Podcast: “Revelations of Love in John Steinbeck” | Sacred & Profane Love, Episode 9

Download Episode 9: “Revelations of Love in John Steinbeck”


In Episode 9 of Sacred & Profane Love “Revelations of Love in John Steinbeck,” Philosopher Jennifer A. Frey speaks with Thomist Theologian, Fr Michael Sherwin, OP, about John Steinbeck’s secular understanding of Christian caritas (charity) and how Steinbeck captures the beauty and power of love in the simple act of sharing breakfast with strangers. Their conversation tackles the nature of divine love as understood by Augustine and Aquinas.


Rev. Prof. Michael Sherwin OP, was one of our faculty for our 2016 Summer Session “Virtue & Happiness”, and is Professor of Fundamental Moral Theology at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. Fr. Sherwin is director of the Saint Thomas Aquinas Institute for Theology and Culture and of the Pinckaers Archives.  Author of articles on the psychology of love, virtue ethics and moral development, his monograph, By Knowledge and By Love: Charity and Knowledge in the Moral Theology of St. Thomas Aquinas (CUA Press, 2005) has been reissued in paperback.


Jennifer A. Frey is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina. Prior to joining the philosophy faculty at USC, she was a Collegiate Assistant Professor of Humanities at the University of Chicago, where she was a member of the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts and an affiliated faculty in the philosophy department.  She earned her PhD in philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh, and her B.A. in Philosophy and Medieval Studies (with Classics minor) at Indiana University-Bloomington. Her research lies at the intersection of philosophy of action and ethics, with a particular focus on the Aristotelian-Thomist tradition.


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This podcast is a project of Virtue, Happiness, & the Meaning of Life, and is made possible through a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

Content copyright the University of South Carolina and the University of Chicago.

Music credits, “Help me Somebody,” by Brian Eno and David Byrne, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.5.

Congratulations to the Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing: “Self, Virtue and Public Life Project”

The University of Oklahoma Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing is the recipient of a $3.9 million grant from the Templeton Religion Trust to advance the “Self, Virtue and Public Life Project.” The grant will provide funding for new research projects, conferences, edited volumes and community outreach activities. The project is set to begin September 1, 2018, and conclude on August 31, 2021.

“The Institute is truly grateful to the Templeton Religion Trust for its support of this important project,” said Nancy Snow, director of the institute. Nancy Snow is also a scholar with the project Virtue, Happiness, & the Meaning of Life.

37126878223_788b711fa8_zThe research will include approximately 10 new research projects at $190,000 each; two conferences for grant awardees to present their work; two edited volumes in “the Virtues” series; two conferences for volume contributors to share ideas and interact; two volumes authored by Snow; and four postdoctoral students who will produce articles and share at conferences.

Community outreach activities funded by this grant include the “Civic Virtues Project,” which will integrate and study the effects of civic virtues education in courses taught at Norman High School, Norman North High School and Irving Middle School. A “Teachers’ Guide to Civic Virtue: Civility, Compassion and Fairness,” will be produced and made available on the project website.

Six two-day workshops in a series entitled, “Beyond Tolerance: Civic Virtues in Nonprofit Leadership,” is planned in collaboration with the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits, an organization that reaches 240 nonprofit leaders throughout the state of Oklahoma.

A high-profile speakers’ series entitled, “Faith and Civic Virtue in Public Life,” will include three speakers who will visit the OU campus to discuss the topic. Audiences impacted are academics and teachers, students, nonprofit leaders and the general public.

For more about the award, visit https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-06/uoo-oia062718.php

Slow Down to Be More Intentional in Life

Double exposure

Note: This is a repost from Lola Wright’s blog, which originally appeared October 6, 2017, and can be found here.

We are wired for impact. We want to know that we make a difference. That our lives matter. It’s the existential orientation of our nature to seek problems and long for answers.

In today’s over-scheduled, highly connected world, we often feel like there’s never enough time, energy, or any number of other resources to accomplish what we want. We live by the motto: never enough.

Which is a load of shit.

There is an eternity of time. And when we are spinning on that merry-go-round, it’s time to jump off.

Because your wellbeing matters.

I am a devoted meditator. It has become a habit, much like brushing my teeth or showering. It doesn’t look like sitting in the lotus position with a perfectly erect spine. It doesn’t necessarily look like a solid 30 minutes. It doesn’t occur at 4 a.m., and it isn’t always noticeably sacred. That being said, it does always make a difference in my perspective on life.

Being still and slowing down can happen anytime. While you’re waiting in line to pick up your kids. While you’re in the shower. While you’re on a walk. While you’re in bed (before you jump up and immediately look at your phone). Close your eyes, take a few conscious breaths, and acknowledge the moment you’re in, not the one you’re jumping to get to.

Personal wellbeing is the foundation to a happy and healthy life. Slowing down enables you to work more effectively and creatively. Running on fumes does not produce great results—it creates a sense of lack and burnout.

Which is not reality. That’s manufactured drama.

As someone with a significant level of accountability in the world—mother to four kids, community organizer, oldest grandchild, board member, extrovert—I learned early on that solitude and personal reflection are a must.

The people you are in relationship with will always have needs. Your to-do list will never be complete. Your calendar will always continue to get filled. And likely none of the commitments or demands will recommend you take care of you before you address the concerns before you.

So here are some simple ways you can bring yourself to a center point of wellbeing in an instant:

  1. Start by closing your eyes: at work, in the kitchen, at your kid’s soccer game, etc.

  2. Soften your belly and relax your jaw.

  3. Breathe in through your nose.

  4. Notice your belly expand and your chest rise.

  5. Exhale slowly and completely, emptying your lungs and letting your body relax.

It’s that easy.

Taking ten conscious breaths before entering an appointment, walking in the door, or getting up in the morning is one of the loving and generous practices you can give to your central nervous system.

As you integrate conscious breathing and regular meditation into your daily life, it will become clear the importance and value of slowing down.

Very little that gets us worked up is worthy of the strain that stress causes on our body and mind.

We were never intended to go 100 miles per hour, 100 percent of the time. Slow down. Enjoy yourself. Play. Have fun.

“Learn to pause…or nothing worthwhile will catch up to you.”

— Doug King

Lola Wright is the Spiritual Director at Bodhi Spiritual Center, a preeminent mindfulness-based community organization in Chicago. She spoke with Candace Vogler for a Chicago Humanities Festival event last November.

Darcia Narvaez: “The Indigenous Worldview: Original Practices for Becoming and Being Human

Darcia Narvaez is Professor of Psychology at the University of Notre Dame and writes a blog for Psychology Today called “Moral Landscapes.” This is a talk given at the conference, Sustainable Wisdom: Integrating Indigenous Knowhow for Global Flourishing, which took place at the University of Notre Dame in 2016. Narvaez is also a scholar with the project Virtue, Happiness, & the Meaning of Life.