December 31, 2019
‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
Those lines are the beginning of T. S. Eliot’s poem “Journey of the Magi,” an imagined first-person reflection by one of the Magi on the long trip to Bethlehem.
St. Matthew’s Gospel makes it clear that these were the first Gentiles, the first non-Jews to worship Christ. And they, their journey, and their gifts—gold for a king, frankincense for a God, and myrrh with its aroma of death—have attracted a good deal of interest and imagination over the centuries.
As we prepare for the Feast of Epiphany, Wyoming Catholic College president Dr. Glenn Arbery discusses Eliot’s poem (written in 1927) as well as one written by William Butler Yeats some years earlier (in 1916).
December 24, 2019
In his book, The Abolition of Man, C. S. Lewis imagined a reader saying, “You say we shall have no values at all if we step outside the Tao. Very well: we shall probably find that we can get on quite comfortably without them. Let us regard all ideas of what we ought to do simply as an interesting psychological survival: let us step right out of all that and start doing what we like. Let us decide for ourselves what man is to be and make him into that: not on any ground of imagined value, but because we want him to be such. Having mastered our environment, let us now master ourselves and choose our own destiny.”
That quote is at the end of the second chapter of The Abolition of Man our Wyoming Catholic College book of the year. In that chapter Lewis argued that the Tao or Natural Law is essential for any morality, any sense of “ought to.” But what if we throw away morality? What if we allow no ought, no permanent values, nothing but what we as humans choose for ourselves in any given age?
That question leads to the third and final part of the book and the final abolition of man. In this, our third podcast about The Abolition of Man, our guest is Wyoming Catholic College’s Academic Dean, Dr. Jason Baxter.
December 17, 2019
In his book The Abolition of Man Lewis argued that the practical result of making all moral judgments subjective—“I feel” rather than “I think”—“must be the destruction of the society which accepts it.”
Lewis saw in 1943—and we, seventy-five years later, certainly see—the ravages of such subjectivity. And that’s one of the reasons we’ve chosen The Abolition of Man as our Wyoming Catholic College book of the year.
But there’s a catch, wrote Lewis. Radical subjectivity while easy to preach is for the most part impossible. When people claim to reject the objective, what Lewis called the Tao—Natural Law or traditional morality—they are nonetheless forced to operate by smuggling shreds of the Tao back into their thinking.
To help us to understand the second lecture in The Abolition of Man, a lecture Lewis entitled “The Way,” we’re joined by author and scholar Joseph Pearce. Mr. Pearce is Director of Book Publishing at the Augustine Institute, editor of the St. Austin Review, editor of Faith & Culture, and series editor of the Ignatius Critical Editions. In addition he is a member of Wyoming Catholic College’s Catholic Scholars Advisory Board.
December 10, 2019
At some point in the early 1940s, scholar and author C. S. Lewis received a review copy of a textbook for “boys and girls in the upper forms of school,” that is, high schoolers. And while he was grateful to the authors for sending the book, “At the same time,” he wrote, “I shall have nothing good to say of them.”
Lewis tells the story of the textbook in the first of three lectures he delivered in 1943 and then published as the book The Abolition of Man. Now seventy-fifth anniversary, Wyoming Catholic College has chosen The Abolition of Man as our book of the year. This is the first in a series of three podcasts about the book.
This week we will consider the first lecture that Lewis gave the provocative title, “Men Without Chests.” In it he focused on the radical subjectivity regarding morality that he saw all around him and the enormous damage it does and would continue to do to the human person.
To tell us about “Men Without Chests,” our guest this week is Wyoming Catholic College moral theologian, Dr. Kent Lasnoski.
November 26, 2019
St. Paul wrote to the Christians in Ephesus, “always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.” And it is, you know, more of a commandment than a suggestion. As Catholics giving thanks is a daily obligation. “No duty is more urgent,” said St. Ambrose, “than that of returning thanks.” The Holy Mass itself is the Eucharist, a word taken from the Greek word εὐχαριστία, thanksgiving.
Having said that about daily thanks, it is good and wise to set aside specific days or seasons to give thanks. The blessings we enjoy day-to-day as Americans are unprecedented in history. And yet so often, rather than reflecting gratitude back to God, we quietly think, “So what have you done for me lately?”
This week of Thanksgiving, Wyoming Catholic College President, Dr. Glenn Arbery reflects a bit about gratitude in the spiritual life, the life of Wyoming Catholic College, and in literature.
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.
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 8, 2019
The prioress in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is something less than a humble holy woman. She lives a comfortable even luxurious lifestyle. She values her lap dogs above most people. The rosary she carries is made with precious stones and she wears a golden brooch on which is engraved “Amor Vincit Omnia,” “Love conquers all.”
The romantic notion the “Love conquers all” is hardly a relic of the past. To judge by many modern movies,TV shows, popular songs, and books, we still dream of being overcome by the power of love and swept into a happily-ever-after.
And that idea has been around for at least 1,000 years beginning with the medieval romances.
Dr. Tiffany Schubert recently led a faculty symposium about Medieval romances here at Wyoming Catholic College. Dr. Schubert is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.
September 17, 2019
Athens had been at war more or less continually since 431 BC and the people on all sides were sick of it. So it may be of no surprise that in 405 BC at the Lenaia, Athens’ annual theater festival, first prize went to a comedy: Aristophanes’ “The Frogs.”
“The Frogs” comes to the modern reader as something as a surprise. The ancient play seems to have strong notes of the Shakespearean comedies, of Oscar Wilde, and of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Which is to say, it has the feel of something that could have been written today in spite of being more than 2,400 years old.
Dr. Tiffany Schubert and Dr. Kent Lasnoski are team teaching our junior humanities course and joined me to talk about “The Frogs,” comedy, and satire beginning with the historical context in which Aristophanes wrote.
August 13, 2019
To judge by the piles of books, reels of movie film, games, prequels, and sequels, it’s safe to say that the stories of Camelot, the Round Table, and King Arthur hold a special place in our imaginations.
The stories surrounding Arthur have it all: love and romance; marriage and adultery; noble and good deeds, dishonorable and evil deeds; friendship and betrayal; lively feasts and deadly battles; magical swords and malicious witchcraft; heroes and villains; valiant, true, and brave knights and vile scoundrels. Camelot! It all started so well and ended so badly.
This summer, high school students attending Wyoming Catholic College’s two-week long PEAK program studied the Arthurian stories with this week's guest, Dr. Tiffany Schubert.