Tag Archives: Religion

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.

Ep26 Judging and Being Judged



Father Len and Irish explore the frequently damaging temptation and tendency for humans to judge each other.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Father Len responds to a listener’s perception that religious people are often judgmental and see themselves as better than others.
  • Father Len explains the difference between damaging judgment of behavior and attitudes and needed, useful and inspiring criticism.
  • The ability to honestly and critically assess our own behaviors and attitudes is healthy and important to personal growth and maturity.
  • Judging often has a damaging moral quality of shaming and denigrating.
  • For some people, judging others is a big smokescreen to hide the garbage in their own lives.
  • Presented with necessary criticism and helpful suggestions about their attitudes, decisions and behavior, insecure people tend to get angry, defensive, feel judged and dismiss it all.
  • Father Len offers some sage advice to fathers of daughters about the relationship between mothers and daughters.
  • Recognizing the difference between judgmental and critical thinking requires a lot of personal reflection and humility.

Ep22 Are the Bible and religion outdated?



Father Len explains why the wisdom contained in the Bible about what makes for a good life is timeless.

Highlights, Ideas and Wisdom

  • “There is nothing new under the sun” – Qoheleth, Ecclesiastes 1:9
  • People have forever struggled with the same problems, made the same mistakes, and needed the same solutions to solve their problems and the same remedies for their mistakes.
  • The Bible stories are always challenging our tribalism, addictions, use of money, our sense of justice, our compassion, and even our sense of religion.
  • “Faith and evidence are inseparable. Indeed, faith is a response to evidence, not a rejoicing in the absence of evidence.” – John C Lennox
  • Technology does not make us evolve. It adds conveniences to our lives. What really makes us evolve is religion.
  • We are hardwired for religion.
  • “Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief” by Andrew Newberg, Eugene D’Aquili, and Vince Rause
  • Every experiment in atheism has led to massive slaughter.
  • If we get rid of religion, we just replace it with something else. We always end up worshiping something.
  • “In the day-to day trenches of adult life, there is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. If you worship money and things — if they are where you tap real meaning in life — then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. On one level, we all know this stuff. It’s the skeleton of every great story. The trick is keeping the truth up-front in daily consciousness. Worship power — you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart — you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. And so on.” – David Foster Wallace
  • Religion is only outdated for those who are unconscious that they’re worshiping something.
  • Whatever controls your life is what you’re worshiping.
  • What people resist when they say the Bible is outdated, is not the Bible. It’s their interpretation of the Bible.
  • “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley
  • “Great Expectations” a movie about “gods” that control us.

Ep20 Good and Evil Are Hard to Define and Fully Understand



Father Len explains why defining and fully understanding good and evil is pretty much beyond our ability as humans.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • The only wise reaction to evil is faith in God.
  • The mystery of what seems like evil to us may actually be something used by God for our good.
  • Father Len explains why we shouldn’t settle for cheap and easy answers for why evil and suffering exist in the world and instead humbly ask questions and more questions.
  • We will not understand evil until we can have the same perspective as God.
  • There might not be answers about good and evil that we can see and understand until we get to heaven and can look back in time.
  • Real wisdom is acquired through intimate experience with suffering.
  • What we proclaim as good may actually be bad for us.
  • What we proclaim as evil may actually be good for us.

Ep18 Politics, Religion and the Slogan “Black Lives Matter”



Father Len and Irish grapple with the difficulty of having a spiritual, moral, and meaningful conversation about the slogan “black lives matter.”

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Father Len explains why he is reticent to make statements about political slogans.
  • It’s cowardice for religious leaders not to lead and speak out about spiritual and moral issues.
  • People have to come to the truth by themselves, but religious leaders can and should help lead them there.
  • “We are generally the better persuaded by the reasons we discover ourselves than by those given to us by others.” – Blaise Pascal
  • We have become so politically rigid, polarized, and hell-bent on winning in the United States that the search for truth gets lost.
  • There are good people and evil people. The line between good and evil cuts through every human heart.
  • Father Len is reading “Black like Me” by John Howard Griffin to become more compassionate and feel the pain and suffering that can come from discrimination and being a minority.

Ep13 Understanding Human Evil



Father Len reveals two primary impulses God gives us and how we can use them for good or evil. This episode was recorded before the murder of George Floyd, but it couldn’t be more relevant.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Human evil is the most difficult kind of evil to grapple with because it’s what we do to ourselves.
  • Human evil is never part of God’s plan.
  • God created human beings with two primary impulses. One is rooted in self-interest or self-protection. The other an inner sense that alerts us when we’re violating God’s law and urges us to live lives of generous care for other people.
  • “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn