The After Dinner Scholar
Lecture: “Beauty is Truth: Shattering the Medieval Vision” by Dr. Jim Tonkowich

Lecture: “Beauty is Truth: Shattering the Medieval Vision” by Dr. Jim Tonkowich

August 25, 2020

Duke University professor and philosopher Alex Rosenberg began an essay on Scientism with a series of questions and his answers:

  • Is there a God? No.
  • What is the nature of reality? What physics says it is. 
  • What is the purpose of the universe? There is none. 
  • What is the meaning of life?
  • Why am I here? Just dumb luck. 
  • Does prayer work? Of course not. 
  • Is there a soul? Is it immortal? Are you kidding? 
  • Is there free will? Not a chance! 
  • What happens when we die? Everything pretty much goes on as before, except us.
  • What is the difference between right and wrong, good or Bad? There is no moral difference between them. 
  • Is abortion, euthanasia, suicide, paying taxes, foreign aid, or anything else you don’t like forbidden, permissible, or sometimes obligatory? Anything goes. 
  • Does history have any meaning or purpose? It’s full of sound and fury, but signifies nothing. 

At this year’s Wyoming School of Catholic Thought, Dr. Tiffany Shubert began by talking about the Medieval cosmos, a cosmos full of meaning, harmony, and truth. And last week’s After Dinner Scholar podcast was her lecture about the Medieval cosmos.

Next, we held a seminar discussing Alex Rosenberg’s essay “Scientism Versus the Theory of Mind” with its opening series of questions and answers. Before the seminar began, to avoid unnecessary intellectual whiplash, Dr. Jim Tonkowich spoke about how we got from a reality filled with the presence of God and with purpose to Rosenberg’s comment that, “Reality is the forsightless play of fermions and bosons producing the illusion of purpose.”

“Learning in War-Time” and in Every Other Time with Dr. Jason Baxter

“Learning in War-Time” and in Every Other Time with Dr. Jason Baxter

July 28, 2020

On September 1, 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland. On September 3, Great Britain declared war on Germany. On September 29, the Feast of St. Michael in the Anglican Church, the term began at Oxford University. Studies? Classes? Learning? In War-Time?

Academics at Wyoming Catholic College focuses on the great books of the liberal arts tradition—a tradition stretching back beyond the founding of Oxford in 1096. And Oxford in 1939 was still almost exclusively the liberal arts. What was the point of reading Homer, Herodotus, and Dante, studying Euclid, perfecting an understanding of Latin and Greek with a war going on?

On Sunday, October 22, 1939 at St. Mary the Virgin Church in Oxford, literary scholar and Oxford do C. S. Lewis stepped into the pulpit to answer that question? His sermon “Learning in War-Time” has become something of a classic and Dr. Jason Baxter studied that sermon earlier this month with high school students who attended Wyoming Catholic College’s PEAK Program.

“The Splendor of Truth” Twenty-Five Years Later (Part 1) with Dr. Jeremy Holmes

“The Splendor of Truth” Twenty-Five Years Later (Part 1) with Dr. Jeremy Holmes

September 11, 2018

As George Weigel’s biography of St. John Paul II makes clear, even as a young man, Karol Wojtyła had a passionate concern for truth. In his theological and philosophical studies, the question “What is truth?” was utmost in his mind along with the question of how to communicate the truth to others. And truth became a theme of his pontificate.

Twenty-five years ago last month on August 6, 1993, the Feast of the Transfiguration, John Paul promulgated the encyclical Veritatis Splendor, The Splendor of Truth. What he had to say needed to be heard twenty-five years ago and needs to be heard with even greater urgency today.

In this week’s podcast, part one of a two part series, Dr. Jeremy Holmes explains the need for the encyclical, the argument St. John Paul made, and some of the errors he addressed.

Falling Inward: Humanities in the Age of Technology with Dr. Jason Baxter

Falling Inward: Humanities in the Age of Technology with Dr. Jason Baxter

March 13, 2018

“I begin this book, on the humanities,” writes Wyoming Catholic College Associate Professor of Fine Arts and Humanities, Dr. Jason Baxter, “with a description of travel, because I think the experience of being immersed in a world of surprises, like I was in Ischia, and the experience of reading a ‘great book’… is fundamentally analogous.”

Dr. Baxter goes on to write that his just-released book Falling Inward: Humanities in the Age of Technology is an answer to the question, “How is the profound sense of travel like the experience of reading?” Both are fundamentally the experience he calls “falling inward.”

To discuss his book and the meaning of its title, Dr. Baxter is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.

Order Dr. Baxter's book, Falling Inward from Cluny Media or Amazon.

Is Reading Plato Necessary for Salvation? with Dr. Thaddeus Kozinski

Is Reading Plato Necessary for Salvation? with Dr. Thaddeus Kozinski

February 13, 2018

During their years at Wyoming Catholic College, students study a number of Platonic dialogues. Plato, we believe, has a great deal to say to us. His writings are central to Western civilization.  But what about our personal lives? Is Plato in any sense central to or even important to our lives as Christian people?

Wyoming Catholic College Academic Dean Dr. Thaddeus Kozinski in a recent lecture entitled, "Is Reading Plato Necessary for Salvation?" argued that Plato is vital to our spiritual lives as humans and as Christian believers.

Dr. Kozinski is this week's guest on this The After Dinner Scholar interview. We are also making his entire lecture is available as a podcast.

Master of My Own Fate or Dependent Rational Animal? with Dr. Thaddeus Kozinski

Master of My Own Fate or Dependent Rational Animal? with Dr. Thaddeus Kozinski

November 28, 2017

In his poem “Invictus” (Latin for “Unconquered”) William Earnest Henley famously proclaimed, “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”

Henley sentiment expresses well the spirit of the age we live in more than one hundred twenty-five years after he penned those words. Our culture feeds our desire for autonomy and individualism. The rugged individual who blazes his or her own trail needing and depending only on but what Henley called, “my unconquerable soul” is today’s heroic cultural icon.

In his book Dependent Rational Animal: Why Human Beings Need the Virtues philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre takes aim at that kind of wishful human autonomy expressed in Henley’s poem. Wyoming Catholic College Academic Dean, Dr. Thaddeus Kozinski has been reading MacIntyre with our juniors and is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.

Good without God?: Iris Murdoch’s Moral Vision with Dr. Thaddeus Kozinski

Good without God?: Iris Murdoch’s Moral Vision with Dr. Thaddeus Kozinski

September 5, 2017

In her essay, “The Sovereignty of Good Over Other Concepts,” Iris Murdoch wrote, “We [humans] are what we seem to be, transient mortal creatures subject to necessity and chance. This is to say that there is, in my view, no God in the traditional sense of that term; and the traditional sense is perhaps the only sense.”

At the same time she spoke about virtue, morality, love, beauty, and the Good. Does that sound paradoxical? Dr. Thaddeus Kozinski began his junior level course on ethics here at Wyoming Catholic College by having students read and discuss Murdoch’s essay complete with paradoxes.

Lecture: Romano Guardini and the Modern World by Dr. Thaddeus Kozinski

Lecture: Romano Guardini and the Modern World by Dr. Thaddeus Kozinski

July 25, 2017

The question of how Christians should live in our current era is a live and open one. At the 2017 Wyoming School of Catholic Thought, Dr. Thaddeus Kozinski our Academic Dean spoke about Romano Guardini, Charles Taylor, our current culture, and the options we can consider. Here is his lecture in its entirety.

Romano Guardini, the End of the Modern World, and the Options We Face with Dr. Thaddeus Kozinski

Romano Guardini, the End of the Modern World, and the Options We Face with Dr. Thaddeus Kozinski

July 25, 2017

Fr. Romano Guardini, a professor at the University of Berlin at the time, witnessed first-hand the rise of Adolph Hitler and the Nazis, the destruction wrought by World War II, and the cultural and social aftermath. Coming out of that experience he wrote The End of the Modern World in 1957. 

In this podcast, Dr. Thaddeus Kozinski, Academic Dean at Wyoming Catholic College, discusses Guardini’s observations as they are related to the theme of exile and our present day. 

(Photo by Greg Tonkowich)

Modernity, Postmodernity, and Beyond, Part 2 with Dr. Thaddeus Kozinski

Modernity, Postmodernity, and Beyond, Part 2 with Dr. Thaddeus Kozinski

June 20, 2017

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.

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