Ep90 Encore: Imagine a World without Jesus

Father Len explains how the radical ideas Jesus introduced 2000 years ago and the church he established to spread those ideas have changed the world forever.

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Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • “You’re talking about the single event that probably influenced civilization as we know it now. It’s created our laws and behavior. The knowledge of good and evil. It’s influenced art and literature. It’s affected every possible aspect of anyone’s life, whether they know it or not. It’s absolutely everything. If it wasn’t, what would there be? – Mel Gibson, producer/director, The Passion of the Christ
  • The Gospel of Luke describes how Jesus changed morality and remapped society around meals.
  • In Jesus’s time there were meal codes about how you eat and who you eat with. Jews ate with Jews, never with Gentiles. Jews ate as a family. Men, women, and children together. Gentiles, the Romans and the Greeks, ate with people of their own class and caste system. Rich and poor never ate together. Men and women didn’t eat together. Men ate first and then women because men were considered superior to women.
  • Jesus broke all the meal codes of his time drawing people together by a much different morality. He offered radical hospitality to everyone. He welcomed men and women, rich and poor to sit at table with him.
  • The one person who changed the world the most was not a king or an inventor. The greatest mark on history was made by a traveling preacher named Jesus who established a church community and gave it the responsibility to redraw the world according to hospitality.
  • “I am an historian. I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all of history. Is it any wonder that to this day, this Galilean is too much for our small hearts?” – HG Wells
  • Jesus broke all the rules on how to treat women. Prior to Jesus women were treated inhumanely. They were viewed as inferior to men and nothing more than property. In Jesus’s eyes, women and men are equally valuable. Jesus was friends and ministry partners with women. He treated them with dignity and respect.
  • The idea that all humans – men and women, rich and poor, rulers and peasants – are equally valuable and should be treated with dignity and respect was extremely rare before Christianity.
  • The church Jesus founded, the Catholic Church, started hospitals, universities, and food banks.
  • Jesus started an organized movement to care for the poor and the needy. Religion before Christianity, except for Judaism, wasn’t really concerned with morality or taking care of the poor.
  • The origins of science are rooted in Christian belief. All the early scientists were religious. They were inspired by their faith in Christ to do science. They all viewed science as a means of uncovering the traces of Christ’s handiwork in the universe.
  • The concepts of social justice, education, human rights, women’s rights, and freedom all fit into the idea of radical hospitality that Jesus introduced to the world.
  • Jesus has changed the personal lives of billions of people throughout the world by introducing the theology of the cross. Dying to yourself, dying to your ego, becoming a whole new person by living a life of sacrificial love.
  • Wisdom is path, not a door. The path of daily choices you make on how to live your life.
  • Wisdom is gained through daily small activities. Small choices that become the whole direction of your life.
  • The way of the cross is daily making moral choices, making small choices of virtue. Dying to your pettiness, anger, and selfishness.

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Ep89 Encore: The Real Christmas Story and Its True Meaning

Father Len reveals the real “reason for the season” is us.

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Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • “When I look at the world upside down, that’s when it seems right to me.” – Jeret “Speedy” Peterson
  • Father Len tells a story about geese to illustrate why God became a human being.
  • Christmas is a revelation of who we are meant to be.
  • To be good is to become a true human being.
  • Our true humanity is to live like Christ.
  • “Christianity is the attitude of amazement at the dignity of the human person.” – Pope John Paul II
  • “The glory of God is a human being fully alive.” – Irenaeus
  • “Paradise Lost” by John Milton
  • “Faust” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • Sin is the temptation to stop being a true human being.
  • Evil is the no to human goodness. Evil is the no to all that is good.
  • Satan is not one who hates God. Satan is one who believes that God can’t love him or us.
  • The good news of Christmas is that God became one of us to show us how to become true human beings and discover the goodness of being a true human being.
  • Salvation is not the story of God rescuing us from an evil universe. Salvation is the story of God coming as one like us to teach us what true goodness looks like.
  • Absolute love will embrace death.
  • Absolute love cannot be contained by the tomb.
  • Sin is anything that deprives us of our full humanity.
  • Christmas is the beginning of the journey to our true humanity to love and to be connected.

Ep88 Sadness is a Blessing and Superpower

Father Len explains that sadness is our lot in life and how embracing it will bring us wisdom, love, a sense of purpose, and help guide our path to heaven.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • The pain of sadness wakes you up to be more tender and compassionate.
  • Sadness is a superpower that can transform you into being more creative.
  • Depression sucks all the life out of you.
  • Denying sadness can lead to self-absorption and a toxic life.
  • Father Len shares the story of how the sadness of prison life became a university for growth for Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.
  • Depression makes you listless and less concerned for action and the suffering of other people.
  • Depression is when you’re alone. Sadness is when you’re with other people.
  • Those who embrace sadness have a greater sense of purpose in their lives.
  • American society is obsessed with positivity and always being happy, happy, happy.
  • Studies have found Americans smile more than any other country, but test out to be more depressed.
  • Obsession with positive thinking is just a form of denial of sadness.
  • The more you repress something, the more likely you are to act on it.
  • America’s obsession with positivity and always having a positive attitude is a form of repression.
  • Sadness is hard, but it also gives birth to love.
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Ep87 Lying to Yourself

Father Len grapples with the tendency we all have of lying to ourselves about ourselves and the effect it has on us and those around us.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

Ep85 Irish’s Story: The Inspiration for the Wrestling with God Show

Irish shares the journey that led him to Father Len and the creation of the Wrestling with God Show. He also reveals plans for Wrestling with God Productions, the new association he’s founded to build bridges to faith, religion, and the Catholic Church.

Show Notes

Ep83 Encore: Why Does God Allow School Shootings and Other Evils?

Father Len explains why God allows evil in the world and how we choose to react to evil can cause bane or enlightenment.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • God gives us free will to choose our actions. It’s up to us to choose good or evil.
  • If God took away our choices, we’d no longer be human beings. We’d be preprogrammed like toasters and robots.
  • “It makes no sense to pray for somebody to do something. I pray that someone’s heart will be open to see the right choice.” – Father Len
  • God loves us so much that he allows us to choose our own actions.
  • God allows us to choose how we react to evil and evil doers. Will we choose the path to bane or enlightenment?
  • “The Plague” by Albert Camus
  • “The evil that is in the world comes out of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence, if they lack understanding.” – Albert Camus
  • “A loveless world is a dead world.” – Albert Camus
  • “All a man could win in the conflict between plague and life was knowledge and memories.” – Albert Camus
  • Our choices are not predetermined. God exists outside of time and space. God’s view of our lives appears much like a painting does to us. God can see it all from beginning to end. All the choices we make in our lives are in full view to God. They are not predetermined by God.
  • Throughout our lives, God will constantly urge, beg, and intervene to try to change our hearts to make the right choices.
  • God allows us to choose light or darkness.

Ep82 Encore: Can Freedom Destroy Our Country?

The effect of freedom depends on how you define it. Father Len reveals how God defines freedom and how other definitions can produce destructive consequences.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Freedom involves being free from something in order to be free to become something.
  • The American Revolution was about becoming free from the tyranny of a king and the injustices and oppression of a political system.
  • 70% of Americans say they are free or mostly free.
  • Two thirds of Americans define freedom as being “free to do whatever I want.”
  • Being “free to do whatever I want” is an immature definition of freedom and the least likely to lead to happiness.
  • Being “free to do whatever I want” is a form of tyranny that allows you to intrude on the life and liberty of others.
  • “The Unbroken Thread: Discovering the Wisdom of Tradition in an Age of Chaos” by Sohrab Ahmari
  • We create laws to set the parameters for a working society.
  • To be free theologically means that we are always working on freedom. Working to become free from the tyranny of selfishness, oppression, and injustice.
  • When the people of a country define freedom as selfishness, it will always be divided and destroyed.
  • People who report the highest level of happiness tend to be religious and meditate regularly.
  • People who report the most freedom from moral constraints tend to be the least happy.
  • “Suicide, A Study in Sociology” by Emile Durkheim
  • The really hard part of becoming freer is wrestling with our own egos and recognizing when we’re being selfish.
  • “If your definition of freedom is, I get to do whatever I want, just historically, it ends terribly. If our country just believes, I’m free to just think about myself, that’s a loss of freedom. I think it destroys our country.” – Father Len
  • Christians who believe giving up liberties for the sake of others makes them less free don’t understand the freedom of the cross of Christ.
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Ep81 Good News

Irish shares some good news about the return of the Wrestling with God Show and the new podcast from Wrestling with God Productions featuring Father Len.