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...]

Stood Up For A Fish

Koi #5

This was first posted in November of 2004.I suppose I've been stood up a time or two in my life, but never for such a reason as this.Every Friday, I and a couple of other folks get together at lunchtime to play recorder music. (If you don't know what a recorder is, go here.) There used to be four of us, and then Mo decided to move up to the Bay Area. (Shame on her!) Every once in a while, though, she comes down to Los Angeles, and when she does she tries to join us on Friday so that … [Read more...]

Anúna: Choral Music with an Edge

When I posted some songs in Gaelic a few weeks ago, Joseph Susanka pointed out an alternate version of "Fionnghuala" by a choral group called Anúna. I'd heard it before, and it's amazing (be sure to turn up the volume):Anúna is an Irish choral group, exploring older traditional Irish music (i.e., not pub tunes). "Fionnghuala", for example, is a figure from Irish mythology, being one of the Tuatha Dé Danann. Another Irish tune I've known for years (in Clannad's version) is "Dúlamán"; an … [Read more...]

Words I Wish I’d Written: Evening Dress

It was definitely evening dress. You couldn’t get away with it in daylight.— Terry Pratchett, in The Fifth Elephant, describing Sergeant Detritus' idea of evening wear. The quote continues, "The troll looked like a wall with a bow tie." … [Read more...]

Spiritual Engineering

People have the notion that Christians are control freaks. We want to tell you how to live, and what you should do, and take all of your freedom away. And certainly there are Christians like that. (Pick any sin you like, there are Christians who exemplify it—and that's no surprise, it's just what you'd expect if you understand Christian teaching.)But really, we aren't meant to be control freaks. At our best, we should have no desire to tell others just exactly how they should l … [Read more...]

CT 3.1, The Existence of God


Continuing my series on Aquinas; find the rest here.Now, preliminaries settled, we dive into the deep end. Chapter 3 of the Compendium Theologiae begins,Regarding the unity of the divine essence, we must first believe that God exists. This is a truth clearly known by reason.In dealing with truths known by revelation, Thomas proceeds in one of two ways. Some of these revealed truths can also be known by reason; and these he attempts to prove. Others can be known only by … [Read more...]