Evangelii Gaudium: God never tires of forgiving us

This question came up at RCIA this week: what's the difference between Peter and Judas? The Gospel says that Judas betrayed Jesus, and Peter denied him. One is vilified, one became pope. What's the deal?One obvious answer is that Judas delivered Jesus into the hands of those who would kill him, while Peter, hmm, well, he denied his Lord to save his skin. The two offenses aren't commensurate in human terms. But there's more to it than that: Peter repented, and sought forgiveness; Judas … [Read more...]

Dead as a Doornail

Bah! Humbug!

Sometimes as I'm reading I'll say to myself, "I like that sentence a whole lot." And if I'm reading on Kindle, as I usually am these days, I highlight the passage for later; and eventually it may show up on my blog in the Words I Wish I'd Written slot.Manny at Ashes from Burnt Roses has borrowed the notion and done something interesting with it. Manny's a mechanical engineer with a literature degree and a taste for poetry that far exceeds mine; and he's decided to highlight particular … [Read more...]

Bootstrapping the Interior Life: Devotions

Last time I talked about how spontaneity fails, at least for me, as an approach to daily prayer. So what's the alternative? If I'm not going to sit down and simply pray from my heart at the stated time, what am I going to do instead?The answer is to cultivate a devotion: that is, a prayer that is meant to be said daily. Low-church Protestants sometimes have trouble with this kind of prayer; it smacks of "vain repetition". But as I pointed out, trying to pray spontaneously every day led … [Read more...]

Art by Accident

This was first posted in September of 2003. And if you haven't read Chuck Jones' Chuck Amuck: The Life and Times of an Animated Cartoonist, you really need to.The news of Donald O'Conner's death prompted me to have a 2 Blowhards kind of moment the other day. As everyone knows, O'Conner was one of the leads in the classic film Singing in the Rain, arguably the best musical Warner Brothers ever made. It's now clear that Singing in the Rain is an outstanding work of art—but that was far from … [Read more...]

The Rocky Road to Dublin

I've been listening to a lot of Irish Traditional music recently, and one of my favorites is the "Rocky Road to Dublin". It's a 19th century music hall tune, per Wikipedia, and concerns the adventures of an Irishman who travels away from home to find work. He's heartbroken, and his belongings are stolen; eventually he takes ship to Liverpool (the captain makes him travel with the pigs), where he gets into a fight with the locals who make fun of him and of Ireland. It's a regular catalog of … [Read more...]

Words I Wish I’d Written: Bad, Bad Beer

The travelers were served by the innkeeper, whose manner suggested that he hoped they died horribly just as soon as they left the premises. The beer tasted as if it was happy to connive at this state of affairs.— Terry Pratchett, Soul Music … [Read more...]

I’m a Truckist

We were discussing the end of the world and the Second Coming at my Lay Dominican chapter meeting a couple of weeks ago, as is fitting for this time of year, and one of the things we discussed were the Dispensationalist notions of the Rapture, the Millennium, and the Tribulation, and what it means to be a pre-Millennialist, a post-Millennialist, or an a-Millennialist. Most of the members of my chapter are cradle Catholics and haven't been exposed to these notions, so it was quite educational … [Read more...]

Woof Guide to Obscure Catholic Music: Dwight and the Bikers

Dwight and the Bikers is a unique traveling worship ensemble. Advertising their music as "Heavy Metal Hymnody in the Anglican Tradition", they travel across the country, visiting Catholic churches seemingly at random, and bring them the beauty of classic Anglican hymns with the energy and power of heavy metal music. They strike without warning; usually the first sign a parish has of an impending visit is the roar of Dwight's Harley Davidson as he rides up to the front door of the church, clad … [Read more...]

Stopping for a Spell, by Diana Wynne Jones


What if the old armchair in front of the TV—the uncomfortable one that's been there for ages—came to life...and all it knew was what it had seen? What if all four (!) of your grandmothers came to take care of you on the same weekend? What if the worst houseguest in the world came, and lifted you into the air by your hair whenever you tried to do your piano practice?Stopping for a Spell, by Diana Wynne Jones, is a collection of three short stories about unpleasant house guests, with uno … [Read more...]