February 5, 2019
Before C. S. Lewis was a novelist, spiritual writer, or Christian apologist, he was a scholar. Lewis served as a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University from 1925 until 1954 when he was made Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University. That is Lewis’ primary calling was as a university professor and literary scholar.
His scholarly studies influenced all of Lewis’ writings from Narnia to the Space Trilogy from Screwtape to “The Weight of Glory” from The Abolition of Man to The Great Divorce and Till We Have Faces. Lewis’ popular books while speaking forcefully to our modern era are Medieval to the core.
Wyoming Catholic College Academic Dean Dr. Jason Baxter is, like Lewis, a student and scholar of Medieval and Renaissance literature. He has for years been reading over Lewis’s shoulder, studying the same books and authors.
This winter Dr. Baxter will be teaching a free distance learning course on “The Medieval Mind of C. S. Lewis.” To register, visit our website.
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.
October 16, 2018
The purpose of education, stated on government websites, school websites, university websites, and education policy and reform websites was pretty much the same: "to better prepare students to compete in a global economy." That is, the purpose of education is almost universally believed to be purely utilitarian. One way or another, it’s a matter of vocational training. The old days of Latin, Greek, the classics, poetry, even history and literature are behind us now. Today computer science, technology, economics, accounting and engineering rule. After all, we have a global economy to run.
The purpose of education, however, has been debated since ancient times. Contrary to a utilitarian education Seneca who lived 4 BC to AD 64 wrote, “I respect no study, and deem no study good, which results in money-making.” And don’t forget that at the time, Rome had a global economy to run.
Dr. Tiffany Schubert joined the Wyoming Catholic College faculty this year to teach the heart of the liberal arts: the Trivium. Dr. Schubert has researched and taught on the nature of a liberal education and is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.
October 2, 2018
In July 1776, John Adams wrote that the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4 should be celebrated, “with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations.”
Here in Lander, Wyoming on the Fourth of July, we celebrate in a way that would make John Adams proud. But come September 17, at Wyoming Catholic College, we also celebrate Constitution Day, the date in 1787 on which our Constitution was signed and sent to the states for ratification. Rather than celebrating with “Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations,” we quietly reflect.
Dr. Pavlos Papadopoulos, Assistant Professor of Humanities, who is new to the college this year, lectured on the topic “Popular Government and Our Constitution” at this year’s Constitution Day celebration. Dr. Papadopoulos is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.
September 25, 2018
The train passengers watched as one cowboy after another tried to rope an uncooperative horse. “Then for the first time I noticed a man who sat on the high gate of the corral, looking on. For he now climbed down with the undulations of a tiger, smooth and easy, as if his muscles flowed beneath his skin. The others had all visibly whirled the rope, some of them even shoulder high. I did not see his arm lift or move. He appeared to hold the rope down low, by his leg. But like a sudden snake I saw the noose go out its length and fall true; and the thing was done. As the captured pony walked in with a sweet, church-door expression, our train moved slowly on to the station, and a passenger remarked, ‘That man knows his business.’” Thus begins Owen Wister’s 1902 novel The Virginian.
Being Wyoming Catholic College, we used Wister’s tale about Wyoming in the 1870s as the subject of a recent all-school seminar. Our entire school community read the book and met in groups for discussion followed by dinner, roping, oil-barrel bull rides, black powder rifles, and Western dancing.
Prof. Kyle Washut, a Wyoming native, has long loved the book and is our guest on this edition of The After Dinner Scholar.
August 28, 2018
For Achilles, Hector who killed Patroclus was the great enemy. For Antigone, it was Creon the tyrant. For Aristotle, it was those attacking the city. Each case called for courage. But in the Christian era, something changed.
When Christians in the fourth century thought of courage, St. Antony came to mind. He led no army, fomented no rebellion against human tyrants, and did not defend any city. Instead Antony was a paragon of the courage it takes to battle the world, the devil, and the flesh, that is, our inner self, our sin nature.
At the Wyoming School of Catholic Thought, Prof. Kyle Washut lectured on St. Athanasius’ masterful “Life of Antony.” Here are his comments on that life and this new way of understanding courage.
August 28, 2018
“When St. Antanasius composed Life of Antony in 365,” noted Prof. Kyle Washut at the 2018 Wyoming School of Catholic Thought, “he produced an instant best seller and a new genre of literature.”
While Life of Antony was a sensation in the fourth century, Prof. Washut noted that for twenty-first century readers—even those who share Antony’s Christian faith—the book can “be difficult if not outright off-putting” and “even repulsive.”
Is the problem something about Antony or is it something about us? How do we understand Antony’s life, mission, and courage in all those battles with the devil and his demons?
Prof. Washut is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.
August 21, 2018
On October 25 here at Wyoming Catholic College, it is tradition for someone to stand on a cafeteria table at lunch and ask in a loud voice, “What’s he that wishes so? My cousin Westmoreland?”
October 25 is St. Crispin’s Day and those two questions begin the St. Crispin’s Day speech given by King Henry in Act IV, Scene iii of Shakespeare’s play “Henry V.”
Henry of England, having invaded France is faced with a decisive battle in which he is badly outnumbered. In discussing the situation, the Duke of Westmoreland wishes for more troops. Henry’s response takes him by surprise: I’d just as soon there were fewer.
Dr. Glenn Arbery explains how this play and the speech teach us about courage on this edition of The After Dinner Scholar.
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.
May 1, 2018
October 19, 1781: British General Charles Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington at Yorktown. The War for Independence was over. Then came the tricky part. It’s one thing for a nation to achieve independence. It’s quite another to have to govern that nation once you’re on your own.
During the Revolutionary War, governing American was catch as catch can. Congress did its best under the Articles of Confederation--our first constitution--to raise an army, pay an army, and conduct foreign policy. Once the war was over, a whole host of problems arose.
That led to drafting the Constitution and the ratification debate between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists. Dr. Jim Tonkowich provides an overview of that debate in this week's After Dinner Scholar.