January 30, 2015

A few weeks ago I posted a video of April Smith singing a happy, upbeat song called “A Movie Loves a Screen.” Since then I’ve plugged April Smith into Pandora to see what pops out; and among the various bits were two more songs by Smith about relationships that just weren’t ever going to work out. In the first, Smith laments that her lover is “Drop Dead Gorgeous”, but though he’s pretty she needs ’em “quick and witty”; he’ll just… Read more

January 29, 2015

We are who we are, where we are, when we are. And in that sense I prefer to compare us not to Chone Shmeruk, a twentieth-century Yiddish scholar, but to Zushya, a nineteenth-century Hasidic rabbi. “When I die,” Zushya foretold, “God will not ask me, ‘Zushya, why weren’t you more like Moses?’ God will ask, ‘Zushya, why were you not more like Zushya?’” — Aaron Lansky, Outwitting History I like this. The Christian life isn’t about becoming more like this… Read more

January 28, 2015

I found the above title in my idea notebook yesterday, and thought, well, yes, this is true. Unfortunately I didn’t capture any of the reflections that went along with the title, so I’ve no real idea what I was planning on saying about it. It’s too good a title to waste, though, so there it is. If I recall correctly, it had to do with making the bad behavior of others an excuse for bad behavior of one’s own. I… Read more

January 27, 2015

Despite being a long-time Steven Brust fan, I had somehow missed his collaboration with Skyler White, The Incrementalists. I’ve now rectified that, and I’m glad I did. I found it entertaining; and on the intellectual level I found it fascinating both for what it is and for what it isn’t. The “Incrementalists” of the title are a group of around two-hundred extremely long-lived men and women who are dedicated to the art of “meddling”: manipulating others by means of “switches”:… Read more

January 26, 2015

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here. Up until now, Thomas has mostly been working from Aristotle’s playbook.  He has shown us that: There is a First Cause That it is metaphysically simple That it is infinite That it is the Creator of all other beings and the source of all of their perfections At this point, then, we have a divine creator, but Thomas has not yet shown that this divine… Read more

January 23, 2015

My fellow Patheos blogger Fr. Dwight Longenecker has a new book out, a sequel to his 2009 book, The Gargoyle Code. It’s called Slubgrip Instructs: Fifty Days with the Devil; it’s a reflection on popular culture and the faith in the mode of C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. Fr. Dwight has a knack for writing in character, as witness the many alter egos that have populated his blog over the years; and like Uncle Screwtape many of them are intended… Read more

January 22, 2015

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… Read more

January 22, 2015

As a Constant Reader I’ve acquired a large collection of e-books; and though most are from Amazon I’ve also acquired a great many from other sources. Baen Books, for example, has the most amazing habit of putting their back list out on the ‘web for free download with no DRM. And like most people (so far as I can tell) I manage my non-Amazon e-books using an app called Calibre, which is a sort of an iTunes for e-books. Or,… Read more

January 21, 2015

Once, these many moons ago, I bought myself one of the first Amazon Kindles. Truly, it was a strange and wondrous beast, with a peculiar shape, page turn buttons you couldn’t help pushing if you held it wrong, an odd thumbwheel cursor for selecting a line, extremely slow page turns, and four shades of gray. I’d been interesting in the notion of e-books for quite some time, and the Kindle was the first that seemed to have the bookselling ecosystem… Read more

January 20, 2015

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 Church,… Read more

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