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:

Continue reading “Episode 9 Walker Percy: Lost in the Cosmos and the Dilemma of the Self”

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):

Continue reading “Episode 8 Personality Profiles: Tool, Diversion, or Trap?”

Episode 6: Entering the Church at Easter

This Holy Week, Doug and Caren reflect back on their own entry into the Catholic Church at Easter and offer some advice to those preparing to be received this week. G.K. Chesterton provides our starting point. We recall the wonderful strangeness of the Catholic world to a convert’s eyes and give our Top 10 recommendations for those entering the Church.

Show notes:

G.K. Chesterton’s classic essay, “Why I Am a Catholic”

Great Catholic voices: listen to Fr. Mike Schmitz here.

Bishop Robert Barron has become a force for evangelization with his Word on Fire videos. Give his podcast a listen.

The Laudate phone app has everything a Catholic-on-the-go needs.


Episode 5: Food and Family Life

Doug and Caren have a wide-ranging discussion on the place of food in family and community life. This episode sets the stage for more focused food and cooking episodes to come. Does our (often necessary) focus on efficiency in the kitchen steal the joys of shared meals? What is the theological significance of a common table? How can cooking and eating together strengthen the shared rituals that bind our families and communities together? A passage from Tolkien’s The Hobbit provides our starting point.

Show notes:

Help us settle things by taking our survey: Is Little Caesar’s pizza awful?

Continue reading “Episode 5: Food and Family Life”

Episode 4: Recovering Intrinsic Value in a Utilitarian World

Doug and Caren talk through some of the ways a utilitarian outlook has affected our public policy, churches, educational institutions, our work, and even family lives. Dostoevsky provides the epigraph and starting point for a discussion ranging over Princeton philosopher Peter Singer’s problematic bioethics and ways to recover our sense of intrinsic value from a Catholic perspective.


Episode 3 Stuff and Clutter: Reordering Our Relationship to Things

Doug and Caren talk about stuff and clutter, how it hinders our daily life and work, and ways to reorder our relationship to things. Our starting point is Thoreau’s Walden, the great experiment in testing the essentials. We touch on some popular methods of decluttering, but go a bit deeper into recovering the presence of things, following Walker Percy, and the sacramental significance of order in our lives.

Episode notes:

A good edition of Thoreau’s Walden with a useful introduction and annotations.

The Mission, directed by Roland Joffé (1986)

Marie Kondo, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying

Homer, The Odyssey. Translators are important.  Most on-line versions are from older translations (such as Lattimore’s classic). This is Robert Fitzgerald’s Bollingen Prize winning translation.

Walker Percy (who will probably be in the notes for most episodes), Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book


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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