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.

Show notes and further reading:

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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.

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 2: Fight the Atrophy; or, Starting Anew at Midlife

Doug and Caren talk about the wonderful, albeit terrifying, position of midlife (49 and holding). We examine what creates the illusion of exhausted possibilities and how one can get going again, recover from atrophy, and live more deeply. Emily Dickinson’s “I Dwell in Possibility” provides our starting point for looking to live poetry rather than prose, and we touch on other writers and saints along the way.

Show notes:

Read Emily Dickinson’s “I Dwell in Possibility” here at the Poetry Foundation.

UVA has a reliable e-text of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden here (more from HDT next episode).

Frances de Sales’ spiritual classic Introduction to the Devout Life can be found here.

Our music is from Mobile’s own master string-player and Catholic high-school teacher Phil Proctor.

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