Review: 1491, by Charles C. Mann


Subtitled "New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus", Charles C. Mann's 1491 is a delightful survey of native civilizations and cultures in North and South America prior to the coming of the Europeans. Much has been discovered in the last twenty years, and it turns out that a lot of what I thought I knew about pre-Columbian times is wrong—or, at least, incomplete.I knew, for example, that smallpox brought by the Spaniards (and later colonists) had decimated the Indian* population a … [Read more...]

CT 4.2: Another Principle of Change


We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.Having established that God must be unchanging by reducing the notion of a changing First Mover to absurdity, Thomas then goes on to make a direct argument for the Unmoved Mover: Among things that are moved and that also move, the following may also be considered. All motion is observed to proceed from something immobile, that is, from something that is not move … [Read more...]

Lumen Fidei: The Pursuit of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful

Church interior

Continuing with Paragraph 35 of Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis talks about those who seek God through the light of faith, even though they haven't yet found Him. He says,Because faith is a way, it also has to do with the lives of those men and women who, though not believers, nonetheless desire to believe and continue to seek. To the extent that they are open to love and set out with whatever light they can find, they are already, even without knowing it, on the path leading to faith..... … [Read more...]

Tools for Learning Clojure, Part III: Nightcode


In Part I, I talked about Clojure and the need for a convenient "REPL": a piece of software that lets you type input at the language engine and see its responses. In Part II I talked about Leiningen, a very cool tool that not only gives you a good REPL but also automates many other tedious aspects of development. (I find myself wishing very strongly that TCL, my usual language, had something like it.)So at the end of Part II, it looked like I had a solution: Leiningen gives me the REPL and … [Read more...]

Wondrous Love, by Blue Highway

So Elizabeth Scalia sent me a YouTube video the other day, a performance of the hymn "Wondrous Love" by a group called Blue Highway. And I sat and listened to the singer's raw country voice on the first verse. And on the second, he was joined by another; and on the third, another, and so on, and when it was all done, I went to the kitchen and played it for Jane, who loves close harmony almost more than she loves me. And she sat in silence and listened to it, and when it was all over she just … [Read more...]

Words I Wish I’d Written: A Serious Mummy Problem

You can't have it, he isn't done with it yet.

Here's something you didn't know about the Incas:Because the royal mummies were not considered dead, their successors obviously could not inherit their wealth. Each Inka’s panaqa retained all of his possessions forever, including his palaces, residences, and shrines; all of his remaining clothes, eating utensils, fingernail parings, and hair clippings; and the tribute from the land he had conquered. In consequence, as Pedro Pizarro realized, “the greater part of the people, treasure, exp … [Read more...]

Watchman For Daybreak Watch

Smoking Gun

After a couple three weeks in which I didn't work on Watchman for Daybreak at all, I got some time to think about it yesterday. I'd been away from it for two reasons: it was a busy few weeks, and then I had a plot problem I had to get worked out. I need the main character to do something awful—but either it simply wasn't something he'd do, or if was something he'd do, then he wasn't the character I wanted him to be. But I think I've got it worked out, in a way that works as a story and won't s … [Read more...]

Review: Scholastic Metaphysics, by Ed Feser


Prof. Ed Feser's latest book is Scholastic Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction. I think enough of Prof. Feser that I pre-ordered it a couple of months before publication; and when it arrived I began reading it on my lunch break and other odd moments. I find that that's the right approach for books of philosophy; I can't take it all in at once, I need time to ponder and let things settle.First, some background. Scholastic philosophy is the philosophy of the "schoolmen" of the Middle … [Read more...]

CT 4.1: The Immobility of God


We're blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas' Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.In Chapter 3, Thomas showed that there must be a “First Mover”, something that stands at the head of all per se causal chains, where the word “move” means any kind of change, not just motion from place to place.  Here he goes on to show that this First Mover is also an Unmoved Mover, that is, an unchanged changer.We clearly infer from this that God, who moves … [Read more...]