter fire struck in the night, the candle lit, the light of Christ filling the tomblike darkness of the waiting church. As a Catholic, I live and relive that liturgy every year; every year it astonishes me as no amount of evidence-based argument—The Case for the Resurrection—could ever do. Yes, yes, I want to say to the apologist, I get it. But when the lights come on and the bells ring and the music starts, I know it.”

What Sally Thomas describes in her article is experiential knowing or, as we call it here at Wyoming Catholic College, poetic knowing. It’s a mode of knowing that is, in fact, the beginning and the end of a liberal arts education.

The Constitution, Philosophy, and Pope John Paul II with Judge Leon Holmes

The Constitution, Philosophy, and Pope John Paul II with Judge Leon Holmes

September 29, 2020

In an op-ed column in USAToday last week, Wyoming Catholic College senior Anthony Jones wrote: “I gathered with the entire student body of Wyoming Catholic College on Sept. 17, 2019, for a mandatory celebration of Constitution Day. We began with the Pledge of Allegiance, witnessed a lively panel discussion between professors on the history and modern relevance of America’s founding principles, and concluded by singing patriotic songs.”

Anthony Jones went on, “If you are a student at a typical American university, that description probably sounds foreign to anything you have experienced. Anti-Americanism has spread across college campuses like a wildfire, igniting rage and resentment against anything perceived as oppressive — even the American flag. As a result, most universities would likely shy away from a celebration of our nation’s founding in favor of more ‘inclusive’ events.”

On September 17 of this year, Anthony along with the rest of the student body of Wyoming Catholic College as well as faculty and staff gathered to celebrate Constitution Day 2020.

This year we heard from retired federal judge, Dr. Leon Holmes. Judge Holmes received his PhD in political science from Duke University and his JD from the University of Arkansas School of Law. He served sixteen years on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Retiring from the court earlier this year, Judge Holmes is a visiting professor this fall at Wyoming Catholic College.

The Founding of Rome and the Question of Honor with Dr. Pavlos Papadopoulos

The Founding of Rome and the Question of Honor with Dr. Pavlos Papadopoulos

September 22, 2020

It’s a word we don’t hear very often these days, but one that was of utmost importance to our ancestors—actual and figurative. In fact, they couldn’t live without it. The word is “honor.”

Ancient Romans practiced a timocratic—that is, an honor-loving—way of life. The Roman historian Livy in particular highlights the great deeds done for the honor of the city and for personal honor as well as the heinous and dishonorable crimes of, for example, the early kings of Rome—crimes that led to their downfall and exile.

Wyoming Catholic College sophomores have been reading Livy with Dr. Pavlos Papadopoulos. In this interview, Dr. Papadopoulos begins by responding to one of his own paper prompts.

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