Essays in Idleness


Month: May, 2015

Holy Trinity

It was all explained to me on a bridge in London, some thirty-nine years ago, yet I still find it an unplumbable mystery, this “Holy Trinity” of Whom Christians speak. It makes sense, it is biblically and theologically explicable to anyone sufficiently patient, and yet it is so far beyond normal human reach and comprehension […]

Obedience to tradition

Perhaps I have already confessed to gentle reader the mischievous tricks I play on animals. On the purple finches, and finchesses, now accustomed to free lunch on the balconata of the High Doganate — or rather, early breakfast, then snacks throughout the day — I have played a good one. Formerly, I was feeding them […]

Wilhelm Roepke

In order to have a cottage on a secluded lake, within several hundred miles of the High Doganate, one must now own the lake. I haven’t fact-checked this exhaustively, however. There may be a virgin, mosquito-infested puddle north of Sudbury somewhere, that no one has claimed. Parks are nice, but everything pleasant beyond them has […]

The ground sloth

It is a curious thing, an unaccountable thing, the ground sloth of our era. Of terrestrial conditions in former eras I cannot speak with authority. Nor can any living man, of the gigantic sloths, which moved about the earth in the Americas. I never encountered one. The last of their descendants are hypothesized to have […]

Latest automations

There is a special feature on the new, self-parking Volvo, which recognizes pedestrians. You pay for it separately. That was the explanation of a corporate spokesman, in response to a video that shows a self-parking Volvo in action. It backs up, pauses for rather a long time, then suddenly shoots forward, running down two “journalists” […]

Apostle to Rome

It is embarrassing to review the condition of the Church in previous centuries. There is always something gone badly wrong, some “face-grabber” that makes any loyal Catholic wince behind his fingers. Just yesterday, in commemoration of Gregory VII, we were reminded of the mess in the later eleventh century. Or maybe it was just me, […]


This morning’s effusion is in honour of my hero, Marshal Foch, whom gentle reader may recognize in his famous telegram to Marshal Joffre, during the First Battle of the Marne: “My centre is giving way, my right is retreating, situation excellent, I am attacking.” His commendably cheerful view of warfare is otherwise encapsulated in his […]


Were you a mediaeval villein, you would be getting a week off, now. There are so many ways in which the life of a mediaeval villein was better than that of a twenty-first century wage slave. It seems odd to get a holiday because the Paschaltide is over, but there you go. In the Middle […]

Aer lingus

It would seem that the Lemming Party has swept Ireland this morning. From early returns the referendum count appears two-to-one in favour of “gay marriage.” In Dublin, it’s much higher than that; perhaps I am not surprised. Upon calling up the Irish Independent to check for results first thing, what did I get? My laptop […]

Against bombing

There is a paper somewhere (darned if I can find it) from the British Society of Antiquaries (I think) that surveys the district around the archaeological site of Çatalhöyük. This is a pair of Neolithic mounds which rise above the plain of Konya, south-east of the city that now goes by that name — the […]


The little things are what I first notice in the news. This morning, for instance, that the U.S. government is fast-tracking the shipment of anti-tank missiles to the government of (some of) Iraq. This, we can only suppose, so that Baghdad’s shrinking army may try to destroy some of the U.S.-supplied tanks and other heavy […]

Making war better

Gentle reader may have noticed that I said nothing yesterday — nothing at all — about “just war theory,” nor provided so much as a passing and whimsical Catholic justification of a foreign policy that would necessarily involve killing people (Islamist terrorists, to fine the point). By a happy coincidence, George Weigel was supplying this […]


“If you want something done right, do it yourself.” This is a principle the Daesh (“IS,” “ISIS,” &c) understand, but we in the West have forgotten. Now, I should think there is a dispute between us on what “doing right” might consist of. Eliminating all the Christians, Yazidis, Shia and other non-Sunni Muslims in Iraq, […]