Browsing the Books Podcast
with Dr. Andrew Seeley, Director of Advanced Formation

Browsing the Books Podcast is designed to help teachers nurture their intellectual lives through reading and discussing original works that have fostered the Catholic intellectual tradition. In each installment, Dr. Seeley and Institute VP Chris Weir discuss a portion of one of these works, giving listeners a glance at some of its riches. When possible, we hope that listeners will find 45 minutes to an hour to read selections before listening, and perhaps use the suggested questions to instigate discussions with their colleagues.

The series will loosely follow the historical sequence that many of the schools we serve use as the foundation of their curriculum: ancient, medieval, and modern:

       – Episodes 1-3: Scripture
       – Episodes 4-6: Selections from The Odyssey
       – Episode 7: Rule of St. Benedict
       – Episode 8: St. Anselm
       – Episode 9: Chaucer, Prologue & The Prioress’s Tale
       – Episodes 10-12: Selections from Lord of the Rings

Episode 12: Lord of the Rings – Mount Doom/The Field of Cormallen
Reading: Book VI, Chapter 3, opening of Chapter 4
Suggested Question for Discussion: Does Frodo fulfill the quest? 

Episode 11: Lord of the Rings – The Taming of Smeagol
Reading: Book IV, Chapter 1
Suggested Questions for Discussion: Compare Frodo’s reaction to Gollum when he is listening to Gandalf talk about him in “The Shadow of the Past” versus his reaction to actually facing him in “The Taming of Smeagol.” How does Sam react?

Episode 10: Lord of the Rings – The Shadow of the Past
Reading: Book I, Chapter 2
Suggested Questions for Discussion: Why are hobbits amazing creatures? What are they like? What do we see about them? How does Frodo come to this decision that amazes even Gandalf?

Episode 9: Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales – Prologue & Prioress’s Tale
Reading: General Prologue & Prioress’s Tale
Suggested Questions for Discussion: Who are the characters that Chaucer is introducing? What rank in society do they hold? How are they dressed? How does the way they are dressed reflect who they are? Does the Prioress’s story seem to fit with the character as Chaucer has described her?

Episode 8: St. Anselm’s Proslogion
Reading: Preface & Chapters I-V
Suggested Question for Discussion: What do you make of St. Anselm’s argument in Chapter 2 in light of the way he closes Chapter 1, “For I do not seek to understand so that I may believe, but I believe so that I may understand. For I believe this also, that unless I believe, I will not understand”?

Episode 7: The Rule of St. Benedict
Reading: The Rule of St. Benedict – Preface, I-VIII, XIX, XXII-XXX, XLIV-XLVIII, LIII, LVIII-LXVI
Suggested Questions for Discussion: Why does St. Benedict refer to this as “a school of the Lord’s service”? In what way is it a school? What is being learned? How is it being learned? Who are the teachers? Does he seem to have introduced anything harsh or burdensome?

Episode 6: Odysseus in the Land of the Dead
Reading: The Odyssey, Books 11-12 (through Sirens)
Suggested Questions for Discussion: What does Odysseus learn in underworld? Why does he stay? What kind of man is he?

Episode 5: Nobody and the Cyclops
Reading: The Odyssey, Book 9
Suggested Question for Discussion: Why does Odysseus want to meet the Cyclops?

Episode 4: Nobody Really Knows His Own Father 
Reading: The Odyssey, Book 1
Suggested Questions for Discussion: What is this book going to be about? Why does it start focusing on Telemachus? What is Penelope like?

Episode 3: Life in Christ According to St. Paul
Reading: Colossians 2:1 – 4:6
Suggested Question for Discussion:In verse 3:5, St. Paul says, “Put to death, therefore, what is earthly in you.” What reason has St. Paul given for this, and what does he seem to mean by it? Divide the rest of the reading into parts.

Episode 2: God on the Mountain: Elijah & the Sermon on the Mount
Reading: 1 Kings 18-19; Matthew 5-7  
Suggested Question for Discussion: Here we have two more mountain stories. How do they compare to each other and to Exodus?

Episode 1: The Sinai Covenant
Reading: Exodus 19-24  
Suggested Questions for Discussion: In 19:17 we read, “Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God.” How does the meeting go? Why is it happening? How do the Ten Commandments fit in? How about the ordinances in chapters 21-24?