Sandra Boynton: Delightful Goofiness

Most people, I suppose, know Sandra Boynton from her line of greeting cards with Recycled Paper products, and her vast output of picture books for small children. (If I had a dollar for every time I read Barnyard Dance to my kids at bedtime, I'd be a wealthy man.)But I'm not sure how many people know that Boynton is something of a songwriter. She started releasing albums in 1996 with Grunt, an album of Pigorian chant. Someone gave me a copy, and though it was pleasantly silly I admit I … [Read more...]

Archie Says: On Locks and Listening


Archie Goodwin on locks and listening:It is always a temptation to monkey with locks, and one of the best ways to test ears is to enter someone’s castle uninvited and, while you are looking here and there for something interesting, listen for footsteps on the stairs or the sound of an elevator. If you don’t hear them in time your hearing is defective, and you should try some other line of work when you are out and around again.— Rex Stout, Champagne for OneArchie is, of course, the l … [Read more...]

Writing Flawed Characters

dead tree

I only got about a thousand words written on Watchman for Daybreak this week, but I feel like I'm making great progress.First, it's interesting to work in such a different way than usual. Usually I start at the beginning and writing the story to find out what happens; this time, I know pretty much what's going to happen from one end of the story to the other, at least in its broad outlines. Consequently, I'm writing not to find out what happens, but to find out how and why it happens. In … [Read more...]

Review: Gates of Fire, by Steven Pressfield


We've all heard of the 300 Spartans who held the pass at Thermopylae against the Persians, and who died to the last man. What we mostly don't know is who they were, and why they were fighting. Who don't know who the Persians were, or why they were threatening Greece. Steven Pressfield's novel Gates of Fire makes up for this lack.I'd read a bit about the Spartans over the years, enough to know that they were unusual even for Ancient Greece. By our standards, they were brutal and violent; … [Read more...]

Taste and See

world of warcraft

For the past several weeks I've been talking about Christian belief: how I came to belief, and the general basis for belief in Christ. In particular, I maintained the following points:God is the creator of the cosmos. He is transcendent, i.e., not part of the cosmos, but also immanent, i.e., He works actively within every part of the cosmos. We can prove through natural theology that this kind of God must exist. Natural theology doesn't tell us very much about Him. Because … [Read more...]

Lumen Fidei: The Vine and the Branches

grape vines

We often speak as though to be a Christian you have to be good—as though being good was a necessary precondition for being a Christian. In fact, the dynamic points the other way: it is through faith in Christ that we can truly become better than we are.The thing about being good is that it takes energy. It is work. And although it is work that we can undertake on a purely human level, given that the natural law is available to everyone, it is not a task that we can complete on our o … [Read more...]

Eusebius’ History of the Church

Constantine and Friends

This post was first posted in August of 2004.When I first ran into The Da Vinci Code I knew it was nonsense; as history buff, I already had enough general historical knowledge under my belt that it smelled really bad. Nevertheless, it prompted me to go out and see what I could find on the specifics, and this book is the first fruits of that.The History of the Church is the earliest history we have of the Christian faith in its first few centuries. Eusebius was born around 260 AD, and … [Read more...]

The Full Goofy: Shel Silverstein


Last week I looked at beautiful singing in Gaelic, continuing a general Irish/Celtic theme around here; today I thought I'd do something completely different, and bring it the full goofy.I got to know Shel Silverstein from his books The Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends, which used to come very handy at bedtime, and from a recording or two I used to hear on the Dr. Demento show when I was in high school. But Silverstein was a true songwriter, and he wrote songs for all kinds of … [Read more...]

Annunciation: The Mystery of Vocation


I think of the Annunciation as the Mystery of Vocation, the Mystery of Calling. The Lord called Mary to be the theotokos, the God-Bearer. Jesus calls each of us to follow him, each in our own way. Jesus called me to be a husband and father, and much later to be a lay member of the Order of Preachers. It is our part to answer that call as Mary did, with “Fiat voluntas tua.”My April piece for CatholicMom is on the First Joyful Mystery of the Rosary, the Annunciation. … [Read more...]