The After Dinner Scholar
Leadership and ”The Abolition of Man” with Dr. Travis Dziad

Leadership and ”The Abolition of Man” with Dr. Travis Dziad

May 3, 2022

In his book, After Humanity: A Guide to C.S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man, Fr. Michael Ward writes that Lewis in The Abolition of Man, “defends the objectivity of value, pointing to the universal moral ecology that all great philosophical and religious traditions have acknowledged as self-evident.” Self-evident, that is, until just recently.

Today the idea that there might be a “universal moral ecology” seems unthinkable. My truth is my truth; your truth is your truth and good is whatever I define good to be.

Believing that ideas have consequences and having an ability to reason from premises to conclusions, C. S. Lewis saw the danger and in The Abolition of Man issued a firm warning.

Dr. Travis Dziad recently taught The Abolition of Man in his sophomore leadership course. 

”Freedom”: An Intellectual Retreat with Dr. Virginia Arbery

”Freedom”: An Intellectual Retreat with Dr. Virginia Arbery

February 22, 2022

Regarding freedom, First Things editor Dr. R. R. Reno writes, “It’s a very American word. But do we understand freedom’s promise? To what end does God liberate the Israelites? What is the freedom for which Christ has set us free? Is an unhindered man a free man? Can I remain free even when held in captivity?”

For most people today, freedom means the ability to do as I wish, when I wish, as I wish, and with whomever I wish. Freedom is the sovereign self doing as it pleases. The ancient Greek stoic philosopher Epictetus sounding extremely contemporary asked, “Is freedom anything else than the right to live as we wish?” Then, answering his own questions, he responded, “Nothing else.”

This coming March 25 and 26 in Phoenix, Arizona First Things is sponsoring an intellectual retreat on the topic of freedom. Members of the Wyoming Catholic College faculty including Dr. Virginia Arbery will serve as seminar leaders. Dr. Arbery is our guest this week.

For more information on the First Things Intellectual Retreat on Freedom, follow this link.

The Angelic Doctor: An Introduction to St. Thomas Aquinas with Dr. Michael Bolin

The Angelic Doctor: An Introduction to St. Thomas Aquinas with Dr. Michael Bolin

January 25, 2022

The story goes that the church sacristan overheard Thomas Aquinas speaking in prayer before the crucifix. Thomas was asking whether all he had written about the Christian faith was correct. “You have spoken well of me, Thomas,” came the audible answer, “What is your reward to be.” Thomas replied, “Non nisi te, Domini. Nothing but You, Lord.”

On January 28 we celebrate the Feast Day of St. Thomas Aquinas and while most Catholics know that he has a special place in the Church, we may not appreciate how great a place he occupies.

Dr. Michael Bolin has been studying Thomas Aquinas at least a far back as his undergraduate days at Thomas Aquinas College. This week, he'll give us a kind of crash course in the life and teaching of The Angelic Doctor.

”What is the World For” a Lecture by Dr. Scott Olsson

”What is the World For” a Lecture by Dr. Scott Olsson

December 14, 2021

Twentieth century existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre commented, “Every existing thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness and dies by chance.” And it’s not too surprising how many of our contemporaries would agree.

Last spring semester, Dr. Scott Olsson, Associate Professor of Mathematics and the Natural Sciences, enjoyed a sabbatical and, as is the rule for professors on sabbaticals at Wyoming Catholic College, he was asked to deliver a lecture presenting his sabbatical research and ruminations to the entire school.

Thus in November, our monthly All-School Lecture featured Dr. Olsson speaking on “What is the World For?” It’s our pleasure to share with you his thought-provoking tonic for our troubled era.

Lament, the Wheel of Fortune, and ”The Consolation of Philosophy” with Dr. Jason Baxter

Lament, the Wheel of Fortune, and ”The Consolation of Philosophy” with Dr. Jason Baxter

December 7, 2021

Verses I made once glowing with content;

Tearful, alas, sad songs must I begin.

See how the Muses grieftorn bid me write,

And with unfeigned tears these elegies drench my face.

Anicius Manlius Severinus Boëthius who wrote those words had good reason to be grieftorn and to drench his face with unfeigned tears. A successful politician, he was accused of treason in AD 523 and executed a year later. The verses were written while he was in prison awaiting what he knew would be a painful, horrid death. It is the beginning of his most famous work The Consolation of Philosophy.

As Boethius laments, Lady Philosophy appears to him. She casts out the lamenting muses and begins what she refers to as Boethius’ “cure.”

Dr. Jason Baxter has been teaching The Consolation of Philosophy for some time now and is our guest this week on The After-Dinner Scholar.

The Nature of Poetry: Socrates‘ Dialogue with Ion with Dr. Pavlos Papadopoulos

The Nature of Poetry: Socrates‘ Dialogue with Ion with Dr. Pavlos Papadopoulos

November 30, 2021

Each semester here at Wyoming Catholic College, we hold an “All-School Seminar.” All students, faculty, and any interested staff read the same work and meet in groups led by our seniors to discuss what they’ve read. This fall’s All-School Seminar was Plato’s dialogue between Socrates and Ion.

In the dialogue, Socrates greets Ion, a rhapsode, that is, a reciter of poetry. Ion specializes in the work of the epic poet Homer—The Iliad and The Odyssey. When Socrates meets him, he is returning from a religious festival where in competition with other rhapsodes, he took first prize for his recitation.

This week, Dr. Pavlos Papadopoulos, shares with us about Socrates’ and Ion’s conversation.

Knowing God Through Reason and Revelation with Prof. Kyle Washut

Knowing God Through Reason and Revelation with Prof. Kyle Washut

September 21, 2021

In the first chapter of his letter to the Christians in Rome, St. Paul wrote, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Romans 1:18-20).

History bears out the truth of St. Paul’s statement. You don’t need a Bible to know that God exists and that he is eternal, powerful, intelligent, just, and creative. We all live on the same planet, see the same nature, and are able to come to the same obvious conclusions—even if some people refuse.

Nonetheless, Christianity is not a nature religion. It is a revealed religion. God has spoken through the words of the inspired writers of Scripture and through the Church.

So where are the boundaries between what any human can understand about God through reason and what requires revelation?

Prof. Kyle Washut has been discussing just that with our Wyoming Catholic College sophomores as they read St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae together.

Aristotle‘s ”Categories” with Dr. Michael Bolin

Aristotle‘s ”Categories” with Dr. Michael Bolin

September 14, 2021

Aristotle’s Categories,” writes Davidson College Professor of Philosophy, David Studtmann, “is a singularly important work of philosophy. It not only presents the backbone of Aristotle’s own philosophical theorizing but has exerted an unparalleled influence on the systems of many of the greatest philosophers in the western tradition.”

And freshman philosophy at Wyoming Catholic College begins by being thrown into the deep end as students jump into Aristotle’s Categories. In that work, Aristotle outlines the framework needed to read and understand the works students will encounter later in their intellectual journey: The Physics, The Metaphysics, and The Nicomachean Ethics.

Their guide to The Categories this semester is our guest this week, Dr. Michael Bolin, whose specialties are the works of St. Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle.

A Philosopher Reads St. Thomas Aquinas with Dr. Daniel Shields

A Philosopher Reads St. Thomas Aquinas with Dr. Daniel Shields

August 17, 2021

“Because philosophy arises from awe,” wrote St. Thomas Aquinas, “a philosopher is bound in his way to be a lover of myths and poetic fables. Poets and philosophers are alike in being big with wonder.”

Last week our guest on The After-Dinner Scholar was Dr. Paul Giesting, newly-arrived professor of mathematics and science. Today our guest is philosopher, Dr. Daniel Shields who is also new to the college faculty.

Dr. Shields did his undergraduate work at Thomas Aquinas College and received his PhD from the Catholic University of America. His main interest is in philosophy of nature and science, ethics, moral psychology, and medieval philosophy.

Faith and Reason in Benedict XVI’s The Regensburg Address with Dr. Michael Bolin

Faith and Reason in Benedict XVI’s The Regensburg Address with Dr. Michael Bolin

May 25, 2021

When he delivered his “Regensburg Address” in 2006, Pope Benedict XVI set off a firestorm of anger. Not only had he criticized Islam and modern scientism, he had the temerity to suggest that what the world really needs is Catholicism. Nearly fifteen years later, sound far less profligate and far more prophetic.

Of course, the Regensburg Address was not primarily about Islam or about scientism. Pope Benedict argued for the place of reason in human life. Without it, we either end up with subjective religiosity ungoverned by reason and leading toward fanaticism or we limit reason to mathematics and physics leading to a cold, calculated science that erases religion and morality and with them our humanity.

Dr. Michael Bolin read Pope Benedict’s Regensburg Address with our Wyoming Catholic College seniors in the weeks before graduation.

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