Tag Archives: Religion

Ep69 Becoming Truly Free



Father Len explains what it takes to become truly free and how the common American understanding of freedom leads to selfishness and narcissism.

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 more 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 more free is wrestling with our own egos and recognizing when we’re being selfish.
  • 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.

Ep68 Commitments, Happiness, Love and Having Kids



Reacting to why actor Seth Rogen says he and his wife don’t want kids, Father Len explains the relationship between making commitments, happiness, love, and having kids.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • “It’s not an easy haul having kids. You can’t be narcissistic. You have to give yourself over to parenting. Kids have got to be the priority.” – Howard Stern
  • God asks of us that our lives be life-giving.
  • Living life for yourself, free from commitments, is an immature definition of happiness.
  • Commitments lead to greater happiness. Lack of commitments lead to greater unhappiness.
  • You’ll never find yourself through your feelings and aspirations. What defines you is your commitments.
  • “Without being bound to the fulfillment of our promises, we would never be able to keep our identities; we would be condemned to wander helplessly and without direction in the darkness of each person’s lonely heart, caught in its contradictions and equivocations.”-Hannah Arendt
  • Being unable to settle on something means not being settled ever.
  • People willing to commit to marriage and having children almost always test out happier than those who don’t.
  • The world tells us self-fulfillment comes from being free of commitments. Truth says fulfillment comes after commitments.
  • People who avoid commitments and constantly pursue pleasure in pursuit of an easy life tend to end up bitter and unhappy.
  • Christ challenges us to not to choose the easy way, to make a sacrifice and give ourselves away.
  • Life is not supposed to be easy, but rather a great adventure.
  • Pursuing pleasure as happiness always ends up in unhappiness.
  • Each year since 1972, there has been a gradual decline in people’s overall happiness in the United States. This despite the average person spending 22% more on eating out and entertainment, living in homes that have doubled in size, having huge screen TVs, access to the Internet, and social media.
  • The moral question is not whether you should or should not have kids. The moral question is why you would not want to have children.
  • Religion challenges us to look at everything in life and decide what kind of life we want to have.
  • Once you fall in love, you can’t help but want to give yourself away. That’s what real love feels like.
  • God’s perpetual command is to make an offering of our lives, to give ourselves away.
  • Those who don’t know the power of commitment are yet to know what love is.
  • God is a trickster who tricks people into falling in love and willing to sacrifice everything for those they love.

Ep67 The Myth of Self-Esteem



Father Len exposes the dangers of focusing on boosting self-esteem as a means to improve lives.


Ep63 Bible Symbols Revealed and Explained-Part 3 Oils



Father Len reveals how oils and their fragrances help fulfill God’s intention for religion and worship to be carnal and sensuous experiences.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Previous Bible symbols episodes: Ep45 Water, Ep56 Trees

Ep60 The History of Marriage and What Makes It Work



Father Len explores the history of marriage, our changing attitudes and expectations about it, God’s expectations for marriage, and what makes marriage so difficult yet so worthwhile.

Highlights, Ideas and Wisdom

  • Ancient marriages were rarely about love and had little to do with religion. Marriages were pragmatic contracts between families about such things as wealth, political alliances, childbearing, and, for poor and working-class families, acquiring a work partner.
  • Christ revolutionized expectations for marriage. Declaring it to be about unity, love, and becoming a true human being, having nothing to do with legal rights.
  • Modern expectations for marriage revolve around happiness. Finding the one person that’s going to make me happy until they don’t. Then, it’s time to find a new partner.
  • Marriage is a pathway to becoming the image of God, the image of love.
  • Marriage involves a death, dying to ego and selfishness.
  • “True love doesn’t make up for all your faults. True love exposes all your faults.” – Dante Alighieri
  • You can’t work on your faults until they’re exposed.
  • True love demands constant sacrifice.
  • Marriage is about sacrificing your ego and learning to think as two rather than one.
  • Unmarried people often have difficulty thinking about other people because they don’t have to.
  • Marriage is a way to holiness because it is about the way of self-sacrificing love.
  • God can save you, but your spouse gets you in the best shape to be saved.
  • Marriage gets you ready for heaven.
  • Marriage is about sacrificing everything for the sake of love.

Ep54 Humility is a Superpower



Father Len explains why humility is the foundation for success in life.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • There is an epidemic of narcissism in our current culture fueled by social media.
  • Humility is the cure for narcissism.
  • Father Len discusses the dangers of ego and self-obsession by comparing the psyche of movie stars to people in prison.
  • Father Len shares the story of three superstars, Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh, who joined the Miami Heat NBA basketball team thinking winning a championship would be easy with all their talent. Turns out it wasn’t so easy until humility became a key ingredient of the team.
  • Human beings are very communal and emotions run through a community faster than a virus.
  • Because of our communal nature, it turns out that when people see other people behaving morally or immorally, it’s likely they will mirror that behavior.
  • Father Len shares the story of how tiny Butler University is able to compete and win against the much larger major powers in college basketball because of its team culture of humility.
  • “There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit” – sign on former president Ronald Reagan’s desk
  • Ego destroys community because it traps people in a prison of self-obsession.
  • Humility is not low self-esteem. It’s low self-preoccupation.
  • The less we are preoccupied with thinking about ourselves the more room we have in our heads and hearts to think of others.
  • Humility helps us connect emotionally with others.
  • “Humility is the New Smart: Rethinking Human Excellence in the Smart Machine Age” by Edward D Hess & Katherine Ludwig
  • Pride causes more problems than it solves.
  • Humility is the gateway to an open mind because it allows us to process information without being defensive and reacting in fear.
  • Humility allows us to see and accept reality.
  • Humility inspires success.
  • Success in life without humility can ruin you.
  • The Bible is filled with stories about how God hates pride and arrogance and how and why humility makes us true human beings.
  • The Bible says all those in heaven have humility written across their foreheads indicating the ultimate victory belongs to the humble.
  • The proud want glory for themselves, not for the community, not for the business, not for the team, and not for God.
  • Intelligence is not just being able to think and learn, but also the ability to unlearn and rethink. That requires humility.
  • “Prayer is unlearning what the world has taught you.” – St. Bernard of Clairvaux
  • We should feel as much joy in learning that we’re wrong as we felt in learning a truth.
  • “I have this voice in my head telling me 20% of everything I think is right might be wrong.” – Father Len
  • “Seek first to understand, then seek to be understood.” – Dr Stephen R Covey
  • “Think Again: the Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know” by Adam Grant

Ep50 The Origin of St Valentine’s Day



It’s not about chocolates and roses. Father Len shares the real story of St. Valentine’s Day and its inspiring purpose.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • All the world’s great feasts have a religious beginning.
  • This story is about a persecuted and jailed priest named Valentine.
  • Miracles happen when Father Valentine is asked by his jailer to educate the jailer’s blind daughter and Father Valentine introduces them both to Christ.
  • Who opened your eyes to love?

Ep49 Howard Stern’s Religion Dilemma



Father Len responds to Howard’s conflicted thoughts and feelings about faith and religion and his strong desire to figure out what he believes about the existence of God. 

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • “Howard Stern Comes Again” by Howard Stern
  • Exploring the mysteries of life puts us on the road to wisdom.
  • Curiosity is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
  • Humanity tends to pervert most things like politics, nature, marriage, and religion.
  • Religion is mandated to try to clean up the corrupting impulses of human beings.
  • Spirituality is not an alternative to hypocrisy in religion. Spiritual integrity is dependent on what each individual declares it to be. Spirituality is accountable only to the individual. Religion is accountable to God. Spirituality is not a meaningful alternative to religion.
  • Our brains are hardwired to seek meaning and connection with God.
  • “Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain Science And the Biology of Belief” by  Andrew Newberg, Eugene D’Aquili, Vince Rause
  • The fact that there are sociopaths in religion and business and schools doesn’t invalidate religion any more than it does business and education.
  • You don’t enter religion because you’re perfect. You enter religion as a way to become a better person.
  • Howard wonders if all the hours he spent studying Scripture as a kid were a waste of time and why his parents, who weren’t living a spiritual life, would make him do that.
  • Parents who preach religion to their kids, but don’t practice it, introduce their children to a life of hypocrisy.
  • Howard struggles to understand the meaning of the Bible story of Abraham, Sarah and their “miracle” son Isaac.
  • Mothers tend to be the teachers of faith to their children, but if they see their fathers not practicing religion, they probably won’t either.
  • Wrestling with difficult to understand passages in the Bible helps develop the skill of looking at things differently and discovering their true meaning.
  • Real faith and religion are often best demonstrated by the elderly.
  • Howard wonders if logic will help him decide whether to believe in God.
  • Human beings seldom make decisions based on logic.
  • The Dunning-Kruger Effect states that “dumb” people think they are smarter than they are and truly smart people are awed by how much they need to learn.
  • “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.” – Confucius
  • “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.” – Charles Darwin
  • “A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.” – William Shakespeare
  • The greatest scientists in history used logic and faith to come to their belief in God.
  • The greatest mystery of all is God. Even the Angels in the Bible, when seeing God, kept repeating, you are different, you are different, you are different. There is no way to adequately define God.
  • Heaven is this community of unconditional love that narcissists are unlikely to understand because in their world everything is about them.

Ep33 The Relationship between Grit and Success



Father Len explores how grit helps us get through difficult times and succeed in life.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Father Len explains why he is grateful for the COVID 19 pandemic.
  • Father Len explains how the pandemic helps reveal the existence of God and why God allows suffering in the world.
  • Father Len introduces the spiritual virtue of grit and illustrates how and why it helps us mature as human beings and succeed in life.
  • Father Len explains the dangers of living life as a “perfect fragile.”
  • Father Len explodes the myth of “talent” as the primary predictor of success in life.
  • Grit in the religious world is fortitude. It’s one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
  • Grit is learned and earned through sacrifice, pain, and a little bit of suffering.
  • “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” by Angela Duckworth
  • Life is sacrifice.
  • Father Len offers concrete ways to increase grit and determination.
  • Father Len shares the moving story of Adm. James Stockdale and how grit helped him and his fellow prisoners survive years in a Vietnam War concentration camp.
  • “The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero” by Timothy Egan
  • “Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined” by Scott Barry Kaufman

Ep30 Guilt and Shame Are Not the Same



Father Len explains why guilt is a good and shame is evil.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Father Len reacts to the pain and suffering inflicted on Tarana Burke, founder of the “Me Too Movement,” by the shame she felt after being raped and sexually molested as a child.
  • Shame is evil because it mars the image of our being made in the image of God and crushes our self-worth.
  • Shame is dangerous and correlates to increased incidence of addiction, eating disorders depression, and suicide.
  • Guilt is about amending our behavior and increasing our self-worth.
  • Guilt is a tool for self-improvement; becoming more loving, more kind, more patient.
  • Shame is a tool of oppression, racism, and sexism.
  • Guilt is based on love and shame is based on evil.
  • Father Len shares a fun story about catching kids stealing dark chocolate from him to illustrate why guilt is good and guilt and shame are not the same.
  • Religion should be a force for inflicting guilt and healing shame.
  • Both guilt and shame make us feel bad, but for different reasons. Guilt makes us feel bad because we realize we could have done something better. Shame makes us feel bad because some horrific event causes us to define ourselves as trash.
  • Brené Brown’s podcast: “Unlocking Us”
  • Brené Brown’s TED Talk: “The Power of Vulnerability”
  • Shame loves to hide in the dark and doesn’t like being named. Privately and sadly, the lives of many people are controlled by shame.
  • Healing shame is not easy, but working through the process brings wisdom, compassion, and joy.
  • The Catholic Church is like a good mother who teaches her children guilt to help them grow and become better and more loving human beings.