Hosted by Dr. Lenny DeLorenzo, Ph.D., of the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame (http://mcgrath.nd.edu), Church Life Today features conversations with pastoral leaders and scholars from around the country and covers issues that matter most to Church life today. Church Life Today is an OSV Podcasts partner.
Preparing for First Communion, Part 1: Abundant Bread and Feeding of the Five Thousand
32:53In a 2019 study, the Pew Research Center found that just one-third of U.S. Catholics Agree that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ. That is a sobering statistic. Even if we account for the way in which the survey question may have been imprecisely formed, it still seems that the overwhelming majority of Catholics surveyed espoused belief in a more symbolic meaning of the bread and wine on the altar, as opposed to the sacramental, real presence of Jesus Christ.The Eucharistic Revival in the United States seeks to respond to issues like this, to help increase both belief in and devotion to the Eucharist. One area that I have become especially attentive to is the formation of children for First Communion. Of all those Catholics who were surveyed and said that they believed only that the bread and wine of the altar were symbolic, most if not all of them had been formed for their First Communion and have likely received the Eucharist numerous times throughout their life. We could think that a Eucharistic Revival is about correcting and reforming the belief of adults, and enkindling their devotion, but I say that we ought to think deeply about Eucharistic formation from the very beginning, which means the period of preparation for First Communion.I am also interested in that issue because I am a parent, and four of my own children have been formed for First Communion, with two more to go. More than anything else, I want them to know and to believe that the love of God does not stay far away, but draws near. The love of God is near enough for us to touch, near enough to taste. The Eucharist is the love of God Incarnate, given for us: the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.Follow-up Resources:● Fed by the Lord: At-Home Scriptural Formation to Prepare Children for First Communion (Liturgical Press, 2023), by Leonard J. DeLorenzo● Article on the 2019 Pew Study on U.S. Catholics belief in the EucharistSponsored link: The Catholic Theology ShowChurch Life Today is a partnership between the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame and OSV Podcasts from Our Sunday Visitor. Discover more ways to live, learn, and love your Catholic faith at osvpodcasts.com. Sharing stories, starting conversations.
Oppenheimer, with Ted Barron and Phil Sakimoto
32:38In 1965, in an NBC News documentary, J. Robert Oppenheimer reflected on his role in leading the Manhattan Project that yielded the first nuclear weapons by saying this:“We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed; a few people cried. Most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita; Vishnu is trying to persuade the prince that he should do his duty, and to impress him, takes on his multiarmed form and says, ‘Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.’ I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.” The new blockbuster film, Oppenheimer, chronicles the race to develop the means of mass destruction, and focuses on the man who led that effort. We take up a discussion of the film in today’s show, and I welcome in two guests to join this discussion with me. Both my guests are from the Univresity of Notre Dame. Dr. Ted Barron is executive director of the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center as well as the Judd and Mary Lou Leighton Director of Performing Arts; he also teaches in the Department of Film, Television, and Theater. Dr. Phil Sakimoto is one of my longtime collaborators on a science and religion planetarium project who has joined me on Church Life Today once before to talk about our presentation, “All Creation Gives Praise”. He is an astrophysicist, a professional astronomer, and the Director of the Minor in Sustainability at Notre Dame.Our episode today is produced in partnership with the Notre Dame Alumni Association, and specifically the FiresideND podcast from ThinkND, which brings the experience and expertise of Notre Dame to you, whenever, wherever. From STEM and art, to religion and health, FiresideND allows you to listen and learn with ND on the go. I want to thank our friends at ThinkND for bringing the idea for this episode to us and for helping it to come to fruition.Follow-up Resources:“All Creation Gives Praise, with Phil Sakimoto,” podcast episode via Church Life Today.“Oppenheimer and the Lesson of Fat Man,” journal article via Church Life JournalFiresideND podcast from ThinkNDChurch Life Today is a partnership between the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame and OSV Podcasts from Our Sunday Visitor. Discover more ways to live, learn, and love your Catholic faith at osvpodcasts.com. Sharing stories, starting conversations.
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“Say my name”: Self-Deception, Transparency, and Redemption in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, with Ken Craycraft
46:30To deceive yourself is easy, but to stop deceiving yourself is hard. This truth is more apparent to each of us when we look to other people than it is when we look to ourselves. Why? Because we tend to believe the lies we have told ourselves, so much so that they really aren’t lies anymore for we have forgotten the truth. One of the gifts of excellent drama––especially tragic drama but even the right kind of comedic drama––is that we are given the chance to see dynamics like this in play in the lives and worlds of characters on the stage or on the screen. If we are brave and honest enough, we may even be willing to see partial reflections of ourselves. We’ve been spending a few episodes now diving into the masterful television dramas Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, following a lecture series we hosted here at the McGrath Institute for Church Life on the two shows. Today, we will continue that exploration, turning our attention now to the themes of self-deception, transparency, and redemption, or lack thereof. My guest today will guide us through these considerations, based on the lecture he delivered on this topic for our lecture series. Kenneth Craycraft is the James J. Gardner Family Chair of Moral Theology at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary & School of Theology, the seminary for the Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati. He writes a monthly syndicated column for OSV News, a weekly column for Our Sunday Visitor (“Grace is Everywhere”), and monthly columns for The Catholic Telegraph and the U.K.-based Catholic Herald. Dr. Craycraft is the author of The American Myth of Religious Freedom. His forthcoming book, Neither Left nor Right: How Catholic Moral Theology Transcends Partisan Politics, will be published by OSV Press in the Spring of 2024. He is a licensed attorney in Ohio, who holds a Ph.D. in theology from Boston College and a J.D. from Duke University School of Law.Follow-up Resources:“Men and Women in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, with Francesca Murphy,” podcast episode via Church Life Today“Meth, Money, and Marriage in Breaking Bad, with Gary Anderson,” podcast episode via Church Life TodayWebpage for “Gilligan’s Archipelago” conference, where videos from each of the five lectures on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul are posted.The collection Kenneth Craycraft’s articles for Our Sunday Visitor.Church Life Today is a partnership between the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame and OSV Podcasts from Our Sunday Visitor. Discover more ways to live, learn, and love your Catholic faith at osvpodcasts.com. Sharing stories, starting conversations.
2023 SCOTUS: Religious Liberty and More, with Rick Garnett
35:30It probably comes as a surprise to no one that cases with issues of religious liberty regularly make their way before the Supreme Court. What might surprise many, however, is that there is a lot of agreement if not unanimity among justices when they decide such cases. In 2023, the justices returned a 9-0 decision in a religious liberty case regarding a US Postal Service worker who sought a religious accommodation to abstain from work on Sundays. The court sided with the postal worker. There were of course other cases decided this summer that received a good deal of attention, especially ones pertaining to affirmative action, student loan debt forgiveness, and the freedom of expression of a web designer. As has become our custom here on Church Life Today, we are hosting Notre Dame Law Professor Rick Garnett to walk us through some of these decisions, especially in regard to questions of religious liberty.This is the sixth episode that Professor Garnett has recorded with us, which puts him in the lead as our top contributor. When he is not appearing on Church Life Today, Rick is the Paul J. Schierl/Fort Howard Corporation Professor of Law in the Notre Dame Law School. He is also Concurrent Professor of Political Science and Director of the Program on Church, State & Society. He teaches and writes in the areas of constitutional law, criminal law, the First Amendment, and law and religion.Follow-up Resources:● “Refreshing Unity on Religious Liberty,” essay by Rick Garnett in Law & Liberty● “Rick Garnett on Religious Liberty,” podcast episode via Church Life Today● “2020 SCOTUS Decisions, Part 1, with Rick Garnett,” podcast episode via Church Life Today● “2020 SCOTUS Decisions, Part 2, with Rick Garnett,” podcast episode via Church Life today● “2022 SCOTUS: Dobbs, Roe, and Abortion Law, with Rick Garnett,” podcast episode via Church Life Today● “2022 SCOTUS: Religious Liberty Cases, with Rick Garnett,” podcast episode via Church Life TodayChurch Life Today is a partnership between the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame and OSV Podcasts from Our Sunday Visitor. Discover more ways to live, learn, and love your Catholic faith at osvpodcasts.com. Sharing stories, starting conversations.
Meth, Money, and Marriage, with Gary Anderson
42:08Once when my eldest son was about five years old, we happened to be reading the first chapter of Mark’s Gospel when we came upon the account of a man with an unclean spirit. My son asked me what that meant. I didn’t know how to answer so I said: “What do you think?” He didn’t know. So we read it again. He noticed that the unclean spirit did not want to be near Jesus, and he knew that Jesus was God with us. I asked my son, “well, what do you think an unclean spirit is now?” And he replied: “I guess it is wanting to live in the world without God.”My guest today on the show is not a five year old child, but rather Gary Anderson, the Hesburgh Professor of Catholic Thought in the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. We are going to talk about his read of the show Breaking Bad and its central character, Walter White, whom Professor Anderson sees as a profile in the determined resolution to live in the world without God. But unlike the unclean spirit in Mark’s Gospel, Walter White doesn’t even acknowledge God or recognize the possibility of his presence. For him, “there is nothing but chemistry here.”My conversation with Professor Anderson follows a lecture that he delivered for a conference on the shows Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul that was hosted at Notre Dame in May of 2023. His lecture at the conference bore the title “Science and Marriage in the Life of Walter White.”Follow up Resources:● Webpage for “Gilligan’s Archipelago” conference, where videos from each of the five lectures will be posted when available.● “Men and Women in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, with Francesca Murphy” podcast episode via Church Life Today● “God Doesn’t Break Bad in the Old Testament,” essay by Gary Anderson in Church Life JournalChurch Life Today is a partnership between the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame and OSV Podcasts from Our Sunday Visitor. Discover more ways to live, learn, and love your Catholic faith at osvpodcasts.com. Sharing stories, starting conversations.
Men and Women in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, with Francesca Murphy
40:14Parental Notice: Adult language quoted in the episode.The study of moral choice, character, and identity in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul was unprecedented in TV drama. Many experienced the two TV series as a journey through Dante’s underworld, even through to his Purgatorio. In a recent conference at the University of Notre Dame, five scholars of theology and philosophy analyzed various dimension of the moral and spiritual imagination in these two dramas. The name of the conference, as play on the name of the show’s creator Vince Gilligan, was “Gilligan’s Archipelago: Justice and Mercy in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.” My guest today is the convener of the conference, who also delivered a conference lecture on “Men and Women in Gilligan’s Archipelago.” Francesca Murphy is professor of theology here at the University of Notre Dame. She is the author of many books and articles. She is one of my favorite lecturers and someone I’ve had the joy of working with in a number of lecture series and conferences, including one on C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, which became a book we both contributed to called Chronicles of Transformation: A Spiritual Journey with C. S. Lewis (Ignatius, 2022). Today we’ll talk about the question of manhood in Breaking Bad, womanhood in Better Call Saul, and what makes one show an infernal comedy and the other a purgatorial comedy.Follow up Resources:Webpage for “Gilligan’s Archipelago” conference, where videos from each of the five lectures will be posted when available. “The Macbeth of Meth,” essay on Walter White in Breaking Bad by Paul Cantor“Evangelizing through Film and Television, with Doug Tooke” podcast episode via Church Life TodayThis episode is sponsored by The CatholicTV Network on YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/CatholicTVChurch Life Today is a partnership between the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame and OSV Podcasts from Our Sunday Visitor. Discover more ways to live, learn, and love your Catholic faith at osvpodcasts.com. Sharing stories, starting conversations.
Rekindling Eucharistic Amazement, with Jem Sullivan
30:22“Sacred art is true and beautiful when its form corresponds to its particular vocation: evoking and glorifying, in faith and adoration, the transcendent mystery of God – the surpassing invisible beauty of truth and love visible in Christ” (CCC 2052). As the Church in the United States seeks to foster a Eucharistic revival, might the beauty of sacred art be a privileged avenue for teaching all the faithful––along with those estranged from the Church––to discover anew the resplendent beauty of our Eucharistic Lord? In a new book organized around 12 works of sacred art with Eucharistic themes, my guest today has laid out a path for us to journey together to the beauty of God. Jem Sullivan is the author of Way of Beauty: Rekindling Eucharistic Amazement through Visio Divina, which is out now from Our Sunday Visitor. Dr. Sullivan is Associate Professor of Catechetics in the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America. In addition to Way of Beauty, she is also the author of several other books, including The Beauty of Faith: Using Sacred Art to Spread the Good News and Believe, Celebrate, Live, Pray: A Weekly Walk with the Catechism. She joins me today to talk about Eucharistic Amazement, sacred art, the practice of visio divina, and our transformation as Christians through the presence and the calling of Jesus Christ.Follow up Resources:Way of Beauty: Rekindling Eucharistic Amazement through Visio Divina, by Jem Sullivan (OSV 2023)“Our Eucharistic God, with Jonathan Ciraulo” via Church Life Today“The Past, Present, and Future of the Eucharist, with Michael Hahn” via Church Life Today“Redeeming Vision from Pornography, with Steve Pokorny” via Church Life TodayThis episode is sponsored by Religious Freedom Week 2023, http://www.usccb.org/ReligiousFreedomWeekChurch Life Today is a partnership between the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame and OSV Podcasts from Our Sunday Visitor. Discover more ways to live, learn, and love your Catholic faith at osvpodcasts.com. Sharing stories, starting conversations.
The Passion, with J.J. Wright
38:40The impact of Jesus: he changes everything, he changes us. The first to receive him were his mother and those disciples who walked with him in Galilee and Judea. They were there when he entered Jerusalem the final time. The twelve were there when gave his body and his blood in the Upper Room, they went with him to Gethsemane, then, one by one, they left his side. Mary and John were nearby when he was crucified, the others were distant. He was buried, and they were alone. On Holy Saturday, they remained in a space of sorrow and shame, of shock and of trauma. The crucifixion was behind them, the Resurrection yet to come. What did they think, how did they feel, what and how did they remember in that liminal space between memory and hope? That is the setting of an original composition of the Notre Dame Folk Choir called The Passion. The composer of this astounding work is my guest today. J.J. Wright is the director of the Notre Dame Folk Choir. He holds a doctoral degree in conducting from Notre Dame’s sacred music program, prior to which he studied at the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music and interned with the Sistine Chapel Choir. He started working on The Passion with the Notre Dame Children’s Choir and carried that work into the Notre Dame Folk Choir a few years ago. The final work of The Passion emerged from a broad collaboration with other artists and, perhaps most important of all, with his own students, the members of the Notre Dame Folk Choir. The Passion is now available on Spotify, Apple Music, and other audio outlets, as well as on the Notre Dame Folk Choir’s YouTube channel, where there is a recording of the live performance of The Passion from Notre Dame on Good Friday, 2023. J.J. joins me to talk about the space of memory that this work draws us into, the creative process of music and prayer and pilgrimage, and the way in which the impact of Jesus never ceases, as the Paschal Mystery is the center of our lives as Christians, today and always. Follow-up Resources:● “Creating the Passion,” article with interviews.● “The Making of ‘The Passion’” (video) about the Notre Dame Folk Choir in Jerusalem● The Passion live from Notre Dame on Good Friday, 2023 (video)● The Notre Dame Folk Choir YouTube Channel● The Passion on Spotify● Website for the Notre Dame Folk ChoirThis episode is sponsored by the University of Saint Francis, https://www.sf.edu/about/camps-and-community-programs/#camp7Church Life Today is a partnership between the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame and OSV Podcasts from Our Sunday Visitor. Discover more ways to live, learn, and love your Catholic faith at osvpodcasts.com. Sharing stories, starting conversations.
Elucidating the Synod on Synodality, with Sr. Marie Kolbe Zamora
36:22In initiating the Synod on Synodality, which is set to run through 2024, Pope Francis sought to lead the whole Church into a time of prayer, listening, and discernment. His hope is to foster these dispositions and habits within the Church as the regular way of living ecclesial life together. As this particular synodal process moves from the continental stage to universal stage, we wanted to spend some time getting a better sense of what this synod is all about and why it has been called. Our guest today is well-positioned to help us along.Sr. Marie Kolbe Zamora is currently serving in the Vatican’s General Secretariat of the Synod. She is a Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity, who completed her advanced degrees in theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, writing her dissertation on the “Ecclesiological Elements in the Early Theology of St. Bonaventure.” She joins us from Rome, where she has been living most recently since 2021 upon her appointment to help plan the current synod.Follow-up Resources:“Co-Responsibility: An Antidote to Clericalizing the Laity?” by John Cavadini in Church Life Journal.Called & Co-Responsible: Exploring Co-Responsibility for the Mission of the Church, Conference at the University of Notre Dame (videos of presentations)Recorded seminars on co-responsibility, from the McGrath Institute for Church Life“Questioning the Authenticity of the Synod on Synodality,” with Mark Regnerus on Church Life TodayThis episode is supported by Holyart.com is Europe’s largest Catholic e-commerce, offering more than 65k items, made in Italy. Holyart has created a strong network of local artisans and helps support their traditional manufacturing techniques. You can find a wide range of products for individuals and churches, ranging from life size religious statues, crosses, priest vestments, sacred art, jewelry, and Catholic favors/gifts for all special occasions. Discounts are available for all religious organizations, fast shipping all over the world. Visit www.holyart.com and use discount code OSV20 for 20% off an order today! For more information regarding church discounts and promotions, please contact [email protected]. Church Life Today is a partnership between the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame and OSV Podcasts from Our Sunday Visitor. Discover more ways to live, learn, and love your Catholic faith at osvpodcasts.com. Sharing stories, starting conversations.
Transhumanism and Human Nature, with Mary Harrington
37:04The desire for the deathless extension of existence. The desire for autonomy without impediments. The desire for consciousness without bounds, for self-determination without exhaustion, for individual benefits without costs. Desires such as these seem very much at home in the transhumanist project, which seeks to push back against human limits, especially via technological means. But have we rightly assessed the true costs of what many hail as “progress”? Should we continue to try to outwit the boundaries of our humanity, or, moreover, can we actually do so even if we want to?These questions and more like them come to the fore on Church Life Today, as I welcome Mary Harrington to our show. Mary is a contributing editor at UnHerd, and our conversation today follows an event hosted by UnHerd in which Mary debated Elise Bohan on the latter’s book Future Superhuman: Our Transhuman Lives in a Make-or-Break Century. Mary’s opening remarks were published under the title “Transhumanism is already here” and you can find a link to the video of their debate in this episode’s show notes. Mary herself has just released a new book, Feminism Against Progress, in which she builds up many of the arguments she introduced in the debate and which she is sure to introduce to us today. Resources:Feminism Against Progress by Mary HarringtonVideo of “UnHerd Club - Mary Harrington & Elise Bohan: The transhumanism debate”“Why progress isn’t feminist” by Mary Harrington for UnHerd“We Need a Class Politics of Biotech” by Mary Harrington for CompactThis episode is supported by Providence College Humanities Program, https://humanities.providence.edu/veritas/Church Life Today is a partnership between the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame and OSV Podcasts from Our Sunday Visitor. Discover more ways to live, learn, and love your Catholic faith at osvpodcasts.com. Sharing stories, starting conversations.