Month: March 2018


Lecture Notes

Picture non-Christian Europe in 850: The Scandinavian countries and their Vikings, ravaging everything from Ireland to Russia. Saracen Muslims pushing into southern Italy, even sacking Rome. Magyars invading central Europe before finally conquering and settling in what we know as Hungary. Poland, much of the Slavic countries (e.g., Czeck Republic), the Baltic, and Russia . . . all non-Christian.

This all changed: Poland (866), Today’s Slavic countries (Moravia) through Cyril and Methodius (870s), Denmark and Norway (960s), Russia (988), Hungary, with the fierce Magyars (late 900s, but concretely Christian by 1000). Sweden was a little slow, but by Christian influence clearly felt by 900s and it was a Christian nation by 1050. (Baltics held out for another two hundred years.)

Europe by 1000 was Christian, stretching from Ireland to Russia, from Oslo to Palermo in Sicily, from the Kingdom of Leon in today’s northern Portugal through present day Turkey. The only exceptions: southern Spain and the backwards Baltic. … Read the rest


misc-rambling-picMiscellaneous Rambling

Ceiling. TrastevereTheology on Tap session tonight. The topic: His Ontological Suffering. It’s a meditation on Guardini’s passion meditation in The Lord. In particular, it revolves around this passage in Guardini’s work and why His suffering had to be this way:

No one ever died as Jesus died, who was life itself. No one was ever punished for sin as he was, the Sinless One. No one ever experienced the plunge down the vacuum of evil as did God’s Son – even to the excruciating agony behind the words: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). Jesus was really destroyed. Cut off in the flower of his age; his work stifled just when it should have taken root; his friends scattered, his honor broken. He no longer had anything, was anything: “a worm and not a man.”

Ceiling. TrastevereIt’s not exactly the lighter approach I prefer for these sessions, but hey, tis the season.

Ceiling. TrastevereIf I have troubles sleeping, I listen to religious podcasts. I normally find the commentator’s voices soothing, and they’re interesting enough to keep my mind off my own ego-driven thoughts, but normally not so interesting that I can’t get to sleep. One of the problems, however, is that I often hear things in the twilight. When I remember them later, I can’t remember if it was a dream or reality. Yesterday, while taking a nap, I think … Read the rest



Ceiling. TrastevereRe: Yesterday’s post. “The worst moment for an atheist is when he is really thankful and has no one to thank.” GKC

Ceiling. TrastevereIntriguing essay by Patrick J. Deneen at First Things: “The Ignoble Lie.” I haven’t had time to give it more than a superficial once-over, but I spent enough time with it to know it’s worth a careful reading.

Ceiling. TrastevereGreat blurb from The Catholic Vote e-newsletter yesterday: “Toy store giant Toys R Us is closing down. And it’s obvious that online retailers like Amazon hurt their business. But one reason the company cited? “Our revenue are dependent on the birthrates in countries where we operate. In recent years, many countries’ birthrates have dropped or stagnated…” Maybe Toys R Us shouldn’t have donated to Planned Parenthood for so many years.”

Ceiling. TrastevereI struggled mightily with music while getting ready for Marie’s party. A DJ would’ve cost about $500. It seems absurd to pay that much money when I have thousands of songs in my iTunes library. I just needed a really loud bluetooth speaker, but I discovered that really loud bluetooth speakers are hard to find. I finally settled on the Soundboks system. It cost me $600, but it was a great option and pumped splendid sound for 150 people. We couldn’t even turn it all the way up without driving people from the hall. If you want to a great bluetooth … Read the rest


The Wing Ding

The kids and I did it. We threw the mother of controlled wing dings Saturday night for Marie’s 50th birthday.

The kicker: It was a surprise party.

And she was shell-shocked surprised.

Friends and family came from Detroit, Cleveland, and Chicago; her local friends showed up in force. We threw the gauntlet down, providing four different beers (including a keg of Blue Moon), red and white wine, and gallons of award-winning custom vodka and other high quality liquor. The bartender marveled at the sheer quantity of alcohol consumed. The girls decorated, the caterer catered, most everyone danced. The country setting (renovated horse barn) proved beautiful, the weather warmed at the last minute, daylight savings time allowed people to enjoy a soft spring evening, the stars put on a spectacular show for those who wanted fresh air as the night paraded on.

The planning was incredibly intense and exhausting. I would never do it again, but when a big chunk of guests went back to my house for more drinks and to watch my niece’s fiance (a professional actor) put on a Jerry Lee Lewis performance, watch Michigan win on a buzzer-beater, and in general chill out and talk about the funny stuff that happened during the party, I knew I had come through one of the most enchanted evenings of my life. The evening couldn’t have gone any better if Elvis himself … Read the rest


Holiday Blogging

TDE slows down for the holidays, and this secular holiday is one of the holiday-ist of all. The first Thursday and Friday of the NCAA Tournament are my two favorite sports days of the year. This pic shows Max getting the screens set up for Thursday night’s action.

I was visiting Marie at Eastern Michigan University in 1989. She had classes in the afternoon, so I went to the Wooden Nickel and sat there by myself, pounding beers and watching the games. One game in particular: Princeton-Georgetown. There were other good games that afternoon. By the time Marie got there, I was pretty loaded. She was like, “You’re drunk! You got drunk, sitting here by yourself, in the middle of the afternoon.” I was like, “It was incredible! You won’t believe what almost happened . . .”. She was just shaking her head, but she still married me eventually.

The link above is to a story at Take notice of the very last line:

Despite the loss, the result of the game was a proud moment for Princeton basketball, as it demonstrated that it could play with the best of them.

Never use “as” in this fashion. You might as well stamp “amateur” across the top of the article. Consider how much crisper one small change makes it:

Despite the loss, the result of the game was a proud moment for

Read the rest


From the Notebooks

Rule of Culture: For every material action, there is a spiritual reaction. It’s a testament to the sacramental nature of existence: body and soul, flesh and spirit, intertwined. Lots of examples. Most notably for today is St. Francis and St. Dominic in the 12th century: As Europe left the Dark Ages, societal wealth started to increase dramatically. Money, greed, ambition were the order of the day. Francis and Dominic offered a counterpoise.

Your soul reacts to the hangover as harshly as your head. So does society because society, as Plato noted, is merely man writ large.

In the 1940s, a group of young man started looking at things differently.

Challenging whether the American Dream is the proper dream.

Beat Generation. Iconoclasts: destruction of cultural/societal icons. Columbia University, Harlem.

Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs. Half literary, half bum.

Jack Kerouac was the godfather of the Beats. Tacit, but understood by everyone. He was a bit older than the others (except Burroughs), but it was On the Road (1957) that did it. Immediate sensation; best seller. Still normally ranked in the Top 100 most important American works of literature.

Influenced everyone in the 1960s. Dylan, Jerry Garcia, Jim Morrison.

It was the Bible, Constitution, and Declaration of Independence of the 1960s.


“I love St. Francis of Assisi as well as anybody in the world.” Jack Kerouac, Desolation AngelsRead the rest