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.
April 10, 2018
The Edict of Milan signed by Emperors Constantine and Licinius in AD 313 granted the Roman people freedom to choose any religion they wished including previously outlawed Christianity. Then in 380, Theodosius outlawed everything except the Christianity.
And so it was for much of the sixteen-hundred years since Theodosius. Catholic Christianity was the state religion of every state in Europe and even after the rise of Protestantism, the formulation cuius regio, eius religio—“Whose Realm, his religion”—was the order of the day.
Religious freedom was still a new and novel idea when it became part of the US Constitution. And as the idea spread, it was also a controversial idea.
Dr. Kent Lasnoski has been leading Wyoming Catholic College seniors into the conversations about religious freedom in the Catholic Church and is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.
February 27, 2018
In order to graduate from Wyoming Catholic College, each student writes a thesis during the fall semester of senior year and then in the winter presents the topic of the thesis as a thirty-minute lecture, taking questions from the audience for another thirty minutes. The audience includes their classmates and other students, parents who arrive for the week or are there via Skype or Facetime. Oh, and there’s a panel of three faculty members armed with the first round of questions.
This week and next, The After Dinner Scholar will feature two of our seniors fresh from their orations.
This week, our guest is Jason Kirstein, who wrote his senior thesis on "The Four Causes of Obedience: A Love that Trieth the Path to the Terram Visionis [the Land of Vision]."
February 20, 2018
St. Thomas Aquinas is known primarily as a great thinker. And indeed his works still under gird a Catholic understanding of God and the world. But for St. Thomas, thinking, teaching and writing about Sacred Scripture, theology, and philosophy were never ends in themselves. His academic work—and indeed from his point of view all his work and rest—served a higher purpose.
That higher purpose animates St. Thomas' short work, “On the Perfection of the Spiritual Life.”
“Since certain persons, knowing nothing about perfection,” he began, “have presumed to speak follies concerning the state of perfection, our purpose is to treat of perfection: what it is to be perfect; how perfection is acquired; what is the state of perfection; and what befits those who take up this state.”
Theologian Dr. Kent Lasnoski has been working through “On the Perfection of the Spiritual Life with our Wyoming Catholic College seniors. Dr. Lasnoski is this week’s guest on The After Dinner Scholar.