The After Dinner Scholar
Senior Orations, Rhetoric, and the Pursuit of Truth with Dr. Virginia Arbery

Senior Orations, Rhetoric, and the Pursuit of Truth with Dr. Virginia Arbery

February 25, 2020

“Wisdom without eloquence is of little advantage,” said the great Roman orator Marcus Tullius Cicero, “but eloquence without wisdom is most mischievous.”

Last week was a big week here at Wyoming Catholic College. Classes were canceled on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to make room for three days of senior orations.

Each of our seniors writes a thesis during the fall semester and then in late February delivers a half-hour lecture on their thesis topic followed by a half-hour of questions—first from the faculty panel that will be grading the oration and then from the audience.

The school community—students, faculty, and staff—make up the audience that also includes family and alumni who make the trip back to Lander to hear our seniors present their ideas with wonderful rhetorical skill.

“How do they come by that skill?” you ask. Part of our integrated curriculum is the sequence of courses called the Trivium: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Dr. Virginia Arbery teaches Trivium 202: Political Rhetoric and the Common Good. Dr. Arbery is our guest on this edition of The After Dinner Scholar.

Lovers in Latin: Reading Canticum Canticorum with Dr. Michael Bolin

Lovers in Latin: Reading Canticum Canticorum with Dr. Michael Bolin

November 19, 2019

“Adiuro vos, filiae Ierusalem, per capreas cervasque camporum,
ne suscitetis neque evigilare faciatis dilectam, quoadusque ipsa velit.”

The quote is from the Latin text of the Song of Songs in the Old Testament. “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the hinds of the field, that you stir not up nor awaken love until it please.” (Song 2:7)

That biblical book in Latin is the subject of one of four Latin reading groups here at Wyoming Catholic. Juniors and seniors hone the Latin skills they learned as freshmen and sophomores. The best way to retain and grow language skills is, of course, to use them.

The group working way through Canticum Canticorum ably led by Dr. Michael Bolin, our guest for this After Dinner Scholar.

Lecture - Courage in Conquest: Joshua and the People of Israel by Dr. James Tonkowich

Lecture - Courage in Conquest: Joshua and the People of Israel by Dr. James Tonkowich

August 7, 2018

“Have I not commanded you?” God said to Joshua, “Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

The Bible, to no one’s surprise, is filled with examples of courage. Moses stood up to Pharaoh, David ran to battle Goliath with nothing but a sling and a few stones, Elijah called out King Ahab, Peter stood up to the Sanhedrin and eventually the Roman authorities who put him to death. G. K. Chesterton, commenting on Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane said, “Alone of all creeds, Christianity has added courage to the virtues of the Creator.”

At the Wyoming School of Catholic Thought in June, Dr. Jim Tonkowich spoke about the meaning of courage in the Bible, focusing on the Old Testament story of Joshua.

Here are his remarks in their entirety.

A Universal Language for a Universal Church with Dr. Scott Olsson

A Universal Language for a Universal Church with Dr. Scott Olsson

January 23, 2018

While vernacular languages will continue to be our normal way of communicating and doing business, there is something fitting about a universal Church, a Church comprising “every tribe and tongue and people and nation” having a universal language: Latin.

At Wyoming Catholic College, we invite our undergraduate students, our podcast listeners, and participants in the Wyoming School of Catholic Thought into the great conversation that is Western civilization. Since much of that conversation in the world and in the Church occurred in Latin, it makes perfect sense that we would encourage—and with our undergraduates require—Latin as a read and spoken language.

Our guest this week, Dr. Scott Olsson is Associate Professor of Mathematics and the Natural Sciences at Wyoming Catholic College. At the same time, he has an abiding passion for Latin, a passion he passes on to his students and to his children.

Transcending Time and Space through the Study of  Latin with Professor Eugene Hamilton

Transcending Time and Space through the Study of Latin with Professor Eugene Hamilton

September 12, 2017

In 1947, Don Giovanni Calabria read La Lettere di Berlicche, the Italian translation of C. S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters and decided to write to the book’s author. Since he knew no English and had no indication that Lewis knew Italian, Fr. Giovanni wrote in Latin, confident that Lewis, an educated man and scholar, could read and write—if not speak—Latin.

That would be a bad assumption today. Many universities and colleges gave up teaching the classics years ago.

Yet at Wyoming Catholic College, all students take Latin learning not just reading and writing, but learning how to speak and to converse in Latin. At the center of the program is Professor—or more properly Magister Eugene Hamilton. Magister is our guest on this week's After Dinner Scholar.