Lumen Fidei: Is Truth Totalitarian?

In paragraph 34 of Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis writes,Truth nowadays is often reduced to the subjective authenticity of the individual, valid only for the life of the individual. A common truth intimidates us, for we identify it with the intransigent demands of totalitarian systems.(My emphasis.)In other words, my truth is what I choose to live by; your truth is at best an impertinent demand, at worst an unjust interference with my autonomy. (The Pope is describing this point of view, … [Read more...]

Good Advice: Just Say Yes

The original of this post first appeared in February, 2005.As the title says, "Just say yes!"My friend Ian says that this is good advice for screenwriters; I’d say it’s good advice for software developers as well, and probably for anybody involved in doing creative work for a customer. In short, when asked to do something you think is a mistake, say “Yes.” Then find out what they are hoping to get from it; they have a reason for asking. Then think about it, and see if you can figure a way … [Read more...]

Ringo meets Irving at High Noon

I discovered the Dr. Demento show when I was in Junior High School in the 1970's, and one of the novelty songs that was soon indelibly written on my brain was Frank Gallop's "The Ballad of Irving", a little tragicomic ditty about a Jewish cowboy who happens to be the 142nd fastest gun in the west. (Even on the range, we are assured, Irving used two sets of dishes.) It's a fun tune:If you look on the album cover in the video, you'll also see Valerie Harper's name.Fast forward a … [Read more...]

Words I Wish I’d Written: Misery

Sergeant Colon was a picture of misery, drawn on a lumpy pavement in bad crayon on a wet day.— Terry Pratchett, The Fifth Elephant. Colon, a life-long sergeant, has just been informed that he's being promoted to acting captain. It will not Go Well, and fans of The Caine Mutiny will do well to keep an eye on the sugar cubes. … [Read more...]

Saints on Both Sides of the Stupid

Every so often I remind myself that in St. Catherine of Siena's day there were future saints on both sides of the Western Schism. For almost seven decades the popes had resided in Avignon, well under the thumb of the King of France—a state of affairs that was bad for the Church and probably wasn't all that good for France either. The Avignon Papacy ended in 1376 AD when Catherine persuaded Pope Gregory XI to bring the papacy back to Rome. Gregory died not long after the move, and his i … [Read more...]

The Pope is a Tolkien Fan!

Now this is simply too cool for words: Pope Francis used Frodo and Sam as an example in a message to Catholic educators while he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. Billy Kangas has the story (and what Billy says about Tolkien goes for me too, except that I'm sure I've been at it longer). … [Read more...]

Review: Something Other Than God, by Jennifer Fulwiler

Making up the sole deficit in the present book.

This review is for the handful of you out there who aren't already aware of Jennifer Fulwiler's new book, Something Other Than God, which is her conversion story: how, after having been raised an atheist, her relentless pursuit of something that would give meaning to her life, something that made sense, led her into the Catholic Church. The title comes from a well-known quote by C.S. Lewis, and is a description of her life before she met Christ:All that we call human history...[is] the … [Read more...]

CT 3.2, The Heavenly Bodies

Continuing my look at Chapter 3 of the Compendium Theologiae. The complete series is here.Thomas was talking about how one thing moves (i.e., causes change in) another thing, and referenced Medieval astronomy as an example. Because the motion of the heavenly bodies figured largely in Aristotle’s notions of the Unmoved Mover, we should spend a little time on it.To Thomas, as to Aristotle—and, in fact, to everyone who lived before the invention of the telescope—the stars and planets seeme … [Read more...]

Lumen Fidei: Hearing His Voice, Seeing His Face

People talking

In paragraph 28 of Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis points out that faith-knowledge is relational: God reveals Himself to us in relationship. Next, in paragraph 29, he recalls St. Paul's dictum, "faith comes from hearing"; and this dictum makes a great deal of sense, if you think about it. How do I learn from another? By listening to him and to his words; by making an effort to pay attention. It's a process that takes time, and that I have to choose to cooperate in, or the learning won't occur. … [Read more...]