Matt Swaim is the co-host of the Son Rise Morning Show, heard Monday through Friday 6-8 am on hundreds of stations in the nationwide EWTN Catholic radio network. He is also the outreach manager for the Coming Home Network, an apostolate that helps non-Catholic Christians who desire to learn more about, and consider entrance into, the Catholic Church. He co-hosts a podcast, “On the Journey,” for that organization.
Paul and Bill talked with Matt largely about the challenges in understanding, and then catechizing and evangelizing about, the Real Presence of Christ’s body and blood, soul and divinity. It is this Eucharist, into which Catholics believe the bread and wine at Mass have been transubstantiated.
Bill also has gotten to know Matt by being interviewed on the Son Rise show, and the two share an interest in media criticism on communication about religion. More generally, they discuss communication which uses symbolic language and sometimes loses touch with important truths.
Matt has written a book that deals with these topics. Prayer in the Digital Age, was published by Ligouri Press in 2011. Bill has written a book on related topics. When Headlines Hurt: Do We Have a Prayer? was published in 2018.
The topics of the Eucharistic and symbolism vs. the Real Presence became especially timely this year when the US Conference of Catholic Bishops initiated a “National Eucharistic Revival.” The bishops were reacting, in part, to national survey findings that only about one-third of American Catholics believe the Eucharist is the real body and blood of Jesus Christ, rather than a symbol. Survey findings came from the Pew Research Center, and Bill wrote about those findings recently for The Tablet, the newspaper of the Diocese of Brooklyn, NY.
Matt made reference to the Latin maxim, Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi. He also referred to the “milkshake duck” meme and how it ties in with digital media culture. This savvy media analyst also made references to The Dark Knight and to the Hollywood films constituting “the Marvel universe” of comic book superheroes.
- Paul and Bill spoke with Louis Albarran, associate professor of theology at Holy Cross College in Notre Dame, IN. Albarran holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Dayton, and he specializes in the connection of religion, culture, and the physicality of devotional practices, with a focus on the Latino Catholic culture.
- Albarran spoke of the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe, as told by the Aztec people in their own language. The name of this narrative is Nican Mopohua.
- Albarran spoke of the Dayton school of thought regarding the meaning of Catholic devotions for culture. He referred to Thank You, St. Jude, written by Robert Orsi. [Paul cannot help adding a reference to St. Jude by Brian Setzer.]
- Currently reading: Making Culture by Andy Crouch.
- The annual “Saints and Scholars” summer program for high school students on the Holy Cross College campus is directed by Albarran.
- Peter Kreeft and Christopher Baglow offer notable perspectives on the compatibility of science and religion.
- Holy Cross College’s Moreau College Initiative grants degrees to prisoners.
- William Cavanaugh wrote about the wars of religion and the rise of the nation-state. Peter Kreeft wrote a condensed Catholic catechism. Kenneth Miller wrote Finding Darwin’s God. Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World.
- Christopher Bell, president and executive director of Good Counsel Homes, is “on the frontline of the pro-life movement,” as The Catholic World Report wrote in a 2021 profile. Chris and TSSM co-host Bill Schmitt have been friends since their college years, when they were both studying journalism. Co-host Paul Giesting joined the two native Long Islanders for a discussion of Catholic values in the abortion debate shortly after the leak of a draft US Supreme Court decision which pointed toward a Court decision overruling Roe v Wade.
- In 1985, Bell co-founded Good Counsel with Father Benedict Groeschel, who was a much-loved voice in Catholic spirituality and media and a member of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.
- Good Counsel operates four homes to provide basic necessities and steps toward a stable future for moms and their babies, unborn and recently born, in New York and New Jersey. The homes are a pro-life alternative available at no cost to mothers who choose to give birth rather than abort their babies.
- The trajectory of politics and policies in New York and New Jersey has been strongly pro-abortion. The differences in approaches among all the states are being highlighted more than ever in the context of the Supreme Court’s pending decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
- Darcia Narvaez, who holds a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Minnesota, is a prolific public intellectual who uses many tools of multimedia communication to do research and to address needs of everyday people. Her work enhances and taps deeply rooted wisdom about human nature so that it can be applied in everday tasks, such as parenting.
- She is a Professor of Psychology Emerita at the University of Notre Dame. Links to much of her work can be found at her personal website, as well as her Notre Dame faculty site.
- A capstone of Prof. Narvaez’s interdisciplinary scholarship is her 2014 book, Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality: Evolution, Culture, and Wisdom. See her summary of the book.
- She received the Expanded Reason Award, a distinctive salute to innovative research in the spirit of Pope Benedict XVI, in 2017. The honor is bestowed by the Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation.
- In recent years, she has invested much research in a source of useful insights for families drawn from the concept of a nest for children that humans have inherited from their ancestors. Learn more about this work at org and evolvednest.org.
- Also see her blogs, including one she writes for Psychology Today.
Paul and Bill have interviewed Darcia Narvaez previously in episodes 55-56 and 96.
As the emcee noted at a concert here in Lander, a Musical History Tour, the Renaissance--the period when Europe revived its intellectual life by re-evaluating the writings of the Hellenistic past--ends around the year 1600, give or take. By that time, the focus had shifted toward going beyond the ancients instead of merely revisiting their achievements. This shift in focus happened on a different schedule in different fields, to be certain. Music may have been well ahead of the ancients already in the high medieval period. The Scholastics, and indeed their Arabian predecessors, while firmly rooted in Aristotle and the Neoplatonists, were already progressing beyond those foundations in the thirteenth century. On the other hand, painting and sculpture may not have outstripped the Greeks and Romans until the nineteenth century.
In any case, the seventeenth century would be the one in which Greek mathematics and Aristotelian natural philosophy gave way precipitously to new approaches. Algebra, lurking in the background of Greek thought and poking its head above the canopy in Arabian and Italian mathematics, would finally spawn analytic geometry and calculus. The focus and methods of natural philosophy would shift in many ways, including the use of mathematics and a great increase in the number of people collecting observations and conducting experiments and discussing their results with others. The existing sciences of astronomy, mechanics, botany, and zoology would be transformed, and chemistry and geology would be born outright. Inventions like the telescope and microscope would begin to reveal unsuspected layers of richness in the universe.
-Bacon: bio and politics
-The Reformation had to attack Scholastic *theology* but the universities continued to be heavily Aristotelian
-Aristotle and the distinction between philosophy and science that would be inverted by the 19th century
-Aristotle's focus on deduction and Bacon's polemical critique of the syllogism: "The New Organon"
-The role of induction and statistical reasoning; Bacon's blind spot for mathematics and his tables
Image: Francis Bacon by Paul van Somer, courtesy Wikimedia (By Paul van Somer I - pl.pinterest.com, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19958108)
Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers (deaconharold.com) is a Catholic deacon and public speaker. Bill and I had the privilege of interviewing him earlier this month.
Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers is one of the most incisive and authentic Catholic speakers and authors who have arisen to serve the New Evangelization, including an outreach to the younger generations who hunger to combine secular reality and meaningful Church values.
Paul and Bill know Deacon Harold through our connections to the University of Notre Dame. But the Deacon’s reputation has spread internationally; as a scholar and a presenter nicknamed “the Dynamic Deacon,” he offers large groups from many backgrounds fresh resources for spiritual renewal, including the refreshment of male spirituality. This topic is masterfully addressed in his book, Behold the Man.
Deacon Harold has appeared frequently on the EWTN Catholic radio and television networks. Recently, he took part in a discussion on racism and Catholic responses in an episode of the “Franciscan University Presents” program.
A number of other books authored by Deacon Burke-Sivers over the years can be found here.
- Paul and Bill were privileged to talk with Father Robert Spitzer, SJ, the founding director of the Magis Center in Orange County, California.
- Father Spitzer’s biography includes service as the president of Gonzaga University and the authorship of numerous books about various aspects of theology, philosophy, spirituality, apologetics, happiness and the meaning of life, and much more.
- He has produced a huge collection of materials for online use. His main websites are the Magis Center site, com, and PurposefulUniverse.com. In this interview, he describes the sites and how our listeners can select and use materials that may be particularly helpful.
- We discuss the four levels of happiness, which represent an insightful roadmap for spiritual growth and movement toward a culture of life. His excellent book, Healing the Culture, gives a good grounding in this approach.
- Another area of special interest for Father Spitzer is the compatibility of appeals to science and faith—which is also a basis for this TSSM podcast series. In this interview he notes that younger scientists are statistically more likely to believe in God than scientists over age 40.
- Young people don’t know what’s going on in current science, in studies of near death experiences, scrutiny of the Shroud of Turin, and many other areas of research that contribute to religious faith. A good grounding for his work connecting science and faith in Jesus Christ is New Proofs for the Existence of God .
- Yet another area of deep interest for Fr. Spitzer is the need for a full appreciation of, and deep personal engagement with the summit of the Catholic faith, the Holy Eucharist. In this interview, he refers to the John 6:30-52 as a portion of Scripture that powerfully asserts the Catholic understanding of the Blessed Sacrament as the body and blood of Christ.
- You can see Fr. Spitzer on EWTN in his weekly series, “Father Spitzer’s Universe.”
David Seitz, OFS, is a long-time professed member of the Secular Franciscan Order who holds an M.A. in theology from Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit. He has written a book, available on line, called Come Let Us Worship: Reflections on the Words and Prayers of the Mass. He produces podcasts, videos, blogs, and speaks publicly, offering reflection for spiritual growth based on the life and works of St. Francis of Assisi. Find him at tauministries.com and, on YouTube, look for his nickname, Franciscan Dave.
Bill, also a Secular Franciscan, recently appeared on Dave's podcast, and I spoke with Bill about that conversation regarding journalism and virtuous communication. We discuss whether missionaries and scientists are also journalists and the spiritual value of seeking and spreading truth. Be sure to find their original conversation at Dave's site.
Here's our pre-conversation with Matthew Cloud prior to the full interview. In this segment we talk a little bit about the Ubuntu distro, the ubuntu philosophy of computer science, and 4th and 5th generation tools for generating working code to solve computer science problems in the context of Matthew's role connected to a grant for cybersecurity education through Ivy Tech and other schools in several states.
- Jordan Wales, PhD, who teaches theology at Hillsdale College in Michigan, spoke with Paul and Bill about his research at the intersection of robotics and religion.
- He discussed a compelling concern in the future relationship between human beings and technology. In particular, the concern, about which he spoke at the 2021 conference of the Society of Catholic Scientists, dealt with the interaction between individuals and the entities Wales calls “apparently personal artificial intelligence” (APAI).
- APAI products are already becoming commonplace in the world of commerce, as this BBC article discusses. People will be increasingly able to purchase, and interact with, virtual friends or babysitters or therapists, for example, Dr. Wales pointed out.
- This raises moral questions related to personhood, covering both the APAI product and the user of that product. The product will not have an inner life representative of what we think of as a person, although the definition of person has an interesting history influenced by scholars such as Saint Augustine. Human beings can express and influence their own understandings of personhood through their interactions with APAI. These understandings may lead to various types of interaction, ranging from pride and manipulation to excessive empathy, and one middle ground would consist of appreciation for the humanity that underlies the production and information/formation of the APAI product, Dr. Wales pointed out.
- As the use of APAI grows, there are also concerns about how the aggregated human “input” into the experience of APAI personalities may cause a flattening-out of human perspectives on the unique qualities of each person. One current example of the trajectory for these concerns comes from the use of the auto-correct feature by Google for writing. Long-term possibilities include such features of interactions not only affecting our choices of words and expressions, but also influencing what subjects we think about and how we think about them. This highlights the moral principle that ultimately we must retain our unique personal identities and wisely discern how to exercise our responsibility and restraint in allowing some possible applications of APAI to influence us, Dr. Wales said.