December 7, 2018

Holiday season in Illinois means holiday displays at the Illinois State Capitol building, under the rotunda. It’s public property, which means anything is permitted so long as no public funds are used. So while we have a Christmas tree and nativity set for Christmas, and a Menorah for Hanukkah, we’ve also had a Festivus pole and, in 2015, a gay pride Festivus pole. No Festivus poles this year, though. No, instead of one of those, the 2018 holiday displays under… Read more

December 3, 2018

G.K. Chesterton wrote beautifully of Christmas, both in poetry, such as “The Christ-Child in Mary’s Lap,” and especially my favorite, his “Christmas Poem,” which gets to the heart of the paradox of Christmas: There fared a mother driven forth Out of an inn to roam; In the place where she was homeless All men are at home.” But my favorite is his meditation on the Nativity, “The God in the Cave,” from The Everlasting Man. This is Chesterton at his… Read more

November 14, 2018

The Christmas pudding is the crown of the Christmas feast. It has no equal. Before the pudding, the beef bows and the turkey trembles. Even a robust cabernet may hesitate before taking the pudding in its warm embrace, though their kiss is the signal for fireworks, joy, and mayhem. I made my first Christmas pudding six years ago, and I have made one every year since. The pudding ripening in my basement right now is one I made last year,… Read more

November 4, 2018

The week of October 22, as I wrote here, one of President Trump’s supporters mailed pipe bombs to critics of the president, including CNN. This past Friday, because the president seems pathologically incapable of uniting the country behind any cause or ideal, no matter how noble, Mr. Trump told reporters, to their faces, “You know what, you’re creating violence by your questions.” Lest anyone not get what the president really meant, he followed up with a thinly veiled dog whistle… Read more

October 30, 2018

America: terror nation. After last week, the week of October 22, twenty-one months into the Trump administration, it seems that that is what we have become. The week started with a pipe bomb discovered in the mailbox of billionaire George Soros. As the week progressed, more pipe bombs were found in mail intended for Barack Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, other liberal Democrat politicians, and CNN. Wednesday, two African Americans, Maurice Stallard and Vickie Jones, were shot and killed in… Read more

October 24, 2018

Fear is the relinquishment of logic, the willing relinquishing of reasonable patterns. We yield to it or we fight it, but we cannot meet it halfway. –The Haunting of Hill House I have now watched director Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting of Hill House all the way through twice. I may watch it a third time. The attraction is hard to describe. It’s good horror. It’s a good story. It’s a good horror story. It has that mysterious spark of magic that… Read more

September 22, 2018

I nearly forgot to wish everyone a Happy Hobbit Day. Hobbit Day is September 22, the birthday of both Bilbo and Frodo in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring. In the book, Bilbo celebrates his eleventy-first birthday and Frodo his thirty-third, the day hobbits come of age. How to celebrate? First, go barefoot. If you have hair on your toes, all the better. Give presents to others (hobbits give away presents on their birthdays). Also, get together with friends… Read more

September 18, 2018

“When Christ at a symbolic moment was establishing His great society, He chose for its corner-stone neither the brilliant Paul nor the mystic John, but a shuffler, a snob, a coward—in a word, a man.” —G.K. Chesterton, Heretics I was in my office, in my day job, the day Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected the 265th successor to St. Peter. A lot of time passed between when the white smoke first poured from the copper chimney on top of the… Read more

September 10, 2018

Pope Francis and President Donald Trump do not have much in common, but one characteristic they share is that they seem to bring out the worst in some people. And they do it just by being themselves. With Mr. Trump, it’s his ability to get racists to out themselves. They feel comfortable with him, and he with them. With Pope Francis, it’s his ability to get some Catholics to reveal their hostility to him—and by extension their hostility to the… Read more

September 5, 2018

I’d like to say a few words about Wednesday’s anonymous op-ed in the New York Times, written by a Trump administration staffer. Go read it, then come back here. Ready? Ok, here we go. First, this: “Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis.” Vice President Pence, or whomever wrote this, read… Read more

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