Episode 20 The Place of Poetry in Reviving the Wasteland (Inner and Outer)

Doug is joined by poet and teacher Will Justice Drake for a discussion of the place of poetry in preserving the human and renewing our lives and communities.

Starting with Walker Percy’s analysis of the loss of language and viable selfhood, we consider the fundamental difference between true poetry and common language. How does poetry resist the devaluation of words and the evacuation of things (including people)? How is it a form of resistance to the disorder of the age?

Most important, we consider how the recovery of language through poetry can spark a renewal of our selves and the possibility of communion. We have poetry from Dickinson, Stevens, and Eliot scattered throughout, but our centerpiece is “Summer Storm (Circa 1916), and God’s Grace” from Robert Penn Warren’s book Promises.

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Episode 19 Man on the Way: The Need for Pilgrimage in the Present World

Doug and his wife Shawn, a cultural geographer, talk through the essentials and purpose of pilgrimage. Today, ‘pilgrimage’ can mean most anything, from going to Graceland to sanctifying the daily grind. But what is the traditional understanding of pilgrimage (particularly from a Catholic perspective)?

We establish some crucial elements and talk through why a restored, traditional, sense and practice of pilgrimage answers to our age of anxious, directionless ‘freedom.’ We pay particular attention to the Camino, the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella in Spain.

Our epigraph is, of course, from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. We end with our Top Ten Books/Movies about pilgrimage.

Show notes:

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Episode 18 Ideology and Sacrament: Katherine Anne Porter’s “Flowering Judas”

Doug and Caren talk over Katherine Anne Porter’s great short story “Flowering Judas.” We start with a bit of background on her life and career, including her conversion to Catholicism and failed marriages, but our focus is on the story itself.

Porter’s craft and technical mastery left an enduring mark on the American short story, including the work of writers like Flannery O’Connor and Eudora Welty.

“Flowering Judas” is set in the revolutionary upheavals of Mexico, which Porter had experienced firsthand. Laura, the primary character, is a young American woman caught up in larger events but strangely detached from her own life and governed by fear. She cannot love and is not satisfied by her abstract ideology.

Her suppressed sacramental longing, culminating in the potent Eucharistic imagery of the final paragraph, plays a crucial role in the story. Porter, like Graham Greene, had a rocky relationship with the Catholic Church, but it deeply informs her art.

Show notes:

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Episode 17 Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life

In our second Jordan Peterson episode, we look more closely at his bestselling new book, 12 Rules for Life. Our epigraph is from T.S. Eliot’s “Little Gidding.” We go rule by rule, looking at the main thrust of each and the repeated themes that emerge.

Peterson’s book is far from a standard self-help book. It ranges from practical advice on breaking negative cycles to a ringing call for heroism in the face of nihilistic despair. It’s how to make the world a little more like Heaven and a little less like Hell.

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Episode 16 Who’s Afraid of Jordan Peterson?

Caren and Doug talk over the controversy that has launched Dr. Jordan Peterson, a University of Toronto Clinical Psychologist, to international celebrity. Some of his ideas on the biological basis of gender, the respective roles and inclinations of women and men, and his resistance to the radical Left have provoked a firestorm.

After our epigraph, W.B. Yeats’ great poem “Sailing to Byzantium,” we step back a bit to look at the controversy and what it says about the polarized state of our culture. We also talk through some of his foundational claims.

Next week, we will delve into his new bestselling book, 12 Rules for Life.

Show notes:

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Episode 15 Maxims, Aphorisms, Truisms: Distilled Wisdom or Enemy of Thought?

Go on Etsy and you’ll find quotations of all sorts emblazoned on pillows and painted on canvases. Doug and Caren talk through our culture’s fascination with wise or motivational quotations.

What function do they serve? After an epigraph from Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography, we delve into the good and bad. What is the relation of the deep wisdom of the Beatitudes, for example, and a vacuous contemporary slogan? What need in us do these sayings serve?

On the troubling side, are these thought-provoking or a substitute for thought? Do they encourage or thwart dialogue? How might they serve for indoctrination and social control? We end with our Top 10 Quotations.

Show notes:

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Episode 14 Mary, Mother of the Church; a Memorial Reflection

On this inaugural Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, Doug and Caren reflect on the significance of this day and the importance of Mary’s place as Mother of the Church. A Marian poem from Gerard Manley Hopkins provides our epigraph.

We deal with some of the things that seem strange in the eyes of our non-Catholic brethren. This Lady, first of disciples, whose “Yes” made it possible for all of us to say “Yes” with her. We consider her unique place in salvation history and the life of the early church and the ways our devotion to the Mother always leads us deeper into the life of her Son.

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Episode 13 The Fiction of Flannery O’Connor: Revelation

On Caren’s 50th birthday, she and Doug talk over Catholic writer Flannery O’Connor’s short story “Revelation.” What is the purpose behind O’Connor’s strange characters and often disturbing situations? What makes for the moral blindness of the good and upright folk such as Ruby Turpin? A look into the violent regions of grace in one Catholic writer’s vision. We end with our Top 10 O’Connor Tidbits.

Note: occasional background noise issue fixed and audio replaced (still has Bartleby barking through part of the Top 10, but it’s his show too.)

Show notes:

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