The After Dinner Scholar
The Challenge of the Sermon on the Mount with Dr. Jeremy Holmes

The Challenge of the Sermon on the Mount with Dr. Jeremy Holmes

August 20, 2019

And Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire.”

Those of us who have brothers or sisters or spouses can take little comfort from those words of Jesus. With those close to us getting angry, hurling insults, and yelling “You fool!” (or more likely “You idiot!” which expresses the Greek better) comes as second nature.

In fact, if we’re honest, the entire Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5 to 7) stands as an enormous challenge to the way we do most things most of the time.

This summer at PEAK, Wyoming Catholic College’s high school program, theologian Dr. Jeremy Holmes taught the Sermon on the Mount.

“Friendship in the Bible: The Story of David and Jonathan” by Dr. James Tonkowich

“Friendship in the Bible: The Story of David and Jonathan” by Dr. James Tonkowich

June 18, 2019

Jonathan was Crown Prince of Israel, the man next in line to be king. David was, however, the man destined to be king instead--and that by God's sovereign choice. King Saul knew that God had chosen David and Jonathan knew as well. Yet rather than trying to kill David, "Jonathan loved him as his own soul." The two were the dearest of friends.

This lecture by Dr. Jim Tonkowich about the friendship between Jonathan and David opened the 2019 Wyoming School of Catholic Thought on June 9. The school's theme was: "No Greater Gift: Friendship from The Iliad to Facebook." 

This podcast is the first in a series of podcasts this summer featuring lectures from the Wyoming School.

St. Thomas Aquinas on the Resurrection of Jesus with Dr. Jeremy Holmes

St. Thomas Aquinas on the Resurrection of Jesus with Dr. Jeremy Holmes

April 23, 2019

The Catechism of the Catholic Church declares, “Easter is not simply one feast among others, but the ‘"Feast of feasts,’ the ‘Solemnity of solemnities,’ just as the Eucharist is the ‘Sacrament of sacraments’ (the Great Sacrament). St. Athanasius calls Easter ‘the Great Sunday’ and the Eastern Churches call Holy Week ‘the Great Week.’ The mystery of the Resurrection, in which Christ crushed death, permeates with its powerful energy our old time, until all is subjected to him.”

In his Compendium Theologiae, St. Thomas Aquinas reflected on the meaning of the resurrection. This Easter Week, Dr. Jeremy Holmes explains how Thomas understood the resurrection of Christ and its relationship to our resurrection.

Getting Wisdom in 2019 with Dr. Jeremy Holmes

Getting Wisdom in 2019 with Dr. Jeremy Holmes

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.

Old Testament Judges and Kings and the Question of Centralization with Dr. Jeremy Holmes

Old Testament Judges and Kings and the Question of Centralization with 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.

Gods, Monsters, and Heroes: The Epic of Gilgamesh with Prof. Kyle Washut

Gods, Monsters, and Heroes: The Epic of Gilgamesh with Prof. Kyle Washut

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.

Lecture - Courage in Conquest: Joshua and the People of Israel by Dr. James Tonkowich

Lecture - Courage in Conquest: Joshua and the People of Israel by Dr. James Tonkowich

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.

Courage in the Face of Flood, Flames, and Fangs with Dr. James Tonkowich

Courage in the Face of Flood, Flames, and Fangs with Dr. James Tonkowich

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.

Reading and Believing: De Verbum with Prof. Kyle Washut

Reading and Believing: De Verbum with Prof. Kyle Washut

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.

Holy Week: “My Night Knows No Darkness” with Dr. Thaddeus Kozinski

Holy Week: “My Night Knows No Darkness” with Dr. Thaddeus Kozinski

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.