Essays in Idleness


Month: October, 2014

The handcart chronicles

Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia, in his Erasmus Lecture for 2014: “If we ignore the poor, we will go to Hell. If we blind ourselves to their suffering, we will go to Hell. If we do nothing to ease their burdens; then we will go to Hell. Ignoring the needs of the poor among us is […]

Quietly from Rome

Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI made a wonderful statement this week, some traces of which I have been able to find through such obscure media as the Catholic News Service. It was a letter to some students and faculty in Rome’s Pontifical Urbanian University, read to them, Tuesday, by his secretary, Archbishop Georg Ganswein. At a […]

Ottawa in the news

It is interesting to observe — in oneself — the power of media to implant false impressions on a lazy mind. I noticed this from listening to a television speech by Stephen Harper, after the terrorist event in Ottawa, yesterday. (Harper has now been Canada’s prime minister for almost nine years.) He was described as […]

Saving grace?

Not previously, on this little anti-blog, have I devoted so much attention to an item of “breaking news,” nor for such a duration. My “obsession” with the Synod on the Family in Rome has been consciously pursued. Something of very great importance and consequence is taking place; and it is not only an internal Catholic […]


My brain hurts, from trying to follow reports from Rome, in languages I imperfectly understand, about the relatio mentioned in my post yesterday. Let me recommend this morning’s synod briefing by Robert Royal (here) as the best and most reasonable summary of the riotous proceedings. To my mind, it becomes more apparent that a coup […]

Something to declare

There is a wonderful passage in a memoir by the Orcadian poet, George Mackay Brown. (For the Islands I Sing, 1997.) He finds himself in a drunk tank in Edinburgh, with two other gentlemen: one a sailor, “who had damaged his hand in a fight in a respectable coffee-house”; the other an English tourist, pleading […]

Whom to thank?

Canadian Thanksgiving is the second Monday in October. It is earlier than American Thanksgiving, because we are farther north. Our growing seasons are shorter, and our farmers need more wit. Comparing available arable land between the two countries (which are approximately equal in total land area), a geographer could explain why the USA has ten […]

Kojo no tsuki

Twice this evening I have played through “Kojo no tsuki” — the jazz version by Thelonious Monk. It is nearly seventeen minutes, on the 1996 CD re-issue of his album, Straight, No Chaser, from 1967. The full recording was resurrected from the old tapes; time limitations on the original LP had made abbreviation necessary. On […]

Synod on the family

The Pontificium Consilium pro Familia has begun in Rome, God help us. This “extraordinary synod” will feed into a general synod next year, with plenty of opportunities for mischief along the way. Already, all over this continent, and I should think the world, liberal clergy are using the new signals from the Vatican — of […]


My mention of Immanuel Kant, over at Catholic Thing yesterday, was to a single purpose: reminding the philosophical types of his role, anticipating Hegel’s, in shaping our modern or post-modern notion of History, and thus the full modern jet stream of “progress.” Kant came late in the Enlightenment, as the Prussians generally came late to […]