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

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Is God Made of Soap?

Ninth Article
Is God made of soap?
We proceed thus to the Ninth Article:
Objection 1: It would seem that God is made of soap. For whatever is highest in a genus must be predicated of God. But the highest in the genus of cleanliness, which the Philosopher says is next to godliness, is soap.
Objection 2: Moreover, Scripture says, "Wash me, and I shall be clean indeed." But it belongs to soap to wash.
Objection 3: Furthermore, Dionysius says in On the Divine Names, "For the being of the Most High, being beyond Being, which is what is, can only be denied, as of foamy lather that surpasses even the most excellent conception." But the principle of foamy lather is soap, and where the effect is found, there must the principle be posited.
On the contrary is the opinion of Saint Augustine, who says, "I did wander long among vain fancies, thinking that thou wert as the soap that cleanseth all things, and that evil was a grimy blot on thy purity."
I answer that, 'Soap' can be said in two ways. In one way, soap is the material principle of cleanliness as such. But we have already shown that there is no material principle in God. Therefore, God is not made of soap. But in another way, 'soap' is said of whatever is highest in the order of efficient causes directed towards cleanliness secundum quid by an order that is less than formal with respect to the finality of an end, simply as such, without respect of quiddity in potentiality to the sensitive appetite. And in this sense all men say that God is made of soap, and that in the highest degree, as is plain from the definition.
Reply Obj. 1: Soap is not the highest in the genus of cleanliness, as the Saponians heretically maintain, but only in the genus of material ablutions, which is related to cleanliness in the way that principles of natural reason are related to the eternal law, as the Psalmist says, "How shall a young man cleanse his way? By keeping to your law."
Reply Obj. 2: Scripture also says, "I will wipe away every tear from their eyes." But soap is an efficient cause of tears, and not of their remotion. Therefore, God is not made of soap.
Reply Obj. 3: In this place Dionysius understands 'foamy lather' in accordance with the way of remotion, so that it implies only the lack of such qualities as are inconsistent with foamy lather, as shortness of duration and irritation to the skin.

This lost part of the Summa was discovered by Thomas Williams (Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Iowa) while a graduate student at Notre Dame.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Singing City

Just sold a short story to Analog, entitled "The Singing City. The opening paragraphs are:

The Singing City

by Michael F. Flynn

All during the party Theresia has been remarkably subdued. Oh, she has smiled at all the right jokes and chatted with all her guests, but Bill has seen her smile wink out the moment she thinks no one is watching. It is as if her face were a moon, reflecting the gaiety of those around her, but not shining through its own inner fires. Who can blame her, he thinks. It must be hard to bid a husband farewell. He remembers how his own father had been absent for months at a time, and how bravely his mother had borne it.

His eyes, dancing across the crowded family room, pick out his father’s curly, silver-white hair and sun-darkened face where he sits and talks wise words with the other old men. Rehashing the good old days, as such men always did; though Ed Mercado has a great many more days worth the hashing than most.

His father will not be around much longer, Bill realizes with a sudden pang. When you lived hard, you wore out faster.

His father notices his regard and tips his bottle of El Presidente toward him. Bill waves and moves off to the edge of the crowd. Everybody says how wonderful it must be having a hero for a father, but they hadn’t been there. They hadn’t known of the long absences and the strange, skinny man who would reappear from time to time to bend down and, laughing, swoop him into the air. Or the schoolyard fights, obliged to defend his father’s honor against those who felt equally as obliged to belittle it. What did your Dad do in the Crisis? Nothing much. Saved the world once or twice, but that’s all. Later, as he matured, Bill learned that there had been other men and women, thousands of them, and many had done and sacrificed far more than Dad. And yet, every morning when he looks into the mirror to shave, Bill Mercado does not see “Flaco” there.

Whoa, What's This?

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