A Little Perspective on Father Serra

Mission San Carlos Borromeo

Being a California kid, I first became acquainted with Fr. Junipero Serra almost as soon as I got to school. I've visited many of the missions, and many of them many times, especially San Carlos Borromeo in Carmel, California, which was Fr. Serra's home base. And being a resident of the Left Coast, I also here fairly regularly about Fr. Serra's sins, how he dragooned the local Indians* into living at the missions and prevented them from leaving, how he exploited their labor, how he forced … [Read more...]

A Tour of Tim Powers: The Drawing of the Dark


The third book in Tim Power's body of niftiness is distinctly better than his first two, though he's clearly still maturing as an author. It makes the decisive move: from the future to the historical past, and in particular to the secret history behind the history we know, a field Powers has been mining in various ways ever since.The Drawing of the Dark takes place in the 1520's, and concerns one Brian Duffy, an Irish mercenary and fencing instructor. After a long and successful career (a … [Read more...]

Today’s Aquinas: God Cannot Be Defined

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.We understand the one God through a glass darkly, by means of many names:A second point is this: since our intellect does not adequately grasp the divine essence in any of the conceptions which the names applied to God signify, the definitions of these terms cannot define what is in God. That is, any definition we might formulate of the divine wisdom would not … [Read more...]

Catholic Pick-Up Lines

From Daily Theology (a site I'd not previously visited) comes this year's list of 20 Catholic pick-up lines, just in time for Valentine's day.Several of them made me laugh out loud, especially #3: "The Holy Spirit is driving me into the wilderness of your temptations." … [Read more...]

Howdy, Doofus! Or, an In-Joke is Born

Some years ago, after watching some Harry Potter movie or other, my second son mispronounced the Potterverse unlocking charm, "alohomora", as "Aloha, Moron!" This led to the formulation of a companion charm, "howdeedoofus", pronounced "Howdy, Doofus!". We didn't ascribe a meaning to this charm, just admiring the sound of it, but over time it has come to be a charm against bad jokes.By which I mean: when my elder son makes a bad joke, I will say, "Howdy, Doofus!" This still happens at … [Read more...]

Louis Armstrong, Just Because

I've been hearing a lot of Louis Armstrong songs recently; and I wanted to share some of my favorites. These are all classic songs from the "Great American Songbook", but Satchmo's delivery is distinctive and all his own. Give him a few minutes, okay?"A Kiss to Build a Dream On":"La Vie en Rose":With Ella Fitzgerald, "Dream a Little Dream of Me" (don't miss this one):They knew how to sing 'em in those days. … [Read more...]

Steven Brust on Being at Peace with Yourself

I remember being accosted on Forbes and Murray in Squirrel Hill by a Buddhist who expressed a desire to know if I wanted to be at peace with myself. I didn’t answer him, and I didn’t think much about it until I was reminded, thirty or forty years later, by a rant on the subject in a trashy sci-fi novel I happened to read. In general, I agree with the author of said trashy sci-fi novel: I don’t want to be at peace with myself. I want to be fighting with myself, struggling, looking for answers; I w … [Read more...]

The Eagle Has Landed!

You're right, that's not a boy scout uniform.  He's also in his fourth year of JROTC.

To become an Eagle Scout, you need to do a significant service project demonstrating leadership and management skills. You also need to be a Life Scout with sufficient time in rank, earn thirteen specific merit badges plus eight more of your choice, and be a troop officer. And you need to do all of this by no later than the day before your 18th birthday.My son David's 18th birthday is tomorrow.This past Sunday, by dint of heroic effort, he completed the Cooking merit badge at the … [Read more...]

A Tour of Tim Powers: The Skies Discrowned and Epitaph in Rust


I had a lot of time on my hands recently, being home with the 'flu for a solid week; and when I'm home sick I usually start chain-reading. "Chain-reading" is a neologism of my own design, but I assume the meaning is obvious: I read a book, and when I turn the last page I open another book, and so on. The primary difficulty associated with chain-reading is deciding what the next book will be, so I often wind up picking a favorite author and starting at one end of the list.Toward the end of … [Read more...]