Welcome to episode 11! Our latest podcast features Mike Avery’s conversation with Dr. Michael Murphy of Loyola University of Chicago. After taking in the breath taking views of Murphy’s office, the two ventured into such topics as literature and theology, the problem of poverty tourism, and the significance of the Catholic imagination. They also talked at length about Murphy’s journey through different parts of California, the life giving service of a high school teacher, and his love for Jesuit education.
Michael Murphy is Director of Catholic Studies, an interdisciplinary program at Loyola University Chicago, and teaches courses in both Theology and English. Mike’s interest in the scholarly possibilities for interdisciplinarity began to take shape at the precise moment he finished “The Enduring Chill” by Flannery O’Connor as an undergraduate at the University of San Francisco. He recalls setting the text on his chest and then erupting out loud, “Behold the many threads we are asked to contemplate! This needs something more than what the homespun English major is prepared to supply”—or something to that effect. The subsequent issues interrogated in his Master’s thesis, Flannery O’Connor: From Paradox to Mystery, were also masonry for his first book, A Theology of Criticism: Balthasar, Postmodernism, and the Catholic Imagination (Oxford, 2008), a text that proposes a framework for reinvigorating the dynamic interplay among the literary content, theological interpretation, and critical theory/practices. He also writes on other aspects of theological aesthetics—how theology and spirituality are expressed in literature, poetry and film—and has interests in eco-theology, social ethics, and the socio-political cultures of Catholicism as well. Mike has just finished a theological introduction to a forthcoming reissue of Robert Hugh Benson’s 1907 dystopian classic Lord of the World (Ave Maria, 2016) and is at work on a longer monograph on the scope of Catholic realism in late modern literary fiction. He lives in the Chicago area with his wife, two daughters, and faithful black lab.
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