April 24, 2016

   “Paradox” by Brett Jordan is licensed under CC by 2.0   Whenever a new and controversial papal or conciliar document appears on the scene (Ahem…Amoris Laetitia) there will always be, as smoke follows fire, people claiming that what the document teaches is in contradiction to previous teaching.  The story of nearly every schism follows this pattern: the claim of some contradiction between a teaching and previous teaching, followed by theological controversy, followed by ecclesiastical disunity. We should not be surprised... Read more

March 13, 2016

    In two previous posts (here and here) I have given a little background about philosophical skepticism; how it originated in Ancient Greece and its effect on the culture after its rediscovery, translation, and dispersion through Western Europe beginning in the early Renaissance.  I noted its tenuous and volatile relationship with Christian thought and how it was used by both Catholics and Protestants in attacking each other’s criterions of faith.  Any kind of skepticism that asserts or implies that... Read more

February 28, 2016

Martinho da Vila By Senado Federal (Entrevistas Diversas) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons     This week we come to one of my favorite sambistas, Martinho da Vila.  The ‘Vila’ in his name refers to his neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, Vila Isabel, one of the great neighborhoods and associated samba schools in Rio’s geography of samba and home to another great sambista of the generation before Martinho, Noel Rosa. Martinho’s da Vila’s songs are known for their... Read more

February 14, 2016

A great cinematic introduction to samba is Marcel Camus’ 1959 film Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro).  Though a French production, many of the lead actors are Brazilian, several without any previous acting experience, and most of the film is shot at a well known favela in Rio known as Morro da Babilônia (The Hill of Babylon).  If that name rings a bell, it might be because one the poems written by Elizabeth Bishop during her years in Brazil is about a... Read more

February 7, 2016

For this weeks Sunday Samba series I’m going to share a piece by one of the greatest of Brazilian composers, Heitor Villa-Lobos.  This piece is extra special to me because I once e-mailed it to a Brazilian violinist who I was trying to impress with my musical knowledge.  It must have worked because she ended up marrying me. This is the fifth piece in a nine piece series called Bachianas Brasileiras, which are intended to fuse the baroque contrapuntal techniques... Read more

February 6, 2016

Souce: Coffee, Pixabay, C.C. Unless you’ve been fasting from the media, you’ve probably heard by now of the Zika virus. Though Zika has been around for decades, a new strain of the disease, thought to have come to Brazil by way of soccer fans from Polynesia visiting during the World Cup, has made the virus the topic du jure on account of a sudden and alarming uptick of children born with microcephaly in the Nordeste, the Northeast of Brazil.  This new strain... Read more

February 6, 2016

Whether it is reading her translation of Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things or perusing my well worn copy of Olives, AE Stallings is without doubt my favorite poet writing in English today.  As an American transplant to Greece (see the embedded video for Stallings reading a poem about her and her husband’s ending up there), Stallings has witnessed firsthand the tragedy unfolding in the Aegean and has elegized its victims in short, polished, abysmal, and heartrending verses.  Here are a few... Read more

January 31, 2016

Another hope I have for this blog is to share my love of all things Brazilian and, more broadly, Portuguese.  Every Sunday I will try to share some music from Brazil with you.  Though the posts are called Sunday Samba, I will share all kinds of music, from Forró to Música sertaneja to Fado.  In that spirit, my selection for this week is a beautiful song performed by the great Elis Regina about the simple faith of a caipira (country person) and... Read more

January 31, 2016

My last draft gave a brief introduction to ancient skepticism, particularly in the Pyrrhonian variety that interests me most. In part 2 I want briefly to touch on how skepticism came to play a role in Catholic thought, particularly during the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, and especially in the Essays of Michel de Montaigne. In part 3, the final part of this series of posts, I will touch on how I came to be interested in philosophical skepticism, the role it... Read more

January 23, 2016

  In a recent lecture given by Alasdair MacIntyre, he quotes the great Catholic poet Charles Peguy as saying “A great philosophy is not that which passes final judgements, which takes a seat in final truth. It is that which introduces uneasiness, which opens the door to commotion.” No philosophy has opened the door to commotion better than skepticism.  What is it?  Contemporary readers might associate the word with paranormal debunkers like the Skeptical Inquirer or the Amazing Randi.  That... Read more

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