June 27, 2024

Augustus Nicodemus Lopes on Renewing Your Mind

Stephen Nichols & Augustus Nicodemus Lopes
Augustus Nicodemus Lopes on Renewing Your Mind

As chancellor of a Christian university, Augustus Nicodemus Lopes commuted by motorcycle through the busy streets of São Paulo. Today, he talks with Stephen Nichols about the enriching experience of listening to Renewing Your Mind each day on his Harley.


Dr. Stephen Nichols: Well, welcome back. We’ve come to the tenth, and I’m sad to say the final episode of this season’s Open Book. Dr. Nicodemus, it has been a real pleasure to spend this time with you talking about these books.

In our final episode together, we’re going to go off the path, however, and not talk about books. We’re going to talk about podcasts, and we’re going to talk about a podcast in particular, but we need to set the stage here a little bit for this.

So, we’re back to the time when you were at Mackenzie and serving as chancellor, and you had a commute that took you about twenty-three minutes or so.

Dr. Augustus Nicodemus Lopes: Yeah, thirty minutes.

Nichols: Thirty minutes?

Lopes: Yeah.

Nichols: Okay. So, you had a commute that took you about thirty minutes, and you did that commute on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Is that correct?

Lopes: That’s absolutely right.

Nichols: Okay. So, here we are: the chancellor of the university is pulling in on his Harley-Davidson. And thirty minutes was just enough time for you to listen to Renewing Your Mind.

Lopes: Renewing Your Mind, yes.

Nichols: So, let’s talk about this podcast and its influence. We had Chosen by God back early in the season as an influence. So, this isn’t R.C.’s books; this is the podcast.

Lopes: The podcast, yes.

Nichols: So, let’s talk about it.

Lopes: Let’s talk about it. It always started with my kids. At the time I was a chancellor of the university, I had kids in the age of going to school before going to college—at least the oldest, the oldest ones. And I had to make a decision. Mackenzie University is right in the center of São Paulo, and São Paulo is a huge city.

Nichols: It’s very large.

Lopes: It’s very large. So, I had to make a decision: Do I live—if I live close to my job, I could rent a house ten minutes from Mackenzie, but then my kids would have to take a bus every day to go to the school we had chosen. We had chosen Pan American Christian Academy. It was an American school where classes were given in English, and we wanted that because I just had returned from my Ph.D., and my kids just spoke in English. So, they forgot the Portuguese, so they speak in English. So, I wanted them to go to an American school, which was Christian, and there was one, and this one was about—by car it would take an hour, more or less, from McKenzie to the school.

Nichols: This is how we are getting to the motorcycle part.

Lopes: To the motorcycle. You should remember that in Brazil, the motorcycle can go between the lanes.

Nichols: Yes.

Lopes: It doesn’t have to stay in the lane as a car. If it did, it would be on no avail. I’d rather just go by car. It was going to take me an hour, anyway. But then because motorcycles could just travel between the lanes, the trip that would take one hour for a car would take just thirty minutes in the motorcycle. And then, I decided to buy a Harley-Davidson. My first Harley-Davidson was a Dyna Glide, which is a very powerful machine, makes a lot of noise, and I just love it. I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was eighteen years old, and so that was my first Harley-Davidson.

So, what I would do in the morning, I would just get ready, put the leather jacket, black one—with my tie, of course. The coat would be in the back in the luggage place, and I would just put my earphones going through my cell phone. Actually, at that time it was iPods; the cell phones wouldn’t do that job yet. But you had iPods.

Nichols: I remember them, yes.

Lopes: Yeah. So, I just put downloaded material from the sites and everything, and I would just listen to Renewing Your Mind all the time. Just start the motor and go and be listening to Sproul. I listened to hundreds of episodes, and it was so good. I would arrive at my work refreshed. And at the time I was praying too. I was praying, listening, praying, listening. So, I used that as a devotion since during the day I wouldn’t have time.

Nichols: Pretty busy man.

Lopes: Yeah, pretty busy, wouldn’t have time. So, that happened for like five, six years until I decided to do this. And for a time, I lived close to the university. But then I moved—the last five years, I moved to away, close to the Pan American Christian Academy. So, my kids would just go—they had just to cross the street, and they would be in the school, but then Daddy would have to go all the way through to the central city.

Nichols: But you had your Harley.

Lopes: I had my Harley.

Nichols: And you had R.C.

Lopes: And I had R.C. And that was very inspiring. I learned more about what R.C. had to say on theology and other issues through the podcast than reading his books. So, I was very thankful I could do that. After that, just for those interested, I bought a Fat Boy, which is a level up.

Nichols: Up, yes. You know, I’m picturing it now that you could be the leader of a Reformed motorcycle gang. I can see it now.

Lopes: By the way, since you mention that, once I moved to Brazil, I mean to Recife when my time finished and I went to First Presbyterian Church, I did start a group.

Nichols: That’s great.

Lopes: But then other people didn’t have Harley-Davidsons. Just a few had Harleys and the others had the Japanese stuff, and so . . .

Nichols: Ah well, as they say, few are chosen, but many are called. Right?

Lopes: That’s right.

Nichols: Well, I thought that would be fun for our listeners to get to hear that side of you, commuting to your very distinguished role of chancellor of this major Brazilian University on your Harley-Davidson, listening to our beloved R.C. Sproul.

Lopes: Yes.

Nichols: Well, it has been a great season of Open Book. Thanks for joining us.

Lopes: Thank you for the invitation and for the opportunity. It was really a blessing to me. I hope it is going to be a blessing to your audience as well.

Nichols: I pray so too. And next time I see you, let’s make it Recife, okay?

Lopes: Let’s do it. I’m in.

Nichols: Alright, I’m all for it. Well, thanks for being with us for this season of Open Book.

I’m Steve Nichols. Thanks for listening to Open Book, a podcast about the power of books and the people they’ve shaped. Want more of Open Book? Listen to past episodes at openbookpodcast.com, or find the show in any podcast app. Open Book is a listener-supported outreach of Ligonier Ministries.