Conversion, or Rearranging Your Inner Furniture

This is what we're trying to avoid

Everybody's familiar with what I'll call "Big-C" Conversion, as in, Mr. So-and-so just converted to Catholicism, or Miss Such-and-Such converted to Christianity. Tonight, though, I need to speak to our RCIA group about "Conversion"; and for Catholics there's a lot more to it than simply "I converted to Catholicism". Big-C Conversion is a real and important thing; but then comes little-c "conversion of life", an on-going process that ideally lasts the rest of one's life.The problem with … [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...]

On Praying for the Enemies of Life

On this anniversary of Roe v. Wade it's time to say a few words about abortion.The Carthaginians sacrificed infants to Baal, it's well known—perhaps twelve or so a year.In 1915, the Ottomans began the Armenian Genocide; over a million Armenians were killed.During World War II, the Nazis murdered approximately six million Jews.Since Roe v. Wade, we Americans have killed around 60 million unborn infants. It's an enormous number, enormous in terms of size and also in terms of the … [Read more...]

The False Religion of Tomanāk


I'm always fascinated by the presentation of religion in fantasy and science fiction novels. Most such are fairly absurd, like the common combination of polytheism with Catholic trappings, absent any forces that make those trappings make sense. The author needed a bit of religion and cobbled something together from spare parts. David Weber's "Church of Humanity Unchained" from the Honor Harrington series is another example of not taking very great care: in early books we are assured that the … [Read more...]

You Must Be Full of Demons

There are many things I might be full of, but this isn't one of them.

“You must be full of demons!"It was something like that, anyway. “I’m not going to listen to you. You must be full of demons. I’m going to listen to Jesus Christ. I’m not going to listen to you."Jane and I spent a couple of days in Las Vegas this past weekend; and on Friday evening after the show (Le Rêve, an excellent show I’d recommend to anyone) we were coming down an escalator from one of the pedestrian skyways that dot the Strip, and at the bottom was an evangelism squad. Th … [Read more...]

Of Brute Facts and Uncle Andrew

One reason for oak trees.

Yesterday I quoted the maxim "from nothing, nothing comes"; it's actually a philosophical principle that goes back to the ancient Greeks (notably Parmenides), and it's more typically stated in Latin: Ex nihilo nihil fit. And what it means is that "nothing"—pure, philosophical nothingness—cannot be the cause of anything coming to be. Parmenides used this to argue that change must be an illusion, because any change involves something coming to be that previously wasn't. Sure, it seems that the … [Read more...]

The Sacraments: What Christ is Still Doing


At RCIA a couple of weeks ago, our pastor made the comment that the Sacraments are how Christ continues to do today what He did while He was here on earth. Fr. Ed then went over the seven sacraments, what they are, what distinguishes them, and so forth; and then he left me to continue the discussion at the RCIA session last week.Consequently, I put together some ideas about how Christ is doing today what He did then, with these major headings:What was Jesus doing then? How is He … [Read more...]

On Praying for What You Really Want

Should I ask God for what I want? Is it arrogant to ask the Lord of Creation to listen to my requests, or to think that they might affect the way things are? Ought I instead to assume that God knows what I need and pray simply for His will to be done?I see these questions come up time and again. I've asked them myself, and I often see others asking them. My basic response has always been that we should ask God for what we really want, when we want it, and then trust in Him to give us … [Read more...]

Oprah Winfrey and Catherine of Siena On Setting the World Ablaze

The Refiner's Fire

Some while back a FaceBook friend posted two quotes together:Oprah Winfrey:Know what sparks the light in you. Then use that light to illuminate the world.Catherine of Siena:If you are what you should be, you will set the world on fire.But of course, these two statements aren't identical. Oprah's dictum is focussed completely on the individual: find out what brings out the best in you, and then bring that to the world. And that's good advice. But Catherine's subtext is … [Read more...]