Tag: Podcasts

Listening to Podcasts at Oxford in 1374 and Kansas in 1974

Why do we love those conversational podcasts?

If you were a student at a medieval university, you listened to lectures.

And listened and listened and listened to lectures, often more than ten hours a day.

But they weren’t like lectures at today’s universities, where hundreds of students sit in a hall and listen to a professor deliver a monologue.

The medieval morning lectures were like that, but come afternoon, the lectures morphed into dialogue. The professor would assert a position, a graduate assistant would field questions or objections posed by undergraduates, and discussion ensued. At the end, the professor would summarize that afternoon’s conversation.

It was the “Scholastic disputation.”

Each session was meant to unfold knowledge gradually, as informed and inquisitive minds rubbed against one another, sharpening each other in the process, like knives rubbing against a whetstone.

Kansas: Early 1970s

The disputation, like everything else Scholastic, evaporated over the centuries and gave way to the mass lecture hall, with one professor doing all the talking.

In the 1970s, three professors at the University of Kansas brought back the disputation.

The three professors were John Senior, Frank Nelick, and Dennis Quinn, and they led the Integrated Humanities Program, a program dedicated to the wild notion of restoring a sense of beauty and poetic knowledge in its students.

The Program had a lot of facets (e.g., waltzes, star-gazing, great books), but its centerpiece may have been conversations among the three professors with the students watching.

The following description of these highly-popular sessions is taken from Fr. Francis Bethel’s John Senior and the Restoration of Realism.

The 80-minute classes were neither planned nor rehearsed. They weren’t even mentally prepared beforehand. Said Quinn in an interview:

We didn’t plan the lectures. We had lunch together before class started and on the way

Read the rest

Thaddeus Russell on His Way to Rome?

Alright, that headline is a gross exaggeration.

It’s downright clickbait, in fact. Clickbait for nerds, yes, but still clickbait.

But you’re going to be happy you clicked on it if you’re a Catholic libertarian.

Tom Woods recently appeared on Russell’s “Unregistered” podcast. The whole thing is enjoyable, but they get into libertarianism and Catholicism in the second half of it, starting shortly after the one-hour mark.

In the course of it, you’ll hear Tom Woods explain:

how Anarcho-Capitalism is steeped in natural law, with norms that transcend culture (with Russell dissenting . . . claiming there are no such norms . .  . which is his postmodern wont),

why the Latin Mass is important (with Russell agreeing . . . noting the modern Mass isn’t even Catholic, based on his outsider perspective),

why Anthony Esolen is great (with Russell agreeing),

why he’s Catholic . . . with Russell declaring, if he were going to become religious, he would definitely join the Catholic Church.

That’s the closest Russell came to declaring any intent of converting, so, yes, my headline is “clickbaity.”

But notable conversions in our history have started with a whole lot less. Most converts don’t come into the Church through a Saul/Paul moment. The journey starts with something little like that.

I disagree with Russell on many things, but I generally find him intellectually honest and a man of good will.

And more importantly, he realizes, like Chesterton pointed out, only dead things swim with the stream. Like any good Catholic, he’s vibrantly fighting against the modern stream all the time. He’s fighting it with postmodernist weapons, but he’s fighting it all the same.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to think that, if you combine his distaste for modernity and his obvious respect for the Catholic Church … Read the rest

McConaughey on His Way to Rome?

Recommended: Joe Rogan’s engaging interview with Matthew McConaughey

Delightful interview from Austin, Texas, with Matthew McConaughey at the Joe Rogan Show. I listened to it yesterday while using my new nifty leaf mulcher to create some great winter beds for my garden (the mulcher is great, but (i) it eats the whipping string pretty fast, and (ii) it goes a lot slower if the leaves are wet).

McConaughey has always struck me as a genuinely decent guy, and this interview confirmed it. He has no problem confirming his Christian faith and I’m pretty sure he’s right-of-center politically. How right? I don’t know.

But what really grabbed me: his prayer life. He says he spends time getting in touch with himself every morning, then he “bookends” it in the evening by doing a review of his day. He does the review, he says, right before he does his prayers.

Wow. The guy is doing the Examen. He didn’t call it that, but that’s clearly what he’s doing.

I love seeing Catholic practices erupt into pop culture like that. I call it “Accidental Catholicism.”

I swear, Ryan Holiday is creating an entire cottage industry out of re-packaging Catholic spiritual practices under the name of “Stoicism” (check out these Stoic medallions that he’s selling . . . the guy is really clever).

Here’s the thing: If we Catholics have the truth, or the nearest we can come to the truth on this earth, then we are all sitting on a goldmine of marketing possibilities. We all ought to be developing Stoic medallions and making money from them. Doing well while doing good . . . and tithing the proceeds.

Anyway, McConaughey appears to be a guy who has said, “Look. I made it big. I’m famous. I have money. It’s time … Read the rest