Essays in Idleness


Month: September, 2017

Fecunda ratis

The mediaeval peasant had a worldview — a response to the universe around him — more thoughtful and much deeper than our urbanized peasants of today. And this, notwithstanding few could read. All but the deafmutes could hear, however, and all but the blind could see, and there were many other senses to support or […]

Five years & no concessions

Today, the Dedication of Saint Michael Archangel for 2017, would thus also be the fifth anniversary of these Idleposts. I chose the day from the traditional beginning of term, at Oxford and other once-great universities, and because it would be wise to invoke angelic powers for the protection of my mendicant enterprise. Observe, gentle reader: […]

On high horses

I have often thought (well, not that often) if elected to public office, I should ride in on a horse. Verily, if elected Her Majesty’s chief servant in right of England (“Prime Minister” I think they call it), I should wish my whole cabinet to clopple down Whitehall to the Palace of Westminster, astride these […]

On the “Correctio filialis”

“No matter what they do in Rome, I’m staying Catholic.” The quote is from Czechs of beloved memory (through one exiled to Switzerland), and thus from drinking circles forty years ago. I am not the only survivor to remember that wonderful saying, declared in the freedom of a public bar; and what often went with […]

A good shove

There are lines which are old, worn, and commonplace, but to hear them delivered to the General Assembly of the U-nighted Nations is pure joy: “The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.” The President of the Natted States Merica fleshed this out, as […]

The push-back chronicles

My idea of Christianity came from reading the Gospels. There was the Christ of Hungerford Bridge (whom I have mentioned elsewhere), but too, the Christ of intellectual apprehension, upon whose acts and sayings one might make notes. Or if gentle reader will indulge, the Mystical and the Theological, respectively. These are not contraries. As very […]

Politics of the risible

You have to laugh. That is an actual instruction, gentle reader. Please obey. Through long-settled bad habit, I look at “the news” every morning. Sometimes I have the wisdom to leave this until I have swallowed the full pot of coffee; sometimes my will cracks early. What I find, every day, is a farce. True, […]

The long march

There is a secret about the Devil that I propose to share with my readers. I hope it doesn’t get me into trouble. It is an interesting secret, which emerges from the careful study of Catholic doctrine, as it has been articulated through the centuries. If we want to understand the Devil, that is the […]

The strait, and narrow

Well, I suppose a lot of people are selling swamp land in Florida now. In other news, the school year has recommenced, and I find myself once again modestly deranging the minds of innocent young seminarians, on the topic of Literature. Catholic Literature. (All great literature is Catholic: did you know?) Here are five things […]

Timor mortis

A poet from the other side of Lake Ontario, John Ashbery, died last week. I’d been so busy not looking at the news, and finding it full of air when I saw it (weather news, mostly) that I didn’t know until a poet in California tipped me off this morning. Ashbery himself — who like […]

Of providence & order

Trust in Providence is an attitude of mind, installed at conception, but later it becomes a choice. On this Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary we recall the place of choice in human history: of God’s choice of the path to redemption for fallen, sinful man. It was not our choice. God […]

On pushing back

I beseech you, gentle reader: abjure the bait of praise and the dread of blame. I can see no other path to recovery from constant retreat in the Culture War. For there is an even better option than the “Benedict” one, currently in fashion among the Catholic genteel. It is to stop sulking, and win […]

Calcutta, my love

Gentle readers sometimes ask, and a few asked yesterday, where they can find my works prior to the inauguration of this Idleblog. The answer is generally, I don’t know. There is much on clippings, collected mostly by my late father, and discovered in his files when he died. I had no idea, until then, to […]