Pope John Paul II, Papal Elections and The Teaching Company

My kudos – again – to college lecture distributor The Teaching Company for their ever-savvy marketing. This time they’re offering two free to download lectures on the history and workings of papal elections: �How to Elect a Pope� and �Papal Elections: Then and Now.� As they put it in their email promotion, The Teaching Company offers free lectures to their customers “as part of our goal to provide a lifelong learning experience.” (and, I might add, to keep you engaged as a customer. Very smart. Their cost is essentially zero).
Fortunately, they encourage us to share the links so that anyone can download the lectures, both of which are presented by Professor Thomas F. X. Noble of the University of Notre Dame. They were recorded less than a year ago, too.

Here’s the rest of their well-crafted promo letter:

Professor Noble is the Robert M. Conway Director of the Medieval Institute and Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame. He assumed his current position in January of 2001 after teaching for 20 years at the University of Virginia. A specialist on the history of Rome and the papacy, he is the author of The Republic of St. Peter, which explores the origins of papal temporal rule. Dr. Noble�s teaching awards include the 1999 University of Virginia Alumni Distinguished Professor Award, the University�s highest award for teaching excellence.
Click here to access the free lectures.
You may listen to these lectures at your computer by choosing to “stream” them, or you may download them to listen on your computer without being attached to the Internet. You may also burn them to a CD or load them on a portable listening device if you download them.
Please feel free to send the link to the lectures to any friends of yours who might also enjoy them. The lectures are free for them as well.
It is a pleasure for us to bring you the joy of lifelong learning every day in recorded lectures on DVD, audio CD, audiotape, and videotape. Dr. Noble is one of the more than 100 great teachers we offer on a variety of course topics. We hope you enjoy these examples of his lecturing style.
As always, thank you for being our customer!
Tom Rollins
President and CEO
The Teaching Company
P.S. A note on timing. We had planned to send these lectures this week for some time. After the collapse of John Paul II�s health on Thursday, I considered withholding these lectures out of respect for the pope. After much reflection, I believe that sending the lectures is appropriate, even at this hour. You will hear much on papal succession in coming weeks, but little of it will offer the detail and depth of historical perspective contained in these two lectures. In the end, I decided that the better service to our customers, perhaps especially our Catholic customers, would be to send the lectures. A papal succession is an extraordinary moment in history, continuing the longest surviving human institution of government. John Paul II has made important changes in the process, and would, I hope, want us to help it be understood.

I’ll also add to this that I’m not a Catholic, don’t follow any teachings of the Church, and certainly don’t believe that the Pope has any special powers or blessings from God. But many others do, and that’s enough to make Pope John Paul II a tremendously powerful and important figure in world politics and religion. For that reason, and simply as a gesture of respect, I hope that his journey to his final resting place be a peaceful one and that he leave as little chaos behind in the Church as possible.

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