The Weight of Glory

A Conversation with Kale Zelden

January 06, 2021 Clayton Emmer & Kale Zelden Season 1 Episode 5
The Weight of Glory
A Conversation with Kale Zelden
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

My friend Kale and I discuss a broad range of topics, including: the self-conscious church; the church as an expert in humanity; self-exploitation and social media; and Catholic identity and liturgy.

Kale's interview with Paul VanderKlay  (September 3, 2020)

Katie Van Schaijik - Theology of the Body: A Cure for Clericalism  (2019)

Ernest Hemingway - The Sun Also Rises  (1926)

Pope Francis - Evangelii Gaudium (The  Joy of  the Gospel), paragraphs 93-97  (2013)

Pope John Paul II - Pastores Dabo Vobis (I Will Give You Shepherds), paragraph 21   (1992)

Theological Integration Paper - from chaplaincy training program (1995)

Pope John Paul II  - Veritatis Splendor (The Splendor of Truth), paragraph 3   (1993)

C.S. Lewis - The Abolition of Man   (1943)

Richard  John Neuhaus - The Naked Public Square  (1988)

Bret Weinstein's Dark Horse podcast with Matt Taibbi, Corruption and Its Consequences  (2020)

Eric Weinstein's Portal podcast with James O'Keefe, What Is and Isn't Journalism in the 21st Century  (2020)

Ryan T. Anderson interview, Natural Law and Public Affairs  (2020)

John Paul II on Love and Responsibility, publication of the Love and Responsibility Foundation  (2002)

Tom Holland - Dominion:  How the Christian Revolution Remade the World  (2019)

Saint Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, Book X

Bishop Robert Barron, Pope Francis and Vatican II, Napa Institute Keynote  (2020)

Kilian McDonnell, OSB and George Montague, SM - Christian Initiation and Baptism in the Holy Spirit  (1991)

Pope Benedict XVI on  the hermeneutic  of continuity: Christmas Greetings to the Roman Curia  (2005)

Victor Turner,

Hello and welcome to The Weight of Glory podcast. This is your host, Clayton Emmer. 

The idea of this podcast is to explore themes present in The Weight of Glory, an essay by C.S. Lewis, and also to explore some of his other writings.

Today is January 9th, 2021. Long before the events of this past week, I thought I'd like to spend a few episodes on this podcast discussing the virtue of hope. Between the pandemic, and the lockdowns, and the political agitation, it seemed a fitting time to ask: how we are to understand the restlessness of the human heart? What does the restlessness reveal? What do we hope for? And what do our hopes tell us about the meaning of our life? 

In The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis talks about an inner stirrings of the human heart, and what they reveal about us:

"The books or the music in which we thought… beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited. Do you think I am trying to weave a spell? Perhaps I am; but remember your fairy tales. Spells are used for breaking enchantments as well as for inducing them. And  you and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness which has been laid upon us for nearly a hundred years. Almost our whole education has been directed to silencing this shy, persistent, inner voice; almost all our modern philosophies have been devised to convince us that the good of man is to be found on this earth. And yet it is a remarkable thing that such philosophies of Progress or Creative Evolution themselves bear reluctant witness to the truth that our real goal is elsewhere."

The Second Vatican Council also turned attention to the desires of the human heart, especially in its Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes. The document's title -- which translates as "joy and hope" -- is derived from its opening lines:

"The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts. For theirs is a community composed of men. United in Christ, they are led by the Holy Spirit in their journey to the Kingdom of their Father and they have welcomed the news of salvation which is meant for every man. That is why this community realizes that it is truly linked with mankind and its history by the deepest of bonds. 
Hence this Second Vatican Council, having probed more profoundly into the mystery of the Church, now addresses itself without hesitation, not only to the sons of the Church and to all who invoke the name of Christ, but to the whole of humanity. For the council yearns to explain to everyone how it conceives of the presence and activity of the Church in the world of today. Therefore, the council focuses its attention on the world of men, the whole human family along with the sum of those realities in the midst of which it lives; that world which is the theater of man's history, and the heir of his energies, his tragedies and his triumphs; that world which the Christian sees as created and sustained by its Maker's love, fallen indeed into the bondage of sin, yet emancipated now by Christ, Who was crucified and rose again to break the strangle hold of personified evil, so that the world might be fashioned anew according to God's design and reach its fulfillment."

So it seems that the Christian message responds to a desire deep within man for meaning and direction, and yearns toward fulfillment in a gift that transcends the promises of our earthly existence. 

In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI devoted an entire encyclical to the topic of hope. Spe Salvi, or "the hope that saves", is a profound meditation on what it means, as a Christian, to hope. So I plan to spend the next several episodes engaging in a close reading of this letter on hope. I've invited a longtime friend of mine, Kale Zelden, to join me in this conversation.

I've known Kale for nearly two decades. We first met in 2002 in Chicago, when we were both participants in a month-long seminar for Christian screenwriters called Act One: Writing for Hollywood. Kale moved to Los Angeles shortly afterward, and I moved to LA about a year later. We both worked for a Catholic non-profit in Hollywood by the name of Family Theater Productions. Both Kale and I had studied in colleges that offered a Great Books curriculum, and so we often found ourselves having conversations about the thinkers and ideas of the Western tradition. 

Before diving into Pope Benedict's letter, I'm devoting this episode to a wide-ranging conversation with Kale that I recorded back in September. I thought it might be a good way to introduce you to Kale and to reveal a few of the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of two men of this age. Hopefully this will provide the listener with some context regarding what we each bring to the conversation about hope.

If it seems like the podcast begins in the middle of a conversation, it's because it did. I was speaking about an interview Kale had just given to Paul Vanderklay, a minister in the Christian Reformed Church of North America. You'll find links to that interview, along with links to many of the writings and podcasts we mention in our conversation, in the show notes. I hope you enjoy the conversation.


Thanks for joining me for this episode of The Weight of Glory podcast.  The music in the introduction and close of this podcast is provided by Dennis Crommett. Learn more about his music over at or in the show notes. 

Until next time, be well and God bless.

The Self-Conscious Church
Distinctive Garb and Priestly Identity
The Church as Expert in Humanity
The Naked Public Square and Moral Unbelievers
Self-Exploitation, Social Media and Grifters
The Institutional and the Charismatic
The Long Wait for Renewal
Catholic Identity and Liturgy