January 1, 2019
“What does it mean to be wise?” a psychologist recently asked an 8-year-old and an 88-year-old from different parts of the world. “Their answers,” she reported, “were remarkably similar: to know a lot.”
If wisdom was simply a question of knowing a lot, we would need to conclude that Americans today are by far the wisest generation to live. After all, thanks to the internet, we know a lot about a lot of things. But is access to knowledge, to data really the definition of wisdom? Isn’t wisdom more a matter of how we live than about what we know?
Of the 73 books in our Bibles, we classify seven as “wisdom books.” Those are Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Wisdom of Solomon, and Sirach. And for most people, aside from Psalms, the books seem rather elusive.
To help us understand wisdom and the wisdom books as we embark on a new calendar year, we’re joined by theologian Dr. Jeremy Holmes.
November 13, 2018
“And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them, who did not know the Lord or the work which he had done for Israel.” (Judges 2:10)
When Israel entered the Promised Land, Joshua was the clear commander and leader of the people. Then he and his generation died. It was a generation that, as a friend used to say, forgot to make disciples. The memory of the Exodus and of the Lord God faded and, well, disaster was the result.
Enemies came to oppress Israel. In their pain they called out to the Lord who, because he is faithful, heard and answered by sending a judge to deliver them. Then, when the judge died, the cycle began all over again.
Dr. Jeremy Holmes and I have been team teaching freshman theology, a course that surveys the history of Israel in the Old Testament. Our classes that reflected on the judges and the subsequent anointing of a king over Israel got us thinking. Dr. Holmes is our guest on The After Dinner Scholar.
October 9, 2018
“When the gods created Gilgamesh,” the ancient text says, “they gave him a perfect body. Shamash the glorious sun [god] endowed him with beauty, Adad the god of the storm endowed him with courage, the great gods made his beauty perfect, surpassing all others, terrifying like a great wild bull. Two thirds they made him god and one third man.”
Every year freshmen at Wyoming Catholic College struggle to find their bearings in the midst of The Epic of Gilgamesh. The epic was composed in Babylon in the mid- to late-second millennium BC. It was something of a founding myth for the Babylonian kings and the parallels between Gilgamesh and the Bible and Gilgamesh and Homer are, to say the least, intriguing.
Professor Kyle Washut has just finished teaching The Epic of Gilgamesh and is anxiously awaiting student papers reflecting on the tale. Prof. Washut is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.
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.
August 7, 2018
The religions of the Babylonian Empire and the Persian Empire that followed it were, from a Jewish point of view, idolatry pure and simple. Bowing down to a giant golden image, praying only to the king were unacceptable to those who worshipped the Lord, God of Israel.
Daniel along with his companions—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—however, were captives in those empires. Because of their intelligence and the grace of God, they were given special privileges and responsibilities as part of the government of the empires. But they could have been demoted from satrap to slave in about two seconds. Or from satrap to pile of hot ashes or lion food in just a bit longer than two seconds.
At the Wyoming School of Catholic Thought in June, Dr. Jim Tonkowich lectured about the meaning of courage in the Bible and then led a discussion about courage in the Book of Daniel.
In this podcast, Prof. Kyle Washut interviews Dr. Tonkowich on the topic of courage in the Bible and the Book of Daniel.
May 8, 2018
In the second century AD, St. Irenaeus wrote, “We have known the method of our salvation by no other means than those by whom the gospel came to us; which gospel they truly preached; but afterward, by the will of God, they delivered to us in the Scriptures, to be for the future the foundation and pillar of our faith.”
Of course, just how the Scriptures serve as “the foundation and pillar of our faith” is a complicated question. Is it sufficient on its own as most of our Protestant friends believe? Or does it require the hand of the Church and of tradition lest we be led astray? Is interpretation open-ended, subject to the ideas and spirit of every age? Or is there a right and a wrong way (or assorted wrong ways) of understanding the Scriptures?
Professor Kyle Washut has been considering those kinds of questions with our freshmen looking at, among other texts, De Verbum from the Second Vatican Council. Professor Washut is our guest this week on The After Dinner Scholar.
March 26, 2018
In his sermon entitled “My Night Knows No Darkness,” twentieth century theologian Fr. Karl Rahner asked about Lent, “How is such a time relevant for us today with our many needs, our hopelessness with regard to this world, our bitter hearts, our sense that we would be willing to fast as long as it did not mean going hungry?”
In the sadness of modern life, why add more sadness and sober contemplation about our lives? What good does it do us? Why not jump to the joy of Easter and leave it at that?
Wyoming Catholic College Academic Dean and Associate Professor of Humanities and Philosophy Dr. Thaddeus Kozinski has been reflecting on Rahner’s sermon during this Lent and shares with us some insights during this Holy Week next on The After Dinner Scholar.
Fr. Rahner's sermon "My Night Knows No Darkness" (available here) will be among the readings at The Wyoming School of Catholic Thought, June 10-14 in Lander, Wyoming. Sign up today.
February 6, 2018
“To many persons,” preached St. John Chrysostom, “this Book is so little known, both it and its author, that they are not even aware that there is such a book in existence. For this reason especially I have taken this narrative for my subject, that I may draw to it such as do not know it, and not let such a treasure as this remain hidden out of sight.”
The book to which St. John Chrysostom referred was the Acts of the Apostles, the second volume in St. Luke’s telling of the story of Jesus. “In the first book, O Theophilus,” Luke wrote, “I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach.” In this second book, the Acts of the Apostles, Luke would deal with all Jesus through the Holy Spirit continued to do and teach.
Wyoming Catholic College Professor Kyle Washut has been teaching Acts to our freshmen this winter, sharing his insights and theirs with us on this installment of the After Dinner Scholar.
January 9, 2018
The story of Tobit takes place during the exile in Assyria. When Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian army took the people of Judah and Jerusalem into captivity, the people went with God’s promise of return. Two hundred years earlier, when the Assyrians captured Israel, that is, the Northern Kingdom, the people went into exile with no such promise or hope of returning. The so-called “ten lost tribes,” already thoroughly paganized in their religion, simply assimilated into Assyrian society.
But not Tobit. Though exiled, living in Nineveh, and working for the king, he had not apostatized like his fellow Israelites. He followed the Lord wholeheartedly and kept His commands carefully. Like Job he was brought low and like Job he finally saw his vindication.
Dr. Kent Lasnoski taught Tobit to Wyoming Catholic College freshmen during the fall semester.
August 1, 2017
That imagery of the Exodus goes far beyond Moses leading the people of Israel in about 1446 BC. It was alive and well on the shores of New England in 1630 and remains with us today as what Wyoming Catholic College professor Dr. Virginia Arbery calls “the root of American self-understanding.”
Dr. Arbery spoke about the New England Puritans and the imagery of the Exodus at the Wyoming School of Catholic Thought this past June. Here is her lecture in its entirety.
The documents Dr. Arbery cites in her lecture are: The Mayflower Compact, "A Model of Christian Charity" by Governor John Winthrop and The Life of William Bradford and The Life of John Winthrop both from Cotton Mather's Magnalia Christi Americana