Essays in Idleness


Month: December, 2016

Check out

Up here in the High Doganate, we have decided to check out of Idleposting for a few days, and leave gentle readers to their Christ-masses, not in privatized and monetized “facebooks” but in the familiarity of living human faces, and the ghostly memory of all our dead — time past, time present, gathering together. I have […]

Into the envious tangle

One of my kindest and most attentive readers writes to contest the account of Envy in my Thing column today (here). She distinguishes a venial from the deadly mortal sin, in this way: “I am not sure that Envy is simply the inclination to feel sorry for oneself because everyone else seems to be having […]

On the meaning of Christmas

It was Karl Jaspers (I think) who borrowed the term “axial moment” from structural engineering to describe the Christian “philosophy of history.” He refers (of course) to the intersection of Eternity with historical Time, in the person of Christ. A good geometric diagram of this is presented — intentionally, I think — in the famous […]


Reading of the latest “Allahu Akhbar!” attacks (so far this week) in Germany, Turkey, Jordan, Libya, and Switzerland, one is struck by the politicized incompetence of the authorities. This is true both East and West, but in plainer view to us in the West. News reports carry information that even I know they should not be […]

Some contemporary simplisme

The introitus of Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D minor, changes everything. In the midst of what I call “techie hell” — let me not favour you with the details, gentle reader — I let it fill the room. And then, after the introitus, the rest of that “extraordinary” liturgical composition (set for the Vetus Ordo, […]

On canaries in mines

There are many canaries in the coal mine of modern life. Not all of them are dead yet. Some have merely stopped singing and might conceivably recover if their cages were removed promptly from the shafts. The same might be tried for a person trying to kill himself by piping carbon monoxide into his car. […]

On baloney

My title is the North American variant on just one of the many fine sausages of Bologna, made traditionally not with yak meat, but from pork ground finely together with wee blobs of delicious lard. American inspectors force the manufacturers to conceal these blobs, perhaps on the theory that what you can’t see won’t hurt […]

Yak weather

I love a good cold spell; it shuts the climate warming crazies up for a while. We have a nice one now, up here in the Canadas, thanks to an ectoplasmic extension of the amoebic polar vortices, that spin air from Santa’s larder down to these lower latitudes which, in the more Arctic view, correspond to […]


Everything, except God, has a context. I write this morning to contextualize yesterday’s post, which might (I realize from several emails) be misunderstood. Readers, especially outside the Catholic Church, might think I am saying everything is going to Hell, or gone, when in my experience, on balance, the Church is recovering, and promises to continue […]

The road we know

Blasphemy, idolatry, heresy, and bad manners are not exactly new things in the history of Holy Church. Not even “difficult” popes are new, nor priests who aren’t believing Christians, and in prevision of the circumstances that might arise, Our Founder provided a Mass that is very hard to fuddle. It could be illicit — could […]

Problems with rejoicing (solved)

Yes, it is Gaudete Sunday. Christmas is coming for sure. It follows that we, who at least pretend to believe that Christ has come, and will come again, should be rejoicing. I have worded this in the “ironical,” post-modern way, in deference to the times. For today, we “have problems with that.” Take Parkdale, if […]

Saturday night thought

“I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at quarter past nine.” The quote, and its variants, have been attributed to Faulkner, Maugham, and whichever hack comes to mind as the esprit du jour. I expect it will be traced to a little-read passage in the table talk of Virgil. My own (wormlike) […]

Before the beginning

The advice of a solid old Anglican priest — back when the Anglicans had a use for solids — was to retain one’s balance. “Don’t try to do everything at once,” he said, after my conversion on that bridge over Thames. In particular, “Don’t try to believe everything at once. It is bigger than you, […]