Today’s Aquinas: Intelligence is Immaterial


We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.So far, Thomas has shown that God, the First Mover, must be One, infinite in power and goodness, and the source of all that is good in creation.  The next step is to show that God is Person (or, ultimately, Persons); and for Thomas, a person is that which possesses intellect and will: someone, you might say, with whom you could have a conversation.Thomas divid … [Read more...]

Harry Belafonte: A Hole in the Bucket

I grew up listening to my parent's music, as I suppose many people do; and among the things that stuck were Harry Belafonte's Carnegie Hall albums. I could go on and on about Belafonte's voice, and his sense of humor, and his energy, but long familiarity has made it more or less impossible for me to be objective.In any event, here's a track from Belafonte Returns to Carnegie Hall, one of my favorites as a child. It's a duet with folk-singer Odetta Holmes, and concerns the problem of the … [Read more...]

Archie Goodwin on Eye Strain

Maria went, back inside, and shut the door. It was just as well, since it’s a strain to keep your eyes where they ought to be when they want to be somewhere else.— Rex Stout, Too Many Clients … [Read more...]

Lent, Weight Watchers, and Aristotle

Chocolate Bundt Cake

I associate dieting with Lent.  Not because I equate fasting with dieting, but because of a double coincidence.  Ten years ago I was extremely overweight, and my doctor put me on a strict diet.  It was a couple of days before Ash Wednesday, and I came home and told Jane, “I’m giving up food for Lent.”  It was one of the those jokes of the “funny/painful” variety.That diet was success; I lost lots of weight, and kept it off for quite a while; but a couple of weeks ago I went to do the doctor a … [Read more...]

Review: Between Silk and Cyanide


I’m taking a break from the Tim Powers tour this week to review a book recommended to me by Leah Libresco a couple of weeks ago.  I’d just finished Tim Powers’ Declare, a supernatural spy thriller, and Leah posted about a book about real spies: Leo Marks’ Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker's War, 1941-1945.  It seemed like a natural segue, and I grabbed it on Kindle.And then I opened it up—and was enchanted.  Leo Marks is an excellent story-teller, with a dry, self-deprecating wit; and he’ … [Read more...]

Today’s Aquinas: the Good vs. the good


We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.And now we get to something meaty: the analogy of being.  We say that a statement is the truth when it corresponds with reality; we say that God is the Truth.  We say that an act of generosity or charity is good; we say that God is the Good.  We say that a painting or a person is a "beauty"; we say that God is the Beautiful.  But are we really using the terms in t … [Read more...]

Of K-Tel Ads and Nat King Cole

I first heard of Nat King Cole when I was a small boy watching cartoons on TV. Or, rather, when I was a small boy wishing that the K-Tel commercial would wind up so that I could back to watching cartoons on TV. You remember those ads? There'd be a crawl of song names going up the screen as snippets of different songs played and the announcer explained how you could get all of these great hits for next to nothing. To this day there are songs that I find instantly recognizable despite never … [Read more...]

Leo Marks on Deciphering Mangled Codes

‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions’ caused forty-eight hours of purgatory when an F-section agent spelt hell with three ‘l’s.— Leo Marks, Between Silk and Cyanide: A Code Maker's War 1941-45From an outstanding book I'll be reviewing next week. … [Read more...]

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...]