Episode 22 Maps and Selfhood

Doug and his geographer-wife Shawn talk through what we lose when we lose physical maps and the ability to read them.

The younger generation has lost the ability to read maps, relying (as we all do) on Google Maps and navigation. This brings about an inability to locate ourselves in space, in relation to other places. Existing in a virtual space is the same as existing in a non-place, which worsens the crisis of selfhood.

We discuss other cultures in which spatial orientation is fundamental. We talk about maps as art, the impulse of children to map-making, and, most important, the development of the self through an ability to navigate the real world.

Finally, we have our Top 10 Geographers.

Show notes:

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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 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 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.

Show notes:

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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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Episode 10 The Case for Real Books: E-books Don’t Burn

Doug and Caren talk over the advantages of physical books vs. e-books. A soliloquy from Shakespeare provides our epigraph (in honor of his birthday). Kindle and other e-books provide some advantages, but at what cost? We weigh the heft of physical books, in terms both sentimental and metaphysical. Finally, our Top 10 things you can do with a real book that you can’t do with an e-book.

Love to hear your thoughts on this, whether you’re an old-school bibliophile or a Kindle fan.

Show notes:

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Episode 9 Walker Percy: Lost in the Cosmos and the Dilemma of the Self

Doug and Caren talk Walker Percy and the vagaries of the self in our age. We focus our discussion on Percy’s immensely entertaining Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book after an epigraph from his novel The Moviegoer. We touch on what brought about our predicament, a few of Percy’s non-selves, and a glimpse of the way forward. Our discussion includes other novels and his essay “The Loss of the Creature” in passing. Lastly, our Top 10 Ways to Fight Malaise.

We’ll come back to Percy more than once. This episode just gets us started.

Show notes:

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Episode 8 Personality Profiles: Tool, Diversion, or Trap?

Caren and Doug talk over our culture’s obsession with personality profiles and the instruments to construct them, ranging from “What’s Your Hogwart’s House?” to Myers-Briggs and Big Five Factors. We also touch on StrengthsFinder, Gretchen Rubin’s Four Temperaments, and the Five Love Languages. What drives our fascination with these, at the personal and institutional levels? What are they good at identifying and what do they distort? More important, is the whole enterprise misguided? Walker Percy’s Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book provides the (delayed) epigraph.

Show notes (these will be fun):

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