Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on January 3, 2018
2017 Countdown Day 10
4:00 – #2: A Pope and a President: The Untold Friendship of JPII and Ronald Reagan
Historians rightfully credit Saint John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan with hastening the end of the Cold War, but until now have failed to recognize the depth of the bond between the two men. They were shot by would-be assassins just six weeks apart and their strikingly similar experiences brought them close together – much to Moscow’s dismay. Paul Kengor joins us with a look at how they changed history and why Nancy Reagan called JPII her husband’s “closest
5:00 – #1: Heroic Stories from the Great Halifax Explosion
We recently discussed the Great Halifax Explosion, the 1917 eruption of a munitions ship that was the largest manmade explosion in history until the atomic bomb. The 100th anniversary of the tragedy was on December 6 of this year. John U. Bacon joins us with a closer look at the tragedy and the extraordinary, but forgotten, stories of heroism that emerged in its wake.
Previously on the Countdown
#3: How to set the Earth on Fire for the Gospel
How do we reveal to a secular world the beauty and intelligence of the Catholic faith? Bishop Robert Barron joins to discuss why the Church still matters and how Catholics can intelligently engage a skeptical world.
#4: How the Reformation Rebelled Against Luther
For 500 years Marin Luther has been revered as an outspoken and fearless icon of change who led the modern world out of the darkness of the Middle Ages. But he never intended to start a revolution and certainly never imagined how his actions would shape the next five centuries. Brad Gregory joins us with a look at his inadvertent role in starting the reformation and the changes that followed.
#5: My Unexpected Life with St. John Paul II
George Weigel is well-known for his book Witness to Hope, the definitive biography of St. John Paul II. He enjoyed a unique friendship with the Pope and saw firsthand his struggles with post-Vatican II tumult, the end of the Cold War, and the post-9/11 world order. George joins us today with a look at the story of a scholar who became a saint.
#6: Forgiving My Daughter’s Killer
On March 28, 2010, Kate and Andy Grosmaire received news that would change their lives forever. Their daughter had just been shot – by her boyfriend, a young man they had come to see as part of the family. Incredibly, they came to forgive Connor and visited him in prison. And that’s just the beginning of their story. Kate joins us with a beautiful and tragic testament to the liberating power of forgiveness.
#7: Slaves in Paradise
With its beautiful beaches and golf courses, the island of the Dominican Republic is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Caribbean. Yet when missionary priest Fr. Christopher Hartley arrived in the country in 1997, he discovered another side to this paradise: the deplorable living and working conditions of the people who harvest the country’s sugarcane, and the illegal human trafficking that brings them to the plantations as slaves.He joins us with the story of how he brought the Good News of Christ to the workers whose unjust treatment was ignored at every level of society.
#8: The Religious Life of Benjamin Franklin
Ben Franklin is remembered for many things. He was a Founding Father, he created Poor Richard’s Almanac and he’s probably best known for flying a kite during a thunderstorm. But many don’t realize he was also a many of faith and published more works on religious topics than any 18th-century layperson. He abandoned his exclusive Christian faith as a teenager, but was much more complex than just a deist. Thomas Kidd joins us with a look at the mystery of his faith.
#9: The Catholic Doctor behind Football’s Concussion Debate
A recent study examined the brains of 202 deceased former football players, including 111 players from the NFL. 177 of the brains showed evidence of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, more commonly known as CTE. It’s the latest step in an ongoing debate over whether football is worth the risk, a discussion that has been spearheaded by Dr. Bennet Omalu, who first found CTE in former football players in 2005. Since then he has faced enormous obstacles but has been buoyed by his strong faith and desire for truth. He joins us.
#10: Washington is Regulating American Indians to Death
Most of today’s public discourse regarding Native Americans concerns whether the Washington Redskins should change their name, or whether we should redesignate Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day. Naomi Schaefer Riley has visited reservations across the country and has learned that such placating moves are not what Native Americans need most. They’re desperate for real help and their lives are being destroyed by D.C. bureaucracy. Naomi joins us with more.
#11: Be Transformed: The Healing Power of the Sacraments
In the Second Book of Corinthians, St Paul quotes the Lord: “My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” How do we receive this Grace? The Sacraments. Through the Sacraments our lives can be transformed. Bob Schuchts joins us.
#12: The Deconstruction of the Administrative State
Conservatives have long promised to shrink the size of government and make it more efficient and personal, but they’ve rarely followed through. The Trump Administration, on the other hand, might just be crazy enough to try. Back in February Steve Bannon outlined the three pillars of Trump’s goals for his presidency: National Security, Economic Nationalism, and the Deconstruction of the Administrative State. What have they done in this regard? Will it work? Adam White joins us with more.
#13: A Mother’s Story of Love, Faith and Crystal Meth
Barbara Coefer-Stoefen’s daughter Annie was bright and beautiful, the last person you’d expect to be addicted to crystal meth. Barbara never imagined such a scenario would destroy her dreams for her family. But it did. Annie committed crimes against herself and community that knocked her parents to their knees. Barbara’s drive to save her daughter and her rage against God gave way to new insights about herself. She joins us with her story of a faith challenged, examined and redefined.
#14: Healing: Bringing the Gift of Mercy to the World
When we, or a family member or friend, are faced with an injury or illness, physical or emotional, our thoughts turn to God in prayer for healing. We want to believe, as the Centurion did, that God will grant healing, but we wonder. And if we as Catholics have doubts, what does this mean to a hurting world, also in need of healing? We’ll talk with Mary Healy.
#15: The Reformation – What Really Happened?
As we’ve discussed before, this year marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses. It marked the beginning of the Reformations and the end of unified Christianity. The story has been retold and reshaped in the centuries since then, according to the teller’s own biases. What really happened with Luther? Ben Wiker joins us with a straight-forward account.
#16: The Forgotten Persecution of Colonial Catholics
Most mainstream studies of American history neglect to tell the story of Catholics in the early days of America, especially the persecution they faced from other Americans. Catholics first came to Maryland in 1634 in search of religious freedom and their story continues through the post-Revolutionary period and the beginning of the new nation, when the constitutions of nine of the 13 states contained harsh anti-Catholic provisions. Fr Charles Connor joins us with a look at the story of these Catholics and the contributions they made in the pre- and post- Revolutionary period.
#17: Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay
Daniel Mattson once believed he was gay. Raised in a Christian family and aware of attractions to other boys at age six, his life was marked by constant turmoil between his faith in God and his sexual attractions. Finding the conflict between his sexual desires and the teachings of his church too great, he assumed he was gay, turned his back on God, and began a relationship with another man. Yet freedom and happiness remained elusive until he discovered Christ and his true identity. Dan joins us.
#18: An Olympic Track Star Reflects on God and Life
Four-time Olympic gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross recently penned a memoir in which she revealed that she had an abortion right before the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. The experience left her feeling loss and grief, but she went on to experience God for herself during the Games and began the healing process. She joins us to discuss how God restores and works in her life.
#19: What Death with Dignity Means for Someone Like Me
The latest “death with dignity” horror story comes out of the Netherlands, where an elderly woman diagnosed with dementia was sedated and restrained so she could be given a lethal drug administration and “die with dignity.” This story is especially horrific to Zak Schmoll, who has a physical disability and lives in Vermont where physician-assisted suicide is legal. Zak joins us to share his perspective on this tragic story.
#20: Gosnell: The Untold Story of a Killer
In 2013 Dr Kermit Gosnell was convicted of killing four people, including three babies. He’s thought to have killed hundreds, if not thousands, more in his 30 years in the abortion industry. He’s currently serving three life sentences in prison for the crimes uncovered at his House of Horrors abortion clinic. Ann McElhinney joins us with a look at the investigation that brought him to justice and how compliant politicians allowed him to carry out his grisly trade because they didn’t want to “attack abortion.”
#21: The Scopes Monkey Trial and America’s Debate on Science and Religion
On July 10, 1925, a dramatic trial began in the sleepy town of Dayton, Tennessee. Known as the Scopes Monkey Trial, it pit William Jennings Bryan and anti-Darwinists against a science teacher named John Scopes in a debate over science, religion and their place in public education – a debate that continues to this day. We’ll look back and the trial and the current state of the debate with Ed Larson.
#22: Rearview Mirror: Star Wars turns 40
The first Star Wars film hit theaters on May 25, 1977, and immediately became a cultural phenomenon. Forty years later, it still matters. Even the most passionate fans have to admit the films are artistically flawed, but the franchise’s impact on Hollywood and American pop culture has been incalculable. We’ll talk with Steven Greydanus about this American mythology and why Star Wars still matters.
#23: Lessons from Eisenhower’s Farewell
President Eisenhower delivered his farewell address on January 17, 1961, three days before the inauguration of John F. Kennedy. His farewell was the closing act of one of modern America’s great leaders, a man who offered a model of principled, effective and understated leadership. As the nation faces another transition of power, Bret Baier joins us to look at Eisenhower’s final days, days that are full of parallels to and lessons for our own historical moment.
#24: The Economics of Pope Francis
With the possible exception of Amoris Laetitia, none of Pope Francis’ viewpoints have sparked the same level of debate as his statements on the economy. His South American background is different from previous popes and is unfamiliar to most Westerners. He has invited those concerned about the economy to join in a dialogue. What does economic dialogue with the Pope look like? We’ll discuss it with Dr Robert Whaples.
#25: If You Don’t Get Religion, You Can’t Get America
The secular media’s coverage of Donald Trump and his supporters has made it abundantly clear that most reporters don’t understand religion, and an executive editor from the New York Times admitted to it late last year. As David French points out, if you don’t get religion you don’t get America. What are the “original sins” of religious reporting that the media frequently commits? How does it affect the way they understand and present the news? We’ll talk with David.
#26: The Founding Fathers and the Bible
In Colonial times, no book was more accessible or familiar than the Bible. It was by far the most alluded to and quoted source during political discourse and was well-known to the Founding Fathers. How did they use the Bible when they were founding the new nation? We’ll look at their diverse use of scripture and theology with Daniel Dreisbach.
#27: Ronald Reagan’s “Fatima Connection” to JPII
For Catholics, the Easter Season falls between two extraordinary dates on the Church calendar – Divine Mercy Sunday and the anniversary of the Fatima apparitions. In May of this year, Pope Francis traveled to Fatima to commemorate the centenary of Mary’s first appearance. Paul Kengor joined us to look back at another pope, John Paul II, and the extraordinary Fatima connection he shared with Ronald Reagan.