New York’s Potter’s Field — UPDATED

So you're a big city, and people wind up dead, and they have no loved ones to claim them (or, in some tragic cases, the loved ones are simply too slow or are not notified in time); and you have to bury them. Where do you put them?If you're New York City, you have prisoners bury them in mass graves on Hart Island, a small piece of land at the mouth of Long Island Sound. Over 900,000 bodies have been buried there; and if you're unlucky enough to have a loved there and wish to re-inter them … [Read more...]

How To Call Someone To Repentance

Last month I spent many pixels criticizing a particularly bad and ineffective way of explaining to someone the error of their ways and calling them to repentance. It seems only fair that I should spend some time talking about the right way to do it.Um.Well.You know, I'm not sure I know just what the right way is, as a general thing. It's a hard thing to do. (Q: How do porcupines make love? A: Very carefully.) But there are couple of things I think I know.First, I think it … [Read more...]

Bootstrapping the Interior Life: Direction

A couple of weeks ago I compared the interior life to a kitchen remodel. You've got a skilled workman doing a complicated job, and while he's responsible for the work, you still need to cooperate with him or the job won't get done.But there's another way that the interior life is similar to a kitchen remodel: it's not always obvious what's going on. In fact, it's usually not obvious what's going on. Some weeks it seems like there's a flurry of activity to no great effect. Other weeks, it … [Read more...]

What Not To Read on a Fourteen Hour Flight


I wrote this review of Stephen King's Everything's Eventual in March of 2013.Reading this book was a mistake.You almost certainly misunderstood that last statement.I like Stephen King. He's a darn good story teller, and he's darn good at evoking just the response he wants (which, it seems to me, isn't quite the same thing). I use to buy all of his books as they came out, until I got to Insomnia, which was frankly a waste of time. He told the story well, but the story itself was … [Read more...]

Woof Guide to Popular Music: Thomas Aquinas

Dominican philosopher Scholasticism was his game Summa Theologica Aquinas was his name.Well, OK, I don't suppose this can be called popular music, even if they did spoof "Venus" by Bananarama. Still, I think this counts as pretty much the most popular pop song written about Thomas Aquinas, so it's good in my book. Plus, whoever wrote the lyrics actually knew something about St. Thomas.In internet terms it's an oldie! Don't miss it if you can! … [Read more...]

Discovering the Saints: Justin Martyr

My latest column for CatholicMom concerns one of the Church's first apologists, St. Justin Martyr, and how he helped me come back to the Catholic Church. … [Read more...]

The Human Wisdom of St. Thomas, by Josef Pieper


In 1948, Josef Pieper published a selection of short texts from the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, specifically, those texts he wanted to bring to the attention of his friends so that they could come to understand the character and thought of St. Thomas. The texts (often no more than a sentence) are arranged in a particular order by topic, so as to lead the reader through the philosophical thought of the saint. The book is entitled The Human Wisdom of St. Thomas.Beyond a short … [Read more...]

Words I Wish I’d Written: Talents

Music, landscape gardening, architecture—there was no start to his talents.— Terry Pratchett, Hogfather, speaking of Bloody Stupid Johnson. … [Read more...]

Woof Guide to Obscure Catholic Music: The Conventional Friars

The Conventional Friars are a Catholic novelty band started by six sophomores from the Franciscan College of Sts. Bonaventure and Gussie in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho in the fall of 1992. The ensemble first came together for a school talent show, to a strong response from the assembled students. Despite this, they continued to appear at campus events, wearing their signature chicken suits and performing songs like "Make Me An Omelette of Your Peace" and "They'll Know We Are Chickens By Our … [Read more...]