“Twenty Good Men” [Dark Country: Songs For October]

Series introduction and other entries. New Riders of the Purple Sage: "Twenty Good Men" My favorite NRPS song. I wore out Marin County Line replaying this one when I was about ten. Pirates, murder, and revenge: what's not to love?  … [Read More...]

The Mass of St Gregory, by Robert Campin, 15th century

St. Gregory the Great’s Bath-house Ghost

Okay, one more story from a Church Father before the weekend. This is one of the more famous tales, and it comes from Pope St. Gregory the Great’s marvelously entertaining grab bag of useful stuff, the Dialogues.This is an example of the way the Church used ghost stories to prove the benefit of the mass and the reality of purgatory. Enjoy, and have a pleasant weekend free of spectres and spooks. Bishop Felix…said that he had been told of such a case by a saintly priest who was still living t … [Read More...]

Me, On the Radio

Yeah, I know: whoop-de-do. Anyway, I'm on Register Radio Talking about The Rule and St. Benedict's Prep.Register Radio airs worldwide Fridays at 2:00 p.m. EDT and encores Saturday: 8:00 p.m. and EDT Sunday: 11:00 a.m. on 270+ EWTN AM & FM affiliates across the U.S., as well as on SiriusXM Satellite Radio (channel 130,) and on Sky (our European broadcast); and around the world on web stream through www.ewtn.com/radio, via mobile devices (EWTN, iHeartRadio and TuneIn free apps. You can … [Read More...]

Reliquary for the head of St. Martin

St. Martin and the Thief’s Ghost

The main role of ghosts in the literature of the early church was to display the power of the saints. While Augustine was still alive, Sulpitius Severus wrote The Life of St. Martin, in which we find the following tale of Martin confronting and vanquishing the evil ghost of a thief who was being worshiped by mistake: Not far from the town and very close to the monastery was a place [a village called Calitonnum] which enjoyed a certain sanctity because of the mistaken opinion that martyrs were … [Read More...]

“Down From Dover” [Dark Country: Songs For October]

Series introduction and other entries. Dolly Parton: "Down From Dover" The one and only Dolly, with one of her most poignant songs, about a woman left pregnant and abandoned by her lover. Controversial in its time, she later recut it for her bluegrass album Little Sparrow. The later version is superior and adds a verse, but I can't find it to embed. … [Read More...]

Pope Benedict with the bones of St. Augustine

St. Augustine’s Rejection of Ghosts

Our final look at Augustine’s theology of the dead comes from On the Care to be Taken For the Dead (De cura pro mortuis gerenda), written in 421 to Paulinus, Bishop of Nola. The text was a response to a question from Paulinus, and is quite touching in places.A woman had asked for her son to be buried near the tomb of St. Felix, and she asked if there was any benefit in this. Paulinus said yes, but then reconsidered and put the question to Augustine.Augustine’s primary concern when add … [Read More...]

“All My Tears” [Dark Country: Songs For October]

Series introduction and other entries. Emmlyou Harris: "All My Tears" It all began with Emmylou for me. A friend told me to listen to Ballad of Sally Rose, and that was the first time I took country seriously. I wanted her in this series somewhere, but which song? Some of her songs, like "Boulder to Birmingham," touch on dark subjects so gently they hardly count. "All My Tears" from her pivotal album "Wrecking Ball"is a song of both sadness and hope in salvation, while "Deeper Well" is a h … [Read More...]

The Devil and St Augustine Carlisle Cathedral

St. Augustine’s Ghost Story

St. Augustine was the first Church Father to consider at length stories of ghostly apparitions that appeared in various strands of hagiography, legend, scripture, and eyewitness testimony. It’s not truly a “theology of ghosts,” but it’s a more developed consideration of the subject that anyone else, even Tertullian, had attempted, or indeed would attempt for centuries.Augustine firmly rejected the idea that the dead could return from the afterlife to make themselves visible to the living. … [Read More...]

“God’s Gonna Cut You Down” [Dark Country: Songs For October]

Series introduction and other entries. Johnny Cash: "God's Gonna Cut You Down" The "you" is Satan. Johnny believed. You hear it in every note. … [Read More...]


St. Augustine’s Three Types of Vision [Ghosts and the Church]

Before we get down to St. Augustine’s thoughts on ghosts, I need to do some spadework by exploring his understanding of different ways of seeing. He explains this in On Genesis Literally Interpreted (De Genesi ad litteram), his sprawling twelve-part study that is one of his least-read major works. (Don't confuse it with the minor, earlier work, On the Literal Interpretation of Genesis: An Unfinished Book--De Genesi ad litteram imperfectus liber.) Augustine’s work follows standard ideas found in a … [Read More...]

Brain networks in two vegetative patients (left and middle), alongside a healthy person (right). Credit: Srivas Chennu

New Techniques Detect Consciousness in Vegetative Patients

People in a "vegetative state" may have far more brain activity than previously thought, LiveScience reports: ...researchers looked at 32 comatose patients and 26 healthy people. Some of the comatose patients were diagnosed as "minimally conscious," meaning there was some evidence that they may have retained some awareness of their surroundings (for example, the patient could follow simple commands, such as squeezing a finger). But others were diagnosed as "vegetative," which means they were … [Read More...]


Did King Harold Survive the Battle of Hastings?

The team of surveyors who found the body of Richard III is hoping they're on a roll. Their next mission is to prove that King Harold II survived the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and lived to a ripe old age in a monastery.The Bayeux Tapestry shows Harold--last king of the Anglo-Saxons--shot in the eye with an arrow. The Carmen de Hastingae Proelio, possibly written shortly after the battle, adds that he was set upon by four knights and dismembered.Norman propaganda! some say. (Hey, watch it … [Read More...]

“3 Shades of Black” [Dark Country: Songs For October]

Series introduction and other entries. "3 Shades of Black": Hank Williams III This is darker than most, and Hank 3 seems to kind of enjoy it that way. I'm less struck by the lyrics than I am by the eerie resemblance of his voice his grandfather's. The song certainly not to every taste, and lacks the moral core both his father and grandfather put at the heart of their darkest songs, but it's interesting to see a third generation of Williams shaking up the country formula. … [Read More...]


Idaho Ministers May Be Forced to Perform Gay Weddings

I can't say I'm very surprised by reports that an ordained minister who runs a wedding chapel is being compelled to perform gay "marriages." We always knew the gay lobby was lying when they claimed people with traditional religious beliefs had nothing to fear from the advance of the gay agenda. A movement built entirely on affirming the awesomeness of certain sexual habits was never going to stop at mere tolerance.I just expected it to take a little longer: Donald and Evelyn Knapp are ap … [Read More...]


The “Thank You God the Synod Is Over” Post

Well, that was fun, and by "fun" I mean "let's never do that again."At least not for another year.What a mess. The twitchy year leading up to the Synod on the Family has seen a steady rise in anxiety in the very tiny corner of the Catholic pool represented by social media and blogs.The nature of the synod is nothing new: different factions arguing about doctrine and pastoral concerns are as old as the Church itself. Remember Galatians? "When Peter came to Antioch I rebuked him to his … [Read More...]