Show cover of Wrestling with God Show

Wrestling with God Show

Two fun-loving Irishmen, a Catholic priest and his good friend, grapple with the big questions about faith, religion, and life.

Tracks

Ep98 Listening Is Loving
Father Len helps us grapple with what it means to truly listen and why God calls us to be professional listeners. Support Wrestling with God Productions: https://www.GiveSendGo.com/WWGProductions Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom Shema Prayer: "Listen O Israel, the LORD your God is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your mind and all your strength and your neighbor as yourself." Shema means listen, but it really means pay attention. The Shema is the central prayer of Judaism and Catholicism. The Bible says, ears that Shema will discover God and what God has made known. Our society is not trained to listen, but to overpower each other with counter accusations. God meant us to become professional listeners, listening to the word of God and the voice of God in other people. Listening forms community. Not listening or paying full attention destroys community. Marriage is a type of community. The gift of hospitality is your full attention. We can become what we listen to so we must be careful what not to listen to. “First seek to understand, then to be understood.” – Stephen Covey “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R Covey “The only commandment I ever obeyed – ‘Consider the lilies.’” – Emily Dickinson “The number one sin that people are confessing these days is anger.” – Father Len “All morality comes down to attentiveness, attentiveness to God, attentiveness to other people. The essence of immorality is not to be attentive to others or God, not to see or hear other people.” – Iris Murdoch, Irish philosopher “Stolen Focus: Why You Can't Pay Attention—and How to Think Deeply Again” by Johann Hari We welcome your questions and comments: Email: irish@wwgproductions.org Text or voicemail: 208-391-3738 Links to More Podcasts from Wrestling with God Productions Life Lessons from Jesus and the Church He Founded: http://LifeLessonsfromJesus.org A Priest’s Life: https://idahovocations.com/resources/video-podcasts/
23:13 2/8/24
Ep97 We need a Savior
Father Len explains why we need a Savior now more than ever and why many of us don’t know it. Support Wrestling with God Productions: https://www.GiveSendGo.com/WWGProductions Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom “Now that we have science, we no longer need religion.” – Chris Hayes, MSNBC Host “God of the Gaps” theory: People invented God and religion began because there was a lack of scientific knowledge to explain things like lightning and wind. Science wouldn’t exist without the Catholic Church. For the Catholic Church science has always been a way of studying and understanding God. All early major scientists believed in God including Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Roger Bacon, Louis Pasteur, Nicholas Copernicus and Blaise Pascal. They came to God because of science. Many were Catholic priests. Religion began out of gratitude and awe for God. Those who believe there is no greater power in the universe than the human person must ignore humanity’s long history of ignorance, violence and shocking denials of the truth. Those who believe science can answer every question won’t be able to find God or recognize the need for a Savior because they have too much ego. Our country has a depression and suicide crisis. Our society has become narcissistic. Narcissism steals our joy. Narcissists believe they have no need for a Savior. Much of our country no longer trusts in God. It trusts in science, technology, and government programs. If God doesn’t exist and life on earth is all there is, why not cheat, be cruel, or commit suicide? There is a difference between joy and pleasure. Meth addicts have plenty of pleasure, but no joy. Even with all the knowledge of science and the power of technology, we do not have the power to overcome death. “Our country has the highest standard of living in human history and the greatest technological inventions. So, why do we have such high suicide and depression rates? That just proves humanity needs a Savior.” – Father Len We welcome your questions and comments: Email: irish@wwgproductions.org Text or voicemail: 208-391-3738 Links to More Podcasts from Wrestling with God Productions Life Lessons from Jesus and the Church He Founded: http://LifeLessonsfromJesus.org A Priest’s Life: https://idahovocations.com/resources/video-podcasts/
35:22 1/8/24
Ep96 We Are Our Culture
Father Len invites us to grapple with the virtues and character we value, permit, model and promote and the effect they have on us and those around us. Support Wrestling with God Productions: https://www.GiveSendGo.com/WWGProductions Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom Culture over time is the most important force in shaping our identity. When an entire community prizes certain things, these things just seep into our pores. Our emotions and values are very infectious. They move through a community faster than a virus. Change happens, for better or worse, when entire communities unite around virtues and character they value. There’s undeniable proof that an individual’s character and values effect all of society. We take on the values of the communities to which we belong. Virtues and character that are valued by a community are inherited by the community’s children. If we want to change the world, we have to change our hearts. We are the culture. We are the system. What impedes us empowers us. Failure and struggle cause the hero in every hero story to become a hero. Grit is frequently a greater predictor of success than talent. Grit or fortitude is a gift of the Holy Spirit. You need grit to become a spiritual person. It takes grit to forgive when you’ve been wounded. It takes grit to become prudent and know how and when to hold your tongue. It takes grit to become patient. We can lose our grit when life is good. Grit is like a muscle. You’re not born with it. You train yourself into it. “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” by Angela Duckworth “Democracy in America” by Alexis De Tocqueville Beatrice Webb Patrick Lencioni What virtues and character do you value, permit, model and promote and how do they match up with the values of the communities to which you belong and, importantly, what are you going to do if they don’t? We all have a big stake in our community’s culture and the effect it has on us and those around us. We welcome your questions and comments: Email: irish@wwgproductions.org Text or voicemail: 208-391-3738 Links to More Podcasts from Wrestling with God Productions Life Lessons from Jesus and the Church He Founded: http://LifeLessonsfromJesus.org A Priest’s Life: https://idahovocations.com/resources/video-podcasts/
33:56 11/7/23
Ep95 Encore: Pride is a Demon
Father Len reveals that pride is damaging lies we tell ourselves about ourselves. Support Wrestling with God Productions: https://www.GiveSendGo.com/WWGProductions Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom Pride is a cancer that often goes undetected until it’s too late. “The Truth Detector: an Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide for Getting People to Reveal the Truth” by Jack Schafer The moment you tell a lie about yourself you are owned by the lie. Happy people don’t need to feel superior. The fall of humanity began when Adam and Eve were enticed by pride to define for themselves what is moral. The prideful lie is always about portraying yourself as superior in some way. Pride produces a damaging ripple effect on us and everyone around us. Father Len compares Albert Einstein and Richard Dawkins to illustrate the damaging effects of pride and the positive effects of humility. “I am not an atheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in a position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows somebody must’ve written those books.” – Albert Einstein The prideful are not open to truth because they feel compelled to defend the lies they tell about themselves. The prideful are always defensive and feel the need to posture, provoke, pick fights and bully because they fear wrestling with the truth. Confident and humble people don’t fear grappling with the truth and allow themselves to be challenged, probed, and questioned. The prideful can never be happy because they make their insecurities and flaws the center of their identities. The prideful don’t recognize or appreciate their self-worth. Lies about who you are, what you know, what you’re good at, and what you’re not good at are sure signs you have a pride problem. We welcome your questions and comments: Email: irish@wwgproductions.org Text or voicemail: 208-391-3738 Links to More Podcasts from Wrestling with God Productions Life Lessons from Jesus and the Church He Founded: http://LifeLessonsfromJesus.org A Priest’s Life: https://idahovocations.com/resources/video-podcasts/
38:59 7/12/23
Ep94 Encore: Is there an afterlife?
Father Len presents stunning evidence from hundreds of personal experiences that supports the reality of an afterlife. Support Wrestling with God Productions: https://www.GiveSendGo.com/WWGProductions Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom Consciously or unconsciously, how we operate in this life has a lot to do with whether we believe there is an afterlife. Father Len reflects on hundreds of personal experiences with death and dying, during 30 years of priesthood, that offer compelling, inspiring and uplifting evidence that there is an afterlife. Catholics believe that nobody dies alone. The moment you die, the dead are there to welcome you to the afterlife. Father Len shares some amazing stories that totally support this belief. There is a thin veil between heaven and earth. Catholics believe the Holy Spirit creates this mysterious and unbreakable bond between the living, the dead, and God that is stronger than death. The dying process produces healing that can’t be accomplished during our ordinary lives. All the evidence that there’s far more to life than just the here and now begs us to be more attentive to the sacred and the mysteries of life. Heaven is a great feast of love. If there is a hint that all those who loved in this life go to heaven, why wouldn’t you want to be in that community? Why wouldn’t you change your behavior now? In one sense, death is always kind of ugly, but at the same time it produces great beauty. There’s very little evidence that death leads to oblivion. Being fully present while witnessing death and dying will almost always give you a sense of the afterlife. We welcome your questions and comments: Email: irish@wwgproductions.org Text or voicemail: 208-391-3738 Links to Podcasts from Wrestling with God Productions Wrestling with God Show: http://WWGShow.com Life Lessons from Jesus and the Church He Founded: http://LifeLessonsfromJesus.org A Priest’s Life: https://idahovocations.com/resources/video-podcasts/
32:40 7/3/23
Ep93 Encore: Sex before Marriage
A high school listener asks, “Will I go to hell if I have sex before marriage?” Father Len offers some sober, surprising, and humorous answers and insight about passion, sex, and promiscuity. Support Wrestling with God Productions: https://www.GiveSendGo.com/WWGProductions Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom There’s nothing wrong with sex. It’s so natural. Nothing could be more natural. It’s part of the drive of life that God gives us. Sexual passion is good. It drives us to seek each other out. It brings us together, but there’s something better. Augustine’s highly promiscuous life taught him what was missing in his life. Sometimes things are wrong, not because they’re evil, but because they’re not good enough. Promiscuity is wrong because it can train you to use and hurt other people and not be committed. Being sexual is part of what it means to be a human being, but the best part of being human is something greater. Commitment and love. Passion and pleasure can be blinding, but also be very enlightening. True passion opens you up for God. We welcome your questions and comments: Email: irish@wwgproductions.org Text or voicemail: 208-391-3738 Links to Podcasts from Wrestling with God Productions Wrestling with God Show: http://WWGShow.com Life Lessons from Jesus and the Church He Founded: http://LifeLessonsfromJesus.org A Priest’s Life: https://idahovocations.com/resources/video-podcasts/
09:51 6/23/23
Ep92 Encore: The Myth of Self-Esteem
Father Len exposes the dangerous effects of trying to boost self-esteem with excessive or false praise and compliments. Support Wrestling with God Productions: https://www.GiveSendGo.com/WWGProductions Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom. “Self-esteem is like a four letter cuss word that when you say it you need to wash your mouth out” – Father Len Father Len illustrates the negative effects of self-esteem by sharing the story of his encounter with a young man and his big dog during his quest to rid the church grounds of dog poop. Our current culture promotes a competition to become the greatest victim. Religion is about becoming a better person, not making you feel good about yourself. Religion is about being in a relationship with God and others built upon the virtues of love, compassion, and justice. People with self-compassion gain grit and determination and are more likely to pick themselves up after a failure and try again. Attempts to boost self-esteem with excessive or false praise and compliments produces fake self-esteem that rejects critical or negative feedback capable of producing personal growth and success. Fake self-esteem based solely on feelings of “I’m special and smart and beautiful and people love me” is fragile and produces social comparison and constant anxiety. Kids become bullies to boost their own self-esteem. Fake self-esteem prepares you to become a victim. Real self-esteem based on achievements and making and keeping commitments is important for emotional and spiritual health. Real self-esteem embraces failure and believes everyone can improve. We welcome your questions and comments: Email: irish@wwgproductions.org Text or voicemail: 208-391-3738 Links to Podcasts from Wrestling with God Productions Wrestling with God Show: http://WWGShow.com Life Lessons from Jesus and the Church He Founded: http://LifeLessonsfromJesus.org A Priest’s Life: https://idahovocations.com/resources/video-podcasts/
23:43 4/25/23
Ep91 Encore: 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. Support Wrestling with God Productions here: https://www.GiveSendGo.com/WWGProductions 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. We welcome your questions and comments: Email: irish@wwgproductions.org Text or voicemail: 208-391-3738 Links to Podcasts from Wrestling with God Productions Wrestling with God Show: http://WWGShow.com Life Lessons from Jesus and the Church He Founded: http://LifeLessonsfromJesus.org A Priest’s Life: https://idahovocations.com/resources/video-podcasts/
29:31 4/15/23
Ep90 Encore: Imagine a World without Jesus
Father Len explains how the radical ideas Jesus introduced 2000 years ago and the church he established to spread those ideas have changed the world forever. Make a financial donation here: https://www.GiveSendGo.com/WWGProductions Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom “You’re talking about the single event that probably influenced civilization as we know it now. It’s created our laws and behavior. The knowledge of good and evil. It’s influenced art and literature. It’s affected every possible aspect of anyone’s life, whether they know it or not. It’s absolutely everything. If it wasn’t, what would there be? – Mel Gibson, producer/director, The Passion of the Christ The Gospel of Luke describes how Jesus changed morality and remapped society around meals. In Jesus’s time there were meal codes about how you eat and who you eat with. Jews ate with Jews, never with Gentiles. Jews ate as a family. Men, women, and children together. Gentiles, the Romans and the Greeks, ate with people of their own class and caste system. Rich and poor never ate together. Men and women didn’t eat together. Men ate first and then women because men were considered superior to women. Jesus broke all the meal codes of his time drawing people together by a much different morality. He offered radical hospitality to everyone. He welcomed men and women, rich and poor to sit at table with him. The one person who changed the world the most was not a king or an inventor. The greatest mark on history was made by a traveling preacher named Jesus who established a church community and gave it the responsibility to redraw the world according to hospitality. “I am an historian. I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all of history. Is it any wonder that to this day, this Galilean is too much for our small hearts?” – HG Wells Jesus broke all the rules on how to treat women. Prior to Jesus women were treated inhumanely. They were viewed as inferior to men and nothing more than property. In Jesus’s eyes, women and men are equally valuable. Jesus was friends and ministry partners with women. He treated them with dignity and respect. The idea that all humans – men and women, rich and poor, rulers and peasants – are equally valuable and should be treated with dignity and respect was extremely rare before Christianity. The church Jesus founded, the Catholic Church, started hospitals, universities, and food banks. Jesus started an organized movement to care for the poor and the needy. Religion before Christianity, except for Judaism, wasn’t really concerned with morality or taking care of the poor. The origins of science are rooted in Christian belief. All the early scientists were religious. They were inspired by their faith in Christ to do science. They all viewed science as a means of uncovering the traces of Christ’s handiwork in the universe. The concepts of social justice, education, human rights, women’s rights, and freedom all fit into the idea of radical hospitality that Jesus introduced to the world. Jesus has changed the personal lives of billions of people throughout the world by introducing the theology of the cross. Dying to yourself, dying to your ego, becoming a whole new person by living a life of sacrificial love. Wisdom is path, not a door. The path of daily choices you make on how to live your life. Wisdom is gained through daily small activities. Small choices that become the whole direction of your life. The way of the cross is daily making moral choices, making small choices of virtue. Dying to your pettiness, anger, and selfishness. We welcome your questions and comments: Email: irish@wwgproductions.org Text or voicemail: 208-391-3738 Links to Podcasts from Wrestling with God Productions
32:34 12/26/22
Ep89 Encore: The Real Christmas Story and Its True Meaning
Father Len reveals the real “reason for the season” is us. Make a financial donation here: https://www.GiveSendGo.com/WWGProductions Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom “When I look at the world upside down, that’s when it seems right to me.” – Jeret "Speedy" Peterson Father Len tells a story about geese to illustrate why God became a human being. Christmas is a revelation of who we are meant to be. To be good is to become a true human being. Our true humanity is to live like Christ. “Christianity is the attitude of amazement at the dignity of the human person.” – Pope John Paul II “The glory of God is a human being fully alive.” – Irenaeus “Paradise Lost” by John Milton “Faust” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Sin is the temptation to stop being a true human being. Evil is the no to human goodness. Evil is the no to all that is good. Satan is not one who hates God. Satan is one who believes that God can’t love him or us. The good news of Christmas is that God became one of us to show us how to become true human beings and discover the goodness of being a true human being. Salvation is not the story of God rescuing us from an evil universe. Salvation is the story of God coming as one like us to teach us what true goodness looks like. Absolute love will embrace death. Absolute love cannot be contained by the tomb. Sin is anything that deprives us of our full humanity. Christmas is the beginning of the journey to our true humanity to love and to be connected. We welcome your questions and comments: Email: irish@wwgproductions.org Text or voicemail: 208-391-3738 Links to Podcasts from Wrestling with God Productions Wrestling with God Show: http://WWGShow.com Life Lessons from Jesus and the Church He Founded: http://LifeLessonsfromJesus.org A Priest’s Life: https://idahovocations.com/resources/video-podcasts/
22:46 12/14/22
Ep88 Sadness is a Blessing and Superpower
Father Len explains that sadness is our lot in life and how embracing it will bring us wisdom, love, a sense of purpose, and help guide our path to heaven. Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom The pain of sadness wakes you up to be more tender and compassionate. Sadness is a superpower that can transform you into being more creative. Depression sucks all the life out of you. Denying sadness can lead to self-absorption and a toxic life. Father Len shares the story of how the sadness of prison life became a university for growth for Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Depression makes you listless and less concerned for action and the suffering of other people. Depression is when you’re alone. Sadness is when you’re with other people. Those who embrace sadness have a greater sense of purpose in their lives. American society is obsessed with positivity and always being happy, happy, happy. Studies have found Americans smile more than any other country, but test out to be more depressed. Obsession with positive thinking is just a form of denial of sadness. The more you repress something, the more likely you are to act on it. America’s obsession with positivity and always having a positive attitude is a form of repression. Sadness is hard, but it also gives birth to love. Links to Podcasts from Wrestling with God Productions Wrestling with God Show: http://WWGShow.com Life Lessons from Jesus and the Church He Founded: http://LifeLessonsfromJesus.org A Priest’s Life: https://idahovocations.com/resources/video-podcasts/ Make a financial donation here: https://www.GiveSendGo.com/WWGProductions We welcome your questions and comments: Email: irish@wwgproductions.org Text or voicemail: 208-391-3738
39:31 10/24/22
Ep87 Lying to Yourself
Father Len grapples with the tendency we all have of lying to ourselves about ourselves and the effect it has on us and those around us. Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom Links to Podcasts from Wrestling with God Productions Wrestling with God Show: http://WWGShow.com Life Lessons from Jesus and the Church He Founded: http://LifeLessonsfromJesus.org A Priest’s Life: https://idahovocations.com/resources/video-podcasts/ Make a financial donation here: https://www.GiveSendGo.com/WWGProductions We welcome your questions and comments: Email: irish@wwgproductions.org Text or voicemail: 208-391-3738
48:07 8/23/22
Ep86 Is empathy a solution to our societal problems?
Father Len makes a compelling case for empathy being the solution to most of our societal problems, including mass shootings.
43:39 8/11/22
Ep85 Irish’s Story: The Inspiration for the Wrestling with God Show
Irish shares the journey that led him to Father Len and the creation of the Wrestling with God Show. He also reveals plans for Wrestling with God Productions, the new association he’s founded to build bridges to faith, religion, and the Catholic Church. Show Notes Books & Publications Mentioned in this Episode: “Crossing the Threshold of Hope” by Pope St. John Paul II “One Bread One Body” published by Presentation Ministries, Cincinnati Ohio “Divine Intimacy” by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D. (published by Baronius Press) Links to Podcasts from Wrestling with God Productions Wrestling with God Show: http://WWGShow.com Life Lessons from Jesus and the Church He Founded: http://LifeLessonsfromJesus.org A Priest’s Life: https://idahovocations.com/resources/video-podcasts/ Make a financial donation here: https://www.GiveSendGo.com/WWGProductions We welcome your questions and comments: Email: irish@wwgproductions.org Text or voicemail: 208-391-3738
20:11 7/30/22
Ep84 Christ’s Eternal Priesthood
He’s back! Father Len returns to grapple with doubts expressed by Irish’s daughter about the legitimacy of priests and leadership in the Catholic Church. He reveals how it’s all part of God’s plan for Christ’s eternal priesthood.
47:03 7/22/22
Ep83 Encore: Why Does God Allow School Shootings and Other Evils?
Father Len explains why God allows evil in the world and how we choose to react to evil can cause bane or enlightenment. Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom God gives us free will to choose our actions. It’s up to us to choose good or evil. If God took away our choices, we’d no longer be human beings. We’d be preprogrammed like toasters and robots. “It makes no sense to pray for somebody to do something. I pray that someone’s heart will be open to see the right choice.” – Father Len God loves us so much that he allows us to choose our own actions. God allows us to choose how we react to evil and evil doers. Will we choose the path to bane or enlightenment? “The Plague” by Albert Camus “The evil that is in the world comes out of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence, if they lack understanding.” – Albert Camus “A loveless world is a dead world.” – Albert Camus “All a man could win in the conflict between plague and life was knowledge and memories.” – Albert Camus Our choices are not predetermined. God exists outside of time and space. God’s view of our lives appears much like a painting does to us. God can see it all from beginning to end. All the choices we make in our lives are in full view to God. They are not predetermined by God. Throughout our lives, God will constantly urge, beg, and intervene to try to change our hearts to make the right choices. God allows us to choose light or darkness.
14:04 5/28/22
Ep82 Encore: Can Freedom Destroy Our Country?
The effect of freedom depends on how you define it. Father Len reveals how God defines freedom and how other definitions can produce destructive consequences. 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 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 freer is wrestling with our own egos and recognizing when we’re being selfish. “If your definition of freedom is, I get to do whatever I want, just historically, it ends terribly. If our country just believes, I’m free to just think about myself, that’s a loss of freedom. I think it destroys our country.” – Father Len 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. Support the work of Wrestling with God Productions by making a financial donation here: https://www.givesendgo.com/wwgproductions
24:21 5/13/22
Ep81 Good News
Irish shares some good news about the return of the Wrestling with God Show and the new podcast from Wrestling with God Productions featuring Father Len. Support the work of Wrestling with God Productions by making a financial donation here: https://www.givesendgo.com/wwgproductions Life Lessons from Jesus podcast website: http://www.lifelessonsfromjesus.org
05:46 5/13/22
Ep80 The Purpose of Prayer
Father Len explores two Bible stories about the purpose of prayer beginning with the time the disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray. This is a preview of episode 3 of the new podcast from Wrestling with God Productions, featuring Father Len, titled “Life Lessons from Jesus and the Church He Founded.” Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom Father Len shares a fun story about his experience with a Protestant minister and his wife who have a very different idea than Jesus about the purpose of prayer. The purpose of prayer is not to ask God for help getting something as if God is the big Santa Claus in the sky. We don’t pray to get something. We pray to become something. “If your definition of prayer is to get something you want, you better be careful. You may become a very self-absorbed person and then call it religion.” – Father Len We pray for the bread of life so that our lives become bread for other people. We hand on the bread of life to other people in the way that we live our lives. Becoming the bread of life for other people requires persistent prayer, day after day, year after year. The Lord’s Prayer in the Gospel of Luke refers to the forgiveness God gives us when our lives become a force of forgiveness and we free ourselves from all grudges and resentments. Becoming a constant force of forgiveness isn’t easy and takes a lifetime of prayer. Prayer is a type of hospitality. The prayer life of the prophet Abraham, the father of religion and hospitality, was all about welcoming and praying for the life of other people, not for himself. True prayer is not being concerned about yourself. True prayer is this hospitality where your prayer life feeds other people. “You have a choice. When you offer hospitality to other people, God grants you greater life. When you only care for your own life, God will take away the little life you have.” – Father Len Prayer is a constant lifelong dialogue with God about becoming holy. Bible stories explored in this episode: Book of Genesis 18:20-32 Gospel According to Luke 11:1-13 Please prayerfully consider supporting the mission of Wrestling with God Productions by making a financial donation here: GiveSendGo.com/WWGProductions We welcome your questions and comments: Email: irish@wwgproductions.org Text or voicemail: 208-391-3738
14:52 4/21/22
Ep79 The Religion of Jesus
Father Len explores the Bible story of a wealthy and powerful man and a bankrupt and outcast old woman. Both seeking healing from Jesus. The story reveals the essence of the religion of Jesus and puts our personal beliefs about religion on trial. This is a preview of episode 2 of the new podcast from Wrestling with God Productions, featuring Father Len, titled “Life Lessons from Jesus and the Church He Founded.” Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom Jesus pushes us to take religion beyond just believing that He is the Messiah and being a good person obeying moral laws. Jesus dismisses laws in the Book of Leviticus that reject or marginalize people. “If the best that you can say about your life is that you’re a good person who obeys all the moral laws, you’re boring and lack spiritual depth.” – Father Len The Book of Wisdom tells us that God is about love, life, and healing. God rejoices in welcoming and loving all people. Jesus gives us a test of religion. Do we want a religion that is about rules, regulations, and moral laws that causes us reject or marginalize some people? Or, do we want the religion of Jesus that accepts and loves all people unconditionally? “Let your heart be broken when people are marginalized, rejected, or treated as if they’re dead. Believe in the way of Christ. Believe in life and unconditional love for everybody.” – Father Len Bible stories explored in this episode: Book of Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24 Gospel According to Mark 5:21-43 Please prayerfully consider supporting the mission of Wrestling with God Productions by making a financial donation here: GiveSendGo.com/WWGProductions We welcome your questions and comments; Email: irish@wwgproductions.org Text or voicemail: 208-391-3738
14:12 4/16/22
Ep78 Future of WWG Show & How to Love like Christ
Irish explains why there hasn’t been a new WWG Show episode lately and Father Len unpacks three Bible stories about love and illustrates the traits God will help us develop, and we’ll surely need, if we are to love like Christ. This a preview of episode 1 of a new podcast from Wrestling with God Productions, featuring Father Len, titled “Life Lessons from Jesus and the Church He Founded”. Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom When Jesus began preaching love and pushing the boundaries of love to include loving all people unconditionally, the people didn’t like it. All they wanted to hear was God loves me and people like me. God tells the prophet Jeremiah, people “will fight against you” when you preach unconditional love, but I will “form you into a wall of brass, a pillar of iron, a fortified wall” so “they shall not prevail against you.” “If you call yourself a follower of God, you need to push yourself to try to love everyone.” – Father Len “Some religious people say they want to hear the word of God, but only if it agrees with everything they think and believe already.” – Father Len “When I die and stand before Christ, the question won’t be, does God love me? The question will be, did I love like Christ?” – Father Len Bible stories examined in this episode: Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13 Luke 4:21-30 “Life Lessons from Jesus and the Church He Founded” is crafted from hundreds of hours of Father Len’s homilies and talks on faith, religion, and life recorded over the past eight years. “Life Lessons from Jesus and the Church He Founded” is the first new podcast produced by Wrestling with God Productions, the organization founded by Irish with the mission of identifying extraordinary teachers of the Catholic Faith, people like Father Len, and publishing their teachings far and wide. The new podcast delves into stories from the Bible. Stories that reveal God’s purpose for creating us and his intentions for our lives. Stories about God’s expectations for our relationship with him. Stories about what to worship and how to worship. The intention for the new podcast is to help listeners grapple with the true purpose of life and deal with the messiness and mysteries, challenges and difficulties that this crazy life seems to throw at us all. Please prayerfully consider supporting the mission of Wrestling with God Productions by making a financial donation here: GiveSendGo.com/WWGProductions We welcome your questions and comments Email: irish@wwgproductions.org Text or voicemail: 208-391-3738
19:14 3/29/22
Ep77 Introducing Wrestling with God Productions
Irish shares a big decision about his future and the expansion of the work he and Father Len have begun with the Wrestling with God Show. Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom Irish looks back at what inspired the Wrestling with God Show, the effect he and Father Len hoped the podcast would have and how listeners have responded to the podcast during its first two years. Irish describes how producing the podcast, working with Father Len, and the success of the podcast has been the most meaningful and rewarding work he’s ever done and how it’s caused him to leap headlong into a completely new vocation. Irish introduces Wrestling with God Productions. The organization he’s forming to expand the work he and Father Len have begun with the Wrestling with God Show. The mission of Wrestling with God Productions is to identify extraordinary teachers of the Catholic Faith, like Father Len, and publish their teachings far and wide to promote the importance and value of faith and religion in life. The goal of Wrestling with God Productions is to create timeless content, like the Wrestling with God Show, which is available on demand to help people discover truth, meaning, and purpose in their lives. Irish describes what Wrestling with God Productions plans to do right away and the resources necessary get it done. Here is the place to send donations if you’d like to help launch Wrestling with God Productions: GiveSendGo.com/WWGproductions
12:25 3/22/22
Ep76 What Near-Death Experiences Tell Us about Life
Father Len wrestles with his lifelong fascination with near-death experiences and how what they reveal should challenge all of us to examine how we’re living our lives. Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom Father Len shares Plato’s analogy of life as a cave where we experience only a dim reflection of true reality and the scientific and philosophical revolution it sparked. “The Republic” by Plato “Life after Life” by Raymond Moody Jr, MD “Near-death experiences are a type of evidence of heaven and gifts from God to color in the picture revealed by prophets and mystics.” – Father Len There have been thousands and thousands of near-death testimonies from adults and children in every country and culture in the world since the beginning of time. Father Len shares the stories of religious and nonreligious doctors who believed near-death experiences to be nonsense until they began to study the experiences of their own patients. “Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife” by Eben Alexander, MD “Recollections of Death: A Medical Investigation” by Michael Sabom, MD Modern medicine has increased the number of near-death experiences revealed because of its ability to bring back more people from apparent death. Strikingly similar near-death experiences have been reported by people of all ages who speak different languages, in all countries and cultures. Here are the similar patterns of near-death experiences reported everywhere: Phase 1: All pain, anxiety, and fear are gone. There is just peace. Phase 2: People report popping out of their bodies and floating above themselves able to describe what was happening, where they went, what they did while apparently dead. Phase 3: People, both religious and nonreligious, describe complete darkness going through a tunnel. Phase 4: A light begins to shine accompanied by beautiful music or a feeling of unconditional love with beautiful colors all around. Suddenly a person’s entire life, from beginning to end, unfolds before them. They can not only see, but feel everything they caused other people. Joy, pain, anger, they feel it all. Half of the people in this last phase report being sent back to life because their mission in life was incomplete. The most common denominator of near-death experiences is that life and life after death are all about love. Surprisingly, near-death experiences for the blind and sighted people are very similar. For the blind, the light speaks to them in just the right language and just the right tone. The light speaks at the speed of light. The blind feel the same love as the sighted and also see beautiful colors all around, many for the first time. The light experienced in near-death experiences frequently causes profound changes in people’s lives and religious beliefs. Religion becomes extremely important. The love, community, and joy they encounter in life after death inspires them to practice this life when they return to life. Knowledge of near-death experiences should challenge us all to wrestle with the truth about God and life. Emanuel Swedenborg visions of heaven.
29:09 1/15/22
Ep75 “A Priest’s Life” – The Father Len Story
Introducing a new podcast coming soon from Wrestling with God Productions. It features candid conversations with Catholic priests about their journeys to the priesthood, their experiences being a priest, and why those experiences are so meaningful and rewarding. The intention for the podcast is to create intrigue and interest in young men becoming Catholic priests. This preview episode explores Father Len’s story. It’s raw, revealing, deeply personal, brutally honest, and full of Father Len’s signature humor and wisdom.
43:37 12/29/21
Ep74 Is there an afterlife?
Father Len presents stunning evidence that he’s experienced that supports the reality of an afterlife. Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom The WWG Show has been downloaded more than 38,000 times with regular listeners in 49 states and 11 countries. Thanks for listening to the podcast and sharing it with friends and family. Irish is forming “Wrestling with God Productions,” a nonprofit company, to expand and enhance what we’re doing with the WWG Show podcast. The intention is to build an interactive community where listeners can share experiences and ideas with us and each other. In addition, we want to publish hundreds of hours of talks given by Father Len about faith, religion, and life that have been recorded over the past few years. Bringing “Wrestling with God Productions” to life will require money and resources. If you or anyone you know would like to help and support our mission, please email Irish at questions@wwgshow.com We welcome your contributions big or small. Thanks in advance for anything you can do to help us. Consciously or unconsciously, how we operate in this life has a lot to do with whether we believe there is an afterlife. Father Len reflects on hundreds of personal experiences with death and dying, during 30 years of priesthood, that offer compelling, inspiring and uplifting evidence that there is an afterlife. Catholics believe that nobody dies alone. The moment you die, the dead are there to welcome you to the afterlife. Father Len shares some amazing stories that totally support this belief. There is a thin veil between heaven and earth. Catholics believe the Holy Spirit creates this mysterious and unbreakable bond between the living, the dead, and God that is stronger than death. The dying process produces healing that can’t be accomplished during our ordinary lives. All the evidence that there’s far more to life than just the here and now begs us to be more attentive to the sacred and the mysteries of life. Heaven is a great feast of love. In one sense, death is always kind of ugly, but at the same time it produces great beauty. There’s very little evidence that death leads to oblivion. Being fully present while witnessing death and dying will almost always give you a sense of the afterlife.
34:22 12/15/21
Ep73 Encore: The Real Christmas Story and Its True Meaning
Father Len reveals the real “reason for the season” is us. Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom “When I look at the world upside down, that’s when it seems right to me.” – Jeret "Speedy" Peterson Father Len tells a story about geese to illustrate why God became a human being. Christmas is a revelation of who we are meant to be. To be good is to become a true human being. Our true humanity is to live like Christ. “Christianity is the attitude of amazement at the dignity of the human person.” – Pope John Paul II “The glory of God is a human being fully alive.” – Irenaeus “Paradise Lost” by John Milton “Faust” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Sin is the temptation to stop being a true human being. Evil is the no to human goodness. Evil is the no to all that is good. Satan is not one who hates God. Satan is one who believes that God can’t love him or us. The good news of Christmas is that God became one of us to show us how to become true human beings and discover the goodness of being a true human being. Salvation is not the story of God rescuing us from an evil universe. Salvation is the story of God coming as one like us to teach us what true goodness looks like. Absolute love will embrace death. Absolute love cannot be contained by the tomb. Sin is anything that deprives us of our full humanity. Christmas is the beginning of the journey to our true humanity to love and to be connected.
20:55 12/6/21
Ep72 Imagine a World without Jesus
Father Len explains how the radical ideas Jesus introduced 2000 years ago and the church he established to spread those ideas have changed the world forever. Make a financial donation here: https://www.GiveSendGo.com/WWGProductions Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom “You’re talking about the single event that probably influenced civilization as we know it now. It’s created our laws and behavior. The knowledge of good and evil. It’s influenced art and literature. It’s affected every possible aspect of anyone’s life, whether they know it or not. It’s absolutely everything. If it wasn’t, what would there be? – Mel Gibson, producer/director, The Passion of the Christ The Gospel of Luke describes how Jesus changed morality and remapped society around meals. In Jesus’s time there were meal codes about how you eat and who you eat with. Jews ate with Jews, never with Gentiles. Jews ate as a family. Men, women, and children together. Gentiles, the Romans and the Greeks, ate with people of their own class and caste system. Rich and poor never ate together. Men and women didn’t eat together. Men ate first and then women because men were considered superior to women. Jesus broke all the meal codes of his time drawing people together by a much different morality. He offered radical hospitality to everyone. He welcomed men and women, rich and poor to sit at table with him. The one person who changed the world the most was not a king or an inventor. The greatest mark on history was made by a traveling preacher named Jesus who established a church community and gave it the responsibility to redraw the world according to hospitality. “I am an historian. I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all of history. Is it any wonder that to this day, this Galilean is too much for our small hearts?” – HG Wells Jesus broke all the rules on how to treat women. Prior to Jesus women were treated inhumanely. They were viewed as inferior to men and nothing more than property. In Jesus’s eyes, women and men are equally valuable. Jesus was friends and ministry partners with women. He treated them with dignity and respect. The idea that all humans – men and women, rich and poor, rulers and peasants – are equally valuable and should be treated with dignity and respect was extremely rare before Christianity. The church Jesus founded, the Catholic Church, started hospitals, universities, and food banks. Jesus started an organized movement to care for the poor and the needy. Religion before Christianity, except for Judaism, wasn’t really concerned with morality or taking care of the poor. The origins of science are rooted in Christian belief. All the early scientists were religious. They were inspired by their faith in Christ to do science. They all viewed science as a means of uncovering the traces of Christ’s handiwork in the universe. The concepts of social justice, education, human rights, women’s rights, and freedom all fit into the idea of radical hospitality that Jesus introduced to the world. Jesus has changed the personal lives of billions of people throughout the world by introducing the theology of the cross. Dying to yourself, dying to your ego, becoming a whole new person by living a life of sacrificial love. Wisdom is path, not a door. The path of daily choices you make on how to live your life. Wisdom is gained through daily small activities. Small choices that become the whole direction of your life. The way of the cross is daily making moral choices, making small choices of virtue. Dying to your pettiness, anger, and selfishness. We welcome your questions and comments: Email: irish@wwgproductions.org Text or voicemail: 208-391-3738 Links to Podcasts from Wrestling with God Productions
30:33 11/9/21
Ep71 Pride Poisons Everything
Father Len explains how pride can poison everything in life from relationships, to religion, to marriages, to organizations and companies. Highlights, Ideas, & Wisdom Pride and its effects are often so subtle as to be unrecognizable. The easiest way to manipulate people is to use their pride against them. Father Len shares the story of how an FBI agent uses the pride of criminals to induce them to confess their crimes. “The Truth Detector: an Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide for Getting People to Reveal the Truth” by Jack Schafer Prideful people are always defensive because their professed self-worth and inner strength is a façade. Father Len reveals how pride causes him to “freak out and become defensive and disrespectful” when people don’t respect his time. Pride is seductive and addicting. Pride is like an animal that must be fed over and over. Pride is like a freeway off ramp that takes you off the path to God. Father Len tells the sad story of how pride caused Alexander the Great to kill his best friend. Father Len explains how Satan uses our pride to tempt us to sin. “Little Shop of Horrors” Movie Prideful people have a constant need for outward signs to demonstrate that they’re okay which ironically leads them to feeling less and less okay inside. The prideful are always armored up and defensive. “The ruthless, sleepless, unsmiling concentration upon self is the mark of Hell.” – CS Lewis Prideful people have difficulty laughing at themselves because of their constant need for input on how great they are. Great leaders share two qualities: selflessness and humility. Leaders with excessive pride bring nothing but destruction to their companies and organizations. “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don't” by Jim Collins Father Len’s litmus test for a spiritual person: one who believes that pride poisons everything. Irish shares the story of how he’s been unwittingly sucked into a corrosive game of pride by a prideful friend. Humility and vulnerability are the antidotes to pride.
30:46 10/27/21
Ep70 Pride is a Demon
Father Len reveals that pride is damaging lies we tell ourselves about ourselves. Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom Pride is a cancer that often goes undetected until it’s too late. “The Truth Detector: an Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide for Getting People to Reveal the Truth” by Jack Schafer The moment you tell a lie about yourself you are owned by the lie. Happy people don’t need to feel superior. The fall of humanity began when Adam and Eve were enticed by pride to define for themselves what is moral. The prideful lie is always about portraying yourself as superior in some way. Pride produces a damaging ripple effect on us and everyone around us. Father Len compares Albert Einstein and Richard Dawkins to illustrate the damaging effects of pride and the positive effects of humility. “I am not an atheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in a position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows somebody must’ve written those books.” – Albert Einstein The prideful are not open to truth because they feel compelled to defend the lies they tell about themselves. The prideful are always defensive and feel the need to posture, provoke, pick fights and bully because they fear wrestling with the truth. Confident and humble people don’t fear grappling with the truth and allow themselves to be challenged, probed, and questioned. The prideful can never be happy because they make their insecurities and flaws the center of their identities. The prideful don’t recognize or appreciate their self-worth. Lies about who you are, what you know, what you’re good at, and what you’re not good at are sure signs you have a pride problem.
37:39 10/5/21
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.
24:11 9/18/21