The Mike Church Show World HQ
The Mike Church Show World HQ

Joseph Pearce On Rosaries, Wagner, And Taking Notes

Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – Let’s go to our Dude Maker Hotline and say hello to Joseph Pearce, the one and only, the future host of The Pearcing Truth, which you’ll hear right here on the Crusade Channel.  Joseph, are you noticing that I got your theme music for you?  Check out today’s transcript for the rest….

Begin Mike Church Show Transcript

Mike:  Let’s go to our Dude Maker Hotline and say hello to Joseph Pearce, the one and only, the future host of The Pearcing Truth, which you’ll hear right here on the Crusade Channel.  Joseph, are you noticing that I got your theme music for you?

Joseph Pearce:  You’re playing my favorite piece of classical music, the Tannhauser Overture by Richard Wagner.  Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.  We actually should just shut up and listen for the next ten minutes.

Mike:  Let’s just listen for 30 seconds, shall we?

[music playing]

Mike:  I’ve got to tell you, I’d heard of Wagner, but I’d never heard him until you sent me this the other day.  I started listening to it and went, “Huh, it kind of has to grow on you.”  I think that Dietrich von Hildebrand got it right.  I was reading last night in your St. Austin Review.  I think that the great Dietrich von Hildebrand got it right.  Wagner is not easy listening.

Pearce:  No, he’s not.  Again, Solzhenitsyn is not easy reading, nor is Dostoyevsky.  Sometimes we need to stretch our muscles and not just go for the path of least resistance.

Mike:  That’s a great point.  I finally bought a copy of The Brothers Karamazov and started reading it.  I can only read about a chapter a week.

Pearce:  That’s good, Mike.  The great Russian literature, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Solzhenitsyn is meant to be read slowly.  You should look upon those novels, the way that the plot develops, like a game of chess.  You don’t rush through, unless you’re playing speed chess, of course, for fun.  You don’t rush through a game of chess and you don’t rush through a Russian novel.  You read it in small, digestible chunks and take your time and read other things at the same time.

Mike:  I’m reading plenty of other things, but I am enjoying The Brothers Karamazov.  I never heard the story before.  It never occurred to me this could be a real story here and why people were so fancy for it.  I kind of understand it now, kind of the way, after listening to Wagner, I went, “Maybe there’s something to this classic music that I never got before.  One of the essays in the St. Austin Review that I was reading last night, I can’t remember which the writer was, but he was making the comparison that what Mozart did and what Bach did is not comparable to what Wagner did.  They all have their place.  Mozart, the romantic; Bach, telling the kind of sad, heroic tale; then along comes Wagner, who tells the entire tale and actually sets it to words, too.

Pearce:  There’s a parallel.  Obviously, I’m more of a literature person than a music person, so I’m forced, if you like, to fall back on literary analogy.  Wagner’s epic, in the sense that he works on that scale, so literary illusions, literary analogies would be people such as Homer or Virgil or Dante or Tolkien, or indeed Tolstoy or Dostoevsky.  He works on a grand scale.  Others work on a smaller scale, and it doesn’t mean that what they’re doing is any less valuable.  It can be valuable.  These people work on epic scale.  It’s just the way they are.

Mike:  I want to start today with something really easy to do, Professor Pearce.  I’m sorry, Dr. Pearce.

Pearce:  Don’t give me any grace I don’t deserve.  I don’t have a PhD.  I have an honorary doctorate, which I don’t care to make much of a thing about.  Why not just Joseph?

Mike:  It’s been so long since we talked, you forgot that I made you an honorary doctor.  You don’t remember.

Pearce:  You can call me the honorary doc if you like.

Mike:  Why notetaking by hand is better for your brain.  As soon as I said this this morning, my wife was listening, as she listens every morning.  She immediately chimed in in a digital chat message, “You know, I take all notes by hand,” and she does.  She has notebooks scattered all about the home and the office.  They are littered with note after note after note.  She writes everything down.  Maybe you could explain to her, what is the advantage of taking notes by hand?

Pearce:  Obviously you’re referring to an article I’ve just had published by the Imaginative Conservative, which is looking at scientific research that shows the students in a classroom environment actually learn much better if they leave their laptop back in the dorm room and take a notepad, a legal pad to class and take notes.  I use the analogy of the tortoise and the hare.  The point is, going slowly you actually learn more.  You can transcribe everything that the teacher is saying as he’s saying it with your fingers dancing on the keys without really engaging it.  You’re just sort of transcribing it like a secretary, like someone who just takes notes.  When you’re taking proper notes, you can’t write everything down, so you have to listen, decide what’s important, what concepts you have to grasp, write down the things that you have to then go back and think about and study.  In other words, you’re digesting and thinking about – in other words, by moving more slowly like the tortoise, you do actually achieve the goal, whereas the hare, being harebrained, runs around in circles, chasing his own tail.  The fact that science – for me this is common sense.  I didn’t need a scientist to tell me this.  It’s common sense.  Of course, once you get neuroscientists doing studies which prove what every person with common sense already knows, you can at least quote the scientific evidence to make people that haven’t got common sense listen.

Mike:  I also think that, if you’ve taken any type of Thomistic philosophy training, and I know you have, and there are many in this audience who, surprisingly, also have, then you know that all knowledge is acquired through the five senses.  You don’t acquire any knowledge other than through your five senses: your eyes, your hearing, your smelling, your touching, and your tasting.  It only makes sense that if you’re using more of those senses while you’re gaining some of this knowledge that it would have a greater impact.  If you’re writing, obviously you have your pen to the paper.  You’re using touch.  Then you’re using your sense of sight to make sure you’re forming the characters correctly.  They teach you, when you take typing class or shorthand class with a keyboard, they teach you to not look at the screen; don’t use your eyes.  Exact opposite.

Pearce:  Right.  Also, your fingers are dancing on the keys without having to think.  Basically, you know where all the keys are, subconsciously at this point, so you can type a sentence without having to think about the individual words.  The consequences, of course, nothing is sinking in.  It’s just literally going from your ears to your fingertips with nothing happening in between.  When you read it back later, what you’re doing, at best, is to listen to the lecture a second time, at best, if you took good transcription.  If you’re actually making notes, you’re making sense of the lecture as it’s happening.  Then you can go away with those notes with the memory of the lecture and take those notes, if you like, as a launching pad, as a springboard into further study.  That’s the way you learn in a classroom scenario.

There’s a perfect lead-in, actually, from what we were saying about reading Dostoevsky or listening to Wagner.  Basically, there’s a difference between taking time and wasting time.  Taking time is good; wasting time, which usually involves distracting ourselves with nonsense, is literally a waste of our lives.  Taking time is good.  Hurrying is not necessarily good.  Sometimes we have to, sometimes we have no choice, but if we have a life where we’re always doing nothing but hurrying, I’m sorry, we’re wasting our life.

Mike:  I agree.  Joseph Pearce is with us here on the Dude Maker Hotline.  By the by, I have made full contact now – no, I’m not going to talk about Carl Sagan.  I have made full contact now with two of your publishers.  I will have copies of Small is Still Beautiful: Economics as if Families Mattered and Literary Converts coming to the Pearce mansion in rural South Carolina for you to scribble some kind of signature and a date on them and then send them to us for sale after The Pearcing Truth becomes the international smash hit radio hit it does.

Pearce:  I hope that in the end the Pearce mansion in South Carolina is not large enough for the number of books you’re sending me to sign.  That would be great.

Mike:  One final point about the writing with the notes and taking notes by hand.  Somebody made this point to me, and I can’t remember who it was.  I never forgot it.  It was about three years ago.  We’ve been doing a little preview on the Facebook.  If you want to continue listening to Joseph Pearce, you need to go to the website at because you’re not going to want to miss – as a matter of fact, you’re going to miss the answer to this question here, so you need to go right now.

Somebody made this point to me, Joseph, and, again, I can’t remember who it was.  That’s one of the beautiful things about praying the holy rosary.  That’s why people get so much out of it and why Our Lady says to pray it, and why almost any priest that’s worth their salt will, if you’re struggling with a certain sin, or even if you’re not, they’ll encourage you to pray it.  They’ll encourage you to pray it before mass.  You’ve got more than one sense working.  You’ve got your sense of touch working.  You’ve got your sense of sight working.  You have your sense of hearing working.  You have three senses working in praying the rosary.  It just kind of makes sense that it is the grand dame of all prayers.

Pearce:  Absolutely.  Even praying the rosary, we have to take time and not waste it.  It’s very easy to allow our fingers to dance over the beads like they dance over the keys of a computer screen and not be paying attention to the prayer itself.  I’m not saying that I don’t do that myself.  I’m not Mr. Perfect.  I sometimes realize I’ve just prayed a whole decade without actually engaging with the mystery.  I know we all do it.  The fact we all do it, it’s like sin.  The fact that we all do it doesn’t mean we should be comfortable doing it; right?

Mike:  This is one of the reasons why – we sell handmade rosaries in our store. This is one of the reasons why there are so many people who make them.  There is also a beauty and an art to making them.  They can be beautiful being held in your hand.  You have different colored beads.  You have different colored St. Joseph or St. Michael medals, different shaped miraculous medals, etc. etc.  There is a beauty to that art in and of itself.

As a matter of fact, Joseph, my daughter, my baby girl just returned back from Italy.  She brought me two different rosaries from two different cathedrals that she visited.  They’re both totally unique and distinct.  From one of them, St. Catherine of Castello, she went to the church and bought a book.  This church has been around since the 12th century.  One of the things in their art collection that they have in this church are various collections of the rosaries that were prayed, by example, by St. Catherine of Siena who left one there.  They all have their own unique beauty.  You and I talk about the good, the true, and the beautiful all the time.  You know this because you’re from Europe.  You can see this in these majestic, magnificent buildings that are left from the ages of faith that we call cathedrals.

Pearce:  Absolutely.  I’ll return to what you said about the rosary.  I couldn’t agree more.  I’m one of these people that has a horrible habit of leaving rosaries on planes or various things.  I’m sort of forced now to take a really cheap, plastic rosary with me because I don’t mind if I lose it.  At home, I’ve got some really beautiful ones.  By beautiful, I don’t just mean visually beautiful.  As you say, you really experience the rosary primarily with your fingers.  The feel of the different materials, whether you’ve got one that’s made with a type of stone.  It’s a different tactile experience as you’re praying.  You’re completely correct, that we do come to truth through our senses.  Having that, if you like, spirit of beauty on our fingertips as we’re praying with our minds is an incarnational experience, which I think is very valuable.  If someone says, “Why do you need a fancy rosary that costs $100 and not a cheap $3 rosary made of plastic?” why do you need a great work of art rather than cheap trash?  Because it’s beautiful and it lifts our minds and hearts to God.

Mike:  I totally agree.

End Mike Church Show Transcript

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