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  • Episode 286: Christopher Zehnder, the General Editor for the Catholic Textbook Project (June 12, 2024)

    12 JUN 2024 · This week on The Open Door (June 12) we complete our series on education. Our focus is developing Catholic textbooks that give history its deepest perspective. Our welcome guest is Christopher Zehnder, M.A. He is the General Editor for the Catholic Textbook Project. A graduate of Thomas Aquinas College, he has worked as a graphic artist, journalist, school headmaster, and teacher of history, literature, theology, and mathematics. Mr. Zehnder has been affiliated with the Catholic Textbook Project since its founding in 2000. He has authored several of its textbooks, edited and contributed chapters to others, and made art selections for many of them. He is a novelist as well! A member of the American Solidarity Party, Christopher is on the town council of Hartford, Ohio. With his wife Katherine and their family, he has made his residence there since escaping Southern California. The following are among the questions we asked him:  -  How did you come to be an educator? - Why does it matter how we define education? - What led to your interest in history? - You write historical fiction. Is there any way to get beyond writing stories about history? - Can you sketch for us the history of education in the United States? What has led to the resurgence of interest in classical education? - How did the Catholic Textbook Project come about? What does it bring to the table in today’s educational milieu? - What do you make of “critical race theory”? - How can Catholic educators teach the truth about the uglier dimensions of history? - How can Catholic educators help form students into citizens who embody both charity and solidarity? - Are you writing a new textbook? How about another novel?
    1h 4m 17s
  • Episode 285: Tom Venzor on the work of the State Catholic Conference Directors (May 29, 2024)

    29 MAY 2024 · In this episode of The Open Door (May 29, 2024), panelists Jim Hanink, Mario Ramos-Reyes, and Valerie Niemeyer talk about the work of State Catholic Conference Directors. Our focus will be on the role that they can play in developing Catholic education. Our welcome guest is Tom Venzor. He has served as the Executive Director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference since 2016. Prior to this, he served as the Associate Director for Pro-Life & Family for the Nebraska Catholic Conference. Before joining the NCC, Tom worked as a legislative aide in the State Legislature, as well as in various capacities throughout several other legislative sessions. Tom earned his undergraduate degree in political science, philosophy, and religious studies from Doane College in Crete, his master’s degree in philosophy from Mount Saint Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and his law degree from the University of Nebraska College of Law in Lincoln. Tom and his wife, Makayla, have four children at home: Monica, Claire, Anthony, and Julia. And they have a little one in heaven: Thérèse. -  Let’s start with an encouraging breakthrough and then move to context. The Nebraska Legislature recently passed school choice legislation! Could you tell us some of the particulars of this legislation? What led to this victory? - People of goodwill want public schools to be adequately funded in their service to students, especially the most vulnerable. Could you help us to understand how school choice does NOT undercut support for public school teachers and students? - What’s involved in serving as the Director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference? And what are some of your current projects? Are any of them related to education? - Catholicism has a rich tradition of promoting the liberal arts. Is there a way that the Nebraska Catholic Conference can contribute to that tradition? - How does the Catholic Conference work in conjunction with the bishops of Nebraska? - In what ways does the Conference seek the collaboration of the laity? Are they tuned in to your work? - What sort of press has the Conference had in past years? - How does the Conference forge bonds with particular legislators? And how does it engage with legislative opponents? - What organizational or advocacy mistakes have you made, and what have you learned from them? - True or false: Catholic Social Teaching can build bridges with “wokeism”?
    1h 1m 7s
  • Episode 284: Dcn.Omar Gutiérrez, President and Executive Director of the Evangelium Institute (May 15, 2024)

    18 MAY 2024 · In this episode of The Open Door, panelists Jim Hanink, Mario Ramos-Reyes, and Valerie Niemeyer continue our discussion of education. We’ll focus on preparing, and supporting, Catholic school teachers. Our welcome guest is Deacon Omar Gutiérrez, the President and Executive Director of the Evangelium Institute. An expert on Catholic Social Teaching, he has been published in many print and online periodicals, has authored several books on the subject, and has a podcast series on Discerning Hearts. Most importantly, Dcn. Gutiérrez is happily married to Miriam, and they are very blessed by their five children. - Could you tell us about your background and work in the area of Catholic Social Teaching? How did you come to teach and write about this topic that we here at the Open Door care so much about? - How did the Evangelium Institute come to be, and what are the services it provides? - Hillaire Belloc claims that "The faith is not taught. It is inhabited and breathed in." What's wrong about this claim? What's right? - Can you share some stories that illustrate the impact Evangelium Institute has been making? - What are the greatest challenges that Catholic school administrators and teachers face? What are some good ways to support them? - Religion is often seen as a matter of private feeling. But Catholicism has a rich intellectual tradition. Is this tradition at work in Catholic education as you have experienced it? - How do Catholic Social Teaching principles, such as solidarity, subsidiarity, economic democracy, and others, apply to the realm of education? Does the Evangelium Institute incorporate them into the formation you provide? - We’ve heard it said that the Church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum of Saints. We’ve all had occasion to be disappointed, if not scandalized, by poor leadership in the Church and in Catholic schools. Do you have any suggestions, based on your experiences, for how to respond or NOT respond to such situations? - How can folks support the good work the Evangelium Institute is doing in the realm of Catholic education? - Any last thoughts for us before we close with the Gospel for today?
    56m 44s
  • Episode 283: Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur of Today's Catholic Homeschooling Website (May 1, 2024)

    2 MAY 2024 · Here at The Open Door, we are turning our attention to education for the next few episodes. This week (May 1) we will consider the growing trend of homeschooling. Our special guest is Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur. She is a lifelong Catholic who has been homeschooling her three children, two of whom are grown, for 17 years. In a welcome effort to provide both information and inspiration for homeschool families, she has managed, for over a decade, the Today's Catholic Homeschooling Website. From there folks can access her Homeschooling Resource Guide for free, along with a variety of helpful articles and book reviews. She herself has written a number of books, including The Crash Course Guide to Catholic Homeschooling. Patrice is a Member of the Catholic Writers' Guild and Catholic Library Association. She has a Master's Degree in Applied Theology and 20 years of experience working for the New Evangelization. Among the questions we’ll ask are the following. Please don’t hesitate to ask your own! - Perhaps we should begin by defining our terms. What is homeschooling? Simply doing school at home? What makes it "official"?  - We are pretty sure homeschooling is on the rise, but do you have any stats that might help us understand the reality by the numbers?  - What are the reasons people most often choose to homeschool, in your experience?  - What are some common misconceptions about homeschooling? - No doubt some criticisms of some homeschoolers are on the mark. Do any examples come to mind? - Some families feel called to homeschool throughout high school, often with the support of local or online educational services to one degree or another. As more and more kids have become homeschool graduates, are there any notable, established outcomes we are seeing that reflect the positive potential of this educational path? - We’ve all heard about teacher burnout. Is there homeschooling burnout? If so, what are the causes...and remedies? - Homeschooling parents come from many backgrounds. Are there some conversations across different backgrounds that you think might be productive but perhaps do not yet see? - Parents are the first educators of their children, and children are not the mere creatures of the State. Doesn’t it follow that the State’s role in education should be carefully limited? - Any other food for thought you'd like to offer for our listeners?
    1h 1m 49s
  • Episode 282: John A. Di Camillo, PhD, BeL., an Ethicist and Personal Consultations Director at The NCBC (April 17, 2024)

    18 APR 2024 · On this episode of The Open Door (April 17th), panelists Jim Hanink, Mario Ramos-Reyes, and Valerie Niemeyer discuss medical ethics. Our focus will be the debate about the criteria for brain death. Our special guest is John A. Di Camillo, PhD, BeL. He is an Ethicist and the Personal Consultations Director at The National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC). He manages its 24/7 free ethics consultation service as well as the Personal Consultations Fellows and Interns Program. He applies Catholic moral theology to science and medicine through research, writing, speaking, mentoring, and fielding hundreds of ethics questions every year. His areas of focus include cooperation with evil, sexual orientation and gender identity, reproductive technologies, and pregnancy complications. Among the questions we’ll ask are the following. Please feel free to suggest your own. - What is Catholics United on Brain Death and Organ Donation about? What were the goals of writing it and seeking endorsements for it? - Why is there no moral certainty of death when following the American Academy of Neurology guidelines for a determination of brain death? - What is ongoing hypothalamic function? Is it compatible with brain death? What would be the effect of improved clinical guidelines that require cessation of hypothalamic function? - Should patients expect that the existing American Academy of Neurology guidelines—or something even less rigorous—will be applied in practice? Is there a reasonable expectation that the existing guidelines will be improved in the near future? - Does a person considering organ donation have good reason to expect that he or she will be truly dead at the time of vital organ procurement? - Given that we must presume life until death is certain, and given the lack of moral certainty of death whenever the current brain death criteria are used, can we still assume that a majority of vital organ donors are deceased at the time of organ harvesting? - Is it wise, at this time, to decline organ donor status at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) upon first receiving a driver’s license? To revoke organ donor status through the appropriate channel in one’s state? - Should we advocate for the right of patients and health care professionals to conscientiously object to the use of the current brain death criteria for a determination of death? - How can we best highlight the Church’s teaching on the need for moral certainty of death as a condition for vital organ procurement? - What do you hope will happen next, now that Catholics United has been published?
    1h 1m 10s
  • Episode 281: Peter Sonski the Politics of the Presidency and Vice Presidency (April 3, 2024)

    3 APR 2024 · In this episode of The Open Door, panelists Jim Hanink, Mario Ramos-Reyes, and Valerie Niemeyer discuss the politics of the presidency and vice presidency. November, and with it the national election, is not so far off. The Biden vs. Trump rematch is officially scheduled. Here at The Open Door we want to think outside the duopoly’s binary box. That means checking in on the candidates of the American Solidarity Party. Our returning and welcome guest is Mr. Peter Sonski. A New England native, Peter and his wife have nine adult children. He has a Master of Science in Management (MSM) degree from The Catholic University of America. His professional experience is in journalism, public relations, and business administration. Peter is concluding his second term as an elected member of Connecticut’s Regional School District 17 board of education. He’ll have lots to tell us about his presidential campaign. Among the questions we will ask are the following.  - What does it mean to you to be “pro-life” as a candidate for the President of the United States? - How has your experience in local politics informed your approach to this campaign? - They say behind every good man is an even better woman. How has your wife made you a stronger man and better candidate? - How does your running mate, Lauren Onak, bring strength to your campaign? - Has your campaign experience changed your perspective on what it means to be a citizen? - Have you any new insights into “the system” of politics in America? - Which of your stances as a candidate are you finding the most support for? The most push-back against? - Any thoughts on Christian Democracy and how it may or may not be finding a place in American politics? - How has your faith life been impacted by this adventure, if it’s not too personal a question? - How can folks support your campaign in an effort to bring light to the darkness of our political reality in America?
    1h 3m 14s
  • Episode 280: Karina Fabian on The Catholic Writers Guild (March 20, 2024)

    24 MAR 2024 · In this episode of The Open Door, panelists Jim Hanink and Valerie Niemeyer interview Karina Fabian, the president of The Catholic Writers Guild. (March 20, 2024) We discuss all things literary. For a start, was Walker Percy, as a naysayer claimed, the last Catholic novelist? We don’t think so. And what’s the range of the “literary”? It includes, of course, non-fiction. It welcomes poets and dramatists. But what about bloggers and podcasters? Just how ecumenical should we be? Our welcome guest is Karina Fabian. She is the new president of the Catholic Writers Guild, an association committed to the development of Catholic arts and letters. The following are among the questions we’ll be asking her.  - Karina, if we may, could you fill us in about the history of the Catholic Writers Guild - How did you—a self-described geek, teacher, humorist, and Miata driver—come to be involved in the Guild? - How does the Guild help authors and readers? Book stores and publishers? - What is your advice for aspiring writers who have not yet published any of their work? - The Guild is serious about core Catholic values. In what ways does it promote these values? - What makes a book distinctively Catholic? Did Graham Greene and Flannery O’Connor write distinctively Catholic novels and short stories? - Has the internet helped or harmed our literary capacities? Can we sit still long enough to read and write serious literature? - Who are some little known contemporary Catholic writers that we ought to become familiar with? - Can you tell us a bit about some of the publishers that your members have worked with? - Writers, so they say, (mostly) stay in and write. What are you working on these days? And is it true that you hate zombies?
    1h 2m 34s
  • Episode 279: Richard Spinello on Edith Stein, Jacques Maritain, Dietrich von Hildebrand, and Karol Woytyla (March 6, 2024)

    6 MAR 2024 · On this episode of The Open Door, panelists Jim Hanink, Mario Ramos-Reyes, and Valerie Niemeyer discuss four giants of 20th century Catholic thought: Edith Stein, Jacques Maritain, Dietrich von Hildebrand, and Karol Wojtyla (St. John Paul II). Our welcome guest is Prof. Rick Spinello. He teaches at Boston College and St. John’s Seminary in Boston. The author of numerous scholarly articles on ethics, Spinello has written or edited many books including The Encyclicals of John Paul II: An Introduction and Commentary and The Splendor of Marriage: John Paul II’s Vision of Love, Marriage, Family, and the Culture of Life. Among the questions we’ll be asking him are the following. - Rick, how did you end up authoring a book on four Catholic philosophers? - Your book combines biography with hard philosophical questions. Why did you write it? - Would the average Catholic layperson, if there is such a person, want to read this book? - What’s it like to write a book about four saintly figures who were also intellectual giants? - Why did you pick these four? Why not other Catholic “giants” of the last century? - Is there such a thing as Catholic philosophy? Why has this been such a contested issue? - What does this diverse group, Edith Stein, Jacques Maritain, Dietrich von Hildebrand, and Karol Wojtyla have in common? - Three of these philosophers are converts to Catholicism. How would you compare their conversion experiences? - Why are their philosophies important for the Church? What’s their message for us today? - Of the four, who was your favorite? Four Catholic Philosophers: Rejoicing in the Truth (Jacques Maritain, Edith Stein, Dietrich von Hildebrand, Karol Wojtyła) This book unfolds the intersecting life stories of four important Catholic philosophers of the 20th century, namely, Jacques Maritain, Edith Stein, Dietrich von Hildebrand, and Karol Wojtyla, and examines the salient themes of their respective philosophies. Exploring the lives of these four individuals will unlock for the reader the nature of Catholic philosophy, which always aspires to a higher wisdom and the discovery of the hidden harmony of the universe. The spiritual itinerary of these faithful scholars is part of a larger story, therefore, of the intimate relationship between faith and reason that is at the heart of Catholic intellectual life. https://enroutebooksandmedia.com/fourcatholicphilosophers/
    1h 4m 45s
  • Episode 278: Pedro Gabriel on the Role of Tradition in Forming Catholic Teaching (March 4, 2024)

    4 MAR 2024 · In this episode of The Open Door (Monday, March 4th) we’ll discuss the role of tradition in forming Catholic teaching. Some argue that Pope Francis overlooks the normative role of tradition. Others argue that some papal critics, as well as critics of Vatican Council II, misunderstand the dynamic nature of tradition itself. We’ll discuss, too, the development of doctrine and what it means. Our guest is the Portugal-based Pedro Gabriel. Dr. Gabriel is one of the co-founders of the apologetics website “Where Peter Is.” He is also a medical oncologist. He recently authored Heresy Disguised as Tradition (En Route, 2023). The following are among the questions we’ll ask are the following. Please feel free to suggest others! - What counts as “tradition”? Does a simple appeal to the social sciences answer this question? (25) - What is a radical traditionalist? Is there such a thing as “hyperpapalism”? - What is the scope of the teaching that Catholics are “to be united in mind and heart” with the Holy Father? Does it extend to matters of diplomacy? To philosophical orientation? - How are we to know the mind of the pope, especially when it is changing? - Should we assume that Pope Francis is as attuned to the Catholicism of Africa as he is to the Catholicism of Europe and the Americas? - To what extent is culture normative? - Would you assess Pope Francis’s restrictions on the Latin Mass as “harsh”? (17) - “Subjective culpability” can become a “mitigating circumstance” in moral assessment of an act involving grave matter. In such cases how are we to provide sound moral guidance? - Could you explain for us the concept of “complexio oppositorum”? Is it compatible with the principle of non-contradiction? - Has synodality come to terms with fundamental theological disagreements?
    1h 20m 15s
  • Episode 277: Jeff Culbreath on Religion and Politics (February 7, 2024)

    7 FEB 2024 · In this episode of The Open Door (February 7th, 2024), panelists Jim Hanink, Mario Ramos-Reyes and Valerie Niemeyer continue to discuss two unmentionables: Religion and Politics! Our welcome guest is Jeff Culbreath, a married father of six residing in the obscure suburbs of Sacramento. He works in the apparel industry, drives his busy kids around, and tries to be a low-maintenance husband to his hard-working wife. He enjoys writing on various topics and has maintained several blogs over the years. Please feel free to suggest others! - By way of introduction, could you please tell us a bit about yourself and your family? - You’ve been influenced by, among others, Russell Kirk, Wendell Berry, and Neil Postman. In what ways? - How did you come to be a Roman Catholic? - What led you to the Republican Party and, in recent years, away from it? - Can we have good government without good people? - Can public policy help people be good? If not, why not? If yes, can you give examples? - The preamble to the American Solidarity Party (ASP) platform states, “we acknowledge the state should be pluralistic.” What does that mean? How do pluralism and solidarity impact each other? - What is “the gift economy”? How does it relate to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)? Why is it important? What can be done to improve it? - The ASP platform addresses “marriage and family” issues in detail, but doesn’t have much to say about extended families. How can public policy strengthen extended families? - How do you reconcile belief in an “ownership society”, that is, Distributism, with the huge economies of scale that we all depend upon in a modern economy? We can’t all be owners, can we? BONUS: Do you plan on running for public office?
    1h 1m 8s

Please join us at The Open Door! We discuss solidarity, subsidiarity, economic democracy, and nonviolence in light of Catholic Social Teaching. We explore how to move from discussion to political...

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Please join us at The Open Door!

We discuss solidarity, subsidiarity, economic democracy, and nonviolence in light of Catholic Social Teaching. We explore how to move from discussion to political change. Culture and politics, to be sure, are interwoven. So we care deeply about education and the arts. Our questions often lead us to report on the projects and promise of the American Solidarity Party.

Dr. James Hanink, a philosophy professor who taught at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA, is the lead anchor for The Open Door.

 Dr. Mario Ramos-Reyes, Professor of Philosophy and Latin America History and Founder of the Institute for the Study of Personalist Republicanism, is a co-host of The Open Door.

Valerie Niemeyer, a homeschooling mother of six interested in the application of Catholic Social Teaching to our citizenship and the realm of politics, is a co-host of The Open Door.
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