The Paradox of Courage: Desire to Live, Readiness to Die
June 10-14, 2018
In June 2018, Wyoming Catholic College faculty led our annual adult program, Wyoming School of Catholic Thought. The school used philosophy, theology, drama, poetry, film, and the Wyoming outdoors to explore the meaning of courage.
“Take the case of courage,” wrote G. K. Chesterton in his book Orthodoxy. “No quality has ever so much addled the brains and tangled the definitions of merely rational sages. Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die. ‘He that will lose his life, the same shall save it,’ is not a piece of mysticism for saints and heroes. It is a piece of everyday advice for sailors or mountaineers. It might be printed in an Alpine guide or a drill book. This paradox is the whole principle of courage; even of quite earthly or brutal courage.”
No one will deny the need for courage in our day. We live in a dangerous and, at times, frightening world. As Christians, however, we have heard the words of Jesus that Pope St. John Paul II so often repeated: “Be not afraid.”
Learning activities included lectures, seminar groups, music, film, and many informal conversations. Participants also enjoyed hiking, horseback riding, local attractions, and the sheer beauty of what has long been known as “God’s Country.”
What Participants Said
- “Coming builds up my faith.”
- “I never considered how the ancient Greeks could help me see and understand my life today. The WSCT helped me connect the dots.”
- “I was surprised at how easy it was to participate in discussions and learn from professors and participants.”
- “I’ve never seen a faculty try so diligently to help the group try to understand.”
- “It was a very refreshing and rewarding experience for me.”
- “I knew I was deficient in classical knowledge, but I wanted to remedy that. Now I’ve become jealous of the education WCC students are receiving.”
- “There were moments when levels of meaning and connection opened up into a vast inner panorama analogous to the great landscape panorama of Wyoming.”
- “What surprised me was how much joy there can be from sharing and being part of exploring the perennial classics.”
- Homer, The Iliad, chapter 18.
- Sophocles, Antigone
- Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Part I, Question 45, Articles 1, 2
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book III, Sections vi to xii.
- Plato, Apology
- Old Testament: Daniel 1, 3, 6
- Seamus Heaney, The Cure at Troy: A Version of Sophocles’ Philoctetes
- Athanasius, Life of St. Antony
- William Shakespeare, Henry V, Act IV
- S. Eliot, Murder in the Cathedral
- “The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicitas”
- Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, “Religious Persecution of the Church and Martyrdom”
- Films: Sophy Scholl and The Passion of Joan of Arc
Listen to the School
“The After Dinner Scholar,” Wyoming Catholic College’s weekly podcast, features selected lectures from 2018 Wyoming School of Catholic Thought as well as interviews with all the professors. You can listen at the college website, at Podbean, or on iTunes.