In this world we find ourselves feeling alienated and in exile, looking for communion with others and a true home. The reason is what Dr. Glenn Arbery calls out "primal exile," the banishment from Paradise. In this podcast he summarizes his lecture "Exile from Eden" which is also available as a podcast.
This past June 11-15, Wyoming Catholic College held what will be the annual Wyoming School of Catholic Thought. Our topic was “The Splendor of Imagination: Returning from Exile.”
On the first evening of the school, Wyoming Catholic College President Glenn Arbery delivered this lecture on John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost. With it he introduced the topic of exile in the Fall and banishment of Adam and Eve.
We live in a postmodern culture. It’s something we did not choose and cannot avoid. And, as Wyoming Catholic College Academic Dean Dr. Thaddeus Kozinski argued last week, it’s not an entirely bad state of affairs since modernity was rife with problems—problems highlighted by two world wars and the tyranny of ideologies falsely branded as scientific.
This week Dr. Kozinski looks deeper into postmodernity and some of the conflicts within our current culture. We'll discover that understanding postmodernity is thus necessary to understand the world in which we live, ourselves, our children, and the prospects for the future.
The term “postmodern” is used regularly today. Barak Obama was dubbed the first postmodern president. ISIS has been called a postmodern terrorist group. Postmodernism, we’re told, has taken over higher education and is a threat to Western civilization and to Christianity. At the same time, there are churches that cheerfully brand themselves as postmodern.
So what is Postmodernism? Is it a philosophy? A means of analysis? An aesthetic? An attitude? Is it a reaction against the rationalism, scientism, and authority of modernity? Is it an attempt to unmoor and destroy Western civilization?
To answer at least some of those questions this podcast and the one next week feature Dr. Thaddeus Kozinski who, among other things, teaches Martin Heidegger, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and other postmoderns to seniors here at Wyoming Catholic College.
Politics had become a mess as politicians and their constituents gave up seeking the common good for seeking more goods for themselves and their friends. Rampant individualism was the rule of the day and justice, if mentioned at all, was merely a pretext for self-seeking.
Against that backdrop of a decaying political culture, Plato wrote The Republic. In it Socrates challenged the prevailing notions of justice and described what he viewed as true justice in individuals and in society.
Dr. Virginia Arbery, Associate Professor of Humanities at Wyoming Catholic College holds a doctorate in Political Philosophy from The University of Dallas. She has a great love for The Republic, happily sharing the book with her students and with us.
In St. Luke’s brief description of Jesus as a child, he emphasized that Jesus grew in wisdom. That is, Jesus not only learned the Scriptures, but went beyond learning information to learning how to live well under the good laws and just reign of God. In learning the Scriptures, Jesus would have read, studied, and memorized the sayings in the Old Testament wisdom books including the Book of Wisdom sometimes known as the Wisdom of Solomon.
Dr. Kent Lasnoski, Assistant Professor of Theology here at Wyoming Catholic College explains wisdom literature generally and the Book of Wisdom in particular.
It was the 1970s and the young radical noticed the politically conservative bumper stickers on the car of a new acquaintance and an argument began immediately. It was hot and heavy until the radical’s new friend stopped and said, “You are delightfully dumb. I am going to undertake the task of educating you.”
The “delightfully dumb” radical is known today as Fr. Robert Sirico, a Catholic priest and president and founder of The Acton Institute. The story of how a ‘70s radical became a stalwart defender of Christian truth and economic liberty involves a huge pile of book.
Fr. Sirico, our guest on this podcast, was the commencement speaker at Wyoming Catholic College this past weekend
In On Christian Doctrine, St. Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430) offers a guide for interpreting and expounding Scripture. “There are certain precepts for treating the Scriptures,” he wrote, “which I think may not inconveniently be transmitted to students, so that they may profit not only from reading the work of expositors, but also in their own explanations of the sacred writings to others.”
That is, he produced a practical guide with rules for interpreting the Bible and for explaining the Bible to other people.
Freshmen at Wyoming Catholic College have been reading On Christian Doctrine and their professor, Dr. Kent Lasnoski who is our guest on this podcast.
Wyoming Catholic’s founding document, our “Philosophical Vision Statement,” talks a great deal about the imagination. “The College will,” it states, “seek to educate the whole person—the mind, heart, and imagination.”
Imagination is vital because it is the way we see the world around us, the way we image reality before we even think about it. As American humorist Mark Twain observed, “You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” Fortunately our imaginations are not fixed, but can be properly focused for the good through worship, through study and community, and through encountering the beauty and power of Creation.
To talk about imagination and how we form Catholic imaginations in ourselves, in our students, and in our children, we have with us Dr. Glenn Arbery, President of Wyoming Catholic College.
Twentieth century philosopher of history, R. G. Collingwood said that the study of history was in essence “an attempt to understand the present by reconstructing its determining conditions.” And thus it has been since the beginning of the writing of history with the author often called “The Father of History,” the ancient Greek historian Herodotus.
At Wyoming Catholic College, student's read Herodotus' sprawling account of the war between the Greeks and the Persians with Dr. Virginia Arbery, Associate Professor of Humanities. Dr. Arbery is this week's podcast guest.
N. B.: The transcript of Niall Ferguson's speech "The Decline and Fall of History" is available here.