May 31, 2022
Flannery O'Connor Sighting
A new book from the most-righteous Wiseblood Books about the writer who wrote about Flannery O'Connor.
"A Theology of Fiction (expanded) by Cassandra Nelson. A shorter version of Nelson's "A Theology of Fiction" appeared in First Things in April of 2022. The essay asks "Where did Catholic literary fiction come from in the first place?" and answers this question by examining the life and work of a remarkable but little-known American Benedictine named Sister Mariella Gable. The literary reputations of J.F. Powers and Flannery O’Connor rose, in part, on Gable's reviews, anthologies, and single-handed reconsiderations of what Catholic literature could be. Nelson, an associate fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia, brings years of hard-won ruminations to bear on questions concerning faith and fiction."
Knowing I'm a Bit Prickly about Criticism of this Classic Work . . .
. . . A TDE reader sends this along:
For the One-Thing File: A great education doesn't teach you just how to think, but there's something even more important, which is it teaches you what to think about. It gives you the tools for you to decide what to think about. It gives you the whole, this incredible landscape, that it's up to you how you perceive the world. It's up to you, how you perceive your fellow human beings. Citing David Foster Wallace's Kenyon College Commencement Address.
May 30, 2022
Catholicism for the Modern World. It's the offspring of the Medium.com site I plugged earlier this month. You can expect to see TDE pieces over there.
I'm saddened to see John Leo died. I read his column for years, back when the U.S. News & World Report was known as the fairest weekly news publication in America (this was back in the 1990s).
One week, Leo wrote a heart-felt, yet hard-hitting and fact-filled, criticism of divorce and its effects on children. I gave a copy of it to my law partner (a devout Christian, though not Catholic) who handled divorces. He made numerous copies and put a copy of it in the "first consultation" packet he gave to new clients to review before moving forward with filing for divorce.
I remember quite a few things from that Leo column, but one in particular: Most people who say they're unhappy with their marriage but stick it out, report five years later that they are content with the arrangement.
Weekly Monday column: The Black Arts Have No Nonsense About Them
You can listen to it here.
May 29, 2022
St. Philip Neri: He Who Wants Anything Other Than Christ Does Not Know What He Wants
Joseph Serwach recommends Philip Neri: The Laughing Saint, "essentially a softcover comic book developed by Pauline Kids. It was early March 2020 when people started to worry about COVID-19. But here was this beautiful book in Chicago’s Pauline Bookstore about a blond-haired funny young saint, always cracking jokes, finding the humor — and God — in everything. Of course, that was what we needed, so we scooped it up.
"In the book, he’s joking with his stepmom about being her 'fun son.' He always found humor in everything, trying to be a 'fool for Christ.' He believed, 'A heart filled with joy is more easily made perfect than one that is sad.'" Read more at Medium.com.
Highly-recommended cult classic now streaming
The Wanderers is now streaming free on Tubi. Or you can pay $2.99 and watch it without ads on Amazon. It's a coming-of-age flick set in the 1964 Bronx. The Wanderers are a gang dealing with shifting demographics and changing times: one foot stuck in doo-wop and one foot adrift. I've watched it no fewer than ten times, though most of those viewings came in my teenage years. I started watching it Friday after a few drinks and was thinking, "Okay, so this isn't the greatest movie of all time like I used to think, and I suppose parts of it are improbable, but I'm diggin' it."
May 28, 2022
This earlier post has prompted a younger TDE reader to explore New Franklin College. She likes what she sees. Tuition is $10,250 annually, with a guarantee it won't go up during her four years there. New Franklin also keeps costs low by sorting the students into houses and using host families. The school is very small but promising.
I've heard from more than one source that a college can't get accredited if it doesn't charge enough. I haven't been able to verify it, but I believe it. Most people who do the accrediting work at accredited colleges. If they start accrediting colleges that charge, say, 1/10th of other schools, it could put deflationary pressure on their own schools' tuition rates, with a corresponding deleterious effect on the salaries of the people who do the accrediting and their friends.
An 86-gallon bottle of scotch—the largest in the world, and equivalent to 444 standard-size bottles—sold for $1.4 million at an online auction on Wednesday, making it among the most expensive bottles ever sold. Forbes.
“You don’t become completely free by just avoiding to be a slave; you also need to avoid becoming a master.”
“You can tell how poor someone feels by the number of times he references ‘money’ in his conversation.”
“You have a real life if and only if you do not compete with anyone in any of your pursuits.”
“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.”
“To become a philosopher, start by walking very slowly.”
Those, and 50 other pithy quotes by Nassim Taleb, can be found at this nifty essay at Medium.com.
May 27, 2022
The American Right Since 1920
If you want to understand the modern conservative movement, I highly recommend the current episode of Bari Weiss' Honestly: "The Battle for the American Right." I wish they had spent more time on the "superfluous men" of the 1920s (Albert Jay Nock, H.L. Mencken, Paul Elmer More, Santayana, etc.), though they did touch on them indirectly by addressing conservative opposition to World War II, and it obviously lacks the detail of George Nash's magisterial The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America (which I just learned is available on Kindle for $10), but for a 90-minute interview? It's pretty darn good.
Ah, summer is here. I told my kids I was going to drink a bottle of wine Sunday evening with Chad and Jeremy on loop. I doubt I will. My Friday plans got canceled so I'll probably do it tonight.
May 26, 2022
I'm in mourning. GoodFellas has more views in my house than Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover girls have pounds (and that's not uncharitable, mind you: there's nothing wrong with excess pounds . . . I believe that, really . . . I do . . . I believe that, I believe that).
Wilfrid McClay Asks a Few Serious Questions
Would a serious country have run up a national debt of now almost $30.5 trillion during times of relative peace and prosperity?
Would a serious country have spent that borrowed money feathering its nest with cheap consumer goods and the other markers of material prosperity, produced by a ruthless foreign power employing what amounts to slave labor?
Would the leadership class of a serious country become so deeply preoccupied with its internal political wranglings that it fails to see that the rest of the world is watching and taking note….and that the country’s enemies in the world are even now calculating the possibilities that its feckless leaders have opened up for them? Would a serious country actively seek to demoralize its police forces?
Would it promulgate arbitrary and contradictory policies regarding public health, causing angry divisions in the land and distrust of authority that may take years to heal, if ever?
Would a serious country allow a twenty-year investment in Afghanistan to go up in smoke, and abandon the Afghans who had trusted in its protection, along with a major air base and $90 billion of weaponry—an amount larger than the annual military budget of all but two countries in the world?
Would a serious country allow the apparatus by which it elects its leaders to become so corrupted and to fall into such disrepair that its citizenry of both major parties no longer trust the outcomes of our elections?
Looking for a resilient, no-care, edible plant? You might want to try Alexander's Greens. Here's what the Tao of Vegetable Gardening Carol Deppe says about it:
[My] Alexanders Greens’ (Smyrnium olusatrum) . . . has been going for six years with no tilling, tending, weeding, or watering of any kind. It is in such a shady place that even grass won’t grow. The plants germinate with the fall rains and grow into stalks with three leaflet leaves that have a flavor
May 25, 2022
A Substack dedicated to minor league baseball
Well, that's a heckuva niche. I wish him the best of luck. I really enjoy minor league sports.
And here I sit, flogging away at my blog
"Interior silence is the end of judgments, passions, and desires. . . [I't is absurd to speak about interior silence without exterior silence." Cardinal Sarah, The Power of Silence.
It reminds me of people who questioned how a Trappist monk could write so much. He cranked out some great stuff, but of course, it may have brought its own problems.
It also reminds me of Russell Kirk, sitting in a quiet cafe in Spain (Toledo, I think), when a man came in, asked for the radio to be turned on high, then proceeded to discuss loudly the need for more silence.
May 24, 2022
Hats off to Inside Tracker?
Andrew Huberman's endorsements prompted me to try Inside Tracker last September. The (expansive) blood testing revealed no problems, except a high cholesterol ratio. It was 5.2 (good cholesterol too low; bad cholesterol a little high). It's supposed to be under 4.5.
I lost five more pounds, started taking the supplements they recommended (e.g., garlic), and followed their dietary advice (e.g., eat lots of black beans and lentils; more olive and avocado oils). I also got ruthless with "seed" oils like vegetable/canola . . . yanking them out of my diet like weeds in a flower garden (and they are like weeds . . . freakin' everywhere in the American diet . . . but the analogy ends there: my body is hardly beautiful like a flower garden).
Anyway, nine months later, my ratio is down to 3.9.
So, I give Inside Tracker my preliminary endorsement.
[Later addendum: I also incorporated monster amounts of microgreens into smoothies from January through April, so that may have helped, but I'd been doing smoothies with regular greens for a few years with no drastic improvements in my numbers.]
Last night, I ran across this Russell Kirk quote in Bradley Birzer's biography: "Out of Africa come all things strange, we are told."
It reminded me of "TIA," the line used in Blood Diamond. "This is Africa."
CatholicVote calls for signatures in support of Bishop Cordileone.
I like the sentiment, but I won't be signing. It seems to conflict with Catholic ecclesiology. If it matters whether I, a lay Catholic, support Cordileone, then it matters if a lay Catholic doesn't.
May 23, 2022
News flash from Matt Taibbi: The Biden Democrats have become the Bush Republicans. Taibbi is referring to "W."
Bret Weinstein would say the Clinton Democrats became the George H. Bush Republicans.
I think Weinstein is closer to the truth, though part of me wants to say the second term Jefferson Democrat-Republicans became the John Adams Federalists.
150 Years that Shook Europe. Audio of this week's Monday column.
May 22, 2022
P.G. Wodehouse, in response to his wife, saying that she's going to look for a new apartment for them: Get one on the main floor. I never know what to say to the lift boy. From Frances Donaldson, P.G. Wodehouse.
May 21, 2022
Better Homes and Gardens provides a feasible assortment of cocktails you can mix from your garden produce. It's probably the best list I've seen, reminding me of Amy Stewart's helpful The Drunken Botanist.
May 21, 2022
A new TDE reader passes this along: Catholic Homeschool Conference.
Whether homeschooling or not, your readers will be encouraged to hear from speakers such as Fr. Augustine Wetta, Fail! Life Lessons from Losers, Washouts, Has-Beens, and other Great Saints! Danielle Bean, and so many more. With both live and recorded talks, time zones aren’t an issue and staying in your comfy clothes is easy when it is all on-line! We will also have virtual booths to visit Catholic universities and businesses including Covenant Eyes, OSV and much, much more.
May 20, 2022
Welcome! The new TDE is now. All content from 2004 to today has (hopefully!) been transferred, with the exception of newer posts over the past two weeks. I will be manually adding those items over the next couple of days. Thanks for making the move with me.
May 19, 2022
This is kinda like me in my garden, without the guns and bombs parts:
Farming on the front lines: How Ukraine’s farmers are dodging bombs to feed the world.
May 15, 2022
A young man named "Michael Snellen" has appeared to have developed the first viable/real Catholic community at Medium.com. Such an endeavor is long overdue. If you use Medium, be sure to check out Catholicism for the Modern World.
May 8, 2022
TDE is migrating to Ghost. I'm pretty excited about it, even if I don't know what I'm getting into. Ghost is a website platform that handles the technical stuff and search engine optimization, allowing users to write . . . just write. WordPress has really worn me down the past two years with all the options and technical requirements. In order to use WordPress, a person needs to take CBE (Continuing Blogging Education), which is something I simply don't want to do. Hopefully, Ghost will handle all that stuff for me.
Anyway, the migration is underway. I suspect you will see a drastically-changed TDE shortly, along with other changes as we go along.
Note: I've been assured the URL won't change, so you TDE bookmark will continue to work.
May 5, 2022
Changes are afoot at TDE. Forgive any glitches these next couple of days.
May 2, 2022
We Golf. Therefore, the Tao is.
May 1, 2022
This might be the most disgusting thing I've read about in awhile: Fatbergs.
In use since 2013, the term 'fatberg' has become an increasingly heard term that describes a large solid mass found in a sewer which is made up of non-biodegradable solid matter and grease or cooking fat.
As Statista's Martin Armstrong details below, the main culprit usually blamed is the flushing away of wet wipes. When these get caught up on something in the pipes, other substances begin to cling to them and, over time, can grow into huge, drain clogging beasts.
April 29, 2022
Albert Jay Nock criticized Prohibition, noting among other things that it's foolish to attempt to outlaw something that flows as freely as water. Well, now it looks like it flows as freely as air: Company makes vodka out of thin air.
April 26, 2022
America Moved: Booth Tarkington’s Memoirs of Time and Place, 1869–1928.
April 24, 2022
How much garden would you need to survive? Life Hacker.
April 19, 2022
Germans claim they don't want schism.
St. Francis sows leftism, reaps schism? Although I must say, the pontiff, as far as I know, hasn't done anything lately to raise my dander much.
A wonderful mosaic of Ukrainian history, from 10,000 feet.
Ukraine: Against History and Geography
Tracing the lines of an embattled map.
April 18, 2022
How to Kill the Tao
April 17, 2022
When the disciples saw the risen Christ, they beheld him as a reality in the world, though no longer of it, respecting the order of the world, but Lord of its laws. To behold such reality was different and more than to see a tree or watch a man step through a doorway. To behold the risen Christ was an experience that burst the bounds of the ordinary. This explains the extraordinary wording of the texts: the strangeness of Christ's appearing and vanishing, suddenly standing in the middle of a room or at someone's side. Hence the abruptness, fragmentariness, oscillation, contradictoriness of the writing: the only true form for content so dynamic that no existing form can contain it. Romano Guardini
Pineapples were so rare a sight in the 1700's that they were a symbol of wealth. The few that were cultivated (in hothouse) were worth about five thousand pounds ($8000) each. They weren't eaten but were rented out by the aristocracy as a table centerpiece at dinner parties.
April 16, 2022
The annual Holy Saturday meditation.
April 15, 2022
The annual Good Friday quotes.
April 14, 2022
"[I]n the agony of Gethsemane the ultimate consequences of our sin had their hour. . . . God permitted his Son to taste the human agony of rejection and plunge towards the abyss. . . Gethsemane was the hour in which Jesus' human heart and mind experienced the ultimate odium of the sin he was to bear as his own . . .". Romano Guardini, The Lord.
April 13, 2022
Christian woman wises up, becomes cool, repents of being against abortion. LA Times.
April 10, 2022
"The hour overflows with supernatural power. In these last days it is as if Jesus were gathering strength on strength preparing for the ultimate."
Romano Guardini, The Lord