Words I Wish I’d Written: Finding Your Dreams

For a time, great fleets of suspension ships sought to relieve population pressures at home by carting off the excess. That did not work. A vigorous age reproduces with vigor; as those whose cradles are barren are also barren in other ways. Elsetime did people search out nooks where they would be free to live as they wished. That did not work, either, for men bring oppression with them wherever they go and those who find their dreams will press them upon their children.— Michael Flynn, On T … [Read more...]

Why Write Fiction?

A flounder is not a happy-looking fish.

I don't have a piece about S'Mary's World today because I'm at the point in the project where I need to stop world-building and start writing some actual stories. That's not so quick. I find it fairly easy to put together a brief encyclopedia article about some aspect of a fictional world, but writing full stories is harder, and takes a lot longer.As a consolation prize, here are some thoughts on writing fiction, and my reasons for doing it.Some folks, when asked, will say they wrote a … [Read more...]

Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman

I'm taking a brief break from the Peter Wimsey books to review Neil Gaiman's latest, The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel, which calls itself "A Novel" but which is most definitely a fairy tale. The book begins with this evocative passage:It was only a duck pond, out at the back of the farm. It wasn’t very big.Lettie Hempstock said it was an ocean, but I knew that was silly. She said they’d come here across the ocean from the old country.Her mother said that Lettie didn’t re … [Read more...]

A Song for Nagasaki, by Paul Glynn

Nagasaki Cathedral

I've a difficult relationship with the atomic bomb. I mean that sincerely. I have a great ambivalence in my soul about the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.The Catholic Church teaches that targeting civilians is always and everywhere wrong, even if the war is otherwise just. By that measure, the German bombing of London and the American bombing of Nagasaki are both ruled out of court, even leaving the issue of nuclear weapons to the side. On top of that, the cities of Hiroshima and … [Read more...]

Adore: Live in the Presence

Several months ago, I discovered that the Catholic church around the corner from where I work has a presence chapel that's always open during the work day. This is unusual in my area; most of the churches in my area are locked unless there's a Mass or other service in progress. The chapel has one of those tabernacles with a little door on the front, so that the Blessed Sacrament can easily be exposed for Eucharistic Adoration.Since then I've gotten in the habit of stopping by there on my … [Read more...]

Writing Words vs. Writing Fiction


The core of this post was written in March of 2004 in response to a post by Kelly "Jaquandor" Sedinger of Byzantium's Shores. I find it delightful that the link to Kelly's post still works, and that Kelly is still writing. Here's the old post; and then I'll have some more words at the end.* * * * *Over here, Jaquandor discusses whether blogging is bad for writers. It seems a correspondent had suggested that blogging is simply another form of procrastination, and of no benefit to a … [Read more...]

ABC Music Notation


One of the neat things about exploring a field you know little about is that you can learn a lot in a very short time. Last week I talked about LilyPond, a nice application for typesetting music. It's a powerful program, capable of typesetting books of multipart orchestral scores. It works for me, and I like it. However, I've since learned that the world of folk music runs on a different music typesetting notation called ABC. ABC notation has been around for twenty years this month, and has … [Read more...]

Tramps and Hawkers

One of the songs I've been enjoying recently, both as listener and as player, is "Tramps and Hawkers". It's a song that was written in the 19th century by a Scottish "hawker" named Besom Jimmy. Nowadays, a hawker would be a kind of travelling salesmen; here, it certain means some kind of traveling sort, though whether tinker, tailor, beggar, or peddler I don't know. It begins like this:Oh come a’ ye tramps an hawkers an gaitherers o bla, That tramps the country roon an r … [Read more...]

Catechesis vs. Discipleship

Hagia Sophia - Christ Pantocrator

There's been a lot of discussion here on the Catholic Channel about how to do catechesis better, starting with Joanne McPortland's humble proposal to do away with catechesis of children and catechize adults instead. She wasn't entirely serious, but there was a lot to what she said. Leah Libresco, Elizabeth Duffy, Greg Popcack, and of course Elizabeth Scalia have all chipped in, and I'm probably missing a few.Here's my take: catechesis is the wrong focus, and discipleship is the right one. … [Read more...]