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More Than Politics

Author: Julie Varner Walsh

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A podcast for those of us who want something more than what we've come to expect from politics -- and from our political discourse. Each week, More Than Politics will feature a conversation that helps put today’s politics in context, that honestly and charitably explores the issues of the day, that encourages us to engage in politics in a moral, even loving way. Hosted by Julie Varner Walsh, a former lobbyist for the Catholic Church, current mother of five / writer at www.thesewallsblog.com.
22 Episodes
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In this episode Julie Varner Walsh talks with historian Dede Miller for the first part in a series on Reconstruction. Reconstruction was the period immediately following the Civil War, in which the Confederate south was brought back into the fold and millions of formerly enslaved people began to make their way in a new America.While Reconstruction is perhaps less well-known to most Americans than slavery, Jim Crow, or the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s, its impact has nevertheless continued to be felt in our politics and society – especially when it comes to racial inequality.In this first part of the series, Julie and Dede discuss the topic of voting. They talk about black Americans’ political engagement in the years following the Civil War, the mounting violence that resulted in black disenfranchisement, and the vestiges of disenfranchisement that we continue to see today.And lastly, in an addendum to the originally-recorded conversation, Dede explains the Wilmington coup of 1898, which, as the only known coup in the history of the United States, has attracted much attention in the wake of the January 6th attack on the US. Capitol.Dede Miller is a wife, a mother of two, a historian, and a former teacher. She holds an M.A. in History and specializes in 18th and 19th century trans-Atlantic slavery and slave revolutions, African-American history, and black political identity.Dede is a black woman and convert to Catholicism who has a deep love for her community and her faith. She is a founding member and President of Catholics United for Black Lives and is deeply invested in using the principles of Catholic Social Teaching to address the racial divide in America.To learn more about Dede, follow her on Instagram at @dedes.journey. To learn more about Catholics United for Black Lives, check out their website at www.cubl.org and follow them on Facebook and Instagram at @cublorg.  Follow Julie on Instagram and Facebook, and visit www.thesewallsblog.com/morethanpolitics to learn more about this podcast.Theme music is by purple-planet.com
Julie Varner Walsh goes solo for this episode, reflecting on the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, as well as the 2020 election and its aftermath. ***A onetime federal government employee, onetime lobbyist, and longtime student of politics, Julie Varner Walsh’s life has always centered around politics and her Catholic faith. And that has made for some strange combinations. Raised Republican, she worked mostly with Democrats when she was a lobbyist for the Catholic Church on poverty, immigration, and health care matters. Today she finds herself politically homeless, but not politically aimless. Walsh has found purpose in encouraging people to look beyond labels, to focus more on the moral implications of politics than the partisan horse race. Follow Julie on Instagram and Facebook, and visit www.thesewallsblog.com/morethanpolitics to learn more about this podcast.Theme music is by purple-planet.com
In this episode Julie Varner Walks talks with singer/songwriter Kevin Heider. Kevin, who lives with his wife and four children in Dayton, Ohio, writes hymns, drinking songs, and everything in between. He has recently released an EP called Make An Honest Stand. A collection of six beautiful songs, Make An Honest Stand is perfect for this moment of political discord and cultural upheaval.With lyrics that wrestle with our nation’s history and with the concepts of freedom, patriotism, and justice – and which deal, too, with anger, cynicism, and the pitfalls of social media – Make An Honest Stand offers a powerful, yet loving, criticism of our country, our politics, and our own, flawed selves.Julie views these songs as protest songs of a sort – they are protests, perhaps, against antipathy. Honest and peaceful, challenging and probing, Make An Honest Stand is an invitation to reckoning. Or as Kevin calls it in their conversation, “An examination of our collective conscience.”Their conversation is long – a full two hours. But it is all of a piece, and Julie couldn’t in good conscience split it into two episodes. It deserves to remain whole. So maybe it can keep you company here in the next week as you prepare your kitchen, your home, your family for Thanksgiving. Maybe it, and the songs Julie and Kevin discuss in it, can give you something to think about as we approach this national holiday. Maybe it can help you to consider our place in the history of this country, what parts of it we should be thankful for, and what parts we should work to correct. To learn more about Kevin and his music, please visit his website, check out his podcast, and follow him on Instagram and Facebook. Follow Julie on Instagram and Facebook, and visit www.thesewallsblog.com/morethanpolitics to learn more about this podcast.Theme music is by purple-planet.com
In this episode Julie Varner Walks talks with Meg Hunter-Kilmer on a topic that is more explicitly Catholic than others she’s covered – but which will also have something to offer listeners of different faiths, or no faith at all: stories of saints who lived in politically troubled times.Given the divisiveness of the 2020 presidential election and how existentially threatening both sides seem to consider it, it’s good to take a longer view. The sad fact is, people have long lived under unjust political systems – systems that are as bad as, if not worse than, our current fears. In this conversation Julie and Meg consider the stories of people who lived through such times, who faced them with courage and conviction, who took them as opportunities to grow in faith, to work toward justice, to do God’s will, and to draw others closer to Him.In a conversation that was far funnier than Julie expected and which spanned four continents and several centuries, Meg speaks to us about what these holy men and women have to teach us about living through turmoil, about facing oppression, about resisting unjust systems, about speaking truth to power.Meg Hunter-Kilmer considers herself a “hobo missionary.” After two theology degrees from Notre Dame and five years as a high school religion teacher, Meg quit her job in 2012 to live out of her car and preach the Gospel to anyone who would listen. 50 states and 25 countries later, this seems to have a been a less ridiculous decision than she initially thought. Meg blogs at Pierced Hands and Aleteia and is a prolific poster on Instagram and Facebook – especially about the saints.To learn more about Meg, please visit her blog, check out her upcoming book, and follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.Follow Julie on Instagram and Facebook, and visit www.thesewallsblog.com/morethanpolitics to learn more about this podcast.Theme music is by purple-planet.com
In this brief, bonus episode (which should have been posted a bit before the election -- c'est la vie), Julie Varner Walsh revisits a blog post she wrote in 2014. Adapting it a bit for the moment, Julie posts it to encourage any remaining reluctant voters to get on out there, even if it feels like your vote can't make a difference.This bonus episode pairs well with last week's regular episode. So if you liked that one, you should like this one too.
This episode is a little different from our usual format. Instead of inviting on a friend to ask them questions, this time Julie Varner Walsh is joined by a friend who’s asking her the questions. In the run-up to election day, Julie and her friend Rita Buettner thought it would be helpful to do a round-up of topics that might be of interest to listeners just before the election. They cover modes of voting, write-in and third-party voting, how to make your final choices (if you haven’t yet), voting even when it feels like your vote can’t make a difference, and information to keep in mind about how mail-in ballots are counted. They cover the electoral college, why politics in the United States is dominated by two political parties (rather than three or more), what to watch for on election night, and what may come in the months following the election.A former journalist, Rita Buettner is a wife, working mother and author of the Catholic Review’s Open Window blog. She and her husband adopted their two sons from China, and Rita often writes about topics concerning adoption, family, and faith. In her full-time job, Rita is director of university communications for Loyola University Maryland.To learn more about Rita, please visit her blog and follow her on Instagram and Facebook.To listen to the episode of The Daily that Julie references in this episode, please visit: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/22/podcasts/the-daily/electoral-college-trump-clinton-gore-bush.htmlVisit www.thesewallsblog.com/morethanpolitics to learn more about this podcast.Theme music is by purple-planet.com
In this episode Julie Varner Walsh talks with Laura Kelly Fanucci about how to talk to children about politics and current events. In their conversation, Julie and Laura discuss the importance of forming children’s consciences regarding political matters as well as personal. They talk about how to make big issues feel small and approachable, how to incorporate prayer into family discussions on politics and current events, and why politics isn’t as simple as “good guys vs. bad guys.” And as we near the end of a highly contentious presidential election, Julie and Laura also discuss how to help children understand a politics that is so marked by bad behavior. (But the two also talk about what is giving them hope for the future.)Laura Kelly Fanucci is a writer and speaker who has spent over a decade working on theology of vocation. She earned her Master of Divinity from Saint John's School of Theology and her BA from the University of Notre Dame. Laura is an award-winning columnist for Catholic News Service, and her nationally syndicated “Faith at Home” column runs monthly in Catholic newspapers across the U.S. Her writing has been featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, On Being, and the Christian Century, and in popular outlets including People Magazine and the Kelly Clarkson Show.Laura has authored seven books, including Everyday Sacrament: The Messy Grace of Parenting. She and her husband live in Minnesota with their children.To learn more about Laura, please visit her website, follow her on Instagram and Facebook, and check out her book. Follow Julie on Instagram or Facebook, or visit www.thesewallsblog.com/morethanpolitics to learn more about this podcast.Theme music is by purple-planet.com
In this episode Julie Walsh is again joined by her friend, Dr. Jill Scheibler, for a conversation about the presidential and vice-presidential debates, the president’s Covid diagnosis, the plot to kidnap Michigan’s governor, absentee voting (and the tallying of absentee votes). They also talk about polling: How polling works, what it’s been showing lately about the presidential race, and why we shouldn’t write it off.Jill is a community psychologist, a college professor and research coordinator, an art therapist, and the cofounder and Operations & Program Director of the nonprofit Make Studio, which empowers artists with disabilities to grow as professionals with visibility and voice in their communities.Although not formally a student of political science, Politics-watching is Jill’s main hobby. She is an avid daily reader of news, she enjoys the political "horse race" but not at the expense of substance, and she knows all 50 states’ U.S. Senators by name if not sight. Jill identifies as a left-of-center/"pragmatic progressive" Democrat.   Visit www.thesewallsblog.com/morethanpolitics to learn more about this podcast.Theme music is by purple-planet.com
Julie Walsh talks with Julia Harrell in her most freewheeling podcast conversation yet. They discuss some of the biggest challenges of our time – and then they dream about what a better world would look like. From democracy to education to the news media, Julie and Julia spend some time following Vaclev Havel’s advice: “[W]e must not be afraid of dreaming the seemingly impossible if we want the seemingly impossible to become a reality.”Julia Harrell is an author, a freelance writer, and a stay-at-home mom to four young kids. Her book, How to Be a Hero: Train With the Saints, is a kid’s exploration of the power of the virtuous life. Julia is a former teacher who loves talking about schools, education, and especially literature and the Great Books. She lives outside Washington, DC with her family.Get to know Julia at her Facebook page, website, and Instagram account.Julia’s book can be found at the following:https://www.amazon.com/How-Be-Hero-Julia-Harrell/dp/081983453X/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=julia+harrell&qid=1601055898&sr=8-1https://paulinestore.com/how-to-be-a-hero-train-w-saints-3061-173541.html Visit www.thesewallsblog.com/morethanpolitics to learn more about this podcast.Theme music is by purple-planet.com
Julie Walsh and Abigail Benjamin discuss the life and legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the importance of good-hearted political debate and being willing to dissent from your peers, and Abigail’s experience of running for public office for the first time.Abigail Benjamin is a lay Carmelite, a Catholic wife of 20 years, and a homeschooling mom to seven kids ages 17 to 2. She is an environmental and real estate lawyer in her small hometown in Central West Virginia. This year she ran for public office for the first time.Abigail is working on her first novel, "Thin Lines" as part of a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at West Virginia Wesleyan College. She graduated with honors from Smith College and the University of Wisconsin Law School. You can learn more about Abigail at her website: http://www.abigaillawoffice.com/  Visit www.thesewallsblog.com/morethanpolitics to learn more about this podcast.Theme music is by purple-planet.com
Julie Walsh and Dr. Michael Towle discuss the concept of executive power – the power assigned by our constitution to the executive branch of government – and given to it (or taken by it), over more than two hundred years of muddling through the checks and balances instituted by our founders. At a time when the presidency seems to be growing ever more powerful, it’s good to stop and consider the history, and wonder about the future, of executive power in the United States.Dr. Michael Towle is a professor in the Department of Political Science at Mount Saint Mary’s University, where he has taught since 1991. He received his bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin.Dr. Towle teaches introductory and advanced courses in American politics, including Parties and Elections, The American Presidency, Congressional Politics, and the Supreme Court and Constitutional Law. The following op-ed, written by Dr. Towle, was mentioned in this episode:“Accurate results are worth waiting for”,  op-ed,  The Baltimore Sun, March 2019.Visit www.thesewallsblog.com/morethanpolitics to learn more about this podcast.Theme music is by purple-planet.com
Julie Walsh and Dr. Linda Wansi discuss a topic that any good citizen – and especially any good Christian – should be willing to wrestle with: being open to the idea that we could be wrong.From abortion to race to spiritual hang-ups in their own lives, the two discuss the work it takes to be honest with yourself in considering the idea that you could be wrong, and that you need to change. Such work is important in building up one’s own spiritual health, but it’s also important in building up the civic health of a democratic society.Dr. Linda Wansi is a cradle Catholic who fell away from the Church, but was called back to the fullness of her faith after what she considers a miraculous encounter with the Eucharist. When she is not caring for patients in her dental office, Linda can be found chasing her two toddler daughters, or chasing sleep. She is passionate about spreading the Gospel and proclaiming the sanctity and dignity of all life, from womb to tomb.To learn more about Linda, follow her on Instagram at camericanchick. The following documentaries were mentioned by Linda in this episode:13thhttps://www.netflix.com/title/80091741The African-Americans: Many Rivers to Crosshttps://www.pbs.org/show/african-americans-many-rivers-cross/ The following posts from Julie’s blog relate to her part of the discussion:Focus on Himhttps://thesewallsblog.com/2020/06/05/focus-on-him/We’re Not Called to Win, We’re Called to Workhttps://thesewallsblog.com/2019/06/14/were-not-called-to-win-were-called-to-work/The Tragedies We Honor, and Those We Don’thttps://thesewallsblog.com/2019/05/07/the-tragedies-we-honor-and-those-we-dont/A Love That Changes Youhttps://thesewallsblog.com/2013/06/18/a-love-that-changes-you/Visit www.thesewallsblog.com/morethanpolitics to learn more about this podcast.Theme music is by purple-planet.com
In this special, bonus episode, Julie Walsh commemorates the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. She was very near the tragedy that day – working in her office just a half-mile from the Pentagon when the plane struck the building. Julie has written a little about her experience over the years, and now that she’s podcasting, has decided to share her story here too. Visit www.thesewallsblog.com/morethanpolitics to learn more about this podcast.Theme music is by purple-planet.com
In this episode Julie Walsh is again joined by her friend, Dr. Jill Scheibler, for the second part of their conversation on the 2020 Democratic and Republican National Conventions.Jill is a community psychologist, a college professor and research coordinator, an art therapist, and the cofounder and Operations & Program Director of the nonprofit Make Studio, which empowers artists with disabilities to grow as professionals with visibility and voice in their communities.Although not formally a student of political science, Politics-watching is Jill’s main hobby. She is an avid daily reader of news, she enjoys the political "horse race" but not at the expense of substance, and she knows all 50 states’ U.S. Senators by name if not sight. Jill identifies as a left-of-center/"pragmatic progressive" Democrat. In this second part of their conversation, Julie and Jill cover the use of the White House as a setting for the Republican National Convention (and therefore potential Hatch Act violations), the involvement of the Biden and Trump families in the conventions, the tone of the conventions, and how you could see, reflected in the conventions, the existential threats of concern to varying elements of the political spectrum.After their conversation, Julie provides a more personal take on what she (a disaffected Republican) thought of the conventions.Visit www.thesewallsblog.com/morethanpolitics to learn more about this podcast.Theme music is by purple-planet.com
In this episode Julie Walsh is joined by her friend, Dr. Jill Scheibler. The two put on their amateur pundit hats to discuss the 2020 Democratic and Republican National Conventions.Jill is a community psychologist, a college professor and research coordinator, an art therapist, and the co-founder and Operations & Program Director of the nonprofit Make Studio, which empowers artists with disabilities to grow as professionals with visibility and voice in their communities.Although not formally a student of political science, Politics-watching is Jill’s main hobby. She is an avid daily reader of news, she enjoys the political "horse race" but not at the expense of substance, and she knows all 50 states’ U.S. Senators by name if not sight. Jill identifies as a left-of-center/"pragmatic progressive" Democrat. Julie and Jill’s conversation has been split into two parts. In this episode (Part 1), they cover our traditional expectations of political conventions, how those expectations (and the conventions themselves) had to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic, what each party needed to achieve with its convention, who its target audiences were, and what the conventions said about where the parties are heading. Visit www.thesewallsblog.com/morethanpolitics to learn more about this podcast.Theme music is by purple-planet.com
In this episode Julie Walsh talks with writer Leslie Sholly about the experience of being politically uncomfortable. The two enjoy a kinship of sorts: their political views are similar to one another, but make them outliers in their respective communities. Leslie, who lives in a conservative, southern, Republican state, identifies as a pro-life Democrat. And Julie, who lives in a liberal, east coast, Democratic state, finds herself as a sort of moderate, uncomfortable Republican. Both identify with the minority parties in their states, but find themselves as ideological minorities even within those parties. Both very well used to being politically uncomfortable. The following posts were referenced in this episode:https://lifeineverylimb.com/2016/11/02/catholic-to-my-toes/https://lifeineverylimb.com/2016/11/06/catholic-voting-101-a-guide-for-the-confused/ Leslie writes at https://lifeineverylimb.com/She can be found on:Facebook: http://facebook.com/lifeineverylimbTwitter: http://twitter.com/LeslieShollyInstagram: http://instagram.com/LeslieShollyPinterest: http://pinterest.com/LeslieHShollyGoogle +: https://plus.google.com/u/1/+LeslieShollyTumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/life-in-every-limb Visit www.thesewallsblog.com/morethanpolitics to learn more about this podcast.Theme music is by purple-planet.com
In this episode Julie Walsh talks with Dr. J. Kristen Urban, Professor Emerita from Mount St. Mary’s University. Dr. Urban, who has taught a variety of courses related to international politics, has spent time in Israel/Palestine, Russia, Romania, Italy, Turkey, Oman, and Saudi Arabia. In 2003/04, she was a Senior Fulbright Scholar to Bahrain.In this second of a two-part conversation on the current state of the U.S. on the world stage, Julie and Dr. Urban discuss the Obama and Trump administrations, China and the Middle East, trade and conflict. And they discuss the implications of an increasingly isolationist United States as we face the global challenges of the future.Visit www.thesewallsblog.com/morethanpolitics to learn more about this podcast.Theme music is by purple-planet.com
In this “emergency” episode, Julie Walsh seeks to provide context on Lebanon for those who are tracking developments related to the August 4th explosion in Beirut, but who don’t know much about the country where it took place.She talks with Dr. J. Kristen Urban, Professor Emerita from Mount St. Mary’s University. Dr. Urban, who has taught a variety of courses related to international politics, has spent time in Israel/Palestine, Russia, Romania, Italy, Turkey, Oman, and Saudi Arabia. In 2003/04, she was a Senior Fulbright Scholar to Bahrain.To learn the basics about the explosion itself, check out the following:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnSr820S2Mkhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpY9qUbPXbMTo learn more about how the explosion impacts Lebanon's already-present crises:https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-53698564https://www.npr.org/2020/08/07/899776352/beiruts-explosion-looks-like-an-accident-and-a-sign-of-the-country-s-collapseAnd to help the people of Lebanon, please donate to a reputable charitable institution with a presence in the country, such as:The Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) https://cnewa.org/campaigns/lebanoncrisis/The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) https://www.icrc.org/en/document/beirut-emergency-medical-supplies-delivered-12-hospitals-blood-donations-sought Visit www.thesewallsblog.com/morethanpolitics to learn more about this podcast.Theme music is by purple-planet.com
In this episode Julie Walsh talks with Dr. J. Kristen Urban, Professor Emerita from Mount St. Mary’s University. Dr. Urban, who has taught a variety of courses related to international politics, has spent time in Israel/Palestine, Russia, Romania, Italy, Turkey, Oman, and Saudi Arabia. In 2003/04, she was a Senior Fulbright Scholar to Bahrain.In this first of a two-part conversation on the current state of the U.S. on the world stage, Julie and Dr. Urban review the international developments that, since the end of the second World War, have set that stage. Visit www.thesewallsblog.com/morethanpolitics to learn more about this podcast.Theme music is by purple-planet.com 
In this episode Julie Walsh talks with John Miller, an award-winning journalist and filmmaker who, as a staff reporter for the Wall Street Journal for 13 years, reported from over 40 countries. John, an American, grew up in Brussels. He now lives in Pittsburgh. Julie and John discuss the moment we find ourselves in, both here and abroad: the coronavirus pandemic, the economic uncertainty it has unleashed, and the movement against racial injustice that has followed the death of George Floyd. You can learn more about John, and find links to his work, at www.johnwmiller.org. You can watch John’s first film, Moundsville, the biography of a classic American town, on your local PBS station or through www.moundsville.org.In this episode John and Julie reference the following articles:https://www.americamagazine.org/arts-culture/2018/11/28/my-ancestor-owned-41-slaves-what-do-i-owe-their-descendantshttps://dailyyonder.com/in-historic-first-protests-spread-to-more-than-3000-towns/2020/06/10/https://www.americamagazine.org/politics-society/2020/04/03/road-trip-through-swing-states-coronavirus-hit Visit www.thesewallsblog.com/morethanpolitics to learn more about this podcast.Theme music is by purple-planet.com
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