A crack runs through the sanctuary of God, a crevice across the floor, spewing smoke from under the altar; The crack widens into a chasm, the crevice into an abyss, belching clouds to hide the heavens. From the blackness emerges a scorpion, a locust with sting in its tail, and takes its stand at the altar; From the deep creeps a face like a man’s, a head with hair like a woman’s, and presides over the mystery of ages. Locusts swarm over locusts, the mass of scorpions writhes, it kindles a coarse fire. Locusts entangled with locusts, scorpion legs around scorpion tails, in a fire that burns but does not warm, a fire that consumes but gives no light, and they smile with teeth like a human’s. The people shuffle into the Temple, they drag their feet into the sanctuary; they are obliged to Mass every Sunday. They come like lambs to the slaughter, they breathe the smoke and the ashes; there is no other path to communion.
My home was in the path of the total eclipse of 2017. The hype before the event made us all doubt it could possibly live up to the anticipation—and yet it did. And how. Follow this link to read my essay over at The Peregrine Magazine, “Standing in the Solar System”.
The same folks that started The Josias have kicked off another journal, The Peregrine. While the former is about big ideas and its entries are long, the latter is about living out the ideas and its articles are short.
When I saw that Peter Edmund Waldstein of the Sancrucensis Blog had published a lovely reflection on swimming with goggles at The Peregrine, I was reminded of a piece I wrote quite some time ago titled Life in the Cosmos. I sent it in, but unfortunately their word limit meant they could only publish snippets of the original essay. It’s enough to offer a feel for the topic. Check out the shorter Life in the Cosmos here.
One of my projects this summer was editing a translation of part of Book IV of Aquinas’s commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard. Since “Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard” is a pretty big mouthful, most people just call it the Scriptum.
Beth Mortensen of The Aquinas Institute has done a magnificent job translating this hitherto untranslated text by the Angelic Doctor. I was tapped to read the whole thing and catch mistakes, but for the most part that just meant reading.
Some of problems I did fix related to an exciting development for the Aquinas Institute. The Leonine Commission, the group officially tasked by the Church with working critical editions of all of Aquinas’s works, gave us access to their provisional critical edition of the Scriptum. So in many places we were able to correct our translation by looking at a better Latin text than anything currently in print!
The Aquinas Institute is all about making Aquinas’s works widely available, so in addition to selling the new translation as a physical book they have also made the entire text available online for free. It’s satisfying to see it go up!
My last post explored Dr. Baxter’s ingenious quiz, “How Much of a Modernist Are You?” I would like to delve deeper into the questions raised by Dr. Baxter (and ultimately Charles Taylor) by attempting my own answer of Question 4:
Why does an apple fall to the ground when it detaches from the stem?
The laws of physics teach us that all objects fall to the ground according to gravity.
Gravity, of course, but behind the working of nature we can perceive the “hand” of God, which I mean metaphorically.
The apple longs to return its native place, because the whole universe is infused with desire. Ultimately, the world longs to imitate, to the extent it can, Eternity.
My colleague and friend Dr. Jason Baxter has published a delightful quiz at The Imaginative Conservative to show us how thoroughgoingly modern we all are. He takes his cue from Dr. Charles Taylor, whose gigantic book on the modern age argues that we live in a “disenchanted” world—all us inhabitants of the North Atlantic region, inevitably, without any choice in the matter. While our medieval forbears lived in a sacred and magical cosmos, we live in an autonomous, scientific universe. Continue reading “Are you a modernist? Take the quiz.”
I have been thinking about the notion of “emotional processing,” as in when someone says that he needs to “process what happened.” Does this phrase have a clear meaning, or is it a fuzzy phrase used to escape clear thinking? I think it does have a clear meaning, and what follows is my attempt to unfold it. I am not a psychiatrist, and I don’t intend this blog post as a contribution to the psychiatric profession. This is just an exploration of a word.
To “process” something means to take something that is not immediately usable and change it into something more immediately usable. This is how we “process” meat or vegetables, for example. So to “process” an experience would mean to take the raw experience and turn it into something that is more useful in life. Experiences need to be processed both intellectually and emotionally: intellectually, we need to get practical wisdom from our experiences, while emotionally we need to calibrate our desires and fears. Continue reading “What is emotional “processing”?”
Emotion colors perception wonderfully. The same aspen tree, with the same white bark and the same golden leaves fluttering in the same wind, is one tree to the moonstruck lover, another tree to the poet in search of joy, and still a third to the dismal soul doubting whether life has meaning. The same sensory input offers either a happy companion, or a wistful finger pointing to another realm, or a bleached-out bit of wood. Continue reading “The color of reading”
Article 2: Whether the Faculty Teaches for the Sake of the Students
Objection 1. It seems that teachers teach for the sake of the students. If teachers did not teach for the sake of students, then their teaching would be for themselves. But teaching is an activity directed toward others, not toward oneself. Therefore, teachers teach for the sake of the students. Continue reading “Whether Teachers Teach for the Sake of Their Students”