Five Quick Takes

Five Quick Takes November 10, 2020


I haven’t given up on my current blog series, but the past week has been bonkers, not least for political reasons. I’ve been too anxious and worn out to write. As badly as I wanted Biden to win (or, more accurately, wanted Trump out), I didn’t dare trust the polls that were suggesting a Biden victory. The polls from last time said Hillary Clinton was going to win, after all. The results Friday were a powerful wave of relief.

And now, quick as anything, the Trump regime is not only refusing to concede but moving to consolidate its hold on power. The abrupt leadership overhaul at the Pentagon is bad enough; Pompeo’s remarks about the budget are, if anything, more disquieting. Dramatic movements in a field like defense can represent mere raging ego, but movements in a boring, daily-grind field like the budget suggest a serious expectation of staying in power. Call me paranoid, but I’m beginning to think Trump and his staff will not leave unless they are removed by force. I doubt Trump will be able to sway the armed forces to violate their oaths, so I’m not so much worried that a coup would succeed; but that doesn’t mean things won’t get messy.


And of course the McCarrick report dropped today, too. I’m planning to read it and give my thoughts here within the next few days. I’ve read a couple pieces about it—Austen Ivereigh of Where Peter Is has what appears to be a decent summary of its implications for Archbishop Viganò. But I’m trying to figure out how to stay timely without rushing. Though I wasn’t abused by a priest specifically, I am a survivor of abuse, and I don’t want to rip myself up inside. I read Dr Leon Podles’ Sacrilege a little over a year ago, and that was plenty rough for the next several months.

I really hope 2021 has some peace and quiet. Civil and ecclesiastical.


On the plus side, the present distress has helped motivate me to get back to the confessional. Even before coronavirus restrictions, I’d been shirking the sacrament of penance for months on end. Tonight made my second confession in the space of only one month.


I’m continuing work on The Book of Salt, the sequel to my first novel, Death’s Dream Kingdom. Like its predecessor, this book follows the post-life career of Marie Redglass and the vampire underbelly of Victorian London. The landscape has changed drastically since Dream. Marie has become a nigh-unstoppable killing machine; her brother is trying to find out what happened the night she disappeared thirteen years ago; a powerful vampire has gone mad and begun murdering his own kind; and a group of Catholic vampire hunters are working against them all, thanks in part to a mysterious book that promises to invoke the assistance of angels. Intrigue and bloodshed play out against the backdrop of the unnaturally icy summer of 1888, the year of the Ripper.

If you simply can’t wait for more Catholic vampire fare, I can recommend Jennifer the Damned by Karen Ullo in the meantime. Set in modern times and featuring a different meta than I use, the consequences of vampirism are equally informed by sacramental theology and, if anything, much more terrifying than mine.


As I think I’ve mentioned here before, I have fallen down the deep hole of YouTube fandoms. BreadTube was my gateway drug: channels like ContraPoints, Philosophy Tube, Sarah Z, Shaun, and of course, Lindsay Ellis. Through her I’ve also gotten into the film and media criticism side of things, e.g. Jenny Nicholson, Todd in the Shadows, Sideways, Schaffrillas Productions, and above all, Folding Ideas. (I have no idea where Legal Eagle falls in this, but he’s a great pleasure to watch as well.) Next time you’re looking for something to kill ten minutes to an hour with, try out one of those links.

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