July 7, 2020
The Greeks finally defeated the Persian Empire in about 448 BC. When that war ended, the Athenians began to build an empire leading to a new war this one with their former allies. Central to the empire building and beginnings of the Peloponnesian War was the statesman Pericles.
During the first of our two two-week-long PEAK programs for high school students, Dr. Pavlos Papadopoulos taught a course about Pericles. His story is told by Thucydides in The Peloponnesian War and by Plutarch in Lives.
In the last of the speeches Pericles delivers in Thucydides’ account, Pericles tells an angry crowd, “And yet if you are angry with me, it is with one who, as I believe, is second to no man either in knowledge of the proper policy, or in the ability to expound it, and who is moreover not only a patriot but an honest one.” Was he really as good as all that? Was the age of Pericles truly the golden age of Athens?
February 11, 2020
There’s been a great deal of concern about religious freedom over the past ten or so years and for good reason. Religious freedom is central to all human freedom. But the conversation about religious freedom involves two highly controversial words. Those words are “religious” and “freedom.”
In January Dr. Jim Tonkowich had the privilege of speaking about religious freedom to the Wyoming Pastors’ Network as they met on the day before the March for Life in Cheyenne. They are concerned about the future of religious freedom in our country particularly as the culture’s understanding and our laws concerning human sexuality, marriage, and morality continue to veer away from and even be at odds with biblical and Church teachings.
After covering the history of religious freedom, Dr. Tonkowich moved on to those two controversial words: Religion and Freedom.
Recordings of Dr. Tonkowich's three lectures can be found at The Wyoming Pastors' Network website.
"Religious Freedom in America," Wyoming Catholic College's 12-part distance learning course can be found at the college website.
January 21, 2020
Soon after joining the U.S. Supreme Court in 1970, Associate Justice Harry Blackmun received an unwelcome surprise. Chief Justice Warren Burger put him in charge of writing the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade the ruling legalizing abortion across the United States.
Prior to writing that opinion, Blackmun thought little about abortion. But the opinion he wrote plus the enormous criticism the opinion and he personally received turned Blackmun into a strident exponent of abortion insisting that a woman’s right to choose to abort her child is a fundamental right.
Sue Ellen Browder majored in journalism and ended up working for Cosmopolitan magazine. She tells her story in her most recent book from Ignatius Press, Subverted: How I Helped the Sexual Revolution Hijack the Women’s Movement. The research she did for that book also yielded the story of Harry Blackmun and Roe.
October 22, 2019
“Because life is brief…let us follow our desires” has a rather contemporary ring to it. Yet those words were penned in 1512 by the playwright, philosopher, and politico Niccolò Machiavelli in his play La Mandragola, The Mandrake.
Machiavelli is, of course, best known for his book The Prince that gives advice on how to rule. That book contains observations such as, “All ethical and moral values are arbitrary artifacts from the cultures that set them forth. All political and military greatness is derived from ignoring them.”
La Mandragola is, in a sense that kind of thinking turned into a play and Dr. Kent Lasnoski, our guest this week, has been teaching that play to our students with amazing results.
October 1, 2019
“Ready, fire, aim,” we tell our children,” is no way to live.” Careful thought comes first whether you’re hunting, choosing a college, building a birdhouse, or writing a constitution for a new republic.
What kind of government will allow human beings the greatest freedom to flourish? To answer that question, we first need to ask about the nature of human beings and second we need to ask about the nature of freedom.
And while the answers to those questions may seem obvious, they are far from it. They require careful questioning and reasoning.
The American founders lived in an age where questions about what it means to be human and about the definition of freedom were hotly debated and nowhere more so than by Thomas Hobbes and John Locke.
At Wyoming Catholic Colleges’ Constitution Day assembly, political philosopher Dr. Pavlos Papadopoulos discussed Hobbes and Locke, their similarities, differences, and the way each influenced the American founding.
July 9, 2019
When we think of politics, for most of us the word “friendship” is not the first thing that comes into our minds. Our politics are rancorous, ugly, polarized, and just about everything else politics is not supposed to be.
In spite of the rancorous, ugly, polarized politics of Ancient Athens, Aristotle suggested that what holds cities that is, the root of politics is friendship.
At June’s Wyoming School of Catholic Thought, Dr. Virginia Arbery looked at friendship and politics using The Politics by Aristotle. Here is some of what she had to say.
April 30, 2019
“Make an image of our nature in its education and want of education, likening it to a condition of the following kind” said Socrates in Plato’s dialogue The Republic. “See human beings as though they were in an underground cave-like dwelling with its entrance, a long one, open to the light across the whole width of the cave. They are in it from childhood with their legs and necks in bonds so that they are fixed, seeing only in front of them, unable because of the bond to turn their heads all the way around. Their light is from a fire burning far above and behind them. Between the fire and the prisoners there is a road above, along which see a wall, built like the partitions puppet-handlers set in front of the human beings and over which they show the puppets.”
The quote is the opening of Plato’s famous analogy of the cave. It’s an image of alienation and of exile from ourselves, from truth, from reality, and ultimately from God.
The analogy of the cave also serves as an introduction to all of Plato’s thought. And so our freshmen read it as the final work and capstone of their first year of humanities. Dr. Pavlos Papadopoulos, an expert on The Republic has been their teacher and is our guest on this edition of The After Dinner Scholar.
January 29, 2019
History is often concerned with great events—elections, revolutions, wars, battles, conquest, boom, and bust—and we’re used to reading history. That’s why we walk away slightly confused when someone says, “It must be borne in mind that my design is not to write histories, but lives.”
The ancient writer of Lives was the Roman Plutarch. His concern was character. "The most glorious exploits,” he wrote, “do not always furnish us with the clearest discoveries of virtue or vice in men; sometimes a matter of less moment, an expression or a jest, informs us better of their characters and inclinations, than the most famous sieges, the greatest armaments, or the bloodiest battles whatsoever.” His focus was “the marks and indications of the souls of men.”
Dr. Pavlos Papadopolous who has been teaching Plutarch this semester is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.
December 11, 2018
In AD 380, not long before the sack of Rome in 410, the Emperor Theodocius had declared Christianity the official religion of the Empire. Perhaps, many argued, that was the problem. Many worshiped Jesus abandoning the old gods of Rome—Jupiter, Juno, Minerva, Apollo, Aphrodite, and the rest. No doubt those gods sent the barbarians to destroy the city as punishment for the lack of piety.
In Roman North Africa, there was a town called Hippo. And the bishop of Hippo, Augustine, got wind of those arguments, picked up his pen, and began writing what has become one of the world’s greatest apologetic and greatest political treatises: The City of God.
Wyoming Catholic College students study The City of God as sophomores and then again as seniors. At least once and sometimes twice, their professor is political philosopher, Dr. Virginia Arbery. Dr. Arbery is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.
November 13, 2018
“And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them, who did not know the Lord or the work which he had done for Israel.” (Judges 2:10)
When Israel entered the Promised Land, Joshua was the clear commander and leader of the people. Then he and his generation died. It was a generation that, as a friend used to say, forgot to make disciples. The memory of the Exodus and of the Lord God faded and, well, disaster was the result.
Enemies came to oppress Israel. In their pain they called out to the Lord who, because he is faithful, heard and answered by sending a judge to deliver them. Then, when the judge died, the cycle began all over again.
Dr. Jeremy Holmes and I have been team teaching freshman theology, a course that surveys the history of Israel in the Old Testament. Our classes that reflected on the judges and the subsequent anointing of a king over Israel got us thinking. Dr. Holmes is our guest on The After Dinner Scholar.