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Lunchbox Conversations: Sebastian Gomes on Subject Matters

Vivian Cabrera

Thursday, September 22, 2016

As Canada’s only Catholic Television Network that broadcasts across the nation 24 hours a day seven days a week in four languages, we run a fairly tight operation. With 30 or so full time employees, everyone is constantly doing one thing or another. But when it comes to lunchtime, there is no messing around. We sit, we chat, we eat and we enjoy each other’s company.
In this series, I sit down with various colleagues of mine to have rich, insightful conversations about their latest projects and activities. I (cleverly) call this – Lunch Box Conversations. This week, I sat down with Sebastian Gomes (again!) for a delicious meal and to discuss his newest project, a book review show called, Subject Matters.
Vivian: Subject Matters is a show about books. Why a book show and why now?
SebastianWell, books have become more and more peripheral for people of our generation.  Technology and digital information have basically taken over. But books have something going for them that’s really unique: they’ve withstood the test of time. And that suggests to me that the digital revolution will not be able to overshadow books entirely or make them irrelevant. On top of that, Catholics love books; we love reading them, we love writing them, we love stockpiling them in our houses and apartments! So, why not have a book review show that features really interesting Catholic (and non-Catholic!) authors writing about topics that we should all care about?
V: What makes your book show different from the ‘typical’ book show?
Sebastian: I love the fact that we film our show in a locally owned, old-fashioned bookstore.  That means the show is visually rich, and we’re building on the rich, classy experience of reading an actual hard-copy book!  The show reflects a good reading experience, is what I mean.  I also invite a “peer reviewer” to do their own review of the book in the show. So for 2-3 minutes the viewer gets to hear what someone else thinks--usually an expert in the field or a professional book reviewer. Also, we only talk about one book in each episode, so the author gets the opportunity to explain a lot of the context and nuances of the book, and the viewer gets a real good sense of the topic and personality of the author. Not to say that you shouldn’t come over to Ben McNally and buy a copy and read it yourself!
V: What was your favorite book to read this season or who did you particularly enjoy interview this season?
Sebastian: I’ve enjoyed them all very much, but as a historian I was particularly drawn to Fr. Gustavo Morello’s book, “The Catholic Church and Argentina’s Dirty War.”  Since Pope Francis’ election, the Catholic world has focused on Argentina’s recent history and specifically what was happening in the late 1970s and early 80s as a right-wing military government seized power and kidnapped and tortured thousands of Argentine citizens who were perceived left-wing dissidents.  What’s fascinating about this history--and the book describes this so well--is that 90% of the population at the time was Catholic!  So you had Catholics in the military government, Catholics in the institutional church (bishops and priests), and Catholics being tortured by the government for living among and promoting the cause of the poor; all of whom believed they were putting their respective faith into practice.  So, the question the book grapples with is: how could Catholics have kidnapped and tortured other Catholics for doing Catholic things?  Remarkable and disturbing!  And this isn’t that long ago!  The book is academic, but it’s done from a sociological perspective which makes it highly accessible and readable. By the way, this episode premieres on Sunday October 23 at 8:30pm.
Be sure to catch the season premiere of Subject Matters on Sunday, September 25, 2016 at 8:30 pm ET and every Sunday after that! 

Vivian Cabrera is a displaced Texan living in Canada. A communications graduate of the University of St. Thomas in Houston, she spends most of her time trying not to forget how to speak Spanish and working as the Social Media Manager for Salt + Light. She enjoys following Pope Francis on social media and experimenting with creative ways of communicating the gospel message digitally. Questions? Comments? Concerns? Suggestions? Find her up on twitter (@iCabrera05) or email her here:

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