A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Monday, May 30, 2016

St. Joe

Here is a short movie by Joe Hanceviz of the old church before its closing.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

If They'd Had This Many Every Sunday

this would not be the closing mass for the building.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Three Cheers for the Trinity

The Trinity: the Father represented by the eye in the dome;
The Son by the crucifix directly below;
the Spirit by the dove affixed to the front of the canopy in between and 
proceeding toward the congregation.

Today is Trinity Sunday, and in its honor TOF will comment on the reasonableness of the Trinity. Now some will say that since people experience God in three ways -- in the universe, in history, and in ourselves -- it is fitting that he is in three manners. We experience God in the universe around us, from quasars to alligators to gravity and God as the source of being of all these things we call the Father. We experience God in history as a particular human being who lived at a particular time and place and taught and did certain things, and this we call the Son. And finally, we experience God in ourselves as that little GPS voice that says 'turn right in thirty feet'. LOL! That inner voice and guidance is what we call the Spirit.

Now none of this addresses the substance/person issue, and since every person we meet is an individual substance it is difficult to grasp the logical possibility that it might not be so for every substance. (A substance, or ousia, is a whole thing, not the modern chemical notion. Thus, TOF is a substance, with a substantial form.) Logically, you cannot have one person composed of three substances; but it might be possible for three persons to be a single substance.

TOF the trinity
An analogy might be this: TOF is TOF the father as he acts toward his children; TOF the son as he acts toward his own father; and TOF the lover as he acts toward the Incomparable Marge. Each of these perceives a different person even though there is a single TOF.

It's only an analogy, and so incomplete, but if we up the whole thing by a notch, it provides a handle of sorts.

A more intellective approach is given by Aquinas (as you knew it would be). God, considered as Prime Mover, is the source of being of all powers, including the intellect and will of rational beings. Since one cannot give what he does not have, there must be something in God that is analogous to intellect and will. God both Knows and Desires (and is therefore something analogous to a rational being). The proper object of the intellect is the True, and of the will, the Good. In particular, God knows himself and, since God is supremely good, He also desires himself. That gives us two and only two predicates as regards rational being.

As the Subject of both Predicates, we call God the Father.

The product of the intellect is a conception and this conception is expressed in words. As the Object of Knowing, we call God the Word, the only-conceived and by analogy the Son.

The product of the will is a desire for the Good and this desire is expressed by the will proceeding out from the lover to the beloved. As the Object of the Desiring, we call God the Spirit and say that he "proceeds" from the Father.

(This is why the Son is "conceived" and the Spirit "proceeds.")

Now since God is simple and not compounded of parts, as Aquinas demonstrated earlier in his treatise, and since he is knowing himself and desiring himself these three must be all one self. (A second analogy: the term persona originally referred to the masks worn by actors, and so the Persons can be thought of as 'the masks of God.' Again, imperfect and potentially misleading.) Since God is purely actual, as Aquinas showed earlier, there is no potentiality in God and so none of the three lack anything possessed by the other two. (That would make then three distinct beings, not simply three distinct persons, or hypostases.) But while they are the same thing (identitas secundum rem), they are not the same in thing and concept (identitas secundum rem et rationem). And that is as deep into the mystery as we can drill.

In particular, since the Father and Son are one, the Spirit logically proceeds from the Father and the Son. But since the Eastern Church was battling a particular heresy (Sabellianism, by which the Son was conceived by the Father but the Spirit proceeded from the Son), she rejected this formulation. One sometimes hears that the Greek church started with the Persons and tried to figure out the One whereas the Latins started with the One and tried to figure out the Persons. In addition, the pagan philosopher Plotinus also concluded that God had three hypostases, the One, the Intellect, and the Soul. These are discussed here, here, and here.

For Aquinas' arguments, see Summa theologica, here, #27-43

or in more detail, Summa contra gentiles, here, #1-#26

and in precis form in the Compendium theologica, here, #28 et seq.

Sunday, May 15, 2016


One of the shibboleths of Late Modern thought is something called 'diversity.' It is supposedly to be treasured, but actually it is applied only in certain contexts. No one wants diversity in a Big Mac. The last thing you want when biting the big bun is a surprise, inasmuch as such a surprise is more than likely to be unpleasant. In other cases we find a lack of enthusiasm for diversity of speech on campus, where disfavored speakers are shut down or shouted out by people chanting uniform three-word slogans. Diverse speech is likewise likely to be unpleasant or at least unwelcome. The same applies to diversity in the DNA code. Without consistency, there is no species and no formal cause of evolution. Most mutations kill the organism.

And yet... Without diversity in the genome there is nothing for natural selection to chew on. It is the material cause of evolution. Diversity enters too between kinds of things: the same outlet that offers the Big Mac also offers chicken breast sandwiches, cheeseburgers, nuggets, and a diversity of other kinds. And if diversity within a species is iffy, diversity between species is another matter. Aquinas held that the multiplication of species across time and geography was a way in which creation participated in the infinity of the Creator.

Today being Pentecost, we celebrate the single most diverse assemblage on Earth: the Communion of Saints. It includes peasants [St. Joan of Arc] and emperors and empresses [Sts. Heinrich II and Kunigunde]. They are 12 years old [Maria Goretti] and 86 [Polycarp of Smyrna]. They have included schoolteachers [Jean Baptiste de la Salle] and highwaymen [Moses the Black]. They have been martyrs [Habib the Martyr], musicians [Ephraem of Syria], and mystics [Hildegarde of Bingen]. They have come from every people on the face of the earth. Naturally, this Church must be celebrated by the champions of diversity....

In addition to the big names, a sampling in time and space:

Jews: Joseph of Palestine, Pope Zozimus, Romanus the Melodist, Daniel of Padua, Julian of Toledo, Edith Stein of Dachau, etc.
Syrians: Habib the Martyr, John of Damascus, Pope John V 

Lebanese: Nimatullah Kassab Al-Hardin, Rafka al Rayes, Sharbel Makluf
Anatolians: Nicholas, Gregory Nazianzen, Macrina the Younger
Greeks: Irene, Athanasia of Aegina, Alexander Akimetes
Romans: Agnes, Cecilia, Pope Cornelius
North African: Augustine of Hippo, Perpetua and Felicity, Cyprian of Carthage
Egyptians: Anthony the Hermit, Mary of Egypt, John the Merciful, Catherine of Alexandria
Arabs: Moses the Arab, Cosmas and Damian, Sheikh Aretas of the Banu Harith and the Martyrs of Najran, Mary Baouardy, the Little Sister to Everyone
Assyrians/Iraqis: Thaddeus and Maris, Maruthas of Maiferkat, Ephraem, the Harp of the Holy Ghost
Persians: Anastasius Majundat, Abdon and Sennen
Ethiopians: Iphegenia of Ethiopia, Kaleb Elesbaan of Axum, Moses the Black
Armenians: Isaac the Great, Gomidas Keumerigian
The Little Flower
Georgians: Euthymius the Enlightener, George Mtasmindeli
Italians: Thomas Aquinas, the “Dumb Ox,” Clare of Assisi, John Bosco, Pope John XXIII
Spaniards: Nathalia and Aurelius, Theresa of Avila, Bonifacia Rodríguez de Castro  
Basques: Ignatius Loyola
Portuguese: Anthony of Padua, Isabella 
French: Jane Frances de Chantal, Margaret Mary Alacoque of the Sacred Heart, Theresa of Lisieux, the Little Flower  
Bretons: Alan de Solminihac 
Belgians: Mary of Oignies 
Irish: Brigit of Kildare, Columba, Colmcille of Iona, etc.  
Scots: David, King of Scots, Margaret of Scotland 
English: Margaret Clitherow, the Pearl of York, Thomas More
Hildegarde of Bingen
Welsh: Winefride of Holywell, Cadoc of Llancarfan
Germans: Gertrude of Helfta, Herman the Cripple, Hildegarde of Bingen, the Sybil of the Rhine
Austrians/Swiss: Nicholas von Flue, Jakob Gapp
Scandinavians: Willehad of Denmark, Hallvard of Oslo, Bridget of Sweden, Thorlak Thorhallsson of Iceland
Balts: George Matulaitis
Magyars: King Istvan the Great, Elizabeth of Hungary
Czechs: Good King Wenceslaus, Agnes of Bohemia
Poles: Hyacinth Ronzki, Stanislaus Szczepanowski, Mother Mary Theresa Ledochowska, Pope John Paul the Great
Albanians: Mother Theresa of Calcutta
Slovenes: Lojze Grozde
Serbs: Sava
Kateri Tekakwitha
Croats: Mark Korosy
Romanians: Ieremia Stoica
Bulgars: Bishop Eugene Bossilkov
Russians: Olga of Kiev, Sergius of Radonezh, Euphrosyne of Polotsk
Native Americans: Kateri Tekakwitha, the Lily of the Mohawks, Black Elk of the Oglala, Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin of Guadeloupe
Puerto Ricans: Carlos Manuel Rodríguez Santiago 
Mexicans: María Guadalupe García Zavala, “Mother Lupita”, Bartholomew Laurel, Padre Pio   
Central Americans: Peter Betancurt of Guatemala, Bishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador
Peruvians: Rose of Lima, Ana de los Angeles Monteagudo
Ecuadorians: Mercedes of Jesus, Mariana de Paredes, the Lily of Quito
Brazilians: Pauline of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus, Antonio de Santa Ana Galvao
Ceferino Namuncurá
Paraguayans: Roque Gonzalez de Santa Cruz
Argentinians: Ceferino Namuncurá, the Lily of Patagonia 
Chileans: Teresa of the Andes, Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga 
Americans [USA]: John Nepomucene Neumann, Elizabeth Seton, Katherine Drexel, Mother Frances Cabrini
Canadians: Marguerite D’Youville, Mary Rose Durocher 
Indians: Alphonsa Mattahupadathus, Kuriakose Chavara, Mother Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan 
Chinese: Thaddeus Lieu, Agnes Sao Kuy
Japanese: Father Thomas Hioji Rokuzayemon Nishi, Magdalene of Nagasaki
Koreans: Agatha Kim, Paul Chong Hasang
Thais: Philip Siphong, Sister Lucy Khambong
Victoria Rasoamanarivo
Vietnamese: Vinh Sơn Phạm Hiếu Liêm, Micae Hồ Đình Hy, Agnes De, Father John Dat
Filipinos: Lorenzo Ruiz
Australians: Mary of the Cross
African diaspora: Benedict the Moor, Martin de Pores
African: Charles Lwanga of Uganda, Mother Josephine Bakhita of the Sudan, Anwarite Nengapeta of the Congo
Victoria Rasoamanarivo of Madagascar

A: Jesus said, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, teaching them all that I have commanded you.” 
℟: And there before me was a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Anselm of Canterbury, the Red Wedding, and the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople

A bit of St. Anselm of Canterbury spotted at Siris:
Let us now understand doing (causing) in terms of a classification. Since a doing (causing) is always either in relation to being or in relation to not-being, (as has been said), we will be obliged to add “to be” or “not to be” to the distinct modes of doing (causing) in order for them to be clearly distinguished.
The Latin for 'doing/causing,' Brandon notes, is facere, which means 'making something so.' It can be substituted for any verb, even one that means making something not to be so. Anselm then delves into six ways to make something be/not be:
  1. when a cause causes to be that which it is said to cause
  2. when a cause does not cause to be that which it is said to cause
  3. when a cause causes something else to be
  4. when a cause does not cause something else to be
  5. when a cause causes something else not to be
  6. when a cause does not cause something else not to be
 Anselm gives examples of each, which Brandon illustrates with John and Bob. How many ways can we mean that John makes Bob to be dead?

1. John makes Bob dead (directly)
When someone who kills a man with a sword is said to cause him to be dead, [it is said] in the first mode. For he directly (per se) causes the very thing which he is said to cause.
2. John does not make Bob not to be dead (directly)
If I say, "John makes it so that Bob is dead", I could also mean that Bob is dead, and John is able to make him not-dead, but is not doing so. For example, if in Game of Thrones Thoros of Myr could make Beric Dondarrion not to be dead by his magical powers but does not do so, we can say that Thoros made it so that Beric was dead.
3. John makes Bob dead (by making something else make him dead)
If I say, "John makes it so that Bob is dead", I could also mean that John arranged it so that something else would make Bob die -- for instance, by hiring an assassin.
4. John makes Bob dead (by not making something else make him not dead)
John can make Bob dead by not giving Bob a weapon to defend himself when the assassin comes, or by otherwise not stopping the assassin.
5. John makes Bob dead (by making something else not make him not dead)
John can make Bob dead by taking away a weapon that Bob already has so he cannot defend himself when the assassin comes.
6. John does not make Bob not to be dead (by not making something else not make him dead)
John can make Bob to be dead by not taking action to make him not dead. For example, if John does not disarm the assassin or did not hide Bob when the Gestapo came for him. That is, he does not cause something else not to be.
These six modes can apply universally, since doing or making [like facere] can substitute for any verb. We can vow or make a vow; we can steal or make something to be stolen. This can have great utility in plotting stories. Think of all the ways people made Robb Stark dead at the Red Wedding: by skewering him with arrows or stabbing him [Roose Bolton], by hiring those who did [Tywin Lannister], by disarming him beforehand [Walder Frey], by not warning him, by sending away sympathizers who might have warned him, by killing the direwolf and the Stark bannermen who might have defended him, and so on. Each bore some share of responsibility for the death, even if they did not strike the actual fatal blow.
"[W]hen a problem about the faith comes up it is not only the heretical person who is condemned but also the person who is in a position to correct the heresy of others and fails to do so."
-- Sentences against the Three Chapters, II Constantinople 

A stories in which all actions are first mode -- X does Y -- tend to be thin. Even when enjoyable, they are not psychologically filling. Considering all six modes can make the text richer and the characters thicker.

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Demise of Free Guessing

It must be something in the water. Two more psychology "scientists" have been deceived into thinking that they have run an experiment on free will. But by the terms of their own analysis, they are mistaken. If we observe ourselves (unconsciously) perform some action, like picking out a box of cereal in the grocery store, and only afterwards come to infer that we did this intentionally, then Bear and Bloom must have observed themselves (unconsciously) perform an action like running an  experiment in the psych "lab,"and only afterwards came to infer that they did this intentionally. IOW, if we first pick up the box of Wheaties, then decide to choose it -- hmm. I perceive a box of Wheaties in my hand, so I believe I must have chosen it -- then how does this not apply to the decisions the experimenters think they made?

Thursday, May 12, 2016


TOF, exercising his rite to bare arms:
After the staples were removed.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Quote of the Day

[h/t] Siris
"That trolling is a shameful thing, and that no one of sense would accept to be called ‘troll’, all are agreed; but what trolling is, and how many its species are, and whether there is an excellence of the troll, is unclear. And indeed trolling is said in many ways; for some call ‘troll’ anyone who is abusive on the internet, but this is only the disagreeable person, or in newspaper comments the angry old man. And the one who disagrees loudly on the blog on each occasion is a lover of controversy, or an attention-seeker. And none of these is the troll, or perhaps some are of a mixed type; for there is no art in what they do...."

Saturday, May 7, 2016


The June 2016 ANALOG contains TOF's novella "The Journeyman: In the Great North Wood." An excerpt amounting to roughly half the story is at the ANALOG site.

Started work on "The Journeyman: Among the Great States," but typing one-handed, and left-handed at that is fatiguing.

not TOF, but similar
BONE NEWS. Still typing one handed, but the humerus is now re-set and bolted to a plate designed to delight metal detectors at airports everywhere. Working on the R part of the RICE paradigm: to wit, Rest. TOF presently has a Frankenstein zipper of surgical staples running from the shoulder to near the bicep, roughly the length shown in the picture to the right.

For those interested in ORIF, click on the link.