Monday, December 31, 2012

So Let the Old Year Die

... with a fond goodbye,
And our hopes as high as a kite ...

Saturday, December 29, 2012

White Christmas

When I left my family's house on the 26th, it was snowing.  It had started snowing on Christmas Eve, and kept the habit up, on and off, with breaks for the air to crystallize, for two days.  It was the first white Christmas we've had in some time, and one of the best in memory.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Everything for Some Time

I was preparing to write a post along the lines of The Preacher, remarking on how little had happened since I abandoned serious blogging for Mr. Shakespeare.  The first draft (everything written should have at least two drafts) was about four hundred words strong when I put it aside for an afternoon.  Before I had a chance to come back to it, Newtown had happened, making my post on the vanity of vanities somewhat ... vain?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Good Word

... is as soon said as a bad one.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Finally, Mon Freres

It's not a post just for you, but it's a post—and well worth reading, thanks to the great Fr. Schall.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

If Through Your Carelessness

... your wife becomes a widow, who will cook for you?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

In the First and Most Penitent Place

... apologies for the extended silence.  In the second and most abject place, that silence will continue for about another week, as the school semester ties up.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

When Reason Preaches

... if you don't hear, she'll box your ears.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Guy Named Claude

As I sit here ruminating and pecking away at a paper on Hamlet, eating popcorn and wishing the kitchen weren't so far away that I have to get up to get a drink of orange juice, a typo strikes my eye and sparks a thought.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

There Is Much Difference ...

... between imitating a good man, and counterfeiting him.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Dreaming of a White ...

... House.  Again.  I know.  But wouldn't you live here if you could?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

On the Beauty of Saying Goodnight

Exercising the prerogative that sole proprietorship confers, I hereby decree Thursday to be the middle of this week, and promise (with the almost infinite condescension commensurate with such greatness) to provide a piece of music for you then.  As to the movement of the day, the Europeans and the great GKC himself give us a precedent in any case; as to the music, it may not be very much better by having been waiting for, but at least it will be—which it isn’t now—and existence, they say, is a good thing in and of itself.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I've Never Been Able to Decide ...

... whether this song is the perfection of misery or the misery of perfection.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

One Week Later

Aside from being a cheesily-voiced Bob Hope line from that scintillating all-star war-time radio drama entitled "Dick Tracy in B Flat" (listen to a four minute clip), "One Week Later" strikes me as being an apt way to introduce the topic of last Tuesday.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Patient Waiting ...

... is often the highest way of doing God's work on earth.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Because We Need a Muse Today

There will be mourning or celebration tomorrow, of course.  But it seems appropriate to to express this request now rather than then.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

And Now, for Something Completely Different

So, you think "We Will Rock You" is what they played at medieval tournaments?  You think Chaucer had that on his playlist?  Think again.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Wumpick and the Wimpy Apostolate

[On occasion, when I produce some fictional missive or dialogue for this blog, I feel it necessary to remind my readers that the persons represented bear no resemblance to other persons, real.  (Their resemblance to other fictional persons is a matter of course.)  In the present instance I think it prudent to reiterate for the sake of my friends that the patient is NOT me, nor her state of mind mine.  What relation my habits of thought bear to those of the other characters in this drama, it should—even to those who know me well—be wholly unnecessary to state. ~Saturday.]

My dear Wumpick,

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"Lazy"

Sooooo, grad school ... it brings out strange things in the heart of man (or woman). Tendencies of which one wotted not before.  First I find myself relating to Hamlet, and now this:

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Wumpick and the Opposite Job

My Dear Wumpick,

So, your patient is dissatisfied with her current situation?  Certain duties attendant upon her state in life, or at any rate, upon her present occupations, she finds annoying?  More damnably yet, she finds them—boring?  Boredom, you know, is the ultimate torture conceivable by the mind of modern Western man.  This only goes to show that modern Western man has a very deficient concept of torture.  Of course, in this as in all errors the humans make, there is an inkling of truth.  There are from the human standpoint many and far more painful tortures than boredom; but from our standpoint there are few more effective.  You have heard the American phrase, “The idle brain is the devil's playground.”  There is a great deal of truth in that.  Certain men’s vices can tempt them to certain sins; boredom can tempt almost anyone to almost anything.

Unavailable

That was the status of the house I was looking at.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Used to Be

So I was driving home Sunday night, listening to 88.5 FM as usual, and heard that Andy Williams had died.  Aside from the fact that he was a good singer, in the mode of Bing Crosby or Dean Martin, I knew (and still know) next to nothing about him.  But Ed Walker played a couple pieces of his that started me thinking.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Bird Had It

Every weekday for the last couple months, every since I moved to the city where the night lights hide the stars, I've had to walk past an Obama campaign office.  I've mused over the little figures of the man and the woman, spray painted onto ye olde style sidewalk in blue and pink, and stylized in that oh-so-familiar way; and I've wondered whether they came with the campaign or were inherited from an earlier occupant of the office.  I've side-stepped to avoid the chalked arrows (also pink and blue, if less highly stylized—an arrow is to begin with that much less complex than a human being to begin with) and chuckled inwardly when the fall rains washed them out every evening after dark.  The arrows lead from the street back into the alley where the office door is located and, along with their obvious ephemorality and with the presence of the little man and the little woman, called to mind the story of Hansel and Gretel.  It was hard not just to taste the windows of the office; I suspected them of being sweet, and I was quite sure that the copy machine made gingerbread men.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Monday, October 1, 2012

Cross My Heart

There is a certain careful school of thought regarding promises.  It takes somewhat the same tack as that advised by the old man who bade his interrogator ask him no questions lest he hear lies.  Its adherents are the people who RSVP "maybe" on Facebook (guilty! guilty! I am guilty!).

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Friday, September 28, 2012

Bells Again

Remember that one week this summer, when I had to travel to a friend's wedding and couldn't write the weekly column?  Well, 'tis the season again.  This time it's a young lady I've known since we were both about ten; and while I don't have an excruciatingly long car ride to her church, I am singing with my siblings for the ceremony—which process comes with its own hassle of practices.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Recipe for an Absolutely Smashing Concert

(1) Charming singer.
(2) Wonderful friends.  (Sorry, no link for that!  You'll have to find some of your own.)
(3) Song I had not heard before from opera that I only vaguely knew about that is (a) related to my studies, (b) for some reason vaguely reminiscent of the graduate life, and (c) amazing!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The End of Scott: Or, a True History of One Morning Between the Hours of Six and Eight in Our Nation's Capital

I arose somewhat earlier than was my usual wont, for I had much to accomplish on that particular morning which could not readily have been undertaken in that condition in which nature so inclines me to be found at these early hours, namely, in that state of recline which is so pleasant at the beginning of the day and so necessary at the end of it.  I arose, and heard with mild chagrin a rushing sound, as it were of a river contained within porcelain walls, and hurtling down from a great height with such savage force as might have dashed a rider in a boat that sought to traverse it with much danger into the depths towards which, drawn by those intransigent forces that surround and direct, almost unseen, animate and inanimate creation alike, the river itself was irremediably drawn.  My roommate was in the bathroom.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Three Guesses What I Did Last Night

WNO managed to put on a pretty good Anna Bolena.  The costumes weren't quite as awesome as below, but Sondra Radvanovsky's Anna was ... with all respect to Netrebko ... pretty nearly this good.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

In the Cool

Where else would you be with Bing?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

In Defense of Liberty

Liberty gets a bad rap these days, especially political and religious liberty.  There are those on the progressive side of things, who pay lip-service to liberty but when pressed admit that they can only give it value to the extent that it comes under the double-headed banner of fairness and non-offensiveness.  There are those on the reactionary side of things, who openly deny that liberty is worthy of its former to-die-for dignity.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

In Defense of Talking Stump

I'm not a fan of Clint Eastwood.  I haven't seen many of his movies (in fact, I don't think I've seen any except for Gran Torino).  Those who know me know I've got—personal and philosophical problems, with language and violence on film.  I spent most of The Dark Knight Rises with my head either between my knees or behind my hands.  This actually makes me uniquely qualified to be a movie critic.  After all, how many reviewers write from that perspective?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Deposuerit

I confess, I have been thinking about politics this week—probably more than a student of English literature should.  But I swear this selection was not inspired by those meditations.  Still, there's no denying it's a happy thought, this deposuit potentes.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Truth, Justice, and ... Equivocation?

Yesterday an online acquaintance took a look at the long-standing controversy over the tactics of Live Action, the pro-life group has been described (both positively and pejoratively!) as "Liars for Jesus."

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Belated, But ...

May you have as lovely an evening as I've had a day.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

"The Help Women Want"

So I am now *cough cough* an Associate Editor for a very prestigious (wait, wait; we will be!) web magazine for which I have previously written and which you should all take a look at now and again.  Behold, my first post for the Editor's Blog.

"The Help Women Want"

Todd Akin's recent comments, and the Romney-Ryan campaign’s decision to come out against restricting abortions under certain circumstances, took me mentally to a place I do not like to go very often.  Politics has a way of doing that.  If you are reading this, and you haven’t read Altcatholicah’s current top story, “Tragedy Compounded,” I urge you to go read it.  The author speaks with much authority on the matter than I could.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Andy About the Law

There's a little known Andy Griffith Show episode that deals with Opie's school days.  Little known, because the show actually never made it onto the air—the program's producers judged that it contained a thinly-veiled anti-McCarthyite message, and chose not to run it.  Most collections of the show don't include it even as an "extra" because its tone is so different from most of the regular episodes'.  That's a shame, because it's a truly fascinating parable.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Having a Problem?

So it seems that I (and Fr. Z) were perhaps a bit harsh to the thugs of the internet world, by which he means primarily spammers and hackers but under which heading I include those fools whose comments mark them as being clearly not of good will.  The poor fellows probably can't help themselves: they were all latch-key kids growing up, and most of them, at the ripe old age of thirty-seven, still are.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thugs and Trolls

Most of you know I have a Thing about bad manners on the internet—"bad manners" being a catch-all phrase that includes anything profane, vulgar, tasteless, illogical, irrational, uncharitable, precipitous, or just plain badly thought out.  Those of you who share this Thing (and that is all of you, oui, mon frères?) will be glad to know that the inimitable Fr. Z has a litany especially for the purpose of converting the villains who indulge in such Bad Behavior.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I Don't Play Favorites

... when it comes to Mozart's piano concertos.  'Cause really, I don't have the technique for it.  I can't even get #9 under my belt.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Please Don't Hate the Pretty People

Monday morning one of my coworkers complained about Ryan being good-looking—not in an envious way, but in frustration with the average voter.  He asserted that (for example) Chris Christie, whose political persona combines all the girth, charm, and gall of Nero Wolfe, could never be picked as a VP: he just isn't attractive enough.  Of course, underdog rooters like my coworker and I might consider this a good thing; but the point stands.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Grossly Irresponsible

This post was going to be a love letter to Paul Ryan.  Now, it's going to be a strongly worded rebuke to fellow Catholics who can't seem to do even a wee bit of research.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Missketeers at Home

Last night was quite amazing.  It began virtuously, with attempts to copyedit, attend lectures in support of intellectual friends, and the like, and ended with a veritable bacchanal of conversation.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I Won't Grow Up

When I was younger, shorter, and more flexible than I am today, I thought I could be a ballerina when I grew up.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Monday, August 6, 2012

It's a Great Day

~Ramona Quimby.

What great day?  Why, the Feast of the Transfiguration, in case you didn't know!  (S'OK, per usual I did not either, until noon Mass.)

Expect Nothing

... sayeth Juster's Weatherman, "and then the unexpected never happens."

This would be an excellent bit of advice, except for the fact that it is impossible to expect nothing, just as it is impossible not to think of an aqua elephant. In practice, therefore, the sentence translates into a recommendation of low expectations, which I abominate.

Friday, August 3, 2012

When Virtue Pays III: Pearl Hunting

I hope you all enjoyed the professor on Wednesday.  Harold Hill is an instructive example of a rather curious phenomenon—call it the anti-Shtcherbatsky, the hypocrite who, due to circumstances outside of his control but relating directly to his practice of hypocrisy, ends up a good man.  (Another example of the same phenomenon, I would argue, is Shakespeare’s Prince Hal—but that is another story.)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Tell-Tale Signs of Corruption

Last week I read about Dan Patch.  Which reminded me ... the last several MWMs have been decidedly classical.  Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it also doesn't hurt to shake things up a bit.  Dan Patch comes in at 1:50.  (Pardon the advertisement.)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

When Virtue Pays II: The Right Thing and the Wrong Reason

If it is an acknowledged truth that virtue does pay, it is equally true that to become virtuous for the sake of the payment is practically speaking impossible. Indeed, it is worse than impossible: it is dangerous.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

When Virtue Pays I

N.B. This is the first of three posts that deal vaguely with that very Aristotelian concept of eudaimonic virtue.  If that bores you, apologies!  Come back next week.  

A week or two ago I wrote a piece for the Catholic woman’s blog Altcatholicah.  I had been supposed to write something for Altcatholicah for a while, but I was running short on time and inspiration both … until I saw a certain exchange in the comment box of a previous piece on Altcatholicah.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Allies in an Axis Land

I was most terribly torn over this week's MWM.  I wanted to do Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola.  E voilà.  But I wanted to find Yehudi Menuhin doing it.  No such luck; the only video out there with him clips off the intro to the first movement—which, in the case of a Mozart concerto, is semi-blasphemous.  Then I found this entertaining video.  Cute dance that the couple up front are doing, but the innovative frames were too many for me.

"La Vie N'est Pas Juste"

In which Donna Camilla waxes poetical, and channels Dr. Seuss.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Those Who Stay, Cross Over the Line

Once upon a time yours truly was a heretic. If that word conjures up images of stakes and spiked iron chairs and empire-chinned prelates of dubious heart and Pricean voice, you can stop reading now. I am not the reincarnation of a Spanish dissenter. Nor am I that only slightly less interesting thing, a convert from Protestantism. No, I came by my heresy honestly, being baptized a Catholic and having every intention of dying one.

Your Monday Morning Jolt

What, you're saying it's not the middle of the week yet?  And that I forgot to put up one of these last Wednesday?  Be quiet!  'Tis the middle when I say-i-'tis.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Move Over, "Fantasia"

Good performance of Haydn's Creation + much more creative video than one generally sees for a classical music concert = your inspiration for this week's hump day.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hope DID Die Thursday; Long Live Hope!

"tax n 1a: a charge usu. of money imposed by authority upon persons or property for public purposes" (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, 1977)

We, being Christians with a decent respect for individual prudential judgement and conscience, ought not be absolute in our assertions that Roberts was placing his own reputation, or even the Court's, above the law.  It's one thing to say "Sure looks to me like ..." and another to subscribe to the internet meme of Roberts=Traitor by reposting that pic on Facebook.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Writing "Charmed"

Many apologies to anyone who, observing the tempo of this blog, was expecting a post on Friday or, at the very latest, Saturday morning.  I was working on another writing project—actually, a couple other writing projects, one of which will not see the light of day for some time yet.  But the other one is ready to be read Now.

"Charmed"

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

For the Fourth

A bit of Leroy Anderson.  It's not as traditional as Sousa, but everyone will be playing Sousa today.  (If they're not, they should be ...)  Besides, the gentlemen are in the armed services.  And there are trumpets.  Three of them.  Playing fast.  What's not to like?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Goodbye, Sheriff Taylor

My second-ever post—the first real post of any substance, which defined the mission of this blog—used pictures from the Andy Griffith show to make its points. The picture posts have been some of the best posts on this blog (imho) and certainly the most fun to write, and I feel I owe some of that fun to Sheriff Taylor and his friend Barney Fife.

Friday, June 29, 2012

You Gotta Be Great

As the final credits rolled on Brave, I was reminded of a line from The Kid, where the Emily Mortimer character practically shouts (if elegant Emily can be imagined shouting) at the despicable Bruce Willis character, "The worst of it is, you could have been GREAT!"

Thursday, June 28, 2012

"For the Glory of Your Name"

I promise, I'm not psychic.  Even if I was born in a caul on Halloween.  I wrote the last post before I went to noon Mass, and as usual I had not idea who the saint of the day was or what the readings were.  It would have been hard for either to be more appropriate.

Sackcloth and Ashes

So we can put the champagne back in the cupboards.  The Individual Mandate is a tax, says Chief Justice John Roberts (though Justice Kennedy apparently disagrees).

I feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland.  That new kind of Wonderland, in the movie version I wouldn't watch if you paid me to, with The Depp in fright makeup.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

House Hunting ...

... I have been doing.  And I have found the perfect home:

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Si Vis Potes

Motet from the gospel according to St. Matthew (8:2-3).

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

On "The Theology of Marriage and Celibacy"


It sometimes happens that, in seeking to speak of The Other Vocation with respect, in seeking to honor that which was not our choice and our call, we speak of it with a touch of envy.  Thus, the married person will think of the peace of the cloister, or of the purposefulness of a life spent in ministering to the world at large; of the high spiritual delights presumed to go along with being the bride exclusively of Christ, or of the impossibly great duty of standing alter Christus with the holy Flesh and Blood between one's hands.  The married person will think on these things, and think on them with a sort of unhappiness, as having missed a chance at something truly fine.

Friday, June 15, 2012

"People Will Talk"

This name "Mankiewicz" was familiar.  I didn't know what he had directed, but I did know I had heard of him before—a good sign, that.  The back of the VHS case assured us that we were about to see some kind of chipper romantic comedy.  The reviews around the web proclaimed it to be tiresome, anti-McCarthyite, liberal propaganda.  IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes gave it about a 7/10.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Because It's ... Wednesday

"Quia Respexit" and "Omnes Generationes," Bach, Magnificat.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wumpick and the Trough

My Dear Wumpick,

So, your patient is going through one of those troughs that the man from Belfast described in his scurrilous, indecent, and, I need hardly add, inaccurate scrawl concerning the tactics we employ for the cause of Our Father Below? I hope she does not know about the troughs, Wumpick? that she has not read that book? Or at least, if she had read it (I seem to recall your predecessor mentioning it in his dossier) I hope that it was some time ago. Of course, she has heard of the book; but you will have taken care to associate it in her mind with what the humans call “interpersonal relations,” and managed to keep the more spiritual chapters out of, or at any rate, in the back of, her head. This is all well and good, especially if you can keep helping her see the faults of the fictitious patient, his fiancé, his mother, as well as the faults of the real, living people around her, but not those in herself. See that she applies the book’s lessons very well, very personally; and she will—apply them, well, personally—to every person but herself! See that it never enters her mind to do that.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Pray for Rain

There's a decent little piece over at Crisis on how men should behave.  There've been better bits of commentary on the current existential crisis of the eternally uncertain male-female entente; but this one was thoughtful, reasonably mild, and written, thank heavens, by a man.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The End of a Great Movie

... which I referenced here, and on which I will write ... next week ... ?  Consider this a teaser.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Wumpick and the Right Kind of Vanity

My dear Wumpick,

So, your patient has embarrassed herself, and you are enjoying her humiliation.  I have nothing against that, of course—though [expurgated] knows why you should be enjoying yourself at all.  Your attitude in this is highly suggestive of an unhealthy absorption of human fantasies about spying.  It is clear that you consider it to be an extremely romantic activity, one more likely to be pleasurable to the practitioner than not—Bondism, if you will.  You had better not be becoming a Bondist, Wumpick.  Even the silliest humans, in their heart of hearts, know better than to romanticize undercover work.  War is war, and war is hell, as one of their generals said; and he meant no compliment to us.  If you will pick a few crumbs of pleasure while you are at it, see that you don't gorge yourself.  Even the humans know that a little hunger sharpens the brain.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Villainy, Inc.

Color me naive, but I cannot understand the furor over the USCCB's continued refusal to place the rubber stamp of their approval on free contraception for all.  The issue has been in the news for months now, ever since the HHS first announced that universal health insurance meant universal coverage of contraception.  As the conservative blogosphere lights up with virtual air-fives at the bishops finally, finally doing something that makes them unpopular,the secular press has, for the most part, attacked the bishops with a steady stream of inflammatory rhetoric, flawed studies, dishonest reporting, and utter disregard for the ordinary laws of logic.  The latest is another New York Times editorial, characterizing the religious freedom lawsuit as a "dramatic stunt, full of indignation but built on air."

Friday, May 25, 2012

I Thought I Wouldn't Write a Post, but Then I Went to Mass

... and it came to my attention that it is the Feast of the Venerable Bede, and that demands acknowledgment!  (What, you don't use daily Mass as your saints' calendar too?)

I Have a Friend Who's Getting Married,

... ding, dong, the bells are gonna chime!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

C'est Lui

Having been particularly cruel to opera on Saturday, I feel it incumbent upon me to admit that not all citizens of the opera world are immoral and reflexively anti-Christian.  Baseball has the St. Louis Cardinals; football has Tim Tebow (who needs no introduction) and Philip Rivers (who should need none); Hollywood has Jim Caviezel; opera has ... Nathan Gunn.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

We're All a Little Mad Here


Yesterday evening I went to see Nabucco at the Kennedy Center with my most excellent brother.  Nabucco, which is very, very loosely based on the story of the biblical king Nebuchadnezzar, is the third opera by Giuseppe Verdi, the composer better known for Rigoletto, La Traviatta, and Aida.  Chances are that even if you’re not an opera fan, you’ve heard one of the following somewhere …

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My Train Hit a Deer Monday Morning

Monday was something of an adventure.  It started out with my dad and I standing on the platform waiting for our daily train; and the train was late.  Ten or fifteen minutes after the whistle should have blown, we heard it blowing … from the wrong direction.  The whistle coming from the wrong direction was soon succeeded by a train coming from the wrong direction; said train backed into our station, where it proceeded to unload all 694,217 of its passengers.  It seems that the train had hit a deer, and sustained injuries which, if not actually incompatible with locomotion, were at least threatening to the riders to be locomoted in the locomotive.

Monday, May 14, 2012

It Happens Every Spring

I will have a real post on Wednesday.  I just thought everyone who reads this blog regularly (all twelve of you!) would like to know two things.  First, the most common Google search to lead to this blog is "modest dresses."  I have no idea why Google thinks I am an expert in this area.  It's as if they know something about my private life that I've never blogged about ...  Mm, scary (as we'd say if McDonalds did not already have the copyright on that syllable of anthropic onomatopoeia).

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Saying the Black

Having written what I wrote on Tuesday, I should admit that I don't positively dislike the Tridentine Mass—I just prefer the Novus Ordo. That said, there are things about the TLM that I find … less than felicitous. The parts that are important can’t be heard, the parts that can be heard can’t be understood, and the parts that can be understood can’t be spoken by me. I realize of course that the silence of the TLM lends itself (for the prayerfully minded) to contemplation of the mysteries enacted; this is not a bad thing.  But there is a time for contemplation, and there is a time for public worship.  The two may and should overlap, but ultimately they are definitionally different and it cannot be expected that the circumstances most ideal for the one are going to be equally good for the other. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Wise Discrimination

Weeeell, I had this serious, calm, cool, collected second post about the TLM and the LNO which will go up ... when it's done, hopefully tomorrow.  But in the meantime, I couldn't resist this bit of news:

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Seeing Red

This is going to be an angry post.  If you’re already suffering from a tragical Tuesday, go read something uplifting instead.  Trust me, you’ll feel much better than if you keep scrolling down.  If you’re not Catholic, you’ll just be perplexed; if you’re Catholic and agree with me, you’ll be mad like I am; if you’re Catholic and disagree with me, you won’t like my characterization of your side’s arguments; if you’re Catholic and don’t have an opinion on the issue, you be miffed that I’m writing about a peripheral problem like this when Secretary Sebelius has been invited to speak at Georgetown.  (I think that’s everyone.  If I’ve left your group off the list, my sincerest apologies.)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Temperance and Gluttony


Crisp, with a tang of salt and a bitter bite;
Smooth in the throat as it stimulates the tongue;
Sharp to the taste as it’s colorful to sight:
Such is the food of the hungry and the young.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Poetic Conviction

“A good work of fiction is one which convicts the reader of some important truth.”  But what does it mean to “convict” the reader?  Why not say “convince the reader” or “persuade the reader” or even “prove to the reader”?

Friday, April 27, 2012

“Peter the Liar Got Hit by a Bus”: Concerning the Morality of the Story


RC’s comment on my analysis (a pretty fancy word for what I wrote, but let that be) of Raphael’s two paintings of St. George and the Dragon got me thinking.  He brought up the review I wrote for StAR of Baron de la Motte Fouque’s The Magic Ring—a book that he enjoyed very much but which I, to borrow one of my favorite phrases from Sayers, praised with faint damns.  My reply to RC’s comment, explaining what I thought made for a good work of literature (or a great one) as opposed to one that is merely fair, started to get out of hand as I worked it out in my mind; and in the end I offered a simple formula to explain my views.

Monday, April 23, 2012

St. George's Day

Hopefully you will have noticed the picture on the top left side of this blog.  It's the earlier, more dramatic of Raphael's two stabs (pardon the pun) at painting St. George and the Dragon.  The latter one, the one that more commonly shows up on postcards and people's walls, looks like this:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I Didn't Sign Up for This

I know, I know ... I posted yesterday and two days before that too.  But some weeks are like ... this one.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Humor, Madness; Man and Beast

Every spring my peaceful early-morning commuter train is transformed by the presence of The Tourists.  Usually these are families with kids; and usually the kids are pretty well-behaved (the other kind ride Metro), so I don't mind too much.  It does break the morning stillness though, having half-a-dozen people jabbering behind you about what they're going to have for breakfast, while you're trying to figure out why JPII said "dynamism" (or the Italian equivalent) when "power" is a more intelligible and traditional translation of St. Paul.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Peter on the Sea

It's nice when the author of a book ties things together at the end—and as the priest pointed out in his homily on the gospel today, St. John is such an author.  In the final chapter of John's gospel, the apostles go fishing: fishermen before Christ came, they are fishermen afterwards; and so it goes.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Real Men > X

And I was thinking it would be hard to find inspiration to write this week.  I write most easily (I won't say best, although that also may be true) when annoyed.  Not frothing-at-the-mouth furious, but just ever so slightly ticked off.  But no, I thought.  It's Easter Week.  All the news (that I read) will be happy Catholic trivia and inspirational gurgles on how the celebration does borrow from paganism, but that's actually OK.  Maybe there'll be something about vestment colors or dating Passover.  Possibly a piece or two about how it's wicked to lie to your kids about the Easter Bunny.  That'll be about the most abrasive it gets.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Love and Necessity

"And if Christ be not risen again, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain." (1 Corinthians, 15:14)
"It behooved Christ to rise again ... for our instruction in the faith, since our belief in Christ's Godhead is confirmed by His rising again."  (Summa III.53.1)
"The Resurrection of the crucified one shows that he was truly "I AM", the Son of God and God himself." (Catechism, 653)

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Forty Days and Forty Nights

I'm taking a little break until Easter. This (the music, not my break) is to remind you that it's Lent:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

As Ancient as Eden

We all know that after gay marriage, polygamy and pet-owner weddings will be next. Think that's an extreme statement? They are already happening. And it's not just about sister wives, shih tzus, and shar peis any more: apparently it's possible nowadays to marry oneself.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

In Defense of Philosophy

On the other blog, for which I occasionally write, we have been having an argument about the value of philosophy as opposed to modern science.  If I were ever inclined to tear my hair out ...  Anyroad, this is the post I wrote for that debate.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Ergo, Laetare

There are days when, all the urgings of propriety to the contrary notwithstanding, euphoria takes over. I have always been rather shamed by the admonition (repeated by numerous saints and spiritual directors, beginning, one suspects, with that persnickety Bishop Augustine) that the soul ought to be mortified during Lent. The soul, they say—not just the body. But what does a body (colloq.) do when fasting (or at any rate, giving up X) operates to make one happier? I suppose next year I could try giving up something the absence of which leaves me cranky. But then, they tell us not to do penances that "irritate," on the theory that penance ought to be penitential for us, and not for our neighbors.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Envy and Kindness

The fruit be bitter that you hold in hand;
I know, for it was mine an hour before.
And will you taste it, sweet?  Is your demand
More potent to obtain than were a score
Of pleadings on my part?  I know the taste

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

In Defense of a Bad Mass

There's another combox war over at First Thing's On the Square, thanks to the dear Elizabeth Scalia who, by being gentle, moderate, and non-judgmental manages to draw the ire of everyone from the atheist to the cafeteria Catholic to the SSPX member.  In a rational mood I enjoy combox wars, rather (I suspect) as a fast driver enjoys auto accidents: There but for the grace ...  In a foolish mood, however, I will hop down combox rabbit holes with reckless abandon, and this I did in this case.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Pray Me a River

God bless our President.  He surely needs it.  And apparently he knows it.  According to the NYT, people at the White House are organizing a prayer vigil in coordination with "dozens of leaders of nonprofit organizations that strongly back the health [care] law," in hopes that it will help support the law as the Supreme Court's review of it draws near.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Duc in Altum

All my life I have been afraid of the dark.  I felt sheepish about this for a long time, until the year before college when I found out that St. Francis de Sales was also afraid of the dark.  Nothing like having a wise old patron saint who shares one of your weaknesses!  Of course, St. Francis reportedly "conquered his fear by spiritual wisdom," whatever that means—which I suppose just goes to show who's still a long way from being canonized.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Fakes, Flakes, and Fundamentally Decent Men

Romney is out with a new ad designed to let us all know that he cares.  My word, really?  Did he think that we doubted that?  He's a Mormon, a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints, one of the most notoriously family-centered religious bodies in the U.S.  He has by all accounts been a good husband and father all his life—which is more, unfortunately, than one can say for the witty Newt.  Yes, Romney has a robotic image, and a "cold" reputation.  But that's doesn't mean Americans think he doesn't care.  We know he cares—he just doesn't care about what we care about.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Four Things Rick Santorum Could Say About Last Night's Debate

1) "I told the truth.  The truth is complicated.  Unlike most politicians, I believe that the American people are smart enough to understand the truth without excessive or simplistic rhetoric."

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Modest Non-Proposal

Warning: Do not click on any of the links in this piece, unless you are prepared to be offended.  No, not even kidding.  Caveat lector, and all that.

The other day a friend of mine on Facebook (where else does one read the latest news, hm?) posted a piece on Tina Korbe.  Who is Tina Korbe?  Well, Tina Korbe is a lovely young lady who interviewed Rick Santorum at CPAC.  Go ahead and watch the video—the first thirty seconds, anyway.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Choice of Gifts

Come Valentine's Day, come the advice—only half joking—to men. Don't give her a vacuum. Don't give her exercise equipment. (Not even those Nikes you brilliantly found on sale—leave them on the shelf. LEAVE THEM THERE. Thank you.) Don't give her kitchen gadgets—no, not even if she likes cooking. In fact, don't give her anything remotely practical, even if she says she likes practical gifts. Nothing says "I love you forever" like something that is going to be dead in a week or eaten in in hour. That may not sound romantic, but it is. Love, eating, and death are blood relatives—just ask an Italian opera singer.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

"Love in the Dark"

I've been thinking for some time (spurred in part by reading the autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux some months back) about the "dark night of the soul."  How is something so devoid of hopeor of the feelings that most of us identify with hope—not itself a sin of despair, but actually an occasion of grace?  I was going to write a post on the problem, and still may some day do so; but for the moment my meditations have turned into a poem instead.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Some of These Things Are Not Like the Others

I will confess that the primary reason I would not like to see Nancy Pelosi excommunicated, despite her "obstinate perseverance in manifest grave sin," is that I fear some whack bishop will immediately take the opportunity, using some variation of the seamless garment argument, to excommunicate Rick Santorum (war), Marco Rubio (married a non Catholic), and Paul Ryan (there must be something).
No matter how many times Church teaching on Church teaching is explained, some people cannot seem to get it through their heads that one of these things is not like the others.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Wumpick and Safety

My Dear Wumpick,

I find it rather ironic, all this talk of yours about making your patient "safe."  Of course you would like your patient to be "safe"—safely ensconced in her little tomb, shelved among the myriads of others who have already found their way to Our Father Below.  That is the sort of safety to which all tempter aspire on behalf of their patients.  But "safe" among the humans is the same as dead. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Monarch of All I Survey

Reading over a writer’s account of her brief acquaintance with the late Christopher Hitchens, it struck me that the first problem of an atheist is that he is bound to be a lonely person. Hitchens, of course, was temperamentally lonely: so irascible by nature, so little prone to give his fellow men credit for virtue, that he was bound to isolation. Those whom he got along best with seem to have shared his critical personality and, even more tellingly, seem to have spent little time with him. A dedicated iconoclast is a dangerous person to befriend.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Romanticizing the Ordinary

Some time ago I read one of those critiques of Facebook—well written, well reasoned, and emotionally balanced. After leveling the usual charges against the defendant, the author made one final accusation: Facebook, in his judgement, tends to "romanticiz[e] the ordinary."

Friday, January 27, 2012

In Defense of the Indefensible

Warning: Intense authorial irritation alert.

Evelyn Beatrice Hall, characterizing Voltaire's sentiments towards his opponents, paraphrased his habitual attitude in one scintillating, oft-quoted line: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." It is a mischaracterization of Voltaire—the man who was too generous to make an enemy of Satan also closed his letters with "écrasez l'infâme"—but through its association with Voltaire the sentiment has taken on a life of its own.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Brutus, As You Know, Is Honorable

I.

Commenting on last night's primary debate, Quinn Hiller (writing for National Review's "Corner") remarked: "Santorum is about the most determinedly anti-political top-level politician I’ve ever witnessed. No matter what state he is debating in, he refuses to find some wiggle room on issues where his position is at odds with a deeply held local position. ... I don't know what to make of it."

An Unwise Man's Prayer

"Three kings" we call them, honoring
Their worldly wealth and powers;
And "wise men" by profession, for
Their grasp of heaven's hours;

Friday, January 20, 2012

My Reason Tells Me ...

The war between love and reason takes many forms. Psychologists divide their subjects into "thinkers" and "feelers". (Why does Psychology have a way of sounding SciFiesque?)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Wumpick and the Resolutions

My dear Wumpick,
So, has your patient made any New Year’s resolutions this time round? And how are they going? Please inform me at your earliest convenience. The new year is a time ripe with possibilities for us—more so than Lent, which is the closest religious equivalent to the secular world’s annual attempts at self-reform.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

In Defense of a Scandalous Fashion

Every now and then from the vasty brilliance of a great mind some inane, foolish, or just plain wrong opinion will emerge, reminding us all that even the most brilliant of men are still human. Aristotle and infanticide. St. Thomas Aquinas and the Immaculate Conception. C.S. Lewis and the Catholic Church.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Best of Worlds

In his foul, ironic, philosophical comedy Candide, Voltaire puts ten mocking words into the mouth of his character Pangloss: “Tout est pour le mieux dans le meilleur des mondes.” Roughly translated, “All things happen for the best in this best of all possible worlds.”

Friday, January 6, 2012

All He Had Was a Prayer

"Well, there's Walker, Christie, Rubio, Mike Lee, ..."

"OK, OK, I get it. But what about the ones who are actually running?"