Month: June 2012



Introduction: If you find these reviews bizarre yet orthodox, I have accomplished my goal. If you find them entertaining yet profound, I am humbled. If they brings you a little closer to classic works of the twentieth century, I am gratified. If you forward the review to friends with a kind word, I’m flattered. If you catch a whiff (but only a whiff) of Sound-and-the-Fury stream of consciousness, you’re smart. If you have troubles squaring the choice quotes at the beginning with the subsequent rambler, you’re trying to square a circle. If some of the ramblings seem disjointed, they are. Are these reviews more artistic than substantive? Most certainly. Might you find them frustrating at times? Sure. If you don’t, I didn’t meet my goal.

Mystics and Zen Masters by Thomas Merton (1961).

Choice quote: “The authentic person is not born in stoic isolation but in the openness and dialogue of love.”

Merton the monk. Probably the most famous monk of the past 500 years, unless you count Luther. Merton is arguably more controversial than Luther. Luther was bigger, sure, but he was proudly heterodox. Merton? Not. The convert never left the Church, instead staying within its walls, adhering with (albeit flawed) obedience to his order’s rules. He sought a sort of reform within the Church, though. He seemed to be seeking authenticity, both in the the institution and its members. I’ve never been … Read the rest



Summer is in full swing. Blogging grows light, I grow fatter, and sobriety grows scarce. It’s a good thing. * * * * * * * Peter Leithart on the author of summer, Ray Bradbury:

He is at his most exotic when exploring the mysteries of a summer evening in a small midwestern town. Streetlights blink on, fireflies flicker over the yard, cicadas and crickets chirp in the warm air. As you walk down the sidewalk, you can hear the clatter of dishes through open kitchen windows, the creak of swings and rocking chairs and the murmur of the men sitting in the yellow dome of light on the front porches, a whiff of tobacco smoke hovering overhead.

I gotta read Dandelion Wine. It’s set in 1928. I tried it ten years ago and didn’t get far. * * * * * * * I saw this link at Drudge: Give to Obama’s campaign instead of giving a wedding present. I think it’s a joke, but maybe not. If it’s not a joke, it’s frightening and might, just might, do more to push me into Romney’s camp this November than anything else. If it’s real, this administration’s self-centered righteousness knows no bounds. * * * * * * * TDE readership has dropped. I typically get 7,000-9,000 “unique visitors” every month. This month, I’m on pace for about 6,000. Traffic fell … Read the rest


Internet problems, work problems, drinking problems. Abbreviated BYCU today, courtesy of loyal TDE reader Rob, who sends along this nugget of history:

The delegates who attended the Constitutional Convention spent much of their time getting drunk. One surviving document is a bill for a party on September 15, 1787, two days before the signing of the Constitution. Items on the bill were: 54 bottles of Madeira, 60 bottles of claret, 8 bottles of whiskey, 8 bottles of cider, 12 bottles of beer, and 7 bowls of alcoholic punch, all for 55 people.

I have a soft spot for the delegates who resisted the Constitution, the drunk Luther Martin comes to mind, but hey, who can dislike a group like that? … Read the rest


“Our space probe, Voyager 1, launched back in 1977, is 11 billion miles in space. It’s on the verge of leaving our solar system on its mission to find other civilizations to try and borrow money from.”… Read the rest



A TDE reader sends me this nifty little story: Popular atheist blogger converts to Catholicism. She’s still struggling with a few things, like the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, but she’s coming over. Hats off to her. * * * * * * * But I want to make one pin prick in the story: She’s struggling with the Church’s teaching on homosexual activity? Seriously? “Transubstantiation? Oh, sure. That’s common sense. But not being able to sodomize people? I really struggle with that one.” Her objection is cultural, not theological or even logical. * * * * * * * Our country is screwed. * * * * * * * Some unusual blogging coming down the TDE pike soon. * * * * * * * What’s the highest inflation can go? 12,950,000,000,000,000% in one month in 1945 Hungary. Other hyper-inflation figures here. * * * * * * * My garden is slowly yielding its fruits. Lots of currants. Five cherry tomatoes and a few broccoli. It looks like a lot more coming soon, but hard to say. * * * * * * * Paul Johnson in Intellectuals painted Sartre for what he was: a perverted, ugly “little ball of fur and ink.” But if you need more on Sartre, and the woman he and Camus kinda shared, click here. * * * * * * * Are you … Read the rest