What’s Your Conception of God?


It's hard to discuss things fruitfully when you don't know what you're talking about.I'm not speaking here of out-and-out ignorance, of people pontificating on subjects of which they know little (although there's plenty of that going around, and I'm sure it was ever thus, and that I've contributed to it in my time). I'm speaking of something more subtle: of two people in dialog using the same words but meaning different things by them. Such hidden disagreements can generate quite a lot of … [Read more...]

Persevering in Prayer

One of the hardest things to do in the interior life is to persevere: to keep going, to keep praying every day, especially when, for some reason, we miss a day.  It's only natural.  If you're learning to play an instrument, and you don't practice, you don't want to face your instructor; and if you continue not to practice, you'll soon not be taking lessons.But the fact is, you're sometimes going to miss a day.  Sometimes you'll just not feel like it, and you'll go with that; other times yo … [Read more...]

On Starting a Blog War

Sarah Hoyt has some interesting remarks on how to conduct yourself in a blog war...most of which sound like good ideas for discourse in general. Things like knowing who you're talking to. Knowing what you're talking about. Attacking ideas, not individuals. Supporting your argument rather than appealing to what everybody knows (because it is probably wrong).I have no interest in starting a blog war—I am not a controversialist—but the points she makes are worthy of note. … [Read more...]

Review: On Food and Cooking, by Harold McGee

This was first posted in March of 2004.As I've hinted upon occasion, our favorite TV show at the moment is Good Eats, which airs on the Food Network. It's not so much that we're foodies (we're not) as that Alton Brown is both funny and informative. He doesn't just show you how to cook something; he also goes into the chemistry and physics of it. And he goes about it in a suitably whimsical way. Anyway, in Alton Brown's cookbook he references McGee's On Food and Cooking: The Science and … [Read more...]

App o’ the Morning: The Craic

The Irish Gaelic word "craic" is an odd bird. Pronounced "crack", it means "news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation", and apparently it's a culturally significant word in Ireland. I first ran across it in the Silly Wizard song "Take Her in Your Arms", which at one point describes the scene in a pub:There's a seisun in the corner, and the craic is grand tonight.That means that there are folks playing music in the corner (a "session"), and the conversation is … [Read more...]

Words I Wish I’d Written: Ad Hoc Repairs

It was less the antique feel— the red and gold lacquer, or the translucent panels and low ceilings, styles and skins— than it was the general air of dishevelment. Dirt snuggled in corners, rust peppered surfaces, ad hoc repairs had become permanent by the sanction of passing time.— Michael Flynn, On the Razor's Edge … [Read more...]

No Stupid Questions, No Wrong Answers

Wednesday is usually fiction day around here, but President's Day weekend threw off my schedule; so you're getting a half-assed Monday sort of piece instead.Two of my pet peeves: the dictums that "there are no wrong answers" and that "there are no stupid questions". These are usually used in classroom or group instruction settings to encourage people to ask and answer questions without being self-conscious. That's a good thing; and I'm sure that people who use these statements do so with … [Read more...]

Why Not Fiction?

Kelly Sedinger has some pertinent commentary on my last week's post "Why Write Fiction", which might perhaps better have been titled, "Why I Write Fiction," or even "How I Write Fiction".It appears that he writes the way I usually do, by making up details as he goes along. I prefer that; it's fun, and open-ended. What I'm doing with S'Mary's World feels more like solving a system of simultaneous equations: because I've built the world already, there are lots of constraints on what I can … [Read more...]

Review: The Nine Tailors, by Dorothy Sayers

The next of Dorothy Sayers' Peter Wimsey mysteries is The Nine Tailors, which I enjoyed thoroughly this time around, and more than the first time I read it. And the most interesting thing about it is that the mystery is the least interesting thing about it.Lord Peter is traveling through the Fen Country on New Year's Eve, and has a flat tire in the snow; and once rescued by the vicar of Fenchurch St. Paul finds himself dragooned to spend the night ringing bells. It seems that one of the … [Read more...]